Sunday, October 03, 2010


As I sit her pondering how to get back into the blogging world, I ask myself what has kept me from something that I have enjoyed so much.  And as I begin to gather photos and consider what I will write, my body begins to react in a very physical way.  And then I realize that the answer is easy and the answer is hard.  To revisit any part of the last three months means that I have to face the joy and the pain of emotional hellos and emotional goodbyes.  And while the good was very, very good, the not so good was very, very not so good.

I realize now that giving up blogging is not really an option.  It would mean that I would have to say another goodbye to yet another dear friend.  And honestly, I just can't do that.  Even though my emotions will probably be all over the place until I hit the post button and perhaps for several days after; once it's done, it will be done.   And I can go back to posting about decorating and craft projects and life with a new grandbaby and all sorts of nonsense.  And it will be normal again.  Soon. 

Ryan came home for a visit before his deployment to Afghanistan.
My baby is now a man--a warrior.
There was laughter.
And there were tears.
And I had to trust God in bigger ways.
And I had to say good-bye.  For now.
And even before my heart could recover,
I had to say good-bye to our youth pastor and his family.  
Tim, Emily, Olivia, and Sarah Cate
They love with abandon.  They make me laugh.
They serve the Lord with all their hearts--in a big way.
And I will never forget them.  It would be impossible.
New Orleans is where they were meant to be.
But it hurts.
bray famiily
When my mom was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in May, my sister, Pat, left her home in Pennsylvania to take care of her in Ohio. Because of that, I was able to spend more time than ever before with my sister. And because my sister found the Lord this year, it was a special time. And amidst the serious, there were times when we laughed.
Pat and granddaughter Hayden with me and granddaughter Kenzie
And there were times when we cried as we prepared to say goodbye to our mom.
We faced many emotions together,
not just as sisters, but as sisters in Christ.
And if life wasn't complicated enough, we welcomed a German exchange student.
Katja would turn out to be the sister, the daughter, the friend that we all needed.
Her laugh was contagious.
And she taught us so much about ourselves.
abby katja kristi
She embraced our family and our culture and our God.
And she will never be the same.
And we will never be the same.
And my heart broke once again this summer when we received word that Ryan's very best friend, Justin, had stepped on a land mine on day six of his deployment.  He lost his leg below the knee.  In God's providence, we were able to visit him while in Washington for the Restore Honor Rally.
Two weeks ago today, Kelly developed pregnancy complications that resulted in a hospital stay and ultimately, an induction.  It was a long and sometimes scary process with the health of mom and baby at stake. Jett Alexander made his dramatic entrance, and for what seemed like an eternity, did not respond.  And for a brief moment, I wondered if, in fact, I was going to have to face another goodbye.  
jett 018
But God, in His sovereignty, saw fit to bless us beyond measure.
jett 063
jett 077
jett home
And as this post comes to a close, 
the Brays are prospering in their new home.
Katja is back home in Germany.
Justin is recovering in Texas.
My mom is safe in the arms of Jesus.
My sister is growing in the Lord.
Jett is sleeping soundly.
And Ryan is proudly serving his country.
ryan 3 afghan 9-10
And this mother's heart skips a beat when she sees photos from war.
ryan 2 afghan 9-10
And this mom prays that there will be no more goodbyes this year.
ryan afghan 9-10
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2


gail said...

I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family have been through a lot this year.
I pray that everyone stays safe.
congrats on the new wee one.
take care!

Empty Nest Full Life said...

You have been missed, and as I suspected, there was a lot going on in your life. You have had so much to deal with, and it looks as if God has most definitely been at work through it all. I too am a new grandmother, so I know that feeling. Praying for your son and his safety. Looking forward to hearing from you in the days ahead. Jackie

Laurie at Turner Farm said...

Denise, I've read your post twice now. It tugged at my heart strings. You have been missed. But I know God had you right where you needed to be. So glad that you are back. What a beautiful family you have. And you are gorgeous! Praying for your son and all his fellow soldiers. ~Blessings~

edie said...

i am so glad you're back.
i can't pretend to know the suffering but i do love you and pray for you {and ryan} {and kelly!}
we find our strength in the One whose suffering has given us life.
hate i missed you this weekend--i'm holding out for a 'in real life' catch up session.
i've missed you.

Marissa said...

I'm so very sorry for all of your pain this year....SO very hard. I can't imagine. But I pray that Ryan will be safe and all will be well. He will be in our prayers. Many hugs to you and your sweet family and maybe, just maybe, we can see each other once again! Much love, Marissa

Emily Lawrence Bray said...

I have searched all over the internet for a florist that will deliver forget me nots with out me having to sell one of the girls in the process, but no can do. So, just pretend that I sent you some, ok? I love you so very much!

Kolein said...

Tears streaming down my face! Thanks!



OK, I'm still crying.....can you go make a bird or something now??



Kolein said...


Amy Kinser said...

My sister...I can only imagine the heartache you have endured these past months. I am sorry.

I can't wait to read about the mountain top experiences you and your family are fixing to have.

Funky Junk Interiors said...

Alright... I held my breath through the entire post. I couldn't figure out if something had happened to Ryan. I misunderstood the church photo. Thank goodness!!!!!

So glad you're back, girl! And beautiful as ever. :)


Kelly said...

Welcome back.

Candace said...

Denise, I love this post. And I don't. I'm sorry for all you've been through recently, I have caught snippets on facebook, but I enjoyed seeing all your pictures and reading more of the details. I love your writing - and knowing that you are "real" even away from the computer screen - so I'm glad to see you back, too! :)

Is Eight Enough? said...

It was wonderful to see you posting this day! Praying for Ryan while he is away. Didn't realize it was so scary! Thank the Lord He had his hand on Jett!!

The Tidy Brown Wren said...

Having just lost my beloved Mother-in-love to cancer last week, I can feel some of your grief. I will be lifting up your son in prayer for safety and wisdom. Take your time to grieve and rest. Everything else can wait.

Melita said...

Wow! What a roller coaster ride of emotions for you! I know it's been very draining emotionally for you, but I know you are one strong lady! I'll be praying for your family.

artteachergirl said...

Welcome back!
What a strong one you are! You've had more than your share over the last few months. I can only imagine how it feels to have a son at war, and I pray for his safety. Congratulations on the new little one, God always sends a rainbow:-)
Best, Vicki

Jessica said...

what an amazing post. . .i write as tears are coming out of my eyes. i'm so so sorry for your loss of your momma, but what a blessing that your sister got saved!
congrats on jett as well! he's adorable. . . .

ccrippen said...

I LOVE this post! You are inspiring in a time of trials! I don't know you but have enjoyed reading your blog over the past year.

What touched me the most as I read your last post, is that through all of the ups and downs of your blessed life, you have chosen to follow the light of Christ and look to him with faith!

Thankyou so much for your thoughts!

May God continue to bless and keep you and your family always!

Charlotte :)

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Kaira said...

What an incredible time this must have been. Tears over the anguish of watching your child go to war... I can not imagine it. Thank you for your sacrifice. <3