First I want to share with you a blessing we received that will help us see and feel part of our baby girl for years to come. One of the things Children's Mercy does to help families, is they make a quilt each year to honor all the babies and children who have passed away that year. If you choose, you can put together a quilt square in memory of your child to be added to the quilt for that year. Thanks to a beautiful ministry in our church, the Quilt Qare team, we had a quilt square put together for Avelyn. Thank you!!! I will post a couple pics. :) This had to be delivered by the end of January, so just over a week ago, Aili and I went to Children's Mercy on a Wednesday morning to get this to them. I am so thankful because I was planning to go downtown in the afternoon by myself, while Aili was in preschool, but a change of plans sent us up there together that morning. As I handed the quilt square to the chaplain, he said "it's beautiful"...and I couldn't agree more. The ladies who helped put it together did an amazing job. I began to get emotional after I handed it to him, feeling like I was giving yet another piece of our daughter away, but I felt so blessed because it's yet another way that will help her memory live on. And this is the moment I was thankful to have Aili with me. I held her hand, and we were able to walk out of the hospital together...and she, with God's help, gave me strength to keep it together. :)
And now more on the things to come... After Avelyn passed, we were encouraged by the funeral home to solidify a cause where any memorial funds that folks wanted to give (thank you to all of you!!!!) in memory of Avelyn would go; ideally they wanted us to know this cause by the date of the funeral so that people who wanted to give would know exactly where their money was going. Unfortunately, we didn't know early on where we wanted any of these funds to go that people so generously gave (again - thank you, thank you!!!). We prayed and prayed that God would lead us in the right direction.--We prayed for two things: #1 - that they would go toward something impactful, something that would potentially make a positive difference in the lives of others, and #2 - that they would go toward something long lasting, something that would live on. Thus far we have used the funds for a couple different purposes. They have gone toward buying bookmarks that has our Let Your Light Shine logo and Avelyn's story on them (thank you to our friend who helped design these!!); I have loved this idea because I am able to share them not only with friends and family, but also with strangers or acquaintances whom I feel will benefit from them. The money has also gone toward buying t-shirts for Brooklan's running club at school, which has been great because our website is on the back of the t-shirt and occasionally I will see kids around town wearing them; this helps me see 'her story' living on. Despite loving both of these ideas, we feel God has been leading us toward something more, as well. Our plan now is to use the remaining funds to buy children's bibles, specifically "The Beginner's Bible," to pass out to kids at local churches and to get in the hands of as many children and families as possible. This idea, through God, was given to us by Nathan Stiles' dad, Ron; we've written about this before. It's crazy because when he initially shared this idea with us, we were super excited.--Then he offered to have the company (Bibles by the Case) that supplies the Nathan Project bibles to them, ship us some children's bibles to check out. At this time, I was hoping one of the bibles they would send to us would be like the one we read with Ailiana every night. They ended up sending us 3 choices, and praise God the one I was hoping for was in there. Thank you God. :) We are excited to order this; now we are just waiting on one remaining item from the publisher re: pricing. This should come any time now, so we will be able to make this 'official.' :)
Our next piece of good news is that with the ideas and help and support of friends, we have begun the process of planning a 5K and family walk in Avelyn's memory. The funds raised from this will allow us to continue to buy more children's bibles, and we are extremely excited to hopefully help this cause live on. Through the Nathan Project, they have handed out more than 16,000 bibles, and the more important thing, is that this means changed lives. We hope, through God's grace, the children's bibles will make a similar impact. As far as the race goes, where we stand now is trying to get the race officially approved through the city, fulfilling the permit along with everything it requires. Because I have never done anything like this, all of this is scary and intimidating (and frustrating at times) to me! :) God continues to encourage me, as well as the gracious support and encouraging words of others. Thank you!! I have a dear friend, someone who has put on a 5K before, helping with all the paperwork and steering me in the right direction. After all this is filled out, we will need insurance for the race, which another dear friend is helping me with, and I will meet with the police department to go over the route of the race to make sure they are able to help with all the details on race day. I'm hoping to have all this finalized by no later than the end of the month, then all the other details will begin to fall into place, which yet another dear friend is helping me with. :) As of now, the race is set for the morning of Saturday, May 23rd. We looked at other options, but with everything we looked at, this seems to be the best option we've found. Praying for a bright sun-shiny day already. :)
I will keep you updated as things continue to move along. In the meantime, please be praying that things will go smoothly, that things will fall into place like they should, and that I will continue to feel God's grace, strength, and encouragement as we plan this race to help our daughter's memory and legacy live on. Thank you family & friends. Love & Hugs to all of you.