Five Years Later

November 3, 2016

Every year as this date rolls around, that familiar pit in my stomach appears, the lump in my throat is constant, and I always feel like I’m on the verge of tears.  This year, five years after our lives forever changed in a millisecond, those feelings remain.  The last couple days the events of that day have been on replay in my mind.

And while the flashbacks are painful, I can’t help but feel a little differently this year.  You may remember my post last year.  That was truly one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.  But by the time I realized that was what I need to do, God had already prepared me for the act itself.  My mind and my heart were freed from the heavy burden of anger that weighed my soul.  Forgiveness is such an amazing gift, whether you are giving or receiving it.  It frees your heart to feel other things like gratitude, love, humility, compassion, all things that reflect Jesus and what He did for us.  Extending forgiveness doesn’t change the hurt of that day, the questions that remain or the difficulties Elena and our family face as a result, but it has allowed me to move forward and clear my heart of the anger and bitterness.

After a tragedy, one of the questions that you always hear is “Why?”.  It’s no different for me.  Do you know how many times I’ve thought, pleaded with God, for the answer to that question?  Do you know how mad at Him I’ve been at times for this to have happened to my child?  Faith can sometimes be a hard, hard thing.  It often fights against our human instincts to seek the tangible, get the answer.  But I know that’s not always possible and without my faith, there would be no strength and there would be no hope.

For Chad and me, it’s never been about the what happened, it’s been about how we have wanted to respond to it.  I remember a conversation we had before even leaving the hospital that we didn’t want what happened to make us fearful and bitter.  We both wanted to face whatever laid ahead together in a bold, positive, hopeful way.  I think that’s where faith comes in.  I was able to commit to that, because I knew we wouldn’t be walking it alone.  I knew that from the moment I called out to God on the drive to the hospital, He would be there walking with me, carrying me, fighting for me every step of the way.  And He has.  God has been so faithful.  During those dark, impossible times He wants us to lean into Him and redeem that pain with love, grace and forgiveness.

And my friends, five years later, I can look back and see those promises fulfilled.  I can see the beauty that is His plan, perfectly woven through the hurt.  It doesn’t mean that life is easy.  There’s still heartbreak.  I still grieve.  My hearts aches for the difficulty that Elena will always face.  But I know we have only begun to see the “immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine”.  (Ephesians 3:20)

My sweet Elena is the happiest, most easy going, hardest working, precious little soul.  She is my love, my joy, my inspiration.  I know God has great plans for her life and her story.  It is the greatest privilege to be her Mom and to share her story with all of you.

Our chicken, October 31, 2011…the last picture I took of Laney girl.

 Four days later

Five years later, my happy girl

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals