Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Hole in My Heart

Today is the one month anniversary of the date that Chrissie began her eternal dance with Jesus.  It does not at all seem like it's been an entire month.  It still feels like this all just happened last week.  I still wake throughout the night reliving hospital moments.  I still long for the recliner next to Chrissie's hospital bed.  It still seems somewhat surreal.

The part that I know is real is the huge hole in my heart.  Chrissie had a physical hole in her heart (just one of the many congenital heart defects she battled), but I have an emotional hole in my heart.  A piece of my heart will always be missing.  It's shaped like a large capital "C" for "Chrissie".  It will remain there until I am reunited with my Princess Chrissie in Heaven.  And in the meantime, as I wait here on earth, my Heavenly Father will hold me, sustain me, and carry me faithfully day in and day out.  God's love, grace and mercy is the best dose of healing medicine out there.

God had a big surprise in store for us on this day.  He sent us one of Haitian kiddos!  Nahomie (age 17) came home today from Haiti.  We are so very blessed to have this precious child of God join our family.  It's an absolute miracle that she is in Texas right now, and we must give God all of the glory.  There are so many times that God's timing does not feel perfect.  He sent us Kiefer from Haiti just two weeks prior to Chrissie's open-heart surgery, and now, just one month since Chrissie went to live with Jesus, God has sent us another beautiful and treasured Haitian child.  God's timing is ALWAYS perfect, no matter what things may look like to us.  We are mere mortals who have no ability to fathom God's perfect timing.  Sometimes God chooses to shed some light on His perfect timing of specific events, and I can honestly say that Kiefer's arrival was absolutely perfect timing and I know that Nahomie's arrival today is also His perfect timing.  I wholeheartedly trust Him, the creator of Heaven and earth.

We may be faced with criticism from the world, but being obedient to God and loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is our top priority.  We know there will be people and situations where we'll be ridiculed and questioned, and that's OK with us.  My husband has reminded me of the ministry God so clearly called us to:  James 1:27 Ministry:  to care for widows and orphans in their distress.  And this doesn't come in our desired timing.  It comes in His perfect timing.  All He requires is our obedience, and He works out the rest in ways we could never fathom. 

My mom sent me this little story (found below) called "The Quilt Holes".  I felt it was perfect for today, the one month anniversary of Chrissie's Homegoing as well as the welcoming of another one of God's chosen children for our family.  God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.  He gives and takes away, and our hearts still choose to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord!"  (Job 1:21)

"The Quilt Holes"

'As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.  But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.  My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again.  I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life.  I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth.. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.

An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.  Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.'

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay and who you refuse to let go.

Welcome Nahomie!
This is our family at the San Antonio airport where Nahomie arrived at 3:45PM this afternoon.  (Our 10-year-old son, Sawyer, is not present in the photo as he played in an All-Star game in Dripping Springs that conflicted with the timing of Nahomie's arrival.)  We all adore Nahomie, and she is quite happy to be here!  To God be all the glory!

PS  Matt is passing a kidney stone, which is extremely painful.  Please pray for him as this Father's Day will be a hard one emotionally, and being in physical pain on top of the emotional pain just stinks!  But praise God for His huge gift of the arrival of our sweet Nahomie.  Couldn't ask for a better Father's Day gift, hand-picked by our Heavenly Father!  We praise you, Lord!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I need your help!

I am trying to organize our summer, and I'd love your help.  If you have recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!

I am normally a very organized person, and I have our summer schedule all figured out around March/early spring.  This summer is different, and we all know why.  I didn't plan much of anything for the summer because I assumed much of our summer would be spent healing Chrissie.  The kids wanted to be with Chrissie and help her recover, be there to encourage her, be the ones to help her into our swimming pool for the first time, etc.  Well, now I am scrambling a bit to conjure up a new routine, which includes figuring out each child's summer schedule.

Problem is I really want us to all be together.  We are a homeschooling family who all truly enjoy being with one another.  We are quite used to taking trips together.  We all get home sick for one another when we're separated, and with Mom being gone for 31 days (by Chrissie's side in the PICU), I think we're all longing for some good quality family time.

Which presents another challenge.  It's a little difficult to have the type of family time that we're all longing for.  We want our family time to include Chrissie.  It just doesn't feel right without her here.  Every inch of our home and ranch was once pitter-pattered by Chrissie's wobbly feet.  It's just hard to achieve the new normal in such a short amount of time since Chrissie's Homegoing, but we are trying and persevering through Him, who gives us strength.

But it seems like everything we want to do here as a family is something we always did with Chrissie.  Family movie nights just don't feel right.  Rodeo/team-roping/horseback riding just isn't the same because Chrissie isn't here to spur the horses and holler, "Faster, faster, faster."  It doesn't even feel right to eat dinner together at our family table because Chrissie always loved to say the dinner blessing and engage in imaginary conversations of laughter, even when we had no idea what she was talking about.  Family devotion and prayer time isn't even something I've felt that I can face yet (although the others have) simply because I cannot imagine trying to get through it without Chrissie.  She was such a joy-filled part of our family devo and prayer time.  She would sit so quietly and participate so maturely, just waiting for the opportunity to chime in.  We always had to ask her the same questions as the rest of the kids (even though she was only 4 and didn't understand much of the conversation/questions), but Chrissie was determined to participate fully.  And she even memorized most of the Lord's prayer, as well as praying aloud her own independent prayer, always thanking God for each and every one of her family members.

In the struggle to find a new normal, I have longed to have some family time away from our home where we are not reminded of our princess everywhere we look, every time we turn, every move we make, every activity we engage in.  But it's challenging financially right now after Matt missed several weeks of work, medical bills are piling in, as well as funeral costs.  We don't want to finance a vacation, so we're asking you to give us creative ideas for FREE family fun!

We're in Texas, so it would need to be atleast within driving distance for it to be feasible, as there is no way we could afford plane tickets for everyone.  It just seems like everything costs money, which is driving me crazy!  What did families used to do for fun (away from home fun)?!?  Surely there are activities and "vacations" out there that are low-cost.  Oh please won't you help me find them?!?

PS  Three of our kiddos will be attending a bereavement camp for kids in the Austin area that is free, thank you, God!!!  (Parker, our 14-year-old, was too old for this camp.)  There's another bereavement camp for kids in Wimberley, but they're already full...maybe next summer.  I'd LOVE to find a family bereavement camp, but so far, I'm not having a whole lot of luck.  (One reader told me about Faith's Lodge in Minnesota, which we'd LOVE to attend, but, again, we'd  have to buy a lot of plane tickets since it's not really within an easy driving distance.)  And two of our youth-group aged kiddos will be going to Student Life camp in July, but other than that, we're just having Camp Patterson at Forgotten Saw Ranch all summer.  I'm not complaining (AT ALL) because our ranch happens to be one of our very favorite places to be on the face of the earth, we just aren't quite used to being here without the laughter of our Chrissie just yet.  We're learning though, and we are grateful that God is faithful and we can do all things through Him, who strengthens us.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


We want to thank so many of you for asking how we're doing, but most of all, we want to thank you for praying for us.

I would love to say that everyone is doing great and life is normal, but somehow that's not quite accurate.  The truth is that we all miss Chrissie desperately.  We miss her big hugs, her joyful smile, her contagious laugh.  We miss how she would call us "silly gooseballs" (instead of goofballs).  We miss everything about her.

We've joined a very small community that no one wants to be a part of:  those who have suffered the loss of a child.  And the kids have joined as those who have suffered the loss of a sibling...a child sibling, not an adult siblings.  I cannot tell you how this feels.  It just plain ole stinks, really.  No one should have to bury their child.  Period.  No one should have to figure out how to sit at the family dining room table with one chair empty that will never be filled with the same joy that once occupied that seat.  No one should have to walk through their child's favorite store without their child in tow, knowing they'll never walk those aisles hand in hand again.  No one should have to be the one to remove their child's car seat and "retire" it, not because the child outgrew it, but because the car seat outlived the child.  No one should have to pack away precious outfits that were purchased specifically for post-surgery...easy to put on outfits that buttoned down the back so that a split sternum wouldn't be displaced when lifting arms to put on a shirt.  Brand new sandals for the summer.  Sweet bows that matched the special post-surgery outfits.  Swimsuits that were never worn.  It's just hard and sad, and I don't know when/if it will ever get easier.

There are a few of you who have emailed me to let me know that you, too, have lost a child.  One of you is right here in Wimberley, and I'd love to meet you!!!  I'd love to meet ALL of you who have lost a child because this is a very small club that no one else can really fathom.  I loved that one of you wrote to me and told me about how someone expressed empathy to you by saying they understood because they had lost an uncle.  And I appreciated how you said that made you feel somewhat angry.  Losing a child just really cannot be compared to any other loss.  Really, it can't.

I look back and am amazed at how God pulled together a beautiful celebration of life for our princess in a matter of days. I never thought I could do it; and I couldn't.  It was all God.  God did all of the planning, and I am still in awe of how He pulled together a team of people who made Chrissie's celebration of life a joyful event instead of one of mourning.  The day Chrissie died, I never thought I'd be able to even attend her funeral because I believed wholeheartedly that I would not be able to pull myself together enough to even attend, much less speak.  I sobbed on our floor at home for 10-12 hours.  I sobbed in the shower and told God that I would never be OK, this was not OK, how would we ever be OK?  I could not eat, sleep, or even think.  I could not function, really. 

The day after Chrissie died, we had the meeting with the funeral home.  I HAD to pull myself together, but I couldn't.  I was utterly dependent upon God and God alone, which is exactly what He wants us to do, all the time.  We pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home, and I sobbed, barely able to walk inside.  Again, no one should ever have to plan their child's funeral.  No one.  It just isn't right.  But God was faithful, and He pulled me together to where I was able to talk.  I didn't think I'd be able to get a word out.  He wiped my tears away and enabled me to speak to the funeral home director and planner, after a few minutes of trying to choke back tears and talk through sobs.  God began to weave together details of the funeral in such a beautiful way.  I had no idea where to start (I googled 'how to plan your child's funeral'), but God knew how to make all of it come together.  He started showing me details and ideas and surrounded me with people to make it all happen.  I had no clue what I was doing, but God had the support "staff" in place, to lift us up when we couldn't hold own heads up, much less our arms and bodies, and He took care of every detail.  My husband and I spent the entire day of May 20 (which was also Kiefer's birthday) planning Chrissie's funeral, but by the end of the night, I felt like it was going to be possible to survive this walk and actually attend our daughter's funeral...and hopefully speak at it.

God enabled me to see that He would walk this path with us; He would hold us.  He would surround us with people (many of whom we had never even met) who would volunteer to make everything come together in His beautiful design. 

And God has continued to prove His faithfulness to us.  Just because the funeral is over doesn't mean that life is now easier.  In many ways, it's harder.  It's harder to try to live when all of us just want our Chrissie back.  We just want life to be the way it was.  None of us wants to figure out how to show others what faith looks like after the loss of a beloved child/cherished sibling.  Yet we all wholeheartedly trust our sovereign Lord, who doesn't make mistakes.  We thank God for the gift of our faith while we desperately and utterly depend on Him to show us how to walk this path of grief and mourning while giving Him honor and glory. 

None of us knows what we're doing.  We just press on with hope through Him.  Some of us talk about Chrissie a lot; others don't want to mention even her name at this time.  The various stages of grief will be hit at various times for all of us, especially with the variety of ages and maturity throughout our home.  Shock, denial, anger, pain, guilt, sadness, depression, loneliness, reconstruction, acceptance, and hope.  Can you imagine all of us going through all of this at various ages and stages?  Oh my, it overwhelms me just to think of it.  But God comes in and holds us, rocks us, soothes us, and tells us that everything is going to be OK in His perfect timing.  We may not ever get to a point of not missing Chrissie, but He will sustain us until we hold her in Heaven.

God is ever-present.  He is mighty; He is love; He is sovereign; He is grace; He is hope.  He is who/what enables us to keep going.  We are utterly dependent upon Him and all that He so graciously and freely gives each of us.  We don't see how there will ever be a day that we won't miss Chrissie, but we do see, feel and trust the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  We trust that He will carry us through these days on earth, and He will reunite us with our princess in Heaven.  We know that Chrissie is happier in Heaven than she ever was on earth, and yet we still feel so sad to not have her with us. 

I cannot imagine what life would be like without the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.  I have never been more grateful for His gift of eternal life.  I cannot imagine being separated from God.  I know that God has experienced our loss as He gave His One and Only Son for us, so that we could have eternal life.  I am truly in awe of how God was able to do this.  I know that I am too selfish to ever offer up my child, particularly for sinners who don't deserve such a gift.  Yet, I freely and gratefully receive His precious gift, the blood of His Son, shed for me, a sinner who doesn't deserve such graciousness.  I am forever grateful; forever blessed.

If there's one thing I know without a doubt, it's that God is real and He is present.  He is Love and He is Hope.  I wrote a post (entitled The Promise) before Chrissie's surgery about a rainbow that God had so graciously given me on the way home from the cardiac surgeon's office in February.  (You may read that post by clicking HERE.)  While I had hoped that "The Promise" was the healing of Chrissie's heart on this earth, to have her return to our family to live a long and abundant life, God has reminded me that "The Promise" was that when everything fell, we'd be held. 

God has held us beautifully,although that doesn't mean that it's pain-free.  He hasn't left our sides, not even momentarily.  He has surrounded us with an amazing Christian family who love on us, pray for us, encourage and support us day by day, faithfully.

This is what it means to be held.  We are living it daily.  And we still all agree that we wouldn't change it for the world.  Chrissie, precious angel, you were so very worth it.  We love you and miss you, sweet love. 

(Read the lyrics to Natalie Grant's song Held by clicking HERE.)  You can also watch the music video below.  (If you are reading this via email or RSS feed, you'll have to visit our blog to see the video.)

Thank you all for praying for us and for taking the time to ask how we're doing. Thank you for being God's hands and feet.  The hands that hold us when everything falls.  In His hands.  No better place to be.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Slide Show of Chrissie's Life With Our Family

You may click HERE to view the photo slide show of Chrissie that we played at her Celebration of Life (funeral) service.  Thank you, Robin Wilson, for transferring this and making it available for all to view, and thank you, Jackie Truitt, for putting this together at the very last minute.  (And thanks to all of you who've been asking me about getting it onto the blog...God is always so good to surround us with people who are able to make things happen!)  Oh, and "Tay" (15 year-old reader)...I don't have your email address, so I can't reply directly to you when you leave me a comment, but yes, you may play a slide show of Chrissie at the Princess Fundraiser Ball that you're putting together!!! :-)  God continues to work in mighty ways, and we are so very grateful for His presence and how He has surrounded us with an amazing Christian family to support and encourage us as we walk this path together.  Thank you all for praying for us and loving on us.  We are forever grateful.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"I Will Not Leave You As Orphans;

I will come to you."  John 14:18

If everyone who has prayed for Chrissie would donate just $1 in her memory, we could save atleast 5 international orphans.  (That figure is based upon 100,000 people who have prayed for Chrissie around the world with an average international cost of $20,000 per international adoption.)  If everyone who has prayed would donate $5 in Chrissie's memory, atleast 25 international orphans could be rescued.

Did you know that there are hundreds of families waiting to adopt a special needs orphan internationally?  All they're waiting on is funding.  It is expensive to adopt internationally, and it is hard for many families to come up with a large chunk of cash in one lump sum.  But there is never a price too high to pay to save the life of a child, one of God's precious treasures, the least of these.

Did you know that many special needs orphans in other countries will sit in their cribs for 23 hours/day, many tied to their cribs, sitting in their waste, with no clothing or food?  Some 12-year-old special needs orphans weigh a mere 20 pounds, as they waste away in their cribs in mental instutions around the world.  Most of them don't make it to the age of 12.  If they were to be adopted, they would be treasured members of a forever family where they would be given proper nutrition, nurturing, clothing, exercise, stimulation, affection, education, and above all else...unconditional love.

As my husband said in his address during Chrissie's celebration of life service, God may not call all of us to adopt orphans, but His Word tells us how important it is that we care for orphans.  (Just get a Bible and look up "orphan" in the concordance.)  One way you can easily care for orphans, without even sacrificing your own comfort, is to donate to families who are eagerly awaiting and anticipating saving the life of an orphan.

Finances should not stand in the way of families rescuing orphans, and you can so easily be a part of the solution.  All you have to do is donate and your generosity will bring hope, healing and restoration to an orphan who will be rescued, loved, cherished...adopted.

Several of you have emailed me to let me know that Chrissie's story has inspired you to adopt and/or foster children.  We are extremely grateful and humbled by your amazing response.  Losing Chrissie has been the hardest thing we have endured as a family, but knowing that her miracle legacy continues brings great comfort to our spirits.

Someone recently questioned the amount of money we spent on Chrissie's adoption, medical and funeral expenses, stating that perhaps that money could have been spent to help humanity in a mightier way.  I beg to differ (for MANY reasons), but my prayer is that God will boldly display His plan of coming to the orphan, rescuing them from their oppression, and that there is no price too great for such a gift as giving an orphan the love of a forever family.  Chrissie's life has already moved several people to adopt, and because of this amazing response, I am honored to say that our "investment" in Chrissie's life has already had a profound effect humanity, which is NOT at all why we adopted her.  We had NO idea that God planned to affect lives around the world through the life of our Serbian Sensation, but we are amazed and humbled to see how God continues to use Chrissie's life to affect humanity in mightier ways than we'll ever truly know.  Countless people have contacted me to let me know that Chrissie's story has either brought them to Christ or renewed their relationship with Christ.  Irredeemable hearts have been redeemed.  Souls have been saved eternally.  If Chrissie's life moves even more people to give financially in her memory to rescue orphans, we will never know the number of lives saved (eternally as well as on this earth).  Remember, Chrissie was an orphan who many felt was not worthy of adoption.  She changed our hearts and brought more joy to our lives in her short 7 months with our family than anyone will ever truly know.  No matter how short our time with Chrissie, her life was worth it.  Worth every penny spent, worth every tear shed.  Chrissie brought more laughter, love, hugs, and pure joy to our family than money could ever buy.  No amount of wealth or riches or trinkets or treasures could buy that type of joy.  None can compare.  There is no price too great for saving the life of an orphan.  They are precious in His sight.

"For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.  He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.  He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight."   Psalm 72:12-14

The day Chrissie died, numerous blog readers contacted me to let me know they were planning to attend her funeral.  Many of you were going to attend at great expense, flying in from a variety of states, not wanting to miss Chrissie's celebration of life.  This is when God laid it on my heart to make the service available for viewing online so that those of you who planned to travel would be able to save those travel expenses and donate that money toward rescuing orphans.  Many of you have already donated that money, but if you have not yet donated in memory of Chrissie and God is impressing it upon your heart to donate in order to save the life of an orphan, please take a moment to donate in honor of Christyn Joy Patterson.  I know it would give Chrissie great joy to know that other children around the world will get to experience the love of a forever family, which was so important to Chrissie.  A mommy and a daddy was all Chrissie ever wanted in life, and I know she would want to pass that gift along to every orphan out there if she could.  Chrissie would LOVE to let the orphans know of God's promise to not leave them as orphans; He promises to come to them. 

If you get our blog updates via email or RSS feeds, you will need to go click on our blog at so that you can easily donate.  There are 3 buttons at the top of our blog where you can simply click to donate.  (1)  Reece's Rainbow donations are tax-deductible and you will find a link on their homepage to donate in memory of Chrissie.  We adopted Chrissie through Reece's Rainbow, and it is an amazing orphan advocacy for special needs orphans.  (2)  Abby's Wish  (the red Chip-In button) is a way to directly donate to a special family:  The Riggs Family, whose daughter, Abby, was once an orphan from Guatemala.  Abby has Leukemia, but it is her greatest wish to beat cancer and adopt a sibling or two.  All funds donated here will go directly toward adoption expenses for The Riggs Family.  (3)  Many of you have inquired about giving directly to our family, which is why I created the green Chip-In button.  Donations here will go directly to The Patterson Family.

Thank you so much for prayerfully considering donating in memory of Chrissie and playing a role in God's promise to not leave us as orphans.  Praise Him for promising to come to us, and thank you for partnering with Him in His promise.  The least of these are worth it.  He says so.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"   Matthew 25:40

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