baby ben

I can't believe that two months have gone by since my sister-in-law's sweet baby, Ben, has left us to be with Jesus. March 27th marked a very, very sad day for our entire family. 

Mandy's pregnancy had been progressing smoothly with no known complications. After going into labor she was admitted to the hospital to deliver. While there Ben's heart rate dropped suddenly and then stopped. At that point the medical staff were unable to find a heart beat. This was a shock to everyone, especially considering her smooth pregnancy. The cause? There is no medical explanation for Ben's passing. We are convinced though that God took Ben home. In the midst of intense tragedy, this promise helps pain not be quite as piercing as it might otherwise be. 

Even though Ben's life was so short, we know that his life was both sweet and has eternal meaning. 
Jonny, Mandy, and Ben two days before the hospital
Bart was able to go to England last month to spend time with Mandy and Jonny. Their time was understandably a roller-coaster ride of emotions, smiles one moment and then a flood of tears the next. There is no short cut through grief, it's a matter of facing it head-on, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. We have to trust that God is still sovereign even with life's events are confusing and gut-wrenching. 
Mandy sets up some of Ben's special gifts in honor of him for his memorial service. 
Jonny and Mandy pose for a quick picture before the service begins.
Bart and Mandy pose in front of the guest table.

Mandy sent us the book, A Grace Disguised, to help us through our own grieving process. In this book the author shares some very wise words from Nicholas Wolterstorff:

And sometimes, when the cry is intense, there emerges a radiance which elsewhere seldom appears: a glow of courage, of love, of insight, of selflessness, of faith. In that radiance we see best what humanity was meant to be...In the valley of suffering, despair and bitterness are brewed. But there also character is made. The valley of suffering is the vale of soul-making.

Times like these certainly remind us of our humanity.- how fragile life is and how we are never promised tomorrow. In the midst of that though we are also reminded of God's sovereignty over everything here on earth. Our life finds eternal meaning only in Him. 

Below is Mandy's prayer at the funeral just before Ben's body was lowered into the grave. It brings tears to my eyes to think of Ben and to think of her. 

Heavenly Father,
You are good and you do good. Every good and perfect gift comes from you including our darling son Benjamin Hudson. We are so thankful, more than words can ever express, for the sheer joy and great privilege and gift of sharing his short earthly life. Thank you. You know that any length of time with him here would never have been enough and now we are counting down the days until we can be with you and him forever, never ever being parted again. We have come to realize that we aren't really mourning the fact that he's not here with us, in this beautiful but broken world. We truly wouldn't bring him back if we could. Rather, we deeply grieve the fact that we must pass the rest of our days here without him, wishing instead to be there with you and him in a perfect and painless world now. Please give us the courage and strength to live out all of our days in such a way as to always honor you, just as we were so looking forward to teaching Ben to do, until we are all together again. He will not return to us, but we will come to him. This darling little sweetheart is our treasure. You entrusted him to us for nine months and enabled us to recognize and enjoy his priceless worth every single day. Thank you for that. Because you first trusted him to us, we are now able to entrust him back to you to guard perfectly forever, as we endeavored to do in his time with us. And so we pray...

Dearest Father,
Just as you did not withhold your own precious Son, but lovingly and sacrificially gave him up for us all, we now dedicate our precious treasure, Benjamin Hudson Vaughan, to you, in the sure knowledge of the hope that Easter brings – that is, the truth that a life invested with you is eternally safe and also yields an unspeakable return. Please keep us as safe and sure of your perfect love and care as Ben is now.In the name of your perfect Son, our precious Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Mandy places a hydrangea on Ben's grave from his cousin, Chickee.
John 12:23-26. "Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.' "

Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so. 

We love you, Baby Ben.


what matters

Oh, the things that we as "first world" moms talk about and debate. We certainly want the very best for our children, but I believe that when we make choices for our kids out of personal-pride or our own strength we become dangerous. We start turning away from God and turning inward towards ourselves. This blog post was a poignant reminder for me of what truly matters- there are eternal ramifications for the choices that we make as moms and as families, whether we have bio kids, adopted kids, foster kids, or a mix. Lord, make me heavenly-minded. 

where is the mommy-war for the motherless child?

This blogger has a very touching story: 


the meaning of marriage

With Bart's and my anniversary coming up on Sunday, this video was a powerful reminder for me of what the true meaning of our marriage is: to glorify God.

I hope this moves your heart as much as it moved mine.

You will never regret loving this much. 
(quote from This Momentary Marriage)


country chick

Chick and I were two traveling gals a few weeks ago! First stop- Nashville and then on up north to Cincinnati. We had a great time. Nothing quite like family.

Here is our recap:

Celebrated my sister, Cassie's, birthday. She has always dreamed of going to Hawaii so we brought Hawaii to her. Homemade leis out of cupcake liners, chicken/pineapple kabobs for dinner, pineapple upsidedown cake for dessert, surfing, hula hoop contests, and even the traditional Hawaiian game, 'ulu maika. 

Michael catches a wave!
Gigi hangs 10!
Papaw: Big Kahuna
Mason tests the water. Watch out for that shark behind you!
Birthday girl ready for the rip curl!
Hula gal, Syndey
Shark attack!
Happy Birthday, Cassie! 
Make a wish!
(make it fast though because those candles look a little out of control!!)

Kitty Party!
We also got the chance to celebrate my mom's birthday!
If you know anything about my mom, it's that she adores her feline friends. So the theme? Cats, of course! We had 9 little treats for her in honor of the cat's 9 lives. Before revealing each gift, we showed her a picture of a famous cat which she had to identify. This mom knows her cats! Not surprisingly, she got scored a 9 out of 9!

Country Fun!
We had several beautiful days. Chickee enjoyed being a country girl for a while. She was mezmerized by all the green! She and Gigi head out for a quick stroll. Chick loves her Gigi.
a walk down the lane
Gigi's garden looked beautiful!
Faithful, Bandit. We are so glad to get to see him one last time.
He is now 14. We will miss him when it's his time to go.
Chick couldn't get enough of him!

The weekend was a special one. We headed up to Cincy to visit my my mom's side of the family. This was their and Chickee's first meeting. One that we will never forget.

Chick loves some attention.

More attention!

My grandmother is a very talented decorator. I love that about her!

She even kept up her Easter decs for us to enjoy.

Isn't my grandmother fantastic?

One very special treat we enjoyed was getting the chance to peruse old photographs. Here are some of my favorites:

My Grandpa- what a hunk-a-chunk!
Baby and best friend.

Great grandmother.
Great grandmother.

My mom and her twin sister. Adele could be their triplet!
They look so much alike!

My parents' wedding picture. Beautiful!
Back in Nashville!
We cheered Mason on at one of his T-ball games. This kid is a star player! One of the best short-stops around. 

Papaw and Chickee cheer Mason on from the stands!

I forgot to ask for his autograph!
 My dad has been working tirelessly on Nashville's new convention center as a crane operator. I'm so proud of him!

Lastly, I got to take Chick to my alma mater. She got to hear all about my memories as we walked the campus. Vandy girl in the making? I think, yes.

Nashville, we'll be back...