Tuesday, December 3, 2019

10 Years Later: Evie

I woke up today with the brightest pink sunrise streaming in my window. 

A deep breath... remembering. 

Evie would be 10 years old today. 

* For those of you who do not know this part of our story, I became pregnant for the 4th time in 2009. Reese was 1 and the twins were 3. I found out at a  “gender reveal” place that it was a girl and everyone was just so excited for a Bilsland baby girl to join the mix. The next few weeks were so sweet. I planned a girly nursery and received tons of little pink clothes.

4 weeks later at our 20 week ultrasound, we went into what we thought would be a happy little update at the doctor's office. Instead, the nurse was quiet as she took measurement after measurement... glossing over the fact that it was indeed a girl. Something was wrong. 

She then ushered us into the doc's office where he explained to us that our baby had several severe health issues, including a hole in her heart. He explained that since there was more than one issue, it could mean a genetic mutation. We were in shock. 

After that there was a whirlwind of tests and appointments and prayers and trying to understand what was happening to our sweet babe. We learned after genetic testing that she had a duplication of her third chromosome… essentially, the problem was in her genes so it would affect everything... mentally, physically... she would not develop normally. 

They asked us repeatedly if we wanted to end her life which still angers me to think about… out of all we had to think about and plan for with our daughter, ending her life was never a consideration.  

We went on to plan as much as we could for life with a child with severe special needs. We planned to have several specialists in the room when she was born to take care of her physical issues. 

But that was about all we could do. We lived… we prayed… we waited. 

She was literally dancing around in my belly every day, especially when I ate ice cream or something cold…  so very active...

until she wasn't.

One evening in my 9th month of pregnancy, I noticed she hadn’t been moving as much that day. I laid down on my side and drank some orange juice and she flipped a few times. Feeling better I went to bed that night but woke up with a heavy feeling. 

I knew before I knew. 

I made a doctor's appointment and immediately went in so they could check things out. She put the wand on my belly to check the heartbeat and couldn’t find it so they moved me into the ultrasound room to look at her on the screen. 

There was no movement. She was gone... her heart had stopped beating. 

The doctor said, “I’m so sorry.” 

I had a c-section that night. They took her out and the room was quiet. I can't fully describe the deafening silence of that moment but it will forever be etched into my the deepest parts of my being. 

Life was a blur after that. I held her still body and family members and friends surrounded us with so much love. So many tears shed by loved ones. I don’t think I cried at all. I was in shock. I felt like I was watching the whole scene from the outside… there was no way this was real. 

We went on to have a memorial service and bury her next to my granny who we lost to cancer the year before. 

It was surreal.


Looking back now, I think I went in to shock that day and didn’t actually process what happened until many years later. 

We started our business 6 months later in 2010 and it was the best distraction ever. I put all my energy and effort into Sailor Studio and it became a beautiful outlet and a sweet time of coming into my own as a creative and entrepreneur. 

We had Hudson and Indy…  2 more precious boys added to the family. 

We were done having children in 2015… and I think when the childbearing season ended, it hit me and there was no longer the distraction and possibility of more babies. Life slowed down a bit and I knew it was time to face the pain. I began to really question and dig into my faith during that season and realized quickly that the elephant in the room between me and God was death. My grandmother, my daughter, my dad. I lost three incredibly significant people in my life in 5 years… very different circumstances for each. 

And none of it made sense to me. 

Because you see… I am an analyzer, a problem solver. I want to dissect problems, get to the root, and do what I have to do to fix it. That is how I approach my life. If you need help, get help. If you need a life change, get to it. No excuses, no time to waste. 

One of the biggest lessons God taught me through death is that some problems just don’t have "solutions" this side of heaven. There was absolutely nothing I could do but love them and let them go… I was completely and totally powerless. I had no control. 

That was excruciating.

But that’s where God met me. Because it is in those places of complete and utter surrender that He speaks. Well, really... He is always talking but never forces us to listen. If we believe we can do it all on our own and control our life… He'll let us. 

But the problem with that is. 


Life is unpredictable. Having control is an illusion. 

Your life today is one breath away from a situation that is completely out of your hands. 

I remember finally saying the words, “You broke my heart”  to God in a moment of raw emotion and tears and trying to understand… and that began an honest conversation between me and Him about my deepest grief.

You can’t hide from the dark places…  God knows every lie you believe about Him. You have to go to the foot of the cross and pour out what you believe… all the sadness, all the questions, all the anger and the “how could you let this happen?” 

Because that is the first step to hearing Truth. The truth is God didn’t want them to die. Jesus wept with me… even knowing all of eternity and the bigger picture that I can’t even fathom in my human existence. Jesus wept with me. 

And that brought me into authentic relationship with God. 

I released the idea that I can figure everything out on my own…  I confessed out loud the pride of thinking, "I got this… I can handle it".

That was a lie. I couldn’t handle it. The pain was way too deep. I could only numb it… but that also came with numbing other parts of my life. You can’t numb your heart to certain things and expect to fully connect and love with the other parts. 

It was after that confession that I began to feel and accept the unconditional love He had for me and I began to truly trust Him. You can't hide from that kind of love. It is utterly overwhelming and it breaks down all your reservations. 

My eyes began to open to every place He has carried me through, every moment He has taken care of me and I started to see every circumstance through His eyes. Eyes of grace and truth and beauty. He has the power to heal the impossibly broken places… but you have to let Him in. 

And after the illusions are broken down, He calls us to walk from a place of rest, of trust, of relying on Him every day because we know those uncontrollable moments will happen again and again in this life. Trusting Him doesn’t change what life can bring. But it undoubtedly changes how you see each circumstance. It undoubtedly brings hope and joy in the hardest of moments, and breeds a culture of love and gratefulness for the anti climatic, mundane moments of day to day life. 

It awakens your miracle eyes. Your lenses change as you see things clearly for maybe the first time in your life. 

Thank you Evie. You are my miracle. 

And I will miss you until Heaven.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

To my fifth son on his first birthday.

My Dearest Indy Rush, 

One year old. One of five.

Some people might feel sorry for you little one… “5th Child… how can you even care and nurture that many children? Obviously they will be lonely and overlooked…”

Let me let you in on a little secret Indiana, you don’t ever have to worry about that. 

Just this week, you started trying to balance and stand on those wobbly little legs. And instead of just mommy and daddy clapping, you had four older brothers encouraging you. It sounded like someone just hit a home run in the World Series the way they cheered for you attempting your first step. 

It blessed my mama heart to see their faces genuinely light up with pride, “Mom!!! Did you see that?? Indy is trying to WALK!!"

Yes, yes, my darling… it is quite the accomplishment that first step. While some people might think by the fifth child 'first steps' or 'rolling over' or saying “dada” and “mama” for the first time would lose it’s luster. 

They couldn't be more wrong. Every “first” is full of joy for us… and it never gets old. If anything, we are enjoying those moments even more now because as parents of many we realize just how fast all those firsts come and go and we are soaking it all in, never rushing your journey to toddlerhood. 

Indy Bindy, you were born with a whole team of cheerleaders in your life. And we will be lifting you and laughing with you and celebrating every success and victory. 

And when you lose your balance and fall over… and your little face puckers and those big tears start sliding down your cheeks; you immediately have a flock of brothers swooping down to pick you up, hug you, and make silly faces until you’re happy again. 

That, my sweet, is the joy of being born into a large family. I am sure you will one day fight and yell and get on your brothers’ nerves… but they will also be your best friends, your partners in crime, and your shoulders to lean on when life becomes overwhelming. They will be your protectors and your confidants… a safe place to talk about “dude stuff.”

I pray that as you grow up those brotherhood bonds will stay strong. I try not to worry too much about you boys being adults… making your own way in this crazy world… but I feel a little better knowing you won’t be alone. That you have a built in community right in your own backyard.

Remember to always treat your family like a gift because it is one.

Indiana, today you are one. 

You are pure happiness and smiles one minute and guarded and cautious the next. Sometimes you look at me like you are thinking very deep thoughts… processing the mysteries of the universe in that little baby brain of yours.

You love music, food, and pointing at your puppy, Junebug. Your favorite song is "I go to the rock" and you love snuggling with your blankey.

You are a go with the flow kind of baby and I thank Jesus for you every single day. :) 

Happy 1st Birthday sweet Indy.

All the Love,

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016... Awake


This first morning of 2016, I woke up bright eyed. Now for those of you who know me, you know this is a rare thing. I am not exactly what you call, a “morning” person. I am a “do not talk to me for 2 hours after drag myself out of bed” person.

But this morning I opened my eyes and felt… giddiness. Oddly enough, even after staying up until 3 am bringing in the New Year, I woke up with this incredible energy coursing through my veins... excited for the new year to begin.

2015 was not a bad year, but it was overwhelming… a "keep one foot in front of the other and your head down and just survive" kind of year. The first half was pregnancy and selling a home and buying another and moving. The second half was new baby and trying to unpack and do a million craft shows and get through the busy season of retail.

I spent much of the past year thinking “life is so short… I need to do ALL the things and I need to do them ALL right NOW!”  My business should be growing faster and my kids should know more and we need to go on marriage retreats and Indy should be sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and we should start a Bible study and why is the house not perfectly decorated a month after we move in??

My mind started getting cloudy.  The haze of busyness and ambition took over and that fog is hard to lift. It is difficult to pray and connect spiritually when your mind is packed with so many events and ideas… it becomes all about me. me. me. my schedule, my ideas, my big plans for the future.

And when I am missing that connection with God it allows this trickle of doubt and negativity in… I’m not doing enough. I’m not good enough… and eventually this anxious, stressed attitude overtakes me. My kids suffer, my husband suffers, and the whole mood of our home changes. 

But thankfully I can feel that mood lifting.

This morning God woke me up with a totally clear head and with ears to listen… and He told me to pray... so I walked through our house and prayed over it and those who live here. I prayed over the boys, over our marriage, over this coming year and what it will bring. I thanked God for 2015. As stressful as it was, we survived and can now see a new season on the horizon.

I wanted to start this year fresh. I don’t have a million resolutions because that will add to the stress of do more, be better. 

What I want for this year is not to be more or do more. But just to be present where I am... to listen, to feel, to dance and sing and laugh and cry and just be in the moment. Our life is going to be hectic… that is just the season I am in right now with 5 young sons.

I can’t do much about the chaos, but I can make the conscience effort to stop dreaming of a different season and be fully here now… with eyes wide open, seeing all these beautiful people around me, letting God speak and not being so consumed with doing doing doing that I can actually stop and hear His voice.

To let go of any expectations of who I "could" be and appreciate the person God made. The sometimes too loud, socially anxious, messy, late, ambitious, deep thinking, domestically challenged, never satisfied, quirky soul…  to accept her. To enjoy my boys… not wishing they were younger or older but looking at them right here, right now and breathing in their little souls and let them know what a joy and privilege it is to be their mama… and to accept that I am exactly who they need as a mother… just as I am now.

I have always been a daydreamer and have spent so much time in my head. But this year I don’t want to just observe and analyze and over think EVERYTHING, I want to live!  No more standing back rehashing the past or dreaming constantly of tomorrow because you know what? Tomorrow isn’t going to be perfect either. I know how wildly unpredictable and sometimes tragic life can be. I have spent so much time holding back just a bit and waiting for the next ball to drop… but what a waste that is. 

There is so much to take in and be a part of right now… even within the chaos. 

Just look at the world around us. It is truly breathtaking. Miracles happen every day. 

And those miracles happen because people are there, awake in the moment, not over analyzing and absorbed in their own bubble… not thinking about the the next thing to check off on their to-do list.

It’s because they open their eyes and hearts and minds and look up. 

Step through the fog. 


with God. with each other.

And as we connect, something awakens inside us. Because God made us to be together, to lift each other up, to laugh and cry, to pray and worship together… not just to follow each other’s perfectly crafted lives on social media, but to dig in with each other, the good, the bad, even when it’s messy and doesn’t turn out perfectly, it’s real life and at the end of your time here you will be happy that you didn’t waste your time on superficial things. 

Embrace your tribe, the people God has placed in your life for this season... see them with new eyes and a humble heart. When they speak, really listen… ask God to help you be the person who encourages and speaks life, not ignores or tears down. Be a powerhouse of prayer and love for those who are hurting and rejoice with those who are celebrating.

That’s when the miracles happen… when people let go of all the baggage and just jump in head first to wherever God leads them today. Not only in a mission field in Africa, or a hidden house church in China, but right here, in small town, Georgia. And not waiting until you have that amazing job, or the perfect home, or you lose that 30 pounds... but right now. It's time to wake up and see the opportunities around us to do good works, even if all that means today is changing a diaper and comforting a cranky toddler. It is good. If you are fully open to see the purpose and beauty in it. 

Live today as fully awake as you can… because all those waking moments will run together and eventually you will look back and realize those moments are everything. 

Over the past few days I have been thinking about what my word of the year should be for 2016.  In case you haven’t guessed it, my word is simply... awake.

That is how I plan to spend my year… fully aware, fully engaged, open to see miracles in the mundane and opportunity in the everyday.


       4The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
          That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.

         He awakens Me morning by morning,

            He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. 
        (Isaiah 50:4)