Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Power of Love and Hope

I spoke in church today and thought I would share. . . 

I spoke over a year ago and since then have given birth to twin boys. These boys have given our family a run for our money and something tells me this crazy year won’t be the last. Our twins were a miracle to us and have been an enormous blessing. While in a time of our lives when sadness and grief was consuming us, God simply and plainly told us, if it was our hearts desire, we would be blessed with two boys. That is a story that is special to my husband and me. I won't go into details, but you can see that it is a story that exemplifies the power of God’s love for us, that he knows each of us personally, and how that love can bring us all hope.  

Many of you know our oldest son passed away in a boating accident 2 1/2 years ago. Today I want to share with you a little of how our son lived. The meaning of the name Maxwell is described as “Great” and “Capable.” Those two description fit him perfectly. He was “Great.” His teachers would describe him as a great leader. He had a greatness about him that was honest and humble and people would follow him because they felt that greatness in him. Max was very “Capable.” Not only was he in the gifted programs and always tested extremely high at school, he had a gift for music. He was “Great” and “Capable,” but if I were to add one more meaning to the name of our son Maxwell, it would be “Love.” I was proud that my son was great and capable, but what brings me to tears every time I think of him is his love. . . His love for me, his love for others, and his love for his Father in Heaven.

In 4th grade he was invited to a classmates birthday party. I knew the boy only a little from visiting Max's class, but I knew that he was not one of the popular kids. But, Max being a friend to all was not deterred in the slightest. Ryan and I had other plans and a party of our own to go to, so I asked Max to skip the party and told him we could send a gift to the birthday boy. Max was so adamant about going that I finally agreed. When I took Max to the door, I saw the house was full of decoration for the party but empty of any friends. Max was the only one who had shown up. When the boy saw Max, he lit up like his birthday party was about to be amazing. The thought of what could have been a horrible event in a young boys life, made me so grateful for Max and his love for everyone. A couple of weeks before Max passed away he and his sister Abby attended a surf camp. There was a boy that was always around Max. Always asking him questions, trying to drag him from place to place, and wanting to constantly be right next to him. At a lunch break on the last day, I sat next to Max and asked him if this new found follower had been behaving like this all week. Max stated that he had. I commented at how annoying that probably was. He gave me a look that was a mixture of surprise and disappointment. What he innocently and simply said in response was, “He has a good heart." That's how Max was. Always seeing the good in people. Max was the way he was because of love. He truly cared about and loved others.  The power of Max's love for people was just that... Powerful. It was simple and sweet and true. 

“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” -Hebrew 13:5 

When Max left this world, I was at a loss. More than a loss, I was broken and shattered into tiny pieces, but with that tragedy came an abundance of love. At his funeral, people came far and wide to support us and honor Max. The speakers spoke from the heart, the music carried a sweet spirit to each person, and the flowers were beyond breathtaking. When my sister died when I was young, my mom did not want to see flowers for a long time because it brought back the haunting memories of her daughters death. For me, the flowers at Max’s funeral represented life. When I looked at them, I saw something blooming at its peek, cut from the life it was living and now serving a greater purpose than it was before. I have since contacted the talented friend who arranged these flowers. She described the event of arranging the flowers for the funeral as something spiritual. She and her loving daughter felt Max’s presence and spirit guiding them throughout the emotional process.  

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” -Helen Keller 

The story I am about to tell has been heard by few but I tell it now and I ask that as I open my heart, it be respected and received as it was intended. The intent is to describe    to you the power of love and of hope. 

After the funeral, my husband, our two girls and I went to Australia to rediscover ourselves and find peace. While there, I found myself laying in a hotel bed, in another country, and the son that I had cared for and loved for 10 years was gone. While tears were gracing my cheeks and with a prayer pounding in my heart, I drifted to sleep and started to dream. I believe this was more than just a dream. . . I felt light and weightless unlike the heavy load I was carrying only breaths ago. I found myself standing across from my son, he was beautiful and almost vibrating with color and light. His eyes were crystal blue and his hair was golden, like it had been washed in the rays of the sun. I was aware that he had died and I was looking at him, memorizing him like I wanted one last look before he was really gone. The scene around us was endless white and peaceful. In that moment, I started to feel my heart ache as I remembered his death and his departure. Then, without touching me, I felt him pull my attention to look at him in his light filled eyes. He looked at me and I could feel him looking deep into my soul. He smiled and spoke to me without words, but what felt like a pure form of communication, and told me to look at a bouquet of flowers he held in his hands. He held beautiful flowers and I noticed they were the same flowers used at his funeral. Again, communicating without words, he beckoned me to come closer and smell them. I stepped closer, I was close enough now that the flowers were the only thing between us. He lifted them to me and I inhaled. I closed my eyes and as I let the amazing sweet scent fill my lungs, I felt an incredible joy unlike anything imaginable and a euphoric feeling of pure love. The kind of love that is warm and endless and can lift you up no matter how deep you have fallen. The feeling flowed into my nose and my heart pumped the love and joy to every part of my body. I looked at him and his face lit up in satisfaction, knowing what I had just experienced. In words unspoken, he let me know this is how he feels every moment and he wanted me to feel how happy he really was. He had given me a gift. I woke up enlightened with my prayer answered and hope resting in my heart. 

This experience along with many others, has shown me that we will all have trials in our lives, but that they are small when compared to our eternal life. Understanding this challenging concept will help us feel joy and hope amongst the sadness and despair we sometimes find ourselves in. 

God loves us, and with that love comes hope. My prayer is that through love and its powerful force, we can have hope that our broken hearts can one day be mended, that our faith in God can be restored, and that our lives may have more joy and fulfillment because we have allowed love and hope to enter it. 

Stay tuned for more living . . .

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Formally announcing our two little gifts from heaven.

11.28.11 4:16am Levi Ryan Harris 3lbs 6oz 17in
11.28.11  4:19am Caleb Ryan Harris 3lbs 2oz 16in

                                                                             photos by Kelli Salter

Stay tuned for more living . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Photos by Kelli Salter

Umm . . . I think this twin thing is going to be kinda fun :)

 Stay tuned for more living . . .

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The End of Something Can Be a Good Thing . . .

Sometimes the end can lead to great beginnings.
I am sooooo happy to say it is the end of the NICU for us, and I am bursting to announce the beginning of our family life with the twins.
Let the chaos begin!

 Our driving back and forth from home to the NICU, never ending pumping to keep my milk supply up, guilt from leaving our girls over and over again to go to the hospital, guilt from not spending enough time at the NICU with the boys, and the stress of watching the monitors beep and flash when one or both boys heart rate and oxygen saturation would drop is now over!
No more!
 Here's how it all went down . . .

Levi was doing so great, the Dr. took his feeding tube out and told us to prepare for his homecoming in a couple of days but...

that night he started having a lot of bradycardia episodes and would need to be in the NICU for a while longer. We thought he was slowing down so his little brother had a chance to catch up.
Caleb took the chance and ran with it. He actually pulled his feeding tube out himself and came home 4 days later.

We put them together one last time in the NICU

       Caleb's bassinet is all stripped clean while Levi on the left was left behind.

       Because the girls were under 18 and it was flu season, they weren't allowed to see the twins in the NICU. After over a month and a half of waiting, they finally met their brother Caleb for the first time.
                                                            It was love at first sight!
                      They took him hiking, gave him a bath and showered him with loves and kisses.
3 days later, to our surprise Levi progressed enough to join his brother at home. . .

with his sisters.
We are one big happy family with a lot of diapers, laundry and love!

Stay tuned for more living . . .

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Back In My Arms

They can wear clothes now!!




Back in my arms.

Stay tuned for more living . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

10 Days Old

Ok, so I thought I was going to be alright leaving my boys in good hands at the NICU while coming home to recuperate. I'm not going to lie, it was not easy. Granted I have a lot of hormones going on, it just didn't feel right to leave the hospital, no longer pregnant, without my babies. It took me back to that place where I had to leave Max at the hospital . . . not a good place. I had a lot going on around me and in my mind when I got home but was so happy to wake up with a clear mind knowing that life is amazing and incredible and we are truly blessed. I have one boy in Heaven looking down and watching over us, two boys getting excellent care at the NICU, two girls who bring us so much happiness and adventure, and a husband who loves me.

Ryan and I are visiting the boys for about five hours a day; where we are now able to hold, change diapers, and help out the nursing staff with whatever they need. We are so excited to say, thanks to prayers, modern technology and medicine, that the boys are doing amazing! They are no longer on oxygen or forced air, they are accepting their food through a tube that goes in their nose to their stomachs and are now off their IV's. Caleb's weight had dropped to 2lbs 14oz but is now tied with Levi at 3lbs 5oz. Pretty soon they will just be tiny regular newborns.

Just as I was getting settled into the routine of "visiting" my boys and being at home to take care of my girls, I woke up to conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), yuck! The NICU is a very sterile place and my heart fell with the fear of not being able to visit my boys. I called the nurse, who talked with the Dr. and she told me, in a nice way, that I wasn't allowed to enter the NICU and would not be able to see or hold my sons. I had to hurry and get off the phone so I didn't break down on the phone. It's been 3 days now without seeing them. Sometimes you have to search for that happy place to go to when it's not right in front of you. I've been doing a lot of searching :) I am feeling better and will probably look back and not even remember this short time with out seeing my little guys. In the meantime, I am so happy they are doing so well in the NICU.

Ryan is a natural at this.
... And this.
He's super grumpy that his mom isn't there :)

Stay tuned for more living . . .

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 4

Today is the day I leave my boys at the hospital and go home to my girls. It's bitter sweet. Levi is doing better today but still a bit behind Caleb. I think this whole process is going to be filled with ups and downs. Good thing we are kind of used to that :) Below are some great "up's" of the day. Stay tuned for more living . . .


The NICU nurse is handing Caleb to me for some snuggle time.
Me and my little guy.
Levi is all wrapped up and snug as a bug getting ready to be held by his dad for the first time.
He looks happy about it.
Ryan and Levi
So sweet.