Here are the things my children - all of them - have taught me, and what I am celebrating about them this Mother's Day.
God has used my first child in Heaven, my Naomi Faith, to teach me that His love does not change when our circumstances do; that there is a big different in the reason for something and the purpose; that He can use a great big painful loss to introduce me to some of the most incredible people in the world; and that Heaven is closer than I ever realized, and very very real.
God has used my second child in Heaven, my Kyria Hope, to teach me that faith is more about who God is than about what we want Him to do; to help me understand the pain of loss upon loss; and to prompt me to reach out to others by beginning Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Sunday, as well as our Naomi's Circle pregnancy loss ministry.
God has used my third child in Heaven, my Jordan Gabriel, to reinforce that a person is a person, no matter how small; to teach me that the strength of a mother's love is not related to how long you have known that child; and to show me how to come alongside other women whose losses are not seen as significant by the world.
God has used my son on Earth, my Rainbow boy, to teach me what it means to hope in God and not in what I want to happen; how to embrace both joy and sorrow every single day; how the love of and for a son is so delightfully different than the love of and for a daughter; and how to be my son's greatest champion and prayer warrior.
God has used my fourth child in Heaven, my Hope Promise, to remind me that He is in control, and not me; to reawaken that desire for another child in our family, even if the world might think I have lost me senses; and to open the door again to talk about life and death and heaven and eternity with my Sunshine girl - such precious conversations at such a tender age.
God has used my fifth child in Heaven, our Christmas surprise, to fill my heart with hope that we may yet conceive again; to fill my heart with wonder at the miracle of life, however long it is; and to remind me again of how very close our world and eternity are to one another.
Seven children! Seven, the biblical number of completion and perfection. And yet, this side of Heaven, our family will forever feel incomplete, missing the little ones that might have grown up within our embrace and wondering who they would have been - a question that has no answer.
What I do know is that through this journey, God has not abandoned me or my children. And this Mother's Day, and am in awe of Him, the One who make me a mother seven times over, who today holds them with a love more intense than my own, and who continually uses my children - all of them - to conform me to the image of His Son.
What have your children (all of them) taught you?