About 50 of our friends and family members joined Team Thomas on Saturday, August 22, to remember our precious son along with many other babies that have gone on to be with Jesus by participating in the Baby Steps Memorial 5K and One Mile Fun Run. It was such a special and unforgettable day. It blessed our hearts to receive so much love and support from our friends and family who got up early on their Saturday morning to be a part of Team Thomas. We would like to thank everyone who participated; we love and appreciate you so much!
As I reflect back on Saturday, I think about the many different emotions I felt, including sadness, gratefulness, joy, excitement and anticipation. Our morning began around 5:30 a.m. as we woke up and got ready for the run. Tannehill State Park is about a 45-minute drive from our home so Buddy and I had some time to talk and prepare for the day. I cried nearly the entire way there and thought I was going to be a complete train wreck the whole day. By the time we arrived however, I was able to pull it together. It was exciting to see blue Team Thomas shirts everywhere I looked as we were driving in to park. It brought us much joy to see people who were there to support us and remember our sweet baby Thomas. Before the race began, we took a big group picture of Team Thomas along with many other pictures and had a time of prayer. Then the 5K and One Mile Fun Run began. As one of my friends and I set up our chairs to wait at the finish line, the anticipation began to set in. We anxiously awaited our runners. Our team did an incredible job and we even had two team members that placed! We would like to congratulate my little brother, Trey Tucker, who placed 2nd in his age group, as well as Cary Martin who won his age division! We’re very proud of them! (Check out the complete list of race results.) After winners were announced and door prizes were issued, a balloon release was held to close out the day. It was at this point that I couldn’t hold it together anymore. It was a very emotional time for me, Team Thomas and many others who came to remember their loved one who had passed away. You never think or expect that you will be a part of this group, that it will be your baby that everyone is there to remember; it’s heart-wrenching to say the least.
We would like to thank all those again who came out to be a part of Team Thomas; we are truly grateful for your love and support. Proceeds from the Baby Steps Memorial Run benefited The Amelia Center, a comprehensive grief counseling center that provides free individual and family counseling to children and teens who have experienced a death, or to adults who have experienced the death of a child. This organization has been very helpful for Buddy and me during our time of grief over Thomas. If you didn’t get to participate in the Run but would still like to help, you can make a donation here. Please be sure to make your donation in memory of Thomas Alexander Lambert V so that we will be notified of your gift. Thank you again and go Team Thomas!
When we found out we were pregnant with Thomas, even in the midst of our anxiety, we immediately began taking pictures of my baby bump. We were beyond excited and very thankful God chose to bless us once again. I will never forget the day we found out we were pregnant, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. Earlier that week was rough for me... I didn't feel well and had severe back pain. Because of how I felt, I decided to go ahead and test early. The test was negative and I became extremely depressed, so depressed that I stayed home from work a couple of days. I called my doctor's office because of how bad I felt and they told me I tested too early and needed to wait a few days and test again, but I really didn't believe I was pregnant. Little did I know, the reason I felt so sick is because I was pregnant! On the morning of that joyous day, we got two positive pregnancy tests and took a picture with them, each of us holding a test stick. We proceeded with the first picture of my belly at just four weeks pregnant.
We took a picture of my baby bump every two weeks until we reached 30 weeks, at which point we took a picture every week. With each picture of my baby bump, I held a sign that included details such as: how I was feeling, what Thomas was doing in my belly, and a size comparison of Thomas to a fruit or vegetable. The pictures were so much fun and it was unique to watch my belly grow and compare it to previous weeks. Those are precious memories and pictures we will treasure forever.
So what about my baby bump with Alexandria Hope? When we found out we were pregnant with Thomas' baby sister, we were surprised to say the least, but very thankful for another blessing from God. I would say our feelings were a bit different from the day we found out we were pregnant with Thomas. We had very mixed emotions that ranged from joy to sadness. We have always struggled to get pregnant, so we were extremely surprised to find out we were pregnant the first time without using fertility treatments. It happened very soon after Thomas passed away, which was unexpected and made it difficult to be over-the-moon excited. While we did feel a sense of joy and gratitude, we were still very deep in our grief over Thomas.
It wasn’t until I reached 16 weeks pregnant that I was ready to take a picture of my baby bump, and I was even hesitant then. However, I knew I would regret not having the pictures. The very first picture was only of my belly… sadly, I just didn’t feel like I could smile for the picture. Later that same day, Buddy and I had lunch with some of our close friends who have also lost a baby. I had mentioned the dilemma about taking the pictures and my friend recommended me hold a picture of Thomas when we photograph my baby bump. That was a perfect idea! I believed I could be more excited about taking the pictures if I was holding my sweet Thomas. And, the more I thought about it, if he were here he would be in the pictures with me anyway. As soon as we returned home, we took another picture that included my angel as well as me smiling. We have taken pictures every four weeks since then and started taking weekly pictures at 30 weeks pregnant.
This pregnancy has most definitely been very different. I have spent a great deal of it in prayer that God would give me a connection with Thomas’ baby sister. Due to my grief over Thomas, for the longest time, I didn’t even feel pregnant nor did I really think about it. Around 28 weeks pregnant, things began to change. God truly expanded my heart for Alexandria Hope and I have an unexplainable connection with her. I still do have very mixed emotions however; one minute I’ll be crying about Thomas and the next minute I’ll be excited about Alexandria. It’s still very hard but I thank God for opening my heart to this precious blessing that is going to bring so much joy to our lives. We can't wait to tell her all about her amazing big brother and the thousands of lives he has changed. God is so good and I’m very thankful that even during the midst of our greatest sadness, He can still bring us joy and excitement. “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.” John 16:20
This was difficult for us because we love them very much, but we were completely devoted to Thomas and caring for him. It was during this time, when Buddy and I were weak and at our most trying time of our lives that our students were there for us, lifting us up, loving us, encouraging us and constantly in prayer for us.
Buddy and I returned to church about two months after Thomas passed away. We made the decision to attend a life group with couples close to our age for a while. Our teachers were starting a study on Job and we believed that’s exactly what we needed. In the spring, Buddy began asking me when I thought I’d be ready to start helping with the youth again. I told him I didn’t know, and at the time I didn’t believe it would be anytime soon. I even started considering serving in a different part of the church. The reason: How could I pour into students’ lives when I wasn’t there myself, if that makes any sense? Being in deep, dark depression I knew there was no way I could invest in students’ lives. After a lot of time and prayer, God began to change things. He placed a couple of situations in front of me that really spoke to me. One in particular was watching a student completely turn his life around and give his entire being to Christ. This is a student who would ridicule Christians, and really anyone for that matter. And what he doesn’t know is that God used him to change my life. It was when I witnessed this student serving Christ and encouraging his friends for the Lord that opened my eyes. God was showing me where He wanted me, and that was with our students. I talked with Buddy about it and he was ready as long as I was. So, we told our youth pastor we would like to begin helping with the youth again in June and he was thrilled!
Every summer, our students participate in Operation Change, a week-long series of mission projects across our community. Projects include some construction – building ramps, decks and repairing roofs, as well as painting, clean-up, etc. I knew without a doubt I wanted to help this year. I know you’re probably thinking, “What...you’re pregnant?!?!” There were other ways I could be involved, including being a runner. I took the kids popsicles and anything else that was needed at the job sites. I was also able to help prepare meals. Buddy and I would attend the worship sessions in the evenings as well. It was such a great week to get to know the new students that had moved up. God really used that week to help me with healing. On Wednesday, I ended up at a job site I wasn’t even supposed to be at helping with a local food bank. Before we left the site, the founder of the organization asked me about my necklace of Thomas. I told her that was my son in Heaven. She asked me what his name was and when I told her she just hugged me and held me. She had been following us and our story on Facebook for quite some time and realized then who I was. She would even share our posts to help raise awareness. She told me before I left that she was going to have some of her volunteers take me into her prayer room to pray over me. One of the volunteers knew me but the other two didn’t. It didn’t matter; they prayed over me and cried with me anyway. It was a very intimate and emotional time, it was a God moment. He knew that’s exactly what I needed, and what’s so funny about it is that I wasn’t even supposed to be there that day. It’s amazing how God works!
Also during that week, our former pastor was one of the guest speakers during an evening worship session. He spoke to our students about God’s plan and purpose for their lives. God has a plan and purpose for each of us, we just have to seek direction from Him and trust Him. Throughout my pastor’s message, I felt God tugging at my heart telling me to speak up at the end so I did, and this is what I told our students: “I’m going to try to get through this without crying, but I felt that God wanted me to share with you guys. I want to be with Thomas more than anything in this world, but I’m not there with him, I’m here, so I know God still has a purpose for my life here on this Earth. God will lead you and guide you and show you your purpose, you just have to seek Him and trust Him. And one thing to remember is that we don’t get to choose our testimony. Growing up, you’re led to believe that the plan is to graduate high school, go to college, get married and have kids, and that it’s going to work out perfectly. But, that’s not always how it happens. We don’t understand why things happened the way they did with Thomas, but we’re choosing to trust God and seek His plan for our lives. So just remember that things may not always turn out the way you want, but God has a purpose and He will use you.” I don’t know if there was a dry eye in the room when I finished. This was just another reminder that I was right where God wanted me.
Buddy and I also went on our youth’s beach trip this summer and recently went camping with the Life Groups we help teach. We have had such a fun time with each of our students and getting to know them. We have actually grown very close to them. God has used them to help me with healing. They put a smile on my face; they’re what I needed. Not only am I hopefully helping to make a difference in their lives, but they are making a difference in my life, just in a different way and I’m truly grateful. As hard as the past eight months have been, it has been amazing to watch God move and continue to unfold our story.
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Thomas' Mommy, Wife, Daughter, Christian, Communications and Event Coordinator, Missions Leader, Youth Worker, Alabama Fan, Traveler, Dog Lover