Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Is A Time For...

Tears.
No worries, Baby Girl is fine.
But tears nonetheless. This amazing day has always brought me to tears, ever since I can remember. I remember standing outside on the farm on cold, snowy, starfilled nights as a small child just in awe and amazement of all God had done on Christmas. Even then, I grasped it. As much as we can.
And today? Today I heard a story on the radio, and a little boys voice who had just lost his baby calf, and he was encouraging all those who had lost ones they loved to remember all God gave us in Jesus, and that He had loved His son, but sent Him to die for us. He knows our pain and tears.
Tonight Levi and I were mixing up some cookies, and I couldn't help but cry. Because I remember. I remember a Christmas Eve 2 years ago, when Andrew and I finally had to kiss our tiny boy goodnight, and go find some food. We left a hospital and headed out into the festive streets just trying to find someplace that was open. We finally bought frozen pizza at the local Walgreens which was miraculously still open (I know, Chinese, duh, but it didn't occur to us in our sleep-deprived state). We took it back to the homey but not home guest house by the hospital and ate frozen pizza then watched a little Christmas TV and drug ourselves to bed. It was an amazing Christmas, being parents for the first time, but the hardest ever. I just remember feeling so ALONE. Wanting to have my baby safe and sound in my arms at home, not hooked up to monitors and all swaddled in plastic walls. No family near due to circumstances, just us, with our tiny boy, and lots of nurses.

And so I cried tonight, in pain for the loneliness I felt then, for the sorrow and emptiness I felt last year after losing our next baby, and for the simple hope I feel this year in our baby girl kicking in my womb. And I cry for all those who are shedding tears of sorrow during this joyous time.

Hear this: I am SO thankful for Christmas, and I love it. But the reality of the day and the sorrow that Christ was born for are so real to me. When I think of the loneliness I felt that Christmas, I can't help but think of Mary & Joseph, all those centuries ago. Mary, so very pregnant, ridiculed by her community, "knowing" glances following her, Joseph, taking on a stigma and title that didn't have to be his, traveling oh so far from home, all alone, and then in a cold, wet, stinky rock shelter giving birth to a blood covered and probably cold baby. A Baby born to die. They welcomed Him to the world all alone and probably terrified. But the Angel said "Peace, Be Still" not just to the shepherds, but to their hearts. They had a trust in God so big. They probably didn't know what the future would bring, that their baby would one day die a cruel death for my sins, and all those who would trust Him. But they trusted, and prayed.

So tonight, as I shed tears for our hurt, and for yours, and with gratefullness for the Babe who came to die, to be rejected by man, I pray healing for your heart. I pray that you will recognize that Christmas is only the beginning of the story. Jesus came, we are so thankful for that beauty, but He came to die, and to rise again, to defeat death, so that when we shed tears of sorrow for those we have lost, and for the pain, that there would be hope.

If something happens to Levi tomorrow, if he is gone, I have hope. I have hope in a God who didn't stay a Babe, but defeated the grave. I have 3 babies I will see again someday thanks to Jesus. I can shed tears of sadness, but I can have hope.

I love you Jesus. Happy Birthday. Tell my Babies I love them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking At You Baby

On Monday, I had a scheduled appointment in a larger city to the South East with a Perinatologist (high risk) Dr. and to have a level II ultrasound. Basically we spent over an hour with an ultrasound sonographer while she looked at every possible aspect of our baby and her surroundings. She looked for vessels and veins and joints and things I didn't even know existed. Seriously. Like normally teeny-tiny veins leading out of places I didn't even know were there. It was amazing to watch our baby girl for well over an hour kick and tumble around. It was awesome to see her roll around as I was feeling it too. We've had lots of ultrasounds, but none so in depth or so long. All I could think of as we watched the sonographer look at every little perfect detail of our baby who weighs less than a can of soda, was what the Psalmist said in Psalm 139:
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

It boggles my mind that at less than a foot long our baby is so perfectly and intricately complete. Oh yes, she has lots of growing and developing to do, but everything is there and working. Her 4 chambers of her heart are pumping blood faster than we could imagine, her brain is sending signals for blood flow all over her body. Her little kidneys, gallbladder, bladder, stomache, all working and preparing for life outside my womb. Oofda. No wonder the Psalmist said "Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

I've never really cried at an ultrasound of any of our living babies before. But I did this one, when the tech zoomed in on her wonderful profile and said "Hi Baby". I lost it. Because I can't wait to meet her. She looks beautiful. I already know how wonderful her big brother is, and I miss her older siblings that are with Jesus like crazy. So it makes it all the more special to see her beautiful profile and be so impatient to kiss her face and get to know her.

And in case you were wondering, she's perfect, really and truly perfect. Everything is working right and is there. There's a spot they check on the top of the spine at the base of the brain to make sure it's all closed over and correct. If it is, it rules out something like 90% of genetic deformaties. Her's is perfect.
We were told to expect 32-34 weeks gestation for delivery again, due to numerous things not related to her or her body, but similar to Levi's birth. We're prepared for whatever God has, and we're just so thankful for her wonderful life.

And now, the good stuff, some pictures. :) The cool thing about this appointment was they immediately burned about 12 photos of stuff during the ultrasound onto a CD for us to take home. Very cool and fun and precious memories.
The very cool profile that made me cry.

Our Precious Baby, that's her hand up by her mouth there.

Her leg is all stretched out here: Yes, she was kicking me. :)

I think this is the coolest picture of baby girl's leg, you can see the whole thing, so perfect!

And to see the details, her perfect foot, every bone just right.


After watching our Baby Girl kick around for over an hour and hearing relatively great news, I was finally able to go out and buy some girl clothes. Savers in this town had a 50% day on Monday, which was awesome. I not only found a few maternity things for me, but some super cute bigger girl stuff for Baby. It was a big step for me to actually spend money on this baby. I still struggle with days of fear, so stepping out and doing something tangible to say "this baby is reality and I choose to believe I will meet her and need things" was a big deal.
And the afternoon was very fun, Christi and her 4 girls came with to watch Levi during the appointment and to go to lunch and shopping with us. They all got to see some of the ultrasound and see baby. We had so much fun having them with us, and the girls all give excellent clothes opinions. :)

I'm still in awe of the Babe growing inside me. I loved being pregnant with Levi, but I don't think I grasped the miraculousness of it quite as much. After his crazy arrival, losing 3 babies, and now watching this one grow, I think I am beginning to understand just how precious and miraculous life is. Our God truly does do wonderful works, my soul will praise Him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Levi!

Levi turned 2 on Sunday, December 18th! In the days leading up to it I couldn't help but think of the difference from a year ago, and then 2 years ago. 2 years ago was totally crazy, being in the hospital for 2 weeks simply waiting, almost bored to tears just simply waiting for baby to appear. And then the craziness of 17 days in the NICU with my tiny son. Last year, I simply was breathing and living for the sake of celebrating my son's birthday and Christmas. His birthday signified all taht we'd been through and after losing one baby, the hope that may be ahead.

This year? It was just plain fun! Levi started to figure out when we asked "how old are you?" that "2!" was the right answer. I have this "thing" about making birthday cakes. I really have decided that I as Momma need to be the one to make my kids cakes. I have several friends who are really, really talented and make yummy and beautiful cakes. Mine taste pretty good but look a little less than gorgeous. But I still think it's important that I put out the effort to make something they will enjoy. There may be years where that just isn't the case, but so far, I've made both of Levi's cakes. Last year was a from scratch chocolate sheet cake with cool (real) little bulldozers/dump truck/diggers on top. I used brown frosting for dirt and some cool chocolate rocks to make it really realistic. This year? I have a boy who loves his monkey. Literally, he has a small stuffed monkey his Grandma gave him and he loves it. So I decided a monkey cake it would be. We went to the dollar store and picked up some plates and napkins and a few decorations for the party, and Levi wanted the snowman and snowflake plates/napkins. I gave him several options and those were the ones he wanted. I should have taken the hint and just made a snowman cake. 3 circles and a hat, how simple would that be? But no, I spent most of the afternoon and late into the night Saturday creating a monkey. It was so worth it, despite a frosting mishap and more crumbs than I cared for after cutting out all the little features. It was far from perfect, but was recognizable as a monkey and pretty cute too. :)

Levi thought it was pretty tasty. :) He asked for "more!".

Then it was present time! He did pretty well opening all the presents despite all the people and just wanting to play with the ones he had already opened.


Pretty fun presents!
This one ranked up in his favorites. Grammie & Grampie Preston got Levi a "Thomas Train" yellow bulldozer train to go with his wood train set we added too. He loves diggers and Thomas Train so he was pretty much in love. He slept with it that night. Then Christi & her girls got him an orange Thomas Train and now he has one for each hand.

Due to having so many gifts to open we let him open some from us later that evening and then Will & Val & Kiernan brought Levi a gift when they came to spend the night on Monday and then he got to open his Christmas gifts from Christi's girls yesterday. Needless to say he now thinks he should get to open a present every day. It took some convincing today that he needed to leave the gifts under the tree alone until Christmas day. He really obeys well but you can tell he wants to dig in. :)

Levi, I can't believe it's been 2 years since I heard your first little tiny miraculous cries. You were so tiny, but so perfect, and you were ours. You have come so very far and grown so very much. You are the joy of our lives. We are so thankful for you and for your life. You are our big boy and my baby all at once. I love you more than you will ever know. I pray big things for you.

I pray that Jesus will call you early in life, that you will choose to follow Him with your whole heart and life. I pray that you will be a world-changer, an extraordinary young man in your generation. That you will lead your generation to know Christ in a real and tangible way. That you will stand up for the weak and opressed, be a champion for those who can't champion themselves. That your life and words will be full of grace and gentleness, but that you will always speak truth and love. I pray for a woman who you will love and who will love you in return. For you to be a strong servant-leader husband who loves with his whole heart. To lead your children to Christ in a strong way, and to always be the Daddy they need. I pray you will always enjoy coming to visit. :)

I love you Levi, you are my gift from God. I love being your Mommy and am so thankful I get to spend almost every day with you. You challenge me to be more than I thought I could, and I will never regret my time with you.

Happy Birthday Precious Boy!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's On My Mind

I have so many random things going through my head, so maybe I should do bullet points. :) There may be no cohesiveness to this post then.

~I've been feeling the baby move off and on for a few weeks now. Which is awesome, except that it's also nerve-wracking. Because it's not consistent for a while. And when you feel the baby one day and not the next...ugh. More trust huh?

~Michelle Dugar (you know, 19 kids and counting) just announced that she miscarried at 19 weeks. Ugh again. Tear my heart out. And take my breath away. Scary. Again, trust. And prayers for their family.

~Andrew has blessed our family hugely and gotten a second job, at least for the Christmas season. It may last longer as the large chain store is renovating. It's crazy weird and hard to not have him around in the evenings or weekends. We are SO proud of him for working so hard. In fact, Levi can say that. "Daddy...(long pause) HARD!" Translation: Daddy workin' hard! Levi also says "Daddy 'Mazing!" Translation: Daddy Amazing! Yes, I taught him those things. I love my husband, and I'm so thankful for him. I want Levi and I to do all we can to encourage him. It's hard, it's very hard to not have him here. Levi really misses his Daddy when he's working both jobs. And I really miss my friend and the help he is. So many hours of single parenting can be trying. Which leads me to thankfullness. I am SO very thankful to be married to a man who loves being with his family. Who plays and spends so much time with his son that his son can't help but miss him. Who is such an encouragement and relief and partner to me. Who loves his family. So instead of griping and being nasty to him, I'll be honest, I'll tell him we miss him, but that we are so thankful for him. It also makes me pray extra hard for the single moms I know. Because I CAN NOT imagine. At least I know that there are days when we get to spend time with Andrew. That he's only a phone call away. That he's doing this 'cause he loves us and wants to take care of us. I am NOT alone. I can't imagine the women and men who do this on a daily basis with no support or spouse to love and encourage them. So know this, I'm praying for you.

~Levi's second birthday is 10 days away. I'm so excited and yet in a little bit of shock I think. It's been a crazy year for us, and I can't believe it went so fast. And I love Levi sooo much and can't wait for his excitement over cake and presents to unwrap. :) I'm sure it will be great fun. And no, I wouldn't want him to stay little forever. It's just crazy how short a time little really is.

~We have an appointment with the perinatologist and geneticist and not sure who all in a few weeks. I think I mentioned this. It's got me excited and nervous all at once. I'm excited to learn more about our baby girl and what to expect for the future of this pregnancy. I'm nervous because it may not all be good news. But we know and choose to trust God knows every step in this pregnancy, and He knows every moment of this baby girl's life.

~Can you tell trust is the theme of my life right now? Guess what? I don't do it well. I sometimes just push the fear away rather than fighting it. But my heart's cry is to fully trust God no matter what. And here's the thing. No matter how well I do or don't trust, I do know this: God is sovereign. So no matter if I choose to trust or not, He is still in control. He wants me to choose to trust, but even if I don't, He's still on the throne. Which makes me want to work at and choose to trust Him even more.

~This baby seems to want to make her presence very well known. The maternity pants have been pulled out. I was told to expect this with a second or 4th or whatever pregnancy. But still, hard to believe. Thankful for maternity pants though. :) So much more comfortable.

I think that's all I have on my brain for tonight. :) Again, thank you for your prayers, we love them and so appreciate them!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

All Things Pink

Blogger apparently decided to hate me for a few days, so I haven't been able to log in and officially confirm the news of "It's A...". Hopefully we're friends on facebook and you saw the cupcake already. If not, here ya go:


Yep, Pink it is!! I know it doesn't mean anything, but I really thought it was a girl the whole time, so I was very excited and ready when the Dr. said "Girl!". Andrew's excited, as excited as he gets. We both would have been very, very happy with 2 boys, but a girl is pretty neat. I told Andrew "good work". I know some people's ideal is a boy and a girl, but in reality, until this pregnancy, I only wanted boys. But now that it's reality, I'm very excited to have a daughter. Levi can say "Baby Sister" very well already. :) We're sure he has no idea what that means, but oh well. A dear, sweet, precious woman in my life brought me a baby gift today, of 3 pink and yellow outfits. PINK!!! She said I needed to visualize. Oh My Word! So excited!! I told Andrew it's a good thing it's not garage sale season. I may have gone a little crazy if it was. Another dear friend offered to make us cloth diapers with ruffles on the bottom. HA! I love it!! We've already discussed and somewhat decided on what to do to the kids room to make it less blue and more girlie while still being boy/girl friendly. Thankfully we have some talented friends in our lives.

In reality, it scares me a little to have a girl. I want our kids to be friends, and somehow 2 boys seemed less dangerous than a boy and a girl. I know (even from other people) that that doesn't assure anything, so it's just an irrational fear. A girl also seems to put a little more pressure on me. After all, Levi just has to model after his Daddy. A girl? Yep, that would be me she's watching. I know, I know, all kids watch both parents. But still.

Some of the exciting things? As one friend pointed out "Now you get to be the Mother of the Bride someday!" Ha! Love it! And I simply cannot wait to see Andrew with a daughter. I have the feeling he'll melt. A lot. She'll have him wrapped so tightly around her finger. And I'll love it.

I feel so very blessed. One thing I did want to dispel was the thought that having a boy and girl makes our family complete. It may or may not be. That's up to the Lord. But the two of us, Andrew and I, we do not fall into the category of believing that one of each is all we want or hope for. We will take each child as they come, and treasure their lives.

A Girl! The first Granddaughter on both sides. My parents have all grandsons so far so they are pretty excited. :) And since we have the only kids on Andrew's side, we're doing a good job of covering all the gaps.

Baby girl, We love you so much already. We are so excited for your arrival and thankful for your life. We'll love you to pieces, always.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's A...

So what do you think? Boy? Girl? :) Guess what? Not telling just yet. Sorry man.

We've sent a few pictures out with Levi and a special balloon to share with a few close friends, and today we're taking cupcakes to play group and then to church home groups tonight that are filled with a very special color frosting. We thought that may be a lot more fun than just telling everyone.

So pictures will follow sometime soon, and then you can know for sure. :) I'd love to hear the guesses though. We were so very thankful that baby cooperated this week and we could know. The doctor said with 95% assurance that she was right. So we'll take that. There's always that little chance, but really, can you ever know for sure in life until that baby shows up? :)

Some people have already asked if we have a name, and no, we don't. And I'm guessing if we do decide on 1 or 2 we won't share until baby is here and named. That's what we did with Levi, he wasn't Levi until we both held him. And honestly, Andrew needs time to process names. He's not as impetuous as his wife. :)

So hold on tight and wait for the news! Pink or Blue?!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Joy & Grief

I was reading over my last two posts and realizing I don't sound very joyful. Don't get me wrong, I am. I am SO excited for this baby. But I am also apprehensive. There are days that are so hard to not just live in fear. Because once you've lost your babies, it's hard to believe that this one is for real. And now we're depressing again...sorry. I think the best way to describe it is that once the "untouchable" things in your life have been touched, and destroyed for lack of a better word, that suddenly your life seems so fragile. I'm searching for the right description here. Maybe this story can help it make a little more sense.

Sometimes a date can sneak up on you. I was getting ready for church a few weeks ago when the fact that it was November 6th hit me like a ton of bricks. I really didn't think it would bother me. But it did. It has been a year since our second baby was given over. Way too early. We already knew the baby had died, but somehow, this day was what was significant. So I cried. I was shocked that the date hit me so hard. Here I was like 12 weeks pregnant and rejoicing in our latest baby's life, and yet sobbing uncontrollably for a baby lost a year ago. Because this Babe growing strong in my womb DOES NOT replace our other 3 children. Some people who have lost babies and then gotten pregnant again fairly quickly have said that they can't mourn their miscarriage because without it they wouldn't have the child they have. I get that, but can't I wish for both? And since it's been more than a year since our first given over baby, that doesn't apply. I physically ache at times for that baby. I want to know them, to know their personality and to kiss their tiny heads and to snuggle them close. I MISS THEM. I never knew them, but I miss them. No matter the good news, that God is sovereign, that my babies know no more pain, that they are in the presence of the Savior, I MISS THEM. Do I wish for them to be here with me? Yes and no. Yes for my sake, no for theirs. But no matter what, I miss them. And that's okay. I no longer have intense anger, but I'm still sad at times. Like that day. When it just hit me. So I cried, not just for who I had lost, but for the pain that had been experienced, both physically and emotionally. And this song I'll post, suddenly made more sense to me than it ever has, even right after we lost the babies.



The lyrics that get to me are these:
"This hand is bitterness. We want to taste it and let the hatred numb our sorrows. The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.
If hope is born of suffering, if this is only the beginning, can we not wait, for what our, watching for our Savior?
This is what it means to be held, how it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life, and you survive. This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was, when everything fell, we'd be held."

I never understood the intense questioning that goes on in this song before. I never understood the intense feelings of anger, bitterness, and acceptance all at once. The "okayness" of questioning God but still asking to be held. And now I do.
You survive, but there are days when you feel and know life will never be the same. Because the sacred HAS been torn from your life. So I don't feel guilty for being apprehensive about this baby. I SO rejoice in it's life and can't wait to meet Baby. But there's always that nagging "what if I don't get to" feeling in the back of my heart. What if I don't get to meet this baby on this earth? So not shouting it from the rooftops helps soften the fear and potential hurt. But I love this Baby. Oh so much. The days between Dr.'s appts can't go fast enough. I can't wait to see Baby's little hands and fingers and wiggles and yawns again. I want to KNOW this Baby.

So the joy is there, and coming more everyday. The intense celebration? I may save that for the delivery date.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blech

Blech...This word seems to sum up my life lately. I have to say, this pregnancy has been so eye opening. I thought I was sick with Levi, I thought one of the pregnancies I lost was miserable, they were nothing compared to this. And yet, I know I still had it easy compared to those who are throwing up multiple times a day. Although there were days I wished I could have thrown up, maybe I would have felt better. But most likely, probably not. But I have to say, feeling like you could puke 24/7 is NOT fun either. I may finally be on the upswing. Meaning I only feel sick 1/2 the day instead of the whole thing. Meaning I'm actually eating a few bites of dinner and not existing on cereal 24/7.

I have learned in this to be so thankful for certain things in my life.
~Like my husband. He's been so patient and understanding and compassionate. Not expecting supper freshly made every night. Not being offended when I serve him his dinner and go check out in the other room so I didn't have to smell it anymore. Not minding taking extra care of Levi in the evenings when I felt the worst. Isn't that bizarre? I feel worse as the day goes on. So much for "morning sickness" Andrew's been a hero, rubbing my back, being VERY sympathetic and undemanding. No guilt whatsoever. I love that man and his tender heart.
~Secondly I'm so thankful to be a stay-at-home Momma this time around. So that on the worst days the biggest demands on my time were someone wanting to read or play with me. Not lots of customers wanting their lattes RIGHT NOW. So that what little energy I do have, I can pour into my son and husband first and foremost. No, it's not easy financially or emotionally always to be home and not working. But when I see Levi and the things he learns everyday and the joy of sharing that with Andrew, well it's all worth it. Some people may say I'm not "contributing" to our household financially. Well, so what? Because I am contributing to the upbringing of our legacy. I'll take that over false financial guilt anyday. And so would Andrew.
~Thirdly I am SO thankful for our amazing OB/GYN. She's been with us ever since I was trying to get pregnant with Levi. She walked that whole ridiculous path with us, even though she didn't get to deliver Levi, she made sure we were in good hands when transferred. She walked us through the dark days of miscarriage, twice. She looked extra hard to see our twins, even though they were gone, to give us hope that we had conceived miracles. And she rejoiced in this pregnancy with us and looked from the very beginning at the ultrasounds for every positive thing she could find to encourage us. She scheduled 2 appointments for us the week we had lost the other pregnancies, to let us sleep at night. I ran into a labor and delivery nurse today that I had known through the 'Bou and had when in the hospital before Levi was born. And shared our good news and chatted about my Dr. You know how wonderful it is to know that the nurses love your Dr. too? If they have good things to say, and they see it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the weird, then you know you're getting the true story. God has blessed our hearts with our Dr. She's cared for us above and beyond necessity.

Someone asked me why I didn't "announce" on Facebook, just linked to my blog there. Truth be told, I hesitated even to do that. Because of the following thoughts...
~First, I have to say this. I DO NOT resent anyone who has announced their pregnancy on Facebook. Or who is pregnant.
~Secondly, while the above it true, this is also true. When you have lost a baby, hearing in person about someone's pregnancy is hard, but reading it on an impersonal media site? Devastating. Maybe this will help you understand better. This is copied from a blog post I linked to several months ago when a game was going around on Facebook. About posting a hypothetical "pregnancy" to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Frist of all it's ridiculous to think that would work, and it's also hurtful. This gal sums up why:
"If you played the game, I guarantee you there is someone on your friends list who saw you post your fake pregnancy, and for a moment, she was reminded of her empty aching womb, preparing herself to congratulate you, because she loves you, and yes, she IS truly happy for you. If you ever do get pregnant, please know that. She went through the emotions that come with such a sensitive situation for her, and she probably cried. And when she found out it was all a joke, she probably felt anger and pain and learned NOTHING about Breast Cancer Awareness."
Copied from this blog: http://cgwardphotography.blogspot.com/2011/08/regarding-facebook-breast-cancer.html?spref=fb

I can't really say it any better. I've always been excited and thankful for those who can get pregnant and have healthy babies. And I've prayed for them, that they won't experience the losses I have.

But it still hurts. Especially 2 days after undergoing surgery to remove your 2nd lost pregnancy. When you see someone is now announcing their pregnancy and is due 2 days before you were. Or 3 weeks. Or anytime in the vicinity. Because it IS a painful reminder of all you've lost.

So no, I don't resent anyone who's announced their pregnancy on Facebook. But I choose not to. At some point it will become impossible to keep quiet. And I did choose to link to my blog post, even knowing comments would come on that link. I just choose to not proclaim from the rooftops that I have something someone else may be longing for. Because we DON'T know what someone else is going through. Baby loss is still a taboo subject to many. Now, this post recently circulated Facebook, and this one I was proud to post:
Today we remember the babies who were born asleep, or whom we carried but never met, or those we have held but could not take home, or the ones who made it home, but didn't stay. Make this your profile status if you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a baby. The majority of you won't do it, because unlike cancer, baby loss is still a taboo subject. Break the silence. In memory of all lost ones ♥

So, ever since the losses I've kept a lot of my life off Facebook. Because I don't want to hurt anyone to be hurt by me, intentionaly or unintentionaly.

Yes, we celebrate this baby's life. We're thankful for Baby. But we want to share in the area we feel most comfortable, and to think of others at the same time.

So I hope that makes sense without being too much of a soapbox. And I pray that next year I'll be posting pictures of our new little one. Maybe on Facebook...maybe not.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Finally

I know, I know, it's been a while again. Here's the thing, when you can't write about the biggest thing you want to write about, it's hard to come up with meaningful thoughts that don't revolve around that thing. Confused?

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Meet the Newest Baby Preston.

And I'm crying. :) Tears of Joy. We've been waiting, and waiting to share. Even now I'm fighting the fear of "going public". I'm afraid as soon as we "announce" that something will happen to baby. Fear has been a big factor in this pregnancy. But God is gracious and patient, and I'm learning on a whole new level what trust REALLY means.

So baby is 12 1/2 weeks along. This ultrasound is with the baby facing you, so the eye sockets can look kind of creepy. You can see baby's leg all stretched out on the left and in the middle there's kind of a bright white streak of the arm and then just below that you can actually see the bones of a hand. Baby was moving all over for this ultrasound and the heart has been strong and Baby just looks great! We've been seeing the Dr. A LOT, we are so blessed with a Dr. who has walked us through every step of our family's journey and understands all we've been through. She loves letting us check on Baby every week. The scariest/most anxious week was that week between 7 and 8 weeks. We saw the Dr. twice that week, just to keep an eye out. That was the week where we'd lost the last 3 babies (2 pregnancies). By 8 weeks 2 days it was very evident this baby was still strong and growing limbs. :) I thought I'd be super relieved, and I was, but fear can be powerful. So we're praying and trusting and hoping.

It's been a rough pregnancy, I've never been so sick. People tend to say that being sick is a good sign of a healthy pregnancy. I don't totally agree because I was sick with every pregnancy, but this has definitely been the worst. I'm so thankful for a wonderful and supportive husband who knows how to cook. :) There were some really rough weeks in there where it took everything I posessed to just stay alive and care for Levi. We read lots of books in those weeks. And praise the Lord for Sesame Street and Signing Time. But I think we're on the upswing. I finally feel like actually seeing and talking to people again. And not just puking on their shoes. No matter what though, I'm so thankful to be pregnant. People can be a little less than careful shall we say, and when they hear you're sick share stories of people who were sick their entire pregnancies. Not exactly encouraging when you wonder if you'll ever have color in your cheeks again and actually WANT to eat. But even if I am sick the entire time, that's ok. Because Baby is SO worth it.

There's so much more to share, and in the days to come I will. I'll share some thoughts on the future weeks and what we expect the rest of this pregnancy to look like. But for now, some of my more predominant thoughts.

When I first saw the 2 pink positive lines on the pregnancy test, 8 weeks ago, I would be lieing if I told you I jumped for joy. In that moment I severely questioned our decision to try again for another baby. Because it had been so recent since we'd lost the twins. But in that fleeting second of "Lord, Please, I can't do this again" I chose a different attitude. I literally said in my mind "Lord, you created this life. You chose this baby for us and are forming it's parts, so let me rejoice in that miracle. I WILL rejoice in what you have made." It was so early, baby wasn't even a centimeter big yet, but I knew from the moment this baby was conceived, that God had planned it's life. So we would rejoice, no matter what. I am SO thankful that it appears we will get to meet this baby on this earth, but even if we don't, this baby has been a blessing from God.

Which leads to my second thought, bonding. I have to say that watching this baby grow is so different from Levi. I think with your first child you of course love and want this baby. But you don't quite grasp the reality of what that will look like. You don't understand that the moment you hear that child's first cry, your heart is now living outside your body. That your very being will love that child more than you can ever comprehend. Now, this time? I see Levi, I see the love and the intense emotion I experience for him. So I get it a little better. I feel like I've already bonded so much with this baby. I so anticipate every little whimper and sigh and snuggle and little fingers and toes to kiss. Yes, there will be rough days of course, but I can't wait to meet this little one. For I see the love and joy that I've experienced with Levi, and I can only imagine and anticipate how that will simply multiple for this next Baby.

So, there you have it. Finally, something to talk about. :) We do want to say that we so would appreciate all of your prayers and blessings for this Baby. We've been praying from day 1 for God's protection for this Baby and we continue to do so. We also choose to trust God's plan is best. But we do pray with hope and longing that this Babe is here to stay for now. So thank you, for sharing our joy and praying for us. We are so thankful.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Arms



I strongly suggest listening to this song while reading. Unless you don't want to cry...



Something I'm learning as a Momma is this: Nothing is ever predictable nor constant. What works for Levi today may not work tomorrow. What works for Levi will probably not work with your child.

There are some constants in this life, God's word for example. The principles therein will never be shaken, will never change. If I apply those to our lives, to Levi's life, we all fair much better.

But the child himself? Our relationship? It's never the same. There was a time and day when Levi relied on me for his very existence. Before he was named Levi, when he was just a 2-inch babe in my womb, I was his lifeline. Even post-birth, without my sustanence and nurturing and provision, he could not have survived. Even now, he needs me to provide the food, but he can feed himself. He can crawl into bed by himself, put himself to sleep, but he still needs Momma to find those jammies and kiss him good-night. I know there is coming a day when he neither wants nor needs my good-night kisses. When he will go to sleep long after I do. When he will be providing his own nourishment and for others in his care as well. As that day gets nearer and nearer every moment I just want to take him in my arms and say "No, NO! He's mine!" I've been a big believer in "Raising your kids to let them go." And I still am. My mom practiced it, and I know it blessed my life and hers. But now I understand, it wasn't an easy decision. One she may have cried over and hurt over. But she's done it. And where is one of my favorite places still? My mom's arms, or her listening ear. I pray if I do as she did, that my son will never truely "leave" my heart or arms. That he'll always come back to them for a quick hug.

But today? Today I still get to kiss away his hurts and comfort his tears. I get to be the one he runs to. And I'm trying to cherish it. I want to be his everything, but I know I can't be. So what to do? Pray. Pray hard. I pray for his heart and soul and life daily. I pray that he will come to know the one who can always hold him safe. When my arms don't reach, or aren't enough, I pray he'll trust his Heavenly Father who will always be there. And I'll hold him tight, while I can.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Faith (and some ranting)

In all my thoughts and writing about faith, I've still been pondering over and over again how it works.

Because I've watched so many people say "We believe God will do this!" and then guess what? He doesn't. So then what? I don't think I doubt God in those situations, because we do NOT always know what He will do. So then I tend to think judgementaly and wonder how much these people were actually listening to God and what they know about Him. (Note: this is not a right attitude on my part. One of those, gotta walk in those shoes situations where I should never open my mouth.)

Here's the major revelation I've had today. Okay, just kidding, it's not major, but it kind of clicked in my head a little better.

~I can have faith and say "I firmly believe God CAN do this." I guess you could argue it leaves a loophole to allow God to work either way, but in my mind it kind of works like this. I will choose to believe God will do this if He wants to, so therefore, He CAN do this. But I will also have faith in His sovereignty that if He chooses NOT to do this, that He is still sovereign and as long as my faith is in HIM, not the circumstance, then it's correct faith. Clear as mud? I guess where I've been having difficulty with the concept of standout faith, saying "we believe you will do this God" is the question of is it really faith if I'm telling God something? So yes, it can sound wishy-washy to say "We believe you can do this God, but if you choose not to, we still trust you." Because then really, are we having faith? I'm not sure, so I'll give an example.

I've shared fairly openly that we've prayed for several years for a different job opportunity for Andrew. Not out of discontentment of his current job, but the fact that it isn't very well paying. At all. And thankfully God continually provides in many ways and we've tried to be very, very careful with our finances and not have too many luxaries in the past years. Anyway, in order to continue to well, live, something has to change. Yes, I could go to work, but childcare really? And frankly, I actually don't like the idea of paying someone else all I'm earning to raise my child. Because I wouldn't make a lot. I'm just not skilled in "high-demand" areas. Anywho.
Several times in the last year or two Andrew's had job interviews that would cause us to leave where we live. Including one we're waiting to hear about. Now, we love our town, our church, and especially our dear friends who have become family. But anytime we ask people to pray about a job opportunity we kind of expect a few of the comments that come. "I'm praying God provides a job closer so you don't have to take this one." That's the jist anyway. Guess what? I don't agree anymore. Andrew's tried again and again to find work in this town. It's just never panned out. So guess what? How about praying specifically for US to know God's will, not assuming that you do? Maybe it's not God's will for us to stay here and doing so would make us out of His will and miserable. I'm about to rant, because it bugs me so. I believe it's God's will that we pay our bills. So unless you have a job offer up your sleeve, DO NOT pray against what could be God's way of letting us walk in obedience.

So that's where it turns to faith. If this is the only job that will provide for our family right now, as evidenced by being the only job offer on the table, how much do we have to pray about it? Because frankly, I do think God moves through circumstances. Now, if Andrew gets the job offer and suddenly it becomes VERY clear he should not take this job no matter what, that's a different matter. But to ask us to turn down a higher paying job when there are no other feasible options available just because you want us to stay in this town? Guess what? That's not God's will, that's your preference. And not a very smart one. I hope you'd never advise your children that way.

Now, to not sound so harsh, let me say this. Here's a way to pray "Lord, we are so thankful for this job opportunity and if it's your way of providing then we pray that it would be offered. If it's not what you have then we do pray that you would provide a very obvious job to them in this area if possible and soon." That's an honest faith-filled prayer that allows God to work while still asking for what we'd prefer.

So, we're praying in faith, and trusting that God is going to provide. He's never failed us yet. We're ready to take the steps of faith. So I pray hard that this is going to be God's way of providing. That this much goodness from my Lord is possible right now. I've learned over and over in the past few years that our lives will never be easy, but that does NOT mean that God will not bless us. It may not be the way I want all the time, but He never says don't ask. So yes, while it may be God's plan for us to be living for every breath and penny, it may also be His plan for us to breath a little easier. Who knows? But I can certainly have faith no matter what. And pray for the big blessings.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Not to Write

So less than two months ago I resolved to blog more. And I did. And now? I've run out of words. I'm finding it hard to come up with anything interesting to say. And no, you don't want to read my uninteresting things. I promise. And the fact that almost all of the sentences in this post so far have started with And? Not good.

So I'm writing about not writing. Told you it wasn't interesting. I will say I had one deep thought today. While discussing a pending situation with a friend, I heard myself saying the following "I guess I find it hard to believe God would bestow that much goodness on us at once." And I did about choke after I said it. She totally understood my heart in the matter, but I thought it very telling of my lack of faith that I would even randomly think it. Which lead me to some joy believe it or not. Because I'm going to choose to believe that He would. Bestow that much goodness actually. I'm not going to get all gung-ho, but I'm going to pray believing amazing things may just be happening for us. That maybe, just maybe, our search for faith will be blown wide open and amazed. That doesn't even make sense grammatically, but you get it.

Also in this said conversation with friend? I learned just how much I love her all over again when she made a huge self-sacrificial offer. Wowed me. God DOES overwhelm me with goodness. It just comes in the form of other people sometimes. :)

I'll leave you with a Levi note for today. He's become obsessed, and I do mean totally, with cars and trucks and planes and trains and motorcycles and semis. Said the Canadian way...Semee. Not SemI. He sees a car out the window and you hear about it. He hears a loud motor and assumes it's a "cycle! Cycle!". See a "SEMEE!" Oh and the kid's hearing is crazy. We're inside, eating our breakfast, and he starts yelling out "plane! plane! plane!" because yes indeed, one is flying overhead somewhere and he hears it. A train whistle? Not ignored in this household. I'm kind of assuming this is a normal boy thing, but my goodness is he exact about it. I'm thinking he may have his daddy's DNA just a little and soon know every make and model of cars out there. And I guess I don't mind. He is a boy after all. :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Faith Enough

It's almost 2 weeks later. I can't promise I'm doing a whole lot better in the fear area, but I'm trying. More than fear, my focus is trying to be on faith. Which has led me to ponder over and over what faith really is. Faith is one of those words that can be very ambiguous. Hebrews 11:1 has been running through my head over and over again.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
A different version changes substance to assurance and evidence to conviction.

I'm not sure which words work better to explain faith. But I do know I have a long way to go where faith is concerned. But here is something I've learned about faith. You don't always know how much you have or how to implement it until, well, you have too. And sometimes, you do just have to have faith. I can't see the air that gives me life everyday, but I surely believe it's there. I can't see God, but I firmly believe (have faith) that He's there, holding this world together and carrying me through every day.
Verse 3 of Hebrews 11 says this: "3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

Now that is faith. Believing that everything we see came out of nothing but the words of God. But it's something I've believed ever since I can remember. It comes so easily to me. But believing that God has my best in mind and at work everyday? Even when it causes pain? Why is that so hard for me to believe?

I wish I had all the answers. But I don't. What I'm coming to learn is that faith is a daily and lifelong pursuit. All of Hebrews 11 is full of the recounting of the "heros of our faith" and their lives of faith. Here's the intersting thing, most of their stories of faith are full of trials. Faith comes through testing. Oof...Not the best news of the day.

So today, as I have a head cold and my son is pushing all the cranky buttons I have, I'm praying for the faith I need. It's been a long 2 weeks. Fear is a powerful things. But I just keep praying for the faith to overcome. Faith and Love. With God, all things are possible.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Love Conquers Fear

Why do we fear? What do we fear? What is fear really?

Just some profound thoughts for your Tuesday. If you thought I had the answers you are now disillusioned. Because, get this now, I am fearful at times. I'm not sure if it's a personality bent or something that comes with age and responsibility. Although I remember as a kid being incredibly fearful of Alice in Wonderland and weird-colored cats. Dude, that movie had issues. I remember being fearful of being kidnapped and of monsters in the dark (Which on a farm wasn't so far off-base. You never knew when a random cow/horse/cat/dog/goat would appear and scare you halfway across the pasture). But somehow, as a child, you knew in general you were being silly. That you could trust Mom & Dad to take care of you as much as possible and Jesus had the rest covered.

Now? As an adult? Mom & Dad may actually still take care of me in some ways, but they're not there in the middle of the night anymore. :) And somehow things to fear become more real and conrete and threatening.

This economy hasn't been all that gracious to anyone. We all worry about the goverment and the money running out. We worry about our jobs, housing, groceries, and in these frigid days, heat bills. We worry about our health and health insurance and dogs eating stupid things and vet bills. We worry about, well, a lot.

But when does worry become fear? And aren't both of them sin? I'll say yes to that one.

There's so much I could say about fear, but I will say this, what I'm learning these days as I'm facing fear head on in so many situations, nd running like a coward at times, God's still there. Last week I had just such a day. A day when fear overwhelmed me and I literally, for the probably the first time in my life, didn't know what to do. I now understand those who say fear can be paralyzing. Because I knew that life must go on, but I was too afraid to let it. And, like He always does, God faithfully reminded me who's got it covered. Specifically with this song on the radio:



And I was overwhelmed by God's immense love and care for me. No, the fear doesn't just dissappear. That requires prayer and trust and fighting the evil one who is the father of lies and fear. But I was overhwelmed by the knowledge that God really does want what is best for me. No, He doesn't enjoy pain and suffering and hurting. He may use it for His glory however. But overall, God wants joy for me. In Him. All the time.

So no matter the fearful thing or situation today, know this: God's still there. He's got this. If you only trust Him with your whole life. His love has fear beat before the battle even begins.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Days Like This

I always have to be careful when I complain about a day. Mostly because complaining is not God-honoring, and because if I say it was "the worst day" I'm forgetting February of 2010. I don't think much can top having your 9lb baby poked with an IV, put on oxygen, and ambulanced to the hospital.

All that being said, Today was not a fun day. It started last night with Levi being up most of the night with a nasty cough and congestion. We rocked, we cuddled, and we tried vainly to sleep. With way too little sleep we were up for good at 7am. I made him an appointment with the Dr. just to get checked out since we were planning on being gone for the weekend. About a half hour before that appointment I was busy in the kitchen and he was playing in his room. Bothering the dog mostly. I heard him start crying and assumed the dog had given up on him and made him mad. But he kept at it so I went to look. (warning for weak stomaches) His mouth/face/hands/bed were covered in blood. NOT GOOD. I rushed him to the bathroom and started wiping to figure out where the blood was coming from. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Ah, mouth. And then I saw his tongue. About halfway back there was a gash that literally made me gag and wonder if his tongue was still attatched. I called the Dr.'s office and they said just keep your appt and we'll check it out. Ok. It finally stopped bleeding and when we finally got to see the Dr. he said since the skin was missing and it was the mouth, no stitches. Ugh. Gross. Seriously nasty gash. I try not to look at his mouth.

By the time we got home around lunchtime (after stopping to buy stain remover) I was ready for the day to be done. I know there will always be crazy ridiculous days, but seriously? Maybe they are for my own benefit, to be reminded when we have "boring" days to appreciate them.

Oh, and the dog had nothing to do with the injury. The best guess I have is Levi was actually trying to crawl over his safety rail into his bed ('cause he's part monkey) and slipped and came down on his chin with his tongue out of his mouth. Dr. said it was definitely his teeth that inflicted the damage. So Dexter's safe to all you who wondered. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hope for Today

I've been thinking about Levi's first weeks/months of life lately.
And yes, he's toeing the line a little less and behaving a little more. But we're also praying, really hard. I believe it works. I'm praying to remember I want his heart softened and not just his actions fixed. It begins in the heart.

I've been remembering how different his first few months of life were, since at 36 weeks he was getting ready to come home after 17 days in the hospital, not still growing inside. He was such a peanut. Still is for that matter. Takes after his daddy that one. It's so crazy to me to think of how little and "frail" he was at that age. My 5 pounds of love. And now? He's 23+ pounds of strong will and silliness and craziness and good snuggles and wonderful hugs. And a love for all things outdoors and puppies. If you would have asked me then, as we just prayed that he'd pass his carseat test, if I could picture these days, I would have said No. I hoped for them, but I couldn't see beyond the immediate "let's just get him home" feeling. Or the lack of sleep at night.

We only had hope. Hope that someday we'd have a feisty big boy on our hands. Hope that we'd make it through each day, each feeding. Hope that someday, someday, those days would be just a memory. I remember telling a nurse "Merry Christmas" and her having the next week off. That I wouldn't see her again until New Year's. And then she said "but maybe you won't. Maybe you'll be home" I couldn't fathom it would be possible, and it wasn't, but it was just a few days after that. I simply had hope for each day.

That's my rambling point tonight. We don't need hope for a lifetime, just hope for today and tomorrow. I have hope for Levi to someday be an amazing man of God. I pray for it. But today, today I hope he'll choose to obey and glorify God that way. Today I hope that I'll learn to have grace and train him well.

Psalm 42:11
Why are you cast down, O my soul,and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

What are you hoping for today?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Send Him with the Carnies

It was suggested to me when I commented on not having much to blog about that I blog about guts and eyeballs. Which makes me think of either halloween or butchering animals. Both of which I have no desire to discuss.

So, instead I'll tell you that I'm at the end of my mothering rope. I'm at the end of myself. Which may be just where God wants me to be. I'm not sure. But it's not fun. We've had everything we know about parenting challenged by this boy. Which leads us to our knees, and extra kleenex on my part.
I'm reminded to not just try to control his outward actions, but to pray for a broken heart and understanding of glorifying God and pleasing Him. On both our parts.

It's been such a hard couple of weeks and days especially. I even threatened to send him with the Carnies at the county fair a few weeks back. But tonight, as I moaned and groaned to a friend, I was struck by the fact of what good was it doing? Was I changing Levi's attitude by being so defeated by it? Nope. Not so much. So, I'm going to try to buck up and remember something I said not so long ago. It's only a season. If we are effective and can use discipline effectively, the intense "will this ever get better" minute-by-minute horror I feel will eventually get at least a little better. So I need to pray, and pray hard. And be very consistent.

Also, any and all prayers would be thoroughly appreciated. And any large boxes with air holes received with your return address will be taken as a clear sign you want a little boy to visit for a while. :)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Be Still and Know

Know, Know What? Well, the verse says "Know that I am God."

It's been a busy weekend, we were up visiting some family and actually got to leave Levi with Grandma, Grandpa, Great Aunt & Uncle and have almost a date. A date that involved helping friends unload a trailer/vehicle into their new apartment and then dinner out. It was nice to just talk to my husband on the way back. We shared our hearts a little more than normal time allows. And it was good. And in that, I was touched. By the reminder that with how much my husband loves me, My Abba God loves me more. And he wants my heart.

To be still. And know who He is.

I've done a super bad job at the still part lately. I've been so busy just trying to cope with what God is doing and somehow trying to see His hand, that I keep missing Him.

Sometimes, and definitely just sometimes, but sometimes I need to just be still. Let God come in His quiet way. And even if no giant revelations hit, I need to be still. And know who He is. That He's in charge, and I am not.

So that's it. No more words about this. Because it is that simple. Be still.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Cuteness

To lighten things a little bit around here, let me share these cute faces:

Notice the toy drape OVER his arm. Someone was ready for naptime before Mommy was apparently.

And a duck foot will take the place of Nuky I guess.

Below was an attempt at lunch. He was having none of it. But he was pretty dang cute in the process



That's all the cuteness for now, mainly because we've been having a somewhat rough week discipline wise. Some days you really feel like 2 steps forward, about 5 steps back. Diligence huh?

One disgusting moment of laughter for all of you strong stomached folks. Levi came and found me late last week and kept saying "goss, gooosss" (translation: Gross) I asked him what was "gross" and he just kept saying it. I did what any smart Mommy would do, I told him to go tell Daddy. Which he did. As I followed him into the room just as Andy swung him up onto the bed, I realized what was "gooosss". Poop, running all down his leg. Caught him just before he hit the sheets. Whew...Should learn to listen to the kid huh?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On The Road Marked

What is your road marked with? No, I'm not talking about your street signs, but rather the lyrics to this popular praise & worship song, Blessed Be Your Name. In particular, these lines:

"Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name"

Since I'm all about openess and sharing my heart this week, I'll share this. It was hard to share. Not in the moment, I knew it was the right thing to do. But now, now it's hard. Because it's out there. You all know the pain and vulnerbility of my heart. I've had lots of encouragement, but some harder questions too. Some people assume because it's my body that's miscarrying, that it's my fault, or at the very least, my body's fault. Which may or may not be true. There may be nothing that can be explained medically. There may be an issue with Andrew's Chromosones that can cause miscarriage. Crazy huh? Here's the thing, it doesn't matter. Shall we point fingers? I think not. Because it doesn't matter. God's in control no matter the physical causes. So let's dwell on the fact that God is sovereign and rest in that.

So yes, it's been a tough few days. But God is still faithful. He will walk us through every road He has for us. When the sun may shine down on us, when the world is "as it should be", or if suffering marks the rest of our lives, and they are full of pain, it's okay. God be glorified no matter what marks our roads. If they are sun covered or pain filled, He knows and should be glorified.

The end of that song goes like this:

"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"

Sometimes, when you're in the midst of a painful time, it's actually hard to talk to people sometimes who aren't. Or those people may feel awkward around you because they haven't gone through what you are and feel bad almost, for having a "sunny" life. That's ridiculous. God knows. Yes, when you're in the midst of pain, it is not always easy to not wonder why God doesn't have that for you. But it's not up to us. So no bitterness. He gives and takes away. We MUST CHOOSE to say, Lord, Blessed Be Your Name.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Story - Blessings

As Promised, a good post for today. This is what we shared with our church family this morning. After several months, we needed to share. It's a long read but one I believe is worth it. I hope it blesses you and encourages to let God work in your life.


Do you know what a Great God we serve? That our God is full of grace, overflowing with mercy? We want to share a bit of that grace and mercy at work with you.

I think almost all of you know the general story surrounding Levi's birth. It was not a totally routine pregnancy, and the last 9 weeks were anything but typical, resulting in his early and miraculous arrival at almost 34 weeks.

I think many of you may know we found out last September that we were again expecting. Considering all the prayers surrounding Levi’s existence, this seemed to be a total miracle from the Lord. Then at less than 8 weeks our baby’s heart stopped beating and we learned it was gone. I won’t go into details except to say this was very hard for us and I struggled for several months just to maintain “normal” and not sink into depression. God was merciful AND gracious and taught me so much through that time. And the Lord and my husband were both so very patient with me.

We were told not to let this miscarriage keep us from having more kids and we purposed to do so. I learned to just pray for hope. After such a battle of accepting God’s will, I just prayed that He would give us some hope to go on. Not just hope to have another child, but hope to conceive again, hope to get through each day.

On May 7th we again learned we were expecting. I immediately saw my Doctor for confirmation and continued to do so every week to make sure everything was going well. We heard the heartbeat several times and could even make it out beating on the screen. On June 10th we celebrated 5 years of married life. It seemed so right to celebrate and was a much needed time.

And in my heart I prayed and prayed. Not just for this baby to live, but for God to prepare me for whatever He had. That no matter what happened with this pregnancy, that He would be glorified, and that I would be totally submitted. Not just to the good in life, but to His Will.

On June 20th we went in for our weekly checkup. This time, the baby did not have a heartbeat. Closer examination proved that there was indeed no heartbeat. But there was also a surprise. There was not 1, but 2 tiny, miniscule babies on the screen. But neither one had a heartbeat. After so many more prayers, we were facing more death and loss. The doctor, I think simply instinctively, called our babies “products of conception” when describing the next steps. I immediately corrected her. They were babies. I know the medical terminology says embryos then fetuses, but we firmly believe they were alive and had life. That from the moment of conception our children had souls and were eternal beings. But it was true that they were gone, and the next day we said good-bye to our little miracles.

I have cried, I have grieved for sure. But here’s the thing, I didn’t feel the despair of the first time. Not just because we’ve been here done that, but because God has answered my original prayer. I had prayed for hope; hope that we would have more children. And what did He do? He gave us 2 little babies. No, they didn’t live. But that doesn’t have to lead to hopelessness. Because I did and do have hope. I choose this time, instead of despair, to immediately give my grief to God. I still feel anger, rage even, but I immediately turn it over to the one who can handle it. I choose to firmly believe in my heart that God’s plan was perfect. Because that is the truth in all of this; that God knows exactly what our family is supposed to look like. These babies were not His perfect plan for us on this earth. But it was His perfect plan for them to be conceived. These losses were not mistakes.

This did not mean that we don’t grieve. I still cry. I still weep at certain songs. I could go on and on and share so much of my heart, but what I really want to share is this. All Glory Be To Our God. The night we learned of our babies’ death, I didn’t sleep much. I cried, I prayed when I could find the words, but most of all, I leaned wholeheartedly on the Lord. God hasn’t walked with us through this, He has carried us. Psalm 34:15 says “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Like I said, I have grieved, I am brokenhearted. But I am NOT inconsolable. The first baby we “gave over” to the Lord (I Samuel 1:27-28) it was such a comfort to me to know our child was in Heaven and experiencing no pain. A dear lady shared with me this picture. Here on earth we pray so hard that we will be able to introduce our children to Jesus. But someday, my child (children) will get to introduce me to Jesus. That is an amazing balm to my heart. God knows. This time, I was so comforted already that our babies were safe, that I almost didn’t dwell on that. They were fine, they didn’t need me anymore. Instead, we talked a lot and asked ourselves, “What does God want to do with this?” Basically, what is He trying to accomplish in us and others through this? And will we let Him? I remember in one late night talk with Andrew saying “I don’t want to waste this.” God is doing something in our lives and I don’t want to waste this opportunity. So when I say All Glory Be To Our God, I mean that.

I don’t want to waste this grief, this pain on myself. It’s taken me a while to be willing to be open enough to share about this. We didn’t get to share the joy of the coming babies with many people, and we didn’t immediately share the grief. But we do want to do what I said, not waste this. If we can’t share our grief, and what God is doing, then why go through it? Yes, there are personal struggles, but if I truly believe in the body of Christ, both in this congregation, and in the world, and I believe that we are knit together in Christ, then I will share both my joys and my heartaches.

And so, here is our heartache. We don’t know where we’re going from here. But we do know this, God does. We have not been promised an easy life. The idea that once we trust Christ all will be rosy and ok is a lie from the devil. We will have burdens and sorrows. Christ said in Matthew 11: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The thing is, we do have a yoke and even burdens at times, but with Christ, it will be right. Faith doesn’t make it hurt less, it’s still painful. But faith makes it worth it.

Another thing we’ve learned is to not compare trials. What we’re experiencing isn’t necessarily worse or easier than your life. It’s just ours. I have a friends who lost babies full-term and friends who are waiting to bring their children home. Is their suffering any harder? I’m not sure, because it’s theirs.
God has a different story for each of us, and I just pray that we will be faithful to what He is doing and that we will not waste any of it. Real faith isn’t just asking for something different, it’s submitting to what God has, and embracing it.

Philippians 1:6 says this “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” We may not see the completion on this earth, but someday, we will be totally complete in Christ. And I firmly cling to this promise in Psalm 63:8 "My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." God will not fail.
Isaiah 40:25-31
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
27Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”

Most people focus on verse 31 in this passage. I cling to verse 28 and who God is. Because without that, the verses that follow hold no meaning or hope. God does not faint, does not grow weary, and His understanding, His ways, they are unsearchable. God is at the center, not us, not even what is happening to us by Him, it’s not about us, it’s about HIM.

I want to share a song that I heard when I was still pregnant with these babies, and then when we lost them it became a lifeline to my heart. I sang it over and over to myself that first night. I pray that you will see the truth in it and embrace whatever God is trying to do in you today.



And so that's the story. I managed to make it through talking without crying, not so with the song. Because God knows. We appreciate your prayers. We're more than willing to talk about this, if it's a rough day, we'll just tell you so.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Figuring It Out

I know, I've been absent for a few days. I could lament you with tales of garage sale and trying to figure out a very used washing machine and ugh...But I won't. Instead I'll tell you that I have accomplished something I always wondered if I could. I figured out how to create and post to YouTube a song with photos and lyrics. No, none of the photos are mine, trying to keep it public friendly. It really didn't need to be done again except that I didn't like any of the current YouTube videos of this song.

Yes, you'll get to see it. No, not until tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, I'll have a very deep and heartfelt blog post for you. So buckle up and get ready. :) And with it I'll post the video. All this after worship with our church family. They get first dibs. :)

In other news, Levi took a nice face-plant onto the concrete last night. Got some road rash on his face and bit his lip so it's swollen rather nicely. He's also figured out that if he wakes in the night he needs to come to us, not just holler. Which was actually somewhat disconcerting at 2am when we were trying to figure out what that noise was. Turns out it was the toddler camping out on our bedroom floor. Andrew has started calling Levi our Nomadic child. Because whenever he gets out of bed he has to bring ALL his blankies and animals. Sheesh. It's a traveling zoo alright.

That's really all for now, I need to go relieve Andrew from the garage sale duty. Stay tuned tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This Week

Wednesdays are interesting days. NOT. Okay really, in my current life Wednesdays are generally a bit slower and the days when I can sort of catch up on what's going on and maybe see my floors again. So I've purposed that they will be the day where I'll sort of catch you up on what's happening to us this week. If you care.

Right now the munchkin Levi is playing somewhat calmly and quietly on the floor with his magnetic trains go "choo, choo". BY HIMSELF. What do you do in situations like this? The same thing I do when he voluntarily puts food in his own mouth. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT HIM. Because then in two seconds he'll realize what he's doing and never do it again for like a week. Seriously. Meals at our home consist of either Andrew or myself sort looking out the window as we shake our heads in Levi's general direction to point out to the other person the miracle that's taking place in the booster seat. Ahem. Anyway.

Baby Shower last night. Baby Lilly was as cute as could be. Even when she lost her dinner all over my leg. Ahhh memories. Poor thing has acid reflux just like Levi. Ahhh memories. Some things you seem to forget about. Guess that's what makes you want more children, amnesia.

Made Cupcakes yesterday for the birthday boy to deliver at his work. I like to remind his co-workers he had a birthday while he was off. :) And spoil them a little too perhaps.

Update: Child has now moved the train to kitchen floor...figured out it rolls better there than on tracks I guess.

I've lost my mind and decided to do garage sale round 2 this weekend. I'm usually the snarky comment maker about "if it didn't sell the first time..." But in reality, we need the junk gone and some money to pay rent. So here's praying the new stuff we're adding will help.

One of our email inboxes in screaming at me to be cleaned out, but frankly, that's not at the top of my list. Why do you care? But honestly, my closets and the cobwebs in the corners probably need more attention. People can see those. Well, I don't often show off my closet, but you get the idea.

I think I'm still wiped from the fair this past weekend. Yes, we had lots of fun, and yes, there will be pictures. Someday.

Update: Child has found the Legos hiding under the kitchen island. Brought them to me saying "tower". Which they were. Because he had put them all together into a tower. I clapped. Because it was amazing. Ugh. Why do these moments have to be bittersweet? I'm SO proud of him for doing something we've been working so hard on, especially with no frustration involved on his part. But yet, I'm a bit sad too. Because it's just another step on becoming the independant boy he wants to be.
Anyway.

So, that's a summary. Andrew's taking a few days off after today. Not to vacation, but to, well, let's say accomplish some work. Maybe I'll be able to share later.

Frustration has set in, better go help the "independant boy". Prayers for the craziness we're calling a garage sale would be appreciated.

And oh yeah, I can barely walk. Got it in my head to go to a 6:15am fitness class yesterday. Apparently my quads haven't done squats in a while. It is funny, but it hurts to laugh.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Caught In The Middle?

Who is God to you? This question just irks me sometimes. Because personally, I don't think it's about me. How about: Who is God? And what does that mean for my life?

God is not who I make Him out to be. So I think I'd rather ask:

How does who God is affect your life?

I'm not always very good at remembering that my life is pretty meaningless in the scope of eternity, or even in the scope of your life. God is eternal. I had a beginning. It's hard because if I admit that I am nothing, that means I need to submit to the ultimate authority of the entire existence of everything.

A song caught my ear this week. Some of the lyrics go like this:

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender
'Cause I'm losing all control...

With eyes wide open to the differences
The God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His
Or are we caught in the middle?
Are we caught in the middle?


And that's the point isn't it? I don't want to have to fully surrender, because then I wouldn't be in control. Do I really want God to be who He is? Or do I prefer my nice made-up version better? Because what if I "let" God be God, and something "bad" happens? What then? What about MY dreams?

What I'm slowly and painfully coming to live in, is the truth that no matter what, God is in control. I can either fight that and be miserable, or I can embrace the truth that God's perfect plan for the world probably doesn't include an easy life for me. And that's ok. Because His glory is what I should be all about.

I can be so basic with examples, like I know I should get more sleep at night, because then my attitude would better reflect Christ during the day. Or complex: I need to submit fully to the big plan God has for my life, no matter how painful it is right now in this time.

But as those lyrics say, it's so hard to rectify saying that, and living it. I'm caught in the middle, so much more often than I wish. I'm a fence-rider, just hoping for beauty on the other side.



What about you? Is there an area of life where you know what you should do or how you should be acting, but find it hard to actually do so? Are you caught in the middle of something?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Andrew!!

My amazing husband turns, well, older today. :) I won't make a big deal about his age, he's got a few years until the next milestone. ;)
What I can tell you is how much I love this man. He's a pretty dang good guy. I honestly and truely cannot imagine my life without him.
He's been the biggest gift from God in my life. I cannot fathom how different my life would be if I hadn't married him. He's allowed me to grow and always been so patient with me.

Now, about him. He's pretty handsome, as you can tell from this hot family picture taken this summer at his sister's wedding. He makes a tux look good. :) He was better looking than the groom in my opinion. (I know, duh he's mine, but still, he's pretty cute.)

He's a wonderful husband, and a downright awesome Daddy. Levi adores him and spends his days asking where Daddy is. When Daddy gets home he runs to the door and is so excited to see him.
Andrew loves to bike, hike, walk, swim, kayak, etc. If you're moving, he does it. He values friendships and is the most loyal person I've ever met. He can be a friend to the lowly and "untouchables" of our society. He knows how to be a friend to everyone. I am often amazed at how he can find something to talk about with everyone and anyone. He's pretty cool in that way. He always goes the speed of the slowest person no matter the sport or how good he is. He's got a kind heart. :)
He loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about almost all kinds. I see a "cool" car and go "what's that?" and he proceeds to give me a history that includes "in such and such a year they changed the tail light so that's how you know it's that year". Wow...if only I had that brain power.

I could go on and on, but let me tell you a couple cool things. When we were dating he would write me, a lot. By hand. With a stamp and a postmark. My Dad was flabbergasted. Thought I was sending him self-addressed stamped envelopes or something. I have a huge envelope full of the letters I would get several times a week.
Also, on our first official "date" out to dinner (ok, we'd already been dating for 3 weeks or so and got engaged about 7 weeks later, but still) I was sooo nervous. We were on our way to the restaurant and I was thinking, oh, he didn't get me flowers, that's ok. When we got there I was so nervous for some dumb reason. All I could think of was just sit down and order something. So the waitress seats us at the table and I hold onto the menu for dear life. Suddenly Andrew goes "So I got you these flowers." I look up and really look at our table for the first time and right smack in front of my face is a dozen of the most colorful roses I'd ever seen. Sitting there, the whole time. He'd gone beforehand and left them at the restaurant. Oiy. I was overwhelmed and it definitely broke the tension. :)

That's my man in a nutshell, thoughtful and kind.

Andrew, I know that marriage, children, and just life can get crazy at times. We've certainly had our share of curveballs and hardships. I know I get sad and lonely at times. But know this, I love you more than I ever have. I know in my heart that you were the man God had for me, and I think you are wonderful. You amaze me in so many ways, and I love that spending time with me and Levi is one of your favorite things. Thanks for teaching me so many things I never thought I could do, and sharing your loves and passions with me. You've allowed me to grow up in our marriage, and I can't wait to celebrate ALL the rest of your birthdays with you. I'm proud and honored to be your wife. All who speak well of you bless me. I get the privilege of being married to THAT man. And I thank God everyday for you. I love you. Happy Birthday Andrew!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Retract That TWICE

Almost within minutes of posting my retraction yesterday, I went to put some clothes in the washer and thought there was something a bit off. On closer investigation, our washer wasn't spinning. UGH. When I youtubed how to take the thing apart and we got a closer look, we also discovered why it was leaking. Grrr. But no answers to the spinning problem. We're currently doing what we don't know how to fix it, but it's pretty hopeless 'cause we know nothing, obviously.

So, as we try to find a "new/used" machine, I better clip some more coupons. I have no idea how we're going to pay for this. I was freaking out yesterday trying to figure out how to pay rent. Now...well, I guess that's why we have an emergency fund. But here's the thing, there's no way to refund that. So if we use it, it's gone. Okay, deep breath.

Actually, in church this morning we may have an answer. I also sent out a Craig's List inquiry and hope to hear back. God is still in control. Can I get an AMEN?

In other news, tomorrow my dear husband turns, well, old. Way older than me. So we've made a kayaking date with friends who love our son too. It'll be fun on the beach and the lake. I'm so thankful for my sweetheart and for his, ahem, maturity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Retract That

I'd like to take back a few of my statements about couponing. Thanks to a few extra medical bills, we're beyond broke. I'm going through my coupons this afternoon as well as scouring the house for stuff for garage sale #2.

I did not mean to sound as though hardcore couponers were doing so out of guilt, just that in general, I am too hard on myself. If I can't do it all, I tend to feel guilt that isn't from the Lord. I simply need to do my best at what I can. And that does mean using coupons and planning better. But it does NOT mean trying to be something I'm not. It's about balance...as if that wasn't the theme of my life. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Biting Into Some Humility

Sometimes, we all need reality checks. They may not be fun, but overall they're probably beneficial.

Like Tuesday. There was a lot of biting in my day. Levi biting random girl trying to steal his toy at the Y's child watch. Got himself kicked out for 24 hours for that one. And made Mom cry. Dexter tried to bite the vet when he tried to check his (ahem) lack of man parts. Again, more tears, this time from the child.

Ugh. I needed some humility. Thankfully the other Mom at the Y wasn't upset, no skin was broken. But I sure was taken down several pegs, if not a whole ladder.

After my tears subsided and Levi WAS punished, I assure you, I realized maybe it's God trying to remind me that even the strength to write blog posts comes from Him. I haven't got a clue about being a good Mom. Any good I do comes only from the Lord.

I guess I needed that reminder to be totally and utterly dependant on Him.

And yes, I know kids bite and it's not my fault, but it did invoke some much needed humility on my heart. It also brought me to tears and the end of myself. Which is always good. And the other much needed reminder? To pray for my son. To pour my heart and soul into praying for his heart and soul. Because really, this acting out is such a reminder of what a sinner my son is, just like all of us. He needs a Savior just as I did/do.

So, two days later we're making some parenting/schedule changes, and we're praying harder. My heart has been severly humbled, and I've remembered it's all about Grace. For me and for my son.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Frugality=Guilt?

This is my second type writing this post, as blogger didn't save as it was supposed to. So it won't be exactly the same, which may be better. :)

After my musings/rantings about how we are each responsible for our own selves a few days ago, I must make a confession. I read several couponing/thrifty/frugal/money saving websites. I get some good deals and some free stuff thanks to them. But overall, they discourage me. It's easy to ignore the deals/coupons for stores that we don't have in our area, but it's really hard to not stress about what I may be missing for the stores we do have.

Because I don't give myself grace. I want to be "Superwoman" Good at everything. Able to find a sale and entertain a child all at once. Money is tight beyond tight in our lives at this point, so if I know I could have gotten that $2 bottle of shampoo for free, I feel guilty.

But here's the thing. A lot of the items people get for cheap or free, I don't use. I make my laundry soap due to allergies and cloth diapers, I spoil my hair with more expensive shampoo, we use sensitive toothpaste thanks to some sensitive teeth, and we try not to buy a ton of processed foods. Now, the stuff I do use should I still look for coupons? Yes. If they're not available do I do without? Not always. Should we strive to maintain our food standards? Probably. Will I die with cheaper shampoo? Maybe not, but I may be more frustrated with my hair.

All this to say, I need to try to just do what I can. Time is money too. I don't always want to spend my time going from store to store and standing in line and waiting for the cashier to sort out my coupons with Levi in tow. And shoppping by myself? I'm then missing quality time with my boys. Because really, that's more important to me. I'd love to do it all, but I simply don't have the ability right now. If I wanted it enough could I find the ability? Maybe. Maybe Not. I'm not sure. What I do want is to be a good steward of what I have, and not stress about the small stuff. And sometimes, saving tons of money is a small thing. When instead of clipping coupons I could be playing at the beach with my son.

Overall, I do need to be more disciplined. And that's key too. I don't just want to manage our money better, I also want to be more disciplined in my entire life. I want to do my dishes more often, go on more bike rides with my husband, have a more consistent alone time reading my Bible and praying. There's many areas that need more discipline. And I'm not "Superwoman", and I'm learning to be okay with that. I'll learn and grow in God's perfect timing for me. And when I put expectations on myself that even He doesn't put on me, that can actually be sin and believing lies from the evil one.

So, do I try to take advantage of good deals? Yes. I'm actually still awake thanks to a good photo website deal. Loading 100 prints to be shipped to my doorstep for $1.07. Now that's a deal I can use. So less sleep to save a ton of money. It's worth it tonight. If it all fails and doesn't work out, will I lose more sleep and feel incredibly guilty? Nope. Because I did what I could.

Let me say this in closing though. God's strength is amazing, and through it I have done and handled things I never thought possible. So do I excuse myself by saying "I just don't have the strength right now." Well, at times. But I'm learning to pray first, and ask God for strength for what HE wants me to handle. That pretty much takes care of the guilt when I actually stop and listen. It sheds light on the false guilt in my life. And oh how freeing it is to walk in Christ's plans for my life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grace? Shock? Condemnation?

I "follow" a well-known pastor on Facebook. Almost daily he posts some links to articles and stories of interest. Whether it be funny, ridiculous, spiritual, whatever. Just relevent things. This weekend one of his links was to here. (Click on the word here in previous sentence to go to it.)

It took me a while to make it through this 7 page article. Maybe that's why I didn't freak out. The title is "The two minus one pregnancy". To summarize, it's all about women who have become pregnant with twins, or maybe more, "reducing" their pregnancy size to only one child. In other words, aborting or killing the other babies while pregnant. They were specifically addressing women doing it for social and economic reasons.

Now, I do NOT condone this. But it breaks my heart for more than the obvious "how appalling" reasons. I think I'm past being shocked by sin. Well, that's not true, unfortunately. But I do think as I've grown up in a generation where more and more sin becomes "acceptable", less of it shocks me. So, not only am I not shocked, I come to expect some things. The Bible says as time goes on we will become more and more depraved. Which is how I view this, as depravity of man.

So what about it does break my heart? The poor women. I firmly believe that some of them are simply believing lies from the evil one. That they need more money, cannot handle the craziness, etc. That it's their choice, even if it is a live child. And while some may know the truth of Scripture, and choose to kill the child/children anyway, Most of them are simply believing lies. And so I wanted to cry for them. They may someday feel aches and sorrow. They may not. They may already regret their decisions. Either way, I pray for them. That someday, someone will show them love and grace and they will see their wrongdoing and accept the Grace of God.

And that's really all I can do. I do not see what good me becoming aghast and appalled and hateful will do. Overall, all I can think in summary is this...
Should sin surprise us? Child sacrifice occured in the Old Testament, and obviously children being murdered still occurs. Does any of this surprise our amazing God? No. He still offers grace, and so should we. We don't know their hearts. We can be saddened, disgusted, and mourn, but to show no grace and understanding of depraved hearts and minds is not Biblical.

Grace and Love. I'm so overwhelmed by them.