Friday, February 26, 2010

Turn it off!

We had a scare yesterday. And I'm still reeling. The aftershocks of being that scared are really hard to shake. I hesitate to even blog about this because at the moment I'm fairly calm. I don't want to go there.

Though it's lessened, I still can't seem to turn it off. The fear, the worry, the thoughts, the FEAR. I'm pretty sure I had a panic attack this afternoon. I couldn't stop the thoughts. They took over and all I could hear in my head was the negative; the things that could go wrong, things that might be happening as a lie in bed feeling Hannah's movements. I started to get shaky and nauseated. Then the tears came. The ugly-can't stop-have trouble breathing-don't know what you're saying through sobbing-tears.

I've since calmed down...I started to pray (Chris was praying too and I'm pretty sure he called my friend L. to pray too) and I felt the calm come, slowly but it has come. I'm still feeling fairly anxious (more than usual) and the thoughts of what could happen are still here.

About a week ago, Chris accused me of being a kick junkie; always waiting for Hannah's next kick. I would feel her move, rejoice and revel in it and then the next minute, I was waiting for the next.

Since yesterday's scare when Hannah made some movements I've never felt before and I really thought that she was in distress, I've been anxious over each movement she makes. I know this can all be traced back to Owen's death. I remember his last movements. The ones I thought he was playing and being silly in reality were movements of distress when he was dying.

The feelings of anxiety when she doesn't move are just as bad as the anxiety I feel when she does move.

I'm so tired of being on edge. I know I don't feel this bad all the time and I know that not every day in between now and Hannah's birth will this scary and anxiety-ridden, but right now.... this really sucks. I'm so READY for her safe arrival. I just want her to make it here alive. And, I know how this will sound, but if I could induce next week I would. I just want her to make it out of my body alive.

I almost ended the post with the previous sentence, but it just felt too morbid. Seriously, though, that's how I feel. I feel like a death trap. My body doesn't feel like the safest place for her and I'm worried that the longer she stays in, the more danger there is. Irrational? Maybe. Valid? Who knows... but with my experience with Owen, it feels very true.

I am really praying that these feelings and thoughts would stay away for the next 9 weeks and 4 days. Please keep praying for us. I know you are... and you don't know how much that means to us. Thank you for being such loving and supportive friends.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tears for Fears

Chris and I went to a friend's wedding on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and I hope it was a day the bride and groom will look back on with precious memories.

My view of weddings is so different now, but I think it is only a good thing. Though sometimes, dare I say, I'm in no mood to sit and watch two people who have no idea what love is making vows to each other.
When did I become so cynical and ugly?

Even before I got married and especially after Chris and I were married, I was always so excited to see the excitement and joy, the love and sweet anticipation of the couple on their wedding day. Everything that lay before them seemed so bright and wonderful. It was a fairy tale unfolding before my eyes, not the end of the tale but just the beginning.

For better or for worse. 

That phrase has such a huge impact on me now. Before I got married, or even in the early years (the years where we fought, had no money, were both unemployed, and were struggling to find our identity as a couple) I assumed 'for better or for worse' meant when the other person forgets to wash the dishes, or leaves his dirty socks on the floor, or has yucky morning breath but insists on kissing you anyways. Even through the difficult struggles that we had, I assumed it was normal. Normal to fight, normal to struggle with finances, normal to discover that the man you married was not, in fact, a perfect white knight in shining armor.

I had no idea what 'for better or for worse' really meant. I didn't know that it entailed watching your husband sob at your only child's funeral. I didn't know that 'for worse' could be so bad. I didn't understand that vowing to be with someone through the 'worse' meant watching your husband struggle with deep depression and anger and only being able to hold his hand. I didn't realize it could mean needing your husband to take care of you because you can't get off the couch even to eat. For better or for worse... I didn't know it could be so hard.
At the same time, Chris had no idea when he was standing at the altar making a covenant with me that he would have to watch his smiling, sweet bride crumpled on the floor retching and sobbing, questioning her faith, God's goodness and even his existence.

But, yes, it means all that and more, I'm sure.

As we listened to the newly married couple recite their vows, I reached over and took Chris' hand. We shared a look that only the two of us could understand. For better or for worse.

It was good to hear and be reminded of the vows we took 5 years and 2 months ago, but I am reminded every day when I remember the days when we sat side by side on our couch and just existed together, struggling together, and each of us struggling with our own grief and anguish. We made vows that beautiful December day 5 years ago, but the covenant we made is not kept by our own strength or good intentions. Praise our Father in Heaven that he is faithful. He was there the day we took our vows. He knew what was coming in our marriage, he knew how inept we were and how there was no chance we could keep our promises to each other... he was there, standing in between us, holding our hands and making the covenant with us.

Each wedding I have attended since Owen's death has brought out the jealousy and anger I struggle with, but I have also been reminded of God's unfailing love and faithfulness to us in our own marriage, our life together. It is not the life we imagined we would live, and every once in a while (okay, more than that) I wonder what life would be like if it had gone the way we had planned. I didn't know 5 years ago that there would be one missing... a tow-headed toddler who should be filling our days with joy and tantrums and laughter... he is sorely missed.

God has brought me to a place where at times I am able to look around at our life and think, 'we have a good little life'. I enjoy my husband, which I know is something I should never take for granted, though I still sometimes do. Yet there will always be someone missing from our little life. Acceptance is something I think I will struggle to learn until Glory, yet there are times when I do accept that he is gone and will not return to us but we will go to him. God has been faithful to us, and I believe that his Covenant dictates that he will continue to be faithful to us. Though we are moving forward, we take our little boy with us. We carry him in our hearts and grieve his absence daily with aching hearts. Though there is healing, it will always hurt.

This picture was taken on Owen's 2nd birthday, when we celebrated his life with friends. I look at our faces and am struck by the genuine joy that is found there. God is faithful.

It is a mad world, papa, but I love you anyways.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Advice wanted

Let's talk about something I never blog about.


Was that anti-climatic? What were you expecting? : P
(Okay, did I really just make a little face with the tongue sticking out? I think that just happened...)

Anyways, moving on...I would really like your opinions and advice about some things we're stepping out in faith and doing. Chris has felt the call to go to seminary and do full-time ministry since he was 16. Me, on the other hand, well, my calling was a little different. I guess to get a better picture of how God has worked in this area of our lives, you'll probably need to read this post. It's pretty wordy, but it gives you a good idea of how long this has been in the making.

Chris has been accepted into a couple of seminaries since I last blogged about it in April of last year, and as of now we've made the decision to attend a seminary in St. Louis, MI. It is a HUGE step of faith. One that I can't believe we've actually made. And how it's coincided with sweet Hannah's arrival into lives... well, it's mind-boggling, but we know that God is writing a beautiful and perfect story in this. Even if, to us, it doesn't make sense or doesn't seem like the best timing. Hannah Mae will be about 3 months old when we move to St. Louis and start school.

So, here's where I'd like some advice. I never know who's reading here, so I don't know your backgrounds or your stories, but I'd love to hear from some of you who have attended seminary or graduate school with a wife and kids in tow. How did you do it? 
I mean, seriously, I'm a practical kind of person. I like lists, and plans and excel spreadsheets...I like budgets and knowing exactly how much money we have and what our expenses are, down to the small coffee we had with friends one morning.

We have this amazing scholarship opportunity that would pay 100% of Chris' tuition. There is a (maybe small) chance he could be awarded this and honestly, I can't think of any other possibility than his receiving it (it overwhelms me to consider having to come up with $20,000).
What I'm more concerned about is how we'll pay our living expenses while in school. Chris is planning to get a part-time job and work 15-20 hours a week while in school, and there's a chance I could work at a daycare on campus a couple of days a week and bring Hannah Mae to work with me. I really can't imagine my finding a full-time job that would be worth putting Hannah Mae in daycare for... daycare (good daycare) is so expensive and I'd have to have a pretty good job to make it work. Honestly, I really want to stay home with my little girl.

We are considering a loan, but do you know what kind of income pastors make? Um, it's not much...and it seems unwise to take out a huge loan that we wouldn't be able to pay off for 15-20 years. I don't care that we won't be making tons of money after school. I never planned on having an extravagant lifestyle and really, I'm an easy to please kind of girl. I knew what kind of man I was marrying and I knew that he either wanted to be a minister of the Gospel or an artist. So, yeah, I didn't foresee keeping up with the Joneses in our future. Oh, and I was a Sociology/Child and Family Development major in college. Not exactly the fast track to a high powered, money making career.

Making money has never been a priority, but now all of the sudden, I'm thinking about it more and more. How will we take care of ourselves and Hannah Mae for the three years we're in seminary, without accruing huge amounts of debt that we won't be able to pay off?
I know that people do it. I know that there are several couples with families in seminary and they're able to manage it, but seriously, how?

I'd really love to hear some of your stories and advice. Anything helpful you learned from budgeting or making it work while in school?
And as always, could you pray with us as we continue forward in faith, knowing that God does not always call us to be comfortable, but that he walks with us in the lives he's called us to live. 


And this is the part of the post where I step back, calm down and believe that this is God's leading in our lives. In order to be an effective minister of the Gospel, Chris needs this education and if God has called Chris and I to full-time ministry, then he will provide the way and the means. 
He has always shown himself to be faithful and I need to rest in his promises. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lucy the kitten

Do you think she loves Hannah Mae? Or maybe she's just looking for a soft warm place to cuddle?

I know this sounds bad, but I don't really like it when she climbs into my lap and tries to lay on my belly. I feel like she's squishing Hannah Mae or something. But some days, when she meows that tiny kitten meow and looks at me with those baby eyes, I melt and give in. Today was one of those days. I had the laptop on my legs this morning and she just climbed right on top of my Hannah belly and got in between me and the computer. She would not take no for an answer. I let her cuddle for a while, but as always, my bladder called my name and I had to answer. When I tried to get her up, she looked at me like she couldn't believe I was making her move.


Oh, Lucy. You are the baby now, but in 10 weeks and 6 days (Chris says 5 and a half days) you'll have to share the love. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Her name was Allison. She was 15. She died the summer before our sophomore year.
I missed her funeral. I didn't even know that she had died until the services were over. My friends left the news on our home answering machine. These were the days before cell phones, and we had been out of town for a few weeks.

I have found myself thinking of her so often since Owen's death.

I'm not going to exaggerate how close we were back then. We were friends, not best friends, but friends all the same. Teenage girls with some things in common, girls who hung out and talked about boys and first kisses. I had just moved to a different state when she died. She was one of the only people who wrote me after I moved. I kept her letters.
In the months after she died, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that she was gone. My life was drastically different anyways- living a few states away from the aftermath, and I'm sure I didn't feel the hole as acutely as our other friends did.

I want to call her parents and tell them I still remember her. I want to tell them everything I remember about her. Her laugh, her intimidating intelligence, the time she told me that dating an older guy didn't mean she was going to have sex with him...I remember that conversation very clearly. We were standing on the front lawn of our church, the sun was going down and we were taking a break from the dinner the youth group had put on. She seemed so much older than I was. I looked up to her in a lot of ways. I was shy, but she was never afraid to voice her opinion.

I want to call her parents and tell them that their beloved daughter is important and remembered. Her life was special and invaluable.

You're probably wondering where this post came from... I'll admit that I check my sitemeter occasionally and tonight (rather early this morning) I saw that someone from Allison's hometown visited here yesterday. And one of the few people that came to mind when I saw the town listed was Allison. I want to tell her parents that too.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

On baby things and nesting...and snow

The past few weeks I've been thinking about baby showers and baby things and making room in our teeny tiny apartment for Hannah Mae. If you can believe it, our current apartment is a lot smaller than the one we had when I was pregnant with Owen. Both are one bedroom/one bathroom, but the one we're in now is just tiny. It's pretty laughable. Thankfully, both my husband and I have a knack for creating cozy homes out of, well, crap. Okay, so I might be exaggerating a little bit, but have I mentioned that we spent the first 7 months of our marriage in a 600 sq ft cinderblock-walled apartment? Yep, that was fun.
We now have a whopping 800 sq ft to work with, so I guess we're rolling in space comparatively, huh?

Really, though, I've got nothing to complain about. We do have (a teeny amount, but enough) space in our bedroom for Hannah's crib. We already have her dresser in our bedroom, so we know that it fits. Seriously, what else do you need? We'll be moving to a two bedroom apartment after Hannah Mae is 3 months old, so we only have a few short weeks to be all piled together in one bedroom. The apartment we hope to have next fall is the same sq ft but it's divided into two bedrooms. I'm glad she'll have her own space. I've never thought about decorating a nursery before and honestly haven't given it much thought yet. I just want her home with us. I'll figure out the rest when we need to.

I have been fighting the urge to nest lately. I want to get all her clothes out and just look at them. I want to start washing them and folding them neatly away into her dresser. I had a wild thought this afternoon and told Chris that if her crib was here, I'd want to put it together right now.
I want to be hopeful. I want to be only excited and have joyful anticipation of her safe arrival. There is just so much fear and worry mixed in with the hope and excitement.

We had a few inches of snow yesterday. They had been forecasting snow for Friday, but as usual we don't take snow seriously here because we just never get it.
Yesterday was the exception I guess (oh, and last March). Chris got to come home early from work, which was so nice. It snowed for probably 7 hours. It was great! We went out and played in it for a while. It was a much different experience from last year. Last March when we got 6 inches of snow, we were living out of city limits in a small neighborhood and this year we live in the middle of town. There were all kinds of people out and about, walking, biking, driving around town yesterday. We even saw this:

Yes, that is a man carrying a giant snowball. We saw him coming down the sidewalk and when he got to us, he had to put the snowball down and take a rest. It was so funny! I just kept thinking, only in the south...

I wasn't brave enough to get out and drive in the snow last night, but we did have friends over to our house, friends who didn't seem to mind the snow on the roads. I was worried for them, but I guess they were fine. It didn't seem to get all that icy, just slushy. We did get out today to have lunch with Josh and Miranda. By noon, the sun had melted a lot of the snow and it was beautiful sunshiny day. It made the snow sparkle. 

We had a doctor's appointment last week with Dr. Wonderful. I gained almost 5 pounds in 3 weeks! Yay!! I was so excited. That brings my total to about 13 pounds. My belly is measuring right where it should and Hannah Mae continues to be active and wiggly. I told Chris that I think she has restless leg syndrome. It feels like she is constantly moving her feet to get comfortable. I can't wait to see if she continues this habit after she's born. And here we are at 25 weeks. Dr. Wonderful gave us the rough timeline of the first week of May for an amnio and then induction. So, I guess that means we have 11 and a half weeks to go. 

And this is what I tell myself everyday....


Yes, that's our cat Lucy. She's such a good sport. Hey, at least I'm not practicing my baby holding moves on her. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Painting pictures

Yesterday afternoon I joyfully embraced my husband (and then promptly took a nap) as I returned home from our church's annual women's retreat. I went last year as well, and really wasn't planning on going this year (finances, other circumstances and a desire to self-protect kept me hesitant to attend), but a generous friend helped with the cost and I felt the Holy Spirit pull at my heart to go.

It was an interesting weekend. The speaker gave me a lot to think about and I'm still processing the things I heard. One of the things that stuck in my head the most (after it hit me upside the head) was being confronted with the reality that we all 'paint' pictures of others after just one or two encounters with them. After an unfavorable encounter, we make big sweeping brush strokes with harsh colors that paint not-so-flattering pictures of people we really know nothing about. We tend to be stingy with grace and assume the worst after one bad (or maybe even a few) conversation(s). Are we willing to assume the best  about someone? Are we willing to leave the canvas blank instead of filling it up with unflattering colors and markings? This is specifically addressing how we relate to others in the church.
And yes, I was convicted too.

How often I've held onto things that people have said in passing to me or assumed the worst from people's intentions and character after a bad experience trying to be open with them!

I admit that there are people I intentionally walk in the opposite direction from. I've had a few bad conversations with these people (some I've talked with more than others), but really I am, in my heart of hearts, assuming the worst and avoiding community with them because:
a. I think they're idiots
b. They can't possibly understand and will just say something insensitive
c. I'm tried of and not very good at putting on a 'happy face' and pretending that I'm fine because I simply cannot take the time to explain myself to them

I am a sinner. Oh, yes I am.

I do all of the above because I've painted a picture of them in my head that is less than beautiful and certainly not grace-filled. I continue to see them as one dimensional without taking the time to see anything but what I assume is there.

The speaker went on to say that not all personalities click. We can't all 'get' each other and we don't have to bear our souls to everyone we meet. I'm not very good at putting on a 'happy face' and hiding my emotions. I don't like to do it and I feel uncomfortable lying to people when I'm asked the dreaded 'how are you doing' question. But being reminded that we all can't possibly understand each other or click intimately with everyone was very freeing.

In light of the Gospel, I can leave someone's canvas blank and walk away from a conversation knowing that though they may not understand me or my circumstances, they are not ugly people (this is such a Southern thing to say). They are not intentionally trying to hurt me. I don't have to bear my soul to everyone I meet, but living in community means loving those around me. Even the people who have very different lives from me, people who struggle with very different things than I do.

I realized this weekend that I can't walk away from everyone who hasn't experienced the same things I've experienced. I can't write them off. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I need to love them.

No, I'm still not going to bear my soul and get down and dirty with people I have come to realize aren't living with the same realities I am and whose personalities are different from mine; but you are never going to know who someone is unless you live in community with them. I can no longer ignore people who have hurt me in the past. A woman who I've known for years shared some pretty personal struggles with me this weekend and I realized as the tears rolled down her face that I had been painting a very unbecoming and inaccurate picture of her.

The grace of God is bigger and better than we can imagine. It is perfect and unbelievably generous.

I walked away from this weekend with the precious gift of seeing my sin and was reminded what an awesome God we serve; one who really does understand us. He 'gets' us. Love really does cover a multitude of sins.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jesus, we come

I've been thinking about writing, but words aren't fitting together the way I want them to.

A sweet friend's precious little boy went to be with Jesus two days ago. I've never met her, or her son. I really regret not meeting him here on this earth, but I know we'll rejoice in Heaven together.
My heart is breaking for her and her husband, for his big sister. I've been thinking about them a lot and catch myself lost in a world of thoughts that ache.

I don't have permission to link to her blog, so I won't; but please be in prayer for this family. Pray that those around them would love them well and show them our Father's unconditional love and faithfulness. Pray that He would be near.

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth's sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life's storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair, into raptures above,
Upward forever on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Jesus, we come to Thee.