Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week of weeks

This week has been hard. Excuse me while I vent (and document for my future self):

It is finals week here in seminary land. All the stressing, studying, hustling and bustling and huffing and puffing, and not being able to help with any of it is hard. I am Chris' partner in crime and I can't do anything to help with this week.
Added to his stress and busyness was the stomach bug, which somehow found its nasty way into our house early Monday morning. Chris got it first and then HM. I don't know how, but I have avoided the sickness thus far (God's providence and apple cider vinegar maybe helped).

It seemed like it was the best version of the stomach bug, so we really do have a lot to be thankful for (the version I had when I was pregnant with HM last almost 4 days and was bad bad bad). The sickness lasted only a day, but it's taken a few days for them to feel back to normal. As far as I can tell, I think HM is feeling like herself again. Today was the first day this week that we sat at the table and had a meal together (well, excluding Chris because he is BUSY).

I made the mistake of reading online that people infected with stomach viruses can be contagious for up to 5 days. I guess I'm not home free yet. I have done probably 1,000 loads of laundry since Monday morning. I am washing and rewashing toys and stuffed animals and wiping books and doorknobs.... and did I mention that I'm a germaphobe? I have washed the crap out of my hands and I'm now dealing with a flare of hand eczema (which is just great, I must say). My hands are so itchy that I could take a grater to them. Boo.

I appreciate my washer more than I can say. We lived the first half of our marriage without such luxuries and I am just so thankful that neither of us got a stomach virus back then. (Speaking of marriage... this weekend is our 7th wedding anniversary!)

It is going to sound bizarre, but I think one of my favorite toddlerhood memories of HM happened on Monday right after the first time she threw up (which of course, because I didn't know she was about to throw up, happened all down my front and yes, I tried to 'catch' it with my hands). After I yelled for Chris (who was sick himself), I just stood there all dazed and confused, tried to hold my breath/comfort my sick baby (toddler) while she cuddled into my chest and said "Oooooo" and then looked up at me, puckered her lips and tried to give me a big kiss on the mouth. "Muuuuuuah!!"
Poor thing. I told her I'd take a rain check on the kiss.

Chris was gone all day yesterday (with the exception of 2 breaks for a quick bite of something to eat), from the time HM and I woke up to way after HM was down for the night. He'll be gone all day today too, and most of tomorrow. We miss him.

I am so thankful that we have a break coming our way. It is coming. And it can't come soon enough.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Certain words for a certain book

I generally stay away from using certain words. Not because I'm legalistic or afraid of turning people off or because I'm better than people who use words that I don't.
Nope.

I stay away from some certain words because when I use them I want them to mean something.

With that said, I HATE What to Expect When You're Expecting. I HATE it.

Just typing its name makes my blood boil. I get really hot and sweaty and I start fidgeting when I hear women talking about using this book during pregnancy.
Don't do it. Just don't do it. Don't read it. Don't look at it. And don't bother telling me it has useful information in it.

This book has boldly helped perpetuate the lie that babies stop moving when labor is impending. This book has led so many women into complacency at a time when there should never be complacency.
This book led me to believe that it was normal for my baby's movements to slow down and be few and far between because I was nearing my due date.

I heard about another woman delivering her 39 week baby stillborn today. She had read that it was normal for babies to stop moving as much near their due dates. I can't say for sure that she read this lie in the book that shall not be named. But the fact remains I still HATE that book.
And I hate that she is burying her baby. I hate it.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happiness and cheer


I love this little girl.


I've got a lot on my mind. Maybe a list will help? Hm.... 7 things:

1. Thanksgiving was great. I did the whole shebang and was exhausted by bedtime, but it was worth it.

2. Our Christmas tree is up now. It smells divine and is so sparkly and pretty.

3. Some nights when I put Hannah Mae to bed she blows kisses at me as I leave. Be still my heart.

4. My husband is doing an amazing job balancing school, work and home. Thank you, Lord.

5. I'm so thankful for good friends both near and far. I have some pretty great ones.

6. Every night we read the Bible together (well, the Jesus Storybook Bible) before bed (and sometimes before nap too). It's Hannah's favorite. As soon as her jammies are on and her teeth are brushed she starts saying 'biba biba biba' over and over again until we sit down to read it. 

7. Hannah Mae is rocking a mullet and we love it. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our stories


I was 36 weeks pregnant when I walked into the hospital to be induced. The tears streaming down my face, silent sobs shaking my body. I was not a glowing expectant mother entering through the labor and delivery doors to celebrate the birth of my son. I was a bereaved mother lamenting the death of my son, dreading a labor that would not end with a crying baby.

It was not how it was supposed to be, though admittedly I had no idea what laboring for my son would be like. I was a first-time mom, anxious about everything. I had heard horror stories of long hours of painful labor, stories full of intense contractions, and epidurals gone wrong. But I had never heard the stories of women laboring for their babies after ‘fetal demise’. It is not how it is supposed to be, and I understand why it is a subject draped in silence. Stillbirth is seldom talked about in daily conversations and rarely mentioned even in childbirth education classes.
But they are important stories to tell. They are stories full of heartbreaking pain and sadness. They are stories of love in the midst of tragedy. They are a part of our children's stories.

This is our story.

I walked into the birthing suite in the labor and delivery unit and collapsed into the chair next to the bed. Women in labor, women nursing their new arrivals, and rooms full of excited visitors surrounded us. I cried, not in the throes of labor, but in the throes of grief. A nurse walked in to take my information and explain the induction process to my husband and me. He held my hand as I tried to breathe through my sobs. He held me up as I quietly asked for a c-section. Everything in me wanted to be put to sleep and to wake up when it was over. My doctor came by shortly after we arrived and I reluctantly agreed to be induced, but retained the option of a c-section if I wanted. This is not how it was supposed to be was all I could think in my haze.

After my vitals had been taken and our families had gone home for the evening, the nurse gave me a sleeping pill so I could rest. I slept fitfully. The nurses told me it could take a long time since my body was not already in labor, but less than 12 hours after I had arrived at the hospital my water broke. And it had begun.

I was given pain medication through my IV while I laid in the hospital bed and cried. My husband, holding my hand, cried with me. After a few hours, I asked for an epidural. No amount of pain medication could take away the emotional pain, but the physical discomfort felt unbearable layered on top of my broken heart. I don't remember many specific moments from those laboring hours; a fog of disbelief and incredible sadness blanketed everything. My husband brought our computer from home and we listened to the CD I had made a few weeks earlier to focus on during labor. It was a mix of hymns and in our pain we found great comfort in the words filling the otherwise quiet room.

When the time came to deliver our little boy, I honestly thought that I wasn't going to be able to do it. This was it. It was time to meet him face to face. It was time to say goodbye. Despite my fears and trepidation, the desire to see my baby was so strong that I delivered him less than 15 minutes later. The doctor held him up and asked me if I wanted him to be placed on my chest. I could only nod my head yes and motion with my arms. I scooped him up and pulled him toward my face. Owen. He was beautiful, my son. Much more beautiful than I could have dreamed. And at that moment, the love I felt for my child was more powerful and real than the sorrow emanating from my broken heart.

We spent the remainder of the day trying to squeeze a lifetime into a few hours. We held our son, admired his sweet face, and lovingly stroked his perfect chin and nose. Pictures were taken, though not nearly enough to satisfy a lifetime. My husband cradled his son in his arms and wept. There would be many more tears to come, but the tears we shed on Owen’s birthday are seared into my memory. I will never forget what it felt like to hold my baby boy, feel the weight of him in my arms and know that he was not there anymore. It was not how it was supposed to be.

Two and a half years later, our daughter was born alive and screaming. She was delivered via c-section. The labor, the delivery, the walk through the hospital doors were all vastly different this time. But the love, oh the love, I felt for her as I pulled her to my face for the first time was the same. She was beautiful, my daughter.

I will never forget the day my daughter was born. Her first cries were sheer music to our ears and her precious newborn squeaks played like a glorious lullaby in our hospital room.

She is a gift, a blessing, and a joy. But she is not our first.
I could never forget the day my son was born. Though tears of grief saturate that day, there is also unending love that flows from my heart every time I think of him and the day I held him in my arms. He is a gift, a blessing and a joy.


Underneath the stillbirth label is a story. If you dare to ask, be prepared to hear the story of deep anguish and loss. It is also a story of limitless love, the stories of our children.


In my arms, Owen and Hannah Mae.




Monday, November 14, 2011

This is your story

Last week I went through Owen's scrapbook, lingering over the weekly belly pictures, the swollen ankles, cards from his baby shower. Running my fingers over the pictures of his stuffed animals, his crib, dresser. Such joyful smiles on our faces as we anticipated, as we waited. Loving all the while.

I flipped through pictures of his first birthday, his second and third... it only took a few minutes.

Hannah's scrapbook laid only a few inches away... full to the brim. (And I'm only up to 10 months.) It's stuffed full of pictures, band-aids, flowers, shower invitations, cards, pictures....
completely full.

And his scrapbook, his is so empty, so bare that it breaks my heart.

Quite frankly, it makes me angry. It makes me so damn angry that I don't have a scrapbook full of his milestones, cards from his (happy) birth, band-aids from his first trip to the doctor, pictures of the first time he rolled over, smiled, sat up, etc etc etc.

I held his light scrapbook in my arms and I cried. His fourth birthday should have been a day full of happy yells of delight as he ran through the house, everything fun and good and exciting for a big four year old boy. Not a sad little cake that sits half eaten in our kitchen. Not a balloon release where we watch four blue balloons slowly fly away, getting smaller and smaller as they float into the distance. Not a day without its birthday boy. Not a handful of pictures for his tiny scrapbook.

But it was. And I can't change it. My tears, my longing, my anger- they won't change anything. Would I wish him here from Heaven? Would I wish his life was longer? Would I wish away my longing so I could hold him and watch him grow up? Would I.... ?

I don't know. I don't know. But my mother love misses him. My mother love longs for him.


His scrapbook may be bare, but his life was full. Full of love, joy, warmth and oh so much love. We loved him. Before we could gaze at his sweet little face, or hold him in our arms, before we named him Owen... we loved him.
And God loved him. God knew him.

This is your story, Owen. God knew you, loved you, called you by name and called you home.

This is your story, sweet little Owen. I may not have pictures of your first bite of cake on your first birthday, but I have a heart full of love just for you. This mother love will never fade. And the God love... well, you know all about that, and I can't wait to experience it with you- the way it was meant to be.






Wednesday, November 9, 2011

His 4th birthday

His 4th birthday was a rainy, gloomy one. There were times throughout the day that I broke down sobbing. I cried through lunch with Hannah Mae. I cried during dinner preparations and I got so frustrated making his cake that I almost scrapped the whole thing. 

We released balloons after lunch during a short break from the terrible weather that was forecasted for the afternoon. I was worried they weren't going to fly high enough and away because of the spitting rain and the blustery wind. But they did.







We sang happy birthday to Owen and explained to HM that one day, when Jesus comes back, we're all going to fly up out our graves and meet Jesus in the sky just like the balloons are flying up and away.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)

 Overall, I'm feeling deflated, but thankful for hope. 
Hope that one day there will be no more longing or separation or sadness or tears or missing ones on their birthdays, or cakes with no one to blow out their candles, or feelings of anger and frustration when your son is forgotten and his very name is taboo.

We have so much hope, even when we don't feel it. Even when we cry out in anger and sadness. Even when there are missing ones around our table. HOPE.
'And so we will always be with the Lord.'



Happy birthday, precious dear one. We love you, Owen.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Love is never love wasted

Cardinals keep coming in the shapes of thoughtful cards, an unexpected and tearful conversation full of compassion, long and beautiful voicemails, a bag full of treats, emails and messages written by caring friends remembering our son, a ballon release in honor of Owen, a single white rose and a special visit to his grave by some of the best friends you could ever wish for.

We are reminded that He never leaves us or forsakes us.

Thank you for remembering with us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

God gives us cardinals

Winter time has its cold and wind that chills my skin
but every time You are near
it warms me deep within.
As in the winter when the birds all leave
God gives us cardinals to add color
....

Growing up has its days of changes filled with fear
And even though we can't stop time
its easier when You're near.
As in the fall when the flowers fade
God gives us leaves to add color

-Annie Williams 'Used to'



God always gives me cardinals to remind me of His great, unfailing, faithful and abundant love. Ever since Owen died, God has sent me cardinals when I'm feeling alone in my grief. I see them as reminder of His presence in my life.
He never leaves us alone, He never forsakes us. 

The radiant red bird always shows up... in a picture, a movie, outside my window, a beautiful handmade gift from a friend, a song... never failing to remind me of how much God loves me.


I'm wishing for a cardinal right now.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the last full day we had Owen alive and well here with us. And we miss him. So much.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

That time again

I'm not ready. I've been picking at my thoughts and moving them around.
I'm not ready.

How can it be four years since I carried my son?

I miss him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall again

The other day Hannah Mae and I went for a walk in the cool autumn air. We stopped to pick up leaves, touch the grass and coo at the bugs and birds in the air. We meandered along the path carefully, making our way slowly through the red and yellow leaves on the ground. Hannah loved stepping on the leaves with her little feet, so deliberate and happy in her leaf crunching dance.

The wind rushed towards us and blew our hair all around. Hannah stopped still in her tracks and a huge smile spread across her face. More! she signed with her sweet baby hands. The smile stretched farther across her face as the wind picked up again and blew the leaves toward her on the ground. More! More! she signed as she looked up at me expectantly. "I can't make the wind blow, sweetie." Just then, the air around us moved. Her face broke out in my favorite open mouthed smile and I smiled back. "Only God can make the wind blow, baby. We can only appreciate it when it does."

And we did. We marveled at the wind the whole way home, pausing to feel its breath on our faces, smiling and giggling together every time the air moved.

I've never been so thankful the cool autumn air and the wind blowing around me. It's Fall again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A little of life lately

Seminary life has been so full these past six weeks. It's so hard to believe that we've been in the full Fall semester swing for six weeks now! I think we've finally got our heads on straight and we're doing the best we can juggling school, work and life. (God has been very gracious.) This is the first time that Chris has had a job while in school. (Well, besides his part-time Chick Fil A job back during undergrad. But he didn't have a wife then, or a cute little 17 month old daughter who demands her dada when he's home.)

When the semester started, I printed a weekly schedule to put under our calendar in the kitchen because I was having a hard time remembering where Chris was, if it was safe to call him, and when he'd be home. I feel much more relaxed knowing exactly where he is (in class, at work, or off studying) and when he's going to be home. My little schedule keeps me sane.

Another fun part of our days this semester is babysitting! Last winter I kept a little girl (who is two weeks younger than Hannah) for a couple of hours every Friday while her parents were in class, and now we keep her for a couple hours two days each week. Hannah Mae and E. are so funny together. They have both been learning how to share, take turns and how to walk around someone without running them over. When I ask them to take turns with a toy, they both look at me like I have four heads! I guess when you think about it, it must be a strange concept to a baby/toddler. I saw a lot of progress last week in the 'taking turns' department, so I'm hopeful that we'll all get the hang of it soon. Though, let's be honest, how many adults have issues with sharing and taking turns. : ) The girls ended the week with a lot of silly toddler hugs and their cute friendship made me smile.

We also have lunch guests/play-dates once a week in the form of two sweet little kiddos. They come over to eat lunch with us while their parents are working/in class. I. is almost a year old and his big sister is two. As you can imagine, Hannah Mae loves the big sister and follows her around invading her personal space every chance she gets. One of the funniest things is that Hannah Mae has just started the 'I have a baby, I am baby's mommy, I take care of baby, I LOVE baby' phase, and she thinks little I. is the cutest baby she's ever seen. She stands next to him and pats him on the head/back/arm and coos 'Oooooo, Ooooo' over and over again. That's her version of loving on a baby.

Next month, I start keeping another baby for a couple of hours two days a week and I'm so excited. She's a cute little bitty baby and I know she'll increase my baby fever.

Hannah Mae been acquiring all sorts of new skills these past five weeks and it's so fun watching her interact with other kids. I love having our house full of kids and their noise, joy and spirit, and I pray that we will soon have more children to fill our home. To see the way Hannah mothers every stuffed animal, baby-doll and real baby she comes in contact with, I think Hannah Mae was made to be a big sister. Lord willing, she will be one day.

I have been so humbled by the support and love we've been shown in the past few weeks and even though I can't say it in full here, I just want praise the Lord for the love He has shown us through His people.

This summer was full of some of the hardest emotional days I've had in a while. I had some physical issues that kept me from being able to do the things I wanted/needed to do around the house, including taking care of Hannah Mae the way I wanted to. Thankfully, praise the Lord, my physical capabilities have been restored and I'm able to cook dinner again, and change Hannah's diapers and keep up with the daily life that had fallen by the wayside this summer. I've been humbled by my body, and my mind for that matter, in the past few months and these struggles are just another reminder that this world is broken and is longing for redemption...which is coming.


Fall is another reminder of brokenness. As much as I love the relief of cooler weather after a season of hot, Fall is still a season of sadness for me and for a few of my closest friends. Fall reminds us of the last days of our joyful pregnancies. For me especially, a cool cloudless Fall day can send my mind right back to November 6- the day we found out Owen was gone. It was a perfect fall day, that day back in 2007. It was a day I will never forget.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Please don't forget.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Free

You're free and that's all I'm trying to say. If you weren't free then Jesus wouldn't be who he says he is.

Yesterday I got into a little discussion about asking God 'why?' and his sovereignty. I left feeling so sad and perplexed. I stepped into the discussion because I felt like the freedom of the Gospel wasn't being clearly displayed. And I never want anyone to feel like (especially after something difficult like a death of a loved one) there is no freedom to ask God 'why?' or to go to the Father with our questions.
We have such great freedom to go to our Father in Heaven and sit in his lap and cry our eyes out asking 'why?'
He loves us. 


Yes, when Jesus comes back and makes all things right, there may not be a single question on our lips. It may not matter at all why. And the whys may be a part of God's secret things that we can never know.
But... but that doesn't mean that at some point in our lives those questions aren't important to us. Those questions can pull us into a deeper relationship with God. They can cause us to run to him and fall into his lap, a sacred place.

It is by the Holy Spirit that the burning we feel from the questions starts to fade. It is not by someone telling us not to ask, just to 'let go and let God'. It is not by someone who tells us that the why is not for us to know. There is great freedom to ask why... to ask anything. It's true, we may never get an answer. We may never feel a peace about the why.
And if there is no answer, no peace about the whys.... in the end, we're still sitting in his lap, talking to our Father and we can find peace and rest in who He is.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Late night thoughts

Safe and sound.

I hear the words echo in the air. They bounce off me at first, but shoot back only to sink in deep.
She's talking about another baby's happy birth, and I think about how the person saying those words never said a word to me about how my baby wasn't born safe and sound. Well, not in this world anyway.

I shut my eyes.

"Don't be like that." I hear a soft voice whisper.

I won't, I vow. I won't be like that. I promise I'll never let a baby's quiet birth shock me into silence. I'll never dress up gossip as concern or try to pass off silence as solemn courtesy. I'll never...


I pull at my hair and start to feel sick. The Ache is there too, always there. I look at my hands and feel them go a little numb. I wonder if I'm getting the meaning all wrong. "Don't be like that."
The Ache settled in my chest three and a half years ago, and I can feel its restless prowling tonight. Maybe it is a brick or a stone, and sometimes I don't even mind it being there.
I open my eyes and start to wonder if it's time to let the bitterness go. "Don't be like that."


I roll over, reach up to turn the light off and try in vain to turn my thoughts off just as easily.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happys

A lot of sweet and fun memories from this summer... things that make me happy.


Seeing Hannah Mae's personality get bigger and bigger. She's a ham, for sure.


Being there for her first steps and watching proudly as she discovers a whole new world.



Just keeping it real... we had a lot of fussing this summer too. She's an independent girl and knows what she wants and doesn't want. 


Hanging out with my best friend.



Teaching Hannah Mae how gross goats are. : )


Discovering the joy and mess of self-feeding.


Getting to see Sara again and hold precious Levi for the first time. What a sweet time it was.


Cleaning up the living room floor after Hannah goes to bed. I'm so thankful for a room full of toys strewn on the floor.


Going on Hannah Mae's first ride on a carousel. 


Teaching Hannah my love of gymnastics... and the balance beam.


Getting to walk the streets of our hometown with our daughter.



Discovering that Hannah Mae may not be the water baby that her brother was. She was not a fan of the baby pool.


Watching Hannah snuggle all the animals she could while visiting home.


Two words.... gloriously refreshing. 
Such a wonderful time with two great friends.


Taking Hannah Mae to the place where her parents had their first date.


 Visiting with Tonya for an entire day (!), though not long enough at all. 


Spending time with my grandmama, Hannah's Little Mama. She hates being called that, but it's a sweet joke that I can't let go of, so she's officially 'Little Mama'. : )


Watching Hannah Mae get licked in the face by her favorite cousin dog, Bella.


Making Hannah's Mae's first height mark at my mom's house; just like I did with my grandparents. 


Watching Hannah Mae discover how water comes out of a hose. Lots of water in the face!


Chris buying Hannah Mae her first purse and seeing how natural it was for her to carry it around on her arm- such a girly girl we have. I don't carry my purse like that at all, and I didn't teach her. : )


Remembering how this summer started with our baby not yet walking... now she's such a big girl!


Busy making dinner in the kitchen only to turn around and see this at my feet. I still have no idea what she was doing, but she got a kick out of it!



This summer had so many difficult points to it, and times when I thought I might stress myself into an absolute tizzy. But I don't want to forget all the happy things we did together and how much fun we did have. It was a great summer.
So long, farewell Summer days!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grace

I read an article on parenting yesterday that left me scratching my head, and I'll admit, a little bit upset.

I had read most of the article nodding my head in agreement and then... then I got to the end. "Get it right." And that's all I could remember from the whole article.

Get it right. Really? Oh, that's all I have to do. Sure. I'll go do that right now. If I had only known it was so easy.


This article and my reaction to it are prime examples of what I've been learning in seminary this past year.

Grace.
Everyday living with grace in my heart.


The author feels (to me) very ungracious towards struggling, and very one note in how we should respond when struggling. No grace. Where is the freedom?! I may never 'get it right'. What then?

And then there was my reaction. I had no grace; no grace towards the author who may not had meant those words to come across so harsh, so lacking in grace and freedom. I immediately felt angry and frustrated with someone I don't know, someone who is my sister in Christ.


Living with grace towards our spouses, our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ is impossible without understanding that everything we have comes from God. And that includes our sound theology, our spiritual maturity, our 'good' parenting skills and right attitude. We are not so big and strong and wise that we rise above our brothers and sisters, because we feel understand something they don't.

Our Father in Heaven has made us all differently, with different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, different struggles. This past year, I have been struck with my sin of judgment and favoritism. I judge others who are not like me, those who don't struggle like I do, those who have different personalities and different ways of communicating and showing affection. I favor those who are like me, those who struggle with brokenness openly, and those whose personalities are most like mine.

I often struggle with self righteousness and fall into the temptation of not leaving someone's canvas blank instead of giving them grace to be where they are in their walk. We're all learning and growing and living different lives, but we need to strive to learn and grow and live alongside each other. With grace and by grace alone.

We're all in the same boat really. We need Jesus.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why?

Some days the sadness comes and goes in small waves, washing over me as I pick up the cutesy girly toys from the living room floor, and drifting off as I dance with my daughter to the music in our heads. Other days, the sadness lingers in everything I do. It accompanies me as I cuddle and nurse Hannah Mae and as I wash dishes in the kitchen.

I miss him. And it doesn't get any easier.
Why?
"Why?" I hear others whisper to themselves... Why, if I have Jesus, doesn't the pain lessen or the grief subside? Because we still live in a fallen, broken world and no platitude or positivity will make the brokenness subside or the sting of death lessen.

Until. Until Jesus makes all things new, and so we wait.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not duplicitous

There is a smile on my face, in my eyes. I can feel joy emanating from the places where only sorrow once shone.  But there is hurt here too. In my eyes, on my face. 

It is possible to have both. At one time, I didn't believe that. 

Having survived the death of our Owen, I understand better now.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer days

Hannah Mae is growing up so fast. She's 15 months already and a happy, sweet, willful, independent and super cuddly girl.

She said her first word last week and the look on her face when we reacted to her verbal outburst was priceless. Over and over again, she would wave her hand and say 'HI!', and then coyly tilt her head to the side and smile shyly, so proud and so embarrassed at the same time.


Summer is quickly coming to an end. August is here, and we're just days away from celebrating one year here in STL. It's really hard to believe. Hannah Mae was just a snuggly, sleepy 3 month old fuss pot when we moved here. She's still a snuggly little fuss pot, but she's now a curious and active toddler... it's so hard to wrap my brain around all that's happened in the last year.


To be perfectly honest, our first year in seminary was hard. And it's been hard to process. Looking back, I should have journaled more or shared more here, but I haven't quite known what I wanted to say or how to say it. Chris and I have come to a consensus: seminary is like boot camp; boot camp that lasts three or four or five years and is rigorous spiritually, emotionally and relationally.
I can't help but be reminded of two passages in the New Testament.

1 Peter 5: 8-11
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 6: 10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.




I have never prayed the way I pray here in seminary. I have never felt the battle as clearly as I've felt it here. And I'm saying that after the years of struggling with my faith after Owen died, and chipmunk and sunshine.
As we're learning and growing in our relationship with the Lord, we are constantly seeing our sin nature displayed in self righteousness, self centeredness, and how deep our apathy and egos run. It's the grace of God that we are seeing our great need for Him and we feel His closeness in these times.
And we also feel the battle, and see the roaring lion prowling around us.

I'm not sure I'm doing a great job adequately describing how hard this year has been. There have many times I've been standing in the kitchen making dinner or lying in bed waiting for sleep to come that I've felt completely and utterly 'wrong' for ministry life.
I'm too sensitive, too thin skinned, too self centered, too quick to react in anger, lacking in compassion and the desire to reach out.
Why are we here? How can God use us?!


The enemy prowls around...

I have a confession to make now. Seminary can be a dry place spiritually. It's quite a shocking statement, isn't it? Our first month here someone made this comment to us and to be honest, I balked at the sentiment. How could that be?
But I understand better now. Seminary is an intense training ground for men and women who desire to be used by God to point others to Him. There is a certain amount (a great deal actually) of pruning and self examination that it can be disheartening in the midst of it.

Relationships are hard here too. Another shocker, right? It was to me. I'm not sure what I expected. Maybe cum-by-ya around the fire every night as we share our struggles and reflect on the mercies of God... maybe I got caught up in unrealistic expectations of other Christians and myself.
It's something I've had to take to the Lord often. My sin, the sins of others, and disappointment in something that wasn't what I expected.

One late night last month, it dawned on me. This is not only the good pruning of a loving God, but it is spiritual warfare. Why hadn't I named it sooner? I think I had been so caught up in the 'woe is me' attitude that I failed to see what was really happening.
The enemy prowls around...


My prayers have shifted focus and the constant introspection I have been struggling with is fading. I still believe that a healthy amount of introspection and self awareness is important, but it can get toxic fast.
We've had a difficult summer in many ways, but I'm so thankful we're coming out of it with our eyes turned upward. God is faithful. He is with us always. We are not strong. We are weak, but we stand strong in the strength of the Lord.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thankful


Hannah Mae and I jumped at the chance to see Sara and her kids again this week. The last time we met up, I was pregnant with Hannah Mae and they had just brought Hope into their home and Levi was a *twinkle* in Sara's smile.
Now we have them in our arms and we are so thankful.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pictures

Hannah Mae found Owen's baby book full of his pictures. She carried it through the house one morning last week.
After a while, she brought the album over to where I was sitting on the couch and babbled at me, using her baby a-goos and concerned eyebrows to talk to me about the pictures. I pointed to his little baby face. "Brother", I said. She squealed as she does when she sees babies.
"That's Owen, your big brother."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is Hannah Mae doing these days III?

There is a lot of activity around our apartment these days. Hannah Mae started walking a month ago and is now a pro. She loves to wander off by herself. She's down the hallway and disappearing around the corner every time I turn around. I love the way she toddles behind me when I go into the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc. She's an adorable little girl who is full of squeals. Squeals of delight, excitement and frustration and anger. Our girl has a temper, as much of a temper as I can have at times.
She loves books, but not for reading- mostly for chewing. I can't count the number of times I've fished tiny pieces of her favorite book out of her mouth. I usually give her three chances to choose not to chew on her books before I have to take them away each time. It's a daily dilemma. I want her to explore books and have access to them when she wants to look at them, but I also have to watch her because she'll have that book in mouth in a second. They must be delicious.

Hannah Mae and I dance a lot... with or without music. Almost every time she hears music, she starts bopping and bouncing, and recently she's starting twirling herself around in a circle. It is seriously the cutest thing. Her version of twirling is walking around and around in a circle with her arms in the air. Sometimes she even sings while she dances. It sounds like singing to us anyway. It's probably more like humming with your mouth open.

She's still our little peanut, but just the right size for Hannah Mae. She's not even 19 lbs apparently. I had wrongly assumed she was already over 19 lbs, but for her 12 month check up she weighed in at 18 lbs 6 oz. She's also just over 26 in which makes her in the 3rd % for height in her age group.

She is getting more and more into solid food now. Her favorite food is definitely spinach and cheese quesadillas at the moment. She's also a huge fan of yogurt, apples, sweet potatoes and cheerios. I've been pretty slow in introducing meat, because she's just not into it yet. I offer, but don't push it because she gets protein from other food. She's still little, and I'm not going to push 'big people' food until she's ready.
I'm still nursing, but don't really talk about it much because it's a weird subject now that she's over 12 months. I don't think it's weird, but there is weirdness out there about it. I'm just thankful.

Chris had a small break in between semesters, so we had some great family time together recently. We went out and explored the city. We visited the zoo, the art museum a few times, the park and had a date over a plate of crepes. Hannah Mae LOVES animals. The zoo was so much fun this time because she got really into watching the animals and interacting with the kids around her. The penguin house is her favorite at the moment, and quite frankly ours too because it's about 40 degrees in there! Cats, dogs, birds, squirrels, penguins, bunnies, babies, little kids, oh and her favorite stuffed animals will all elicit a loud squeal of excitement and grunt of happiness.


Our days are full and fun, at times frustrating and difficult, but we are thankful nonetheless.

I had a little trouble picking pictures that I liked best from the past two months, so hopefully you don't mind! It's a little picture heavy...


This is how we spend much of our days... walking around exploring... her room, the kitchen, outside, the playground, the bathroom, her diaper basket, the recycling bin, etc...


Hannah Mae's two favorite stuffed animals.


Memorial Day picnic!


 A visit to the St. Louis Art Museum. What a fun day. We saw so much great artwork. 
And Hannah Mae loved it so much there that she cried when we left.



This is Hannah Mae pouting after we left the museum.


We went to the zoo on a super hot morning. We had a great time, but as you can see we sweated, a lot.


Thankfully, the penguin house was open, so we cooled off for a while and watched the penguins splash around. Hannah Mae thought they were hilarious.


And back to the Art Museum. It took us three visits to the museum to see everything. We still can't wait to go back again!




All tuckered out on daddy's shoulder after church.


Coloring on Father's day with daddy.


Shakespeare in the Park... we had a blast watching a 1950s style retake on the Taming of the Shrew. I had very low expectations of how well Hannah Mae would do at the play. It was much better than I expected. She played, yelled a little, danced to the music and ate a ton of puffs. And stayed up three hours past her bedtime! Shhh....



All camped out waiting for the show to start. We saw belly dancers, fire eaters, sword dancers (?) and jugglers. St. Louis has so many great (and free!) attractions during the summer. I hope we can take advantage of them all while we're here.


This is Hannah Mae during intermission. We almost left during the break, but decided to stick it out. I'm glad we did.
It was a lot of fun. 


It was my birthday recently (29!!). We had the amazing opportunity to have professional pictures done and it was a great birthday present! Chris was busy taking a Hebrew exam, so sadly he didn't get to be in any of the pictures.






I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer!!