Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Wonder of His Love

Today while I was cleaning lipstick off crystal glasses in the kitchen, baby in the floor in her bouncer gazing at me, tree lights glistening in the background my Christmas pandora music took a slight detour and threw in just a hint of Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  While wiping the last remnants of a sweet party with friends off the counter and floors I was reminded of that truth.  He is so faithful.  In the joy & the pain of the season.

Christmas is tricky with my emotions.  Especially this year for me.  The season is filled with such hard memories.  Such stark realities and thoughts run through my head while in the midst of celebrations.  A couple weeks ago was the 2 year mark.  2 years since I stroked his sweet cheeks and kissed his head and wept as I said goodbye.  However, this year has been such an amazing year of renewing.  Amazing rebirth, amazing NEW memories.  And how can I not give thanks?  Yet how can I not grieve?

It's so weird to feel distinct pain and extreme joy simultaneously.  On the 6th of December I mourned that loss all over again while gazing at my BEAUTIFUL new baby girl.  Sunday we sang a song about heaven... tears streaming I could picture him and long for that day when I get to see him, but somehow I choose and WANT to be present with my babies now.  And you know what?  That's ok.  God doesn't ever ask us not to grieve.  He asks us not to grieve as those that do without hope. 

Because we have a THRILL of HOPE. 

When He sent Jesus to be born in that manger God knew there would be pain ahead.  That's the crux of it.  There would be JOY in His birth, pain in His death, and HOPE in his resurrection.   

I looked for a card this year that said "The Wonders of His Love."  Because that's what we're in the midst of.  It doesn't make sense. 

But that's the wonder of it all.      

Merry Christmas.  May you feel that love this Christmas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stella Wren

She's two weeks old today and I can't believe she's really in my arms.  I sit and stare at her and watch her sleep for hours.  It feels kind of like having my first all over again.  I don't want to miss a thing and I don't want to set her down.  I'm so grateful to have these sweet first moments with her at home.  I said multiple times in the hospital when nurses would ask about our other kids and I'd tell them about G, "It's just made this that much sweeter."

So before my mommy brain completely takes over I thought I'd write about the slightly unexpected and surprising 9 day early arrival of our little Stella Wren.

My "due date" was Friday October 24th, I was scheduled for a c-section (due to it being my 4th c-section) on Friday, October 17th- a week early, so we really didn't think she'd make an entrance before then.  There were other plans...

I went to bed on Tuesday night, the 14th with big plans for the next day.  We were two days out from baby day so I was going to get my oil changed, go to Costco & Trader Joes, get Ryder a hair cut, yadda yadda yadda... While getting ready for bed Tuesday night I said to Daniel, "I hope my water doesn't break in Costco! hahahaha.  I bet I wouldn't be the first though."  While going to sleep at about 11pm I SERIOUSLY thought how it's nice to have these things scheduled but there's something exciting about a baby coming on their own... but I wouldn't ever have that and that's ok.  Can't wait to meet this baby.... zzzzzzzz.

I woke up at 1:15am (thinking it was about 4 or 5).  I rolled over in bed and it hit me - something wasn't right.  As I stood up to get out of bed I realized my water had broken!  I yelled at Daniel, "My water broke - and I'm NOT kidding!"  He jumped up and ran around the bed and promptly knocked over the water on my night stand while grabbing my phone!  I called my dad - who hung up on me the first time.  I called the nurse line and waited for the Dr to call.  I frantically called and texted friends and tried to figure out what to do with our sleeping kids!  Before the Dr even called back my sweet friend Stephanie was at our door!  And Daniel was cleaning toilets (seriously) and I was, well, still dealing with the broken water situation... I warned Stephanie as she came in she may never want to have kids!  LOL.  When asked later why he was cleaning toilets he said, "Well, it was on the list of things that needed to be done before the baby came Friday!"  HAHA.  Love my man.

The on call Dr called and said come on in, but if I wanted my Dr to deliver (which I really did) we could try to hold off till morning.  And that would give our family a little time as well.  (And my friends to wake up and see that I was in labor!)  My dad drove through the night, threatening to finally turn to coffee.  Daniel's sister Rachel I'm pretty sure sped the whole way to Austin and everyone else planned their quick exit and headed this way.

We got checked into the hospital before 3am and they got me all hooked up to monitor the baby and my contractions.  Since I was having a c-section they didn't want to give me pain meds prematurely, so lucky me I got to really feel what laboring feels like for the next 6 hours.  Something crazy was going on that night because they'd checked in two other moms set to have c-sections on that Friday and all the operating rooms were booked until 8am.  So as long as I didn't progress too quickly that would be the time and my Dr would be there to do the surgery then.  So we waited...  (and contracted!)

They got me all set for surgery.  My IV had to be done 3 times and my spinal had to be done twice (!) but other than that things smoothly progressed and by about 9 it was show time!  "Let's have a Birthday Party!" is what my Dr always says.

Just before we went in I talked to the nurse about my past and the traumatic delivery I experienced the last time and expressed my desire to have the baby back with me as soon as possible.  Usually after a c-section you see the baby (VERY briefly) then the baby is taken to the nursery where all the adoring family can look on and watch it get its first bath and meet the world and the mom is laying on the operating table and in the recovery room.  The nurse said due to the construction in the hospital they'd started keeping the babies with the mom the whole time!  I was thrilled and wanted to start crying then... I might have.

The whole operation was everything and more than I'd prayed for.  Everyone in the operating room was so excited that we were having a surprise.  They told us they'd let dad announce the gender as soon as the doctor was ready.  So the surgery began and a few short minutes later it was time.  I heard my Dr say, "Ok, Dad..."  Daniel stood up looked over and said, "It's a GIRL."  I started crying immediately.  She started crying that good strong fresh new born cry that was everything I longed to hear.  The funniest part of this moment was that as soon as Daniel said that the Dr turned her over upside down and then Daniel said, "Or is it...???  Oh yeah, it's a girl"  We'll have fun telling her that one day! ;)

The nurses asked if I wanted them to immediately clean her off or if I wanted to have her all ooey gooey.  I said bring it on, I wanted her asap!  So they brought her straight over to us and she was so beautiful even in the mess!  She immediately quieted down when they put her next to my face.  It was so sweet and surreal.  I was almost worried because she got so calm.  The nurse, seeing my concern  said, "She's fine, I can see her breathing, she's just happy to be next to you."  In a few minutes they took her over to clean her off and weigh her, I could hear all the nurses saying how beautiful she was.  They told us she weighed 7 lbs 8 oz (more happy tears).  Then they asked if I'd like to have skin to skin time with her while they finished the operation.  Of course!  (Again this was NOTHNG like any of my previous experiences!)  So they laid her on my chest and we were in awe.  She was completely alert and aware, wide-eyed and beautiful.  It was one of the most precious moments of my life and I hope I never forget it...

We were in love.

They moved us to a recovery room for a while and agreed to let in anxious visitors one by one for the next couple hours, even allowing the kids to come in to meet her.  Daniel had gone out and told the party we'd had a girl.  Ryder really had his heart set on a boy, but the moment he saw her she had his heart.

We took a few hours getting to know her and looking at her before deciding on a name.  Of course we had a list of a few for each gender, but really weren't certain, going back and forth in the days leading up to it.

Stella meaning "Star" had been our first girl choice for a while and it seemed fitting.  I blogged a good while back about how you can see stars brighter in the dark and was reminded this week of that thought while gazing at little Stella.  God has truly sent her to shine brightly in our lives and we are so grateful for that light.  

Wren is an English name for "the little song bird."  The Druids called it the "prophetic bird," and the early Irish considered it the "magical bird." 

We've had a good couple weeks getting to know her.  She's sweet and snuggly.  She already smiles, and she loves her crazy siblings.  She sleeps... maybe a good bit in my arms and eats well and is gaining weight.  

Thank you to everyone for your love, prayers, kind words, support and HELP during this pregnancy, delivery, recovery, and now the adjusting to new life.  We are extremely blessed for sure.

I'm so excited to see how this little one fits into (and changes!) our little family.
Stella Wren we're so happy you're here, love.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fall re-do: RENEW

Yesterday afternoon while looking at the calendar on the fridge I said to the kids, "I can not WAIT to change this to OCTOBER!  You know what comes in October?!?"  Paisley said, "FALL!" and Ryder said, "BABY!" And I said, "YES!"  Then we went on to all do a 'baby dance' and I went on to say something about how we get to bring the baby home in a few weeks.  Ryder immediately interrupted and said, "Well, maybe... unless..."  At which point I stopped him.  I knew what he was going to say and his innocent heart only knows what it knows, but my hopeful, emotional (basket case of a very pregnant heart) couldn't handle hearing it.  Sometimes it's just plain hard to believe what you haven't seen (or can't remember in his case!)

Have you ever asked God for a do-over a re-do?

The months after Gibson was born (this same time of year 2 years ago) I would walk in and out of the hospital multiple times a day.  Usually rushing after dropping kids somewhere or heading to pick them up, on the phone giving Daniel and family updates- tired, drained, heartbroken and insecure all bottled up into one.  But one of the most excruciating things was that the entrance you have to go in as you head to the NICU is the same entrance that moms go home with their new (healthy!) babies.  You know, the happy, tired, blissful, starry-eyed moms.  It goes like this: the dad drives up in the mini-van or SUV of choice, he anxiously hops out surveying his crooked parking job in the circle drive.  He then pops around the car and checks the carseat base for the 50th time just to make sure it hasn't magically come unlatched (you know because those things are SO easy to undo).  The nurse wheels out the the mom & baby and all their gifts & junk from the past few days - flowers, balloons, boppys, blankets and more.  The mom gets in the back with the baby, of course.  They check the carseat... again (it might have come unlatched...), nurses give hugs and smiles and the mom and dad sit in the car for several minutes contemplating how they're going to possibly drive their precious new cargo home.

And I walk on by.  I think about the day we left the hospital and him in the NICU.  The anxiety of it.  The panic attacks as I laid in bed at home without him near me.  I think about the fact that I want a do-over.

We planned G would be our last.  3 was our number, he was it.  I'd never have another do-over of the happy hospital experience and I'd never leave like those moms.  I clung to the moment I'd finally leave the NICU with him and NEVER EVER come back.  But it didn't happen that way... I went home months later on a dark December night, just Daniel and I, empty-armed, brokenhearted and hurting, walking to the car alone trying to figure out what to do next.  And Gibson got to go home whole and healed, in a much grander way, to a much more glorious place.

I didn't ask God for a re-do for a very long time.  I've mentioned in previous blogs it took my heart a while to get there.  And once we learned of our new blessing I chose (and still do choose) not to see this baby as a replacement, but as an addition to our family.  I quickly correct if someone calls this my "third." ;)  Yet, I've thought many times about those days walking in and out of the hospital, those nights alone in our hospital room and our bedroom at home.

What I have asked God for was to RENEW.  To renew my heart, mind, spirit, JOY & HOPE.  Sometimes we want the easier solution and that seems like a Re-Do.  If we could just not remember our pain or mistakes or tragedies life would be so much easier.  Would it?  I truly believe with all my heart God reaches down and pulls us through the muck and mire of life and he does not intend for us to forget what we've come through.  He intends for it to grow us and change us and those around us no matter what the outcome.  And yet He is so gracious to renew us and renew LIFE in us.

And it all somehow makes that renewing that much sweeter.

But those who HOPE in the LORD will RENEW their strength... Isaiah 40:31  

I've obviously thought about my hospital stay this time, but hadn't convinced my heart it would happen yet.  A couple weeks ago I passed the "Gibson mark" of 32 weeks.  I thought about his size and his health and prayed this baby would keep growing and developing.  I hadn't been into the specialist in 6 weeks (the longest I've gone this pregnancy) so I wasn't exactly sure where we were at this point growth-wise.  As we looked at the sweet CHUBBY cheeks on the screen that day the sonographer told us the baby was weighing in at 5 pounds 8 ounces with (hopefully!) 5 weeks to go.

This week I bought diapers.  Seems like a simple enough, normal step at this point.  But actually setting that little bag of pampers newborn swaddlers in my cart took a lot of courage and a lot of faith.  The last time I had diapers in my cart was a day I'd like to forget.  They'd been stacked in my laundry room, I couldn't deal with them and didn't want my family to have to either, so the week after Gibson died my girlfriends loaded them all up - teary eyed & brave to target we went.  There was a fiasco with the registry system and the poor workers were baffled with what to do and had to re-explain the situation every time a new worker came over (thus the puppy dog sad face looks to the grieving mom & her friends...) That day I probably would have said I'd like to never see a diaper package again.  But I happily set them in my cart this week.  And much to the urging of said girlfriends I started packing a hospital bag as well.  Because... it's REALLY happening.

God is renewing.

This morning with 3 weeks to go the doctor said everything looks great.  Baby should hopefully stay snug and happy in there till October 17th.

After the doctor Paisley and I went to Trader Joe's and bought up all the pumpkin stuff in sight.  Because you know what's coming this month?  FALL...  & BABY!    

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Glad he was born.

Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.  Through it all, through it all it is well.  Through it all through it all, my eyes are on You and it is well... with me.

I sat on the shore a few weeks ago, feet in the sand, swelling belly wiggling with new life below, watching the tide come and go.  The same ocean we'd brought his ashes to a year and a half ago... those lyrics wandering through my mind.

The kids jumped and squealed with delight in the waves, the sun shining brightly on their faces.  

The tide is a peculiar thing. It's constant and unchanging, yet wildly unpredictable. Kinda like grief.  It washes in and out but you're never exactly sure its power until it hits you. And you're never quite certain what it may bring in with it or take back out to sea.  Sometimes coming and going as quickly and quietly as he came into our lives and then left us.
But there is One who knows. And only one who controls the turning of it.

It was a hot sunny day, just like today. I left the kids with a sitter and went on my way. A few errands to run before my appointment.  The weekend before I'd done a huge yearly party, so the house was in shambles but I'd have weeks to clean up and prepare for baby, so I thought. The night before I'd felt a weird sense of urgency and late that night I went out and bought Ryder school clothes and purchased a diaper bag I'd been eyeing.
That hot day I wore a purple & gray tie dye looking skirt & a tank top and got a much needed pedicure. I then unassumingly went to the sonogram. It had been two weeks and the last visit was a good report. I laid on the table alone for 2 hours, texting Daniel that I was irritated these sonographers couldn't figure out what they were doing. They kept sending a different one in, each time leaving with a more confused face, until finally my Perinatologist came in. Calm yet worried she looked... and looked some more. She asked me a few questions that seemed out of the ordinary, but still I wasn't getting it. She sat me up, took my hand and told me I needed to deliver the baby. 12 hours she said. I had 12 hours and they were going to get steroids in me first. Well, that's not exactly how things proceeded and within 45 mins we were waiting to hear him cry...  

No idea what the next months would hold.  No idea what the next couple years would bring.

Sometimes I selfishly say I wish I could erase everything that happened.  But I don't mean it really.  Then there are moment like Tuesday when we're standing in a store and Ryder exclaims loudly to the register girl, "My Mom's PREGNANT..."  "I see," she says smiling, and then without warning here it comes, "We already had a baby, but he DIED."  
There were times during his pregnancy I begged God that if G wasn't going to make it to take him then because I didn't want to live through the after.  But...  

I'm glad he was born.
I'm so thankful for those moments and months we had that changed all of our lives.  But sometimes the pain of walking through the after is harder than the joy of the moments gone.  

I want to celebrate his life today because I'm so grateful God sent him to us.  But sometimes the waves just want to bring in other feelings.  And sometimes I've found I have to let go of my courage and feel them.  God is angry too in those times.  His heart is broken with mine.  He's not looking away from me in my grief. He understands I truly wish I were holding him to celebrate his life today instead.  But He knows I still trust that it truly IS well.

We'll celebrate as a family tonight.  We'll let balloons rise to the heavens.  {We will not have a piñata as the kids requested-kids have the weirdest ideas sometimes!}  But we will love each other a little bit more today and hold each other a little bit tighter.  

And we will be thankful that he was born.

Happy 2nd Birthday sweet Gibson.  This momma misses you every second of every day.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hesitant Hope.

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen when I heard Paisley coming down the stairs.  Just about the time she got to the bottom I heard a crash... followed by sobs.  I turned to see that she'd dropped one of her favorite treasures, a sweet little princess snow globe given to her by her favorite friend.  I think she'd just found it since the move and was bringing it down to show me.  As she stood there sobbing I knelt down and began to wipe up the glittery water running all over the tile.  With each wipe she sobbed harder.  I kept telling her it was ok, it wasn't her fault, stuff like this happens...  As I began picking up the little shards of glass I saw the most gentle and kind picture of God picking up the little pieces of my brokeness.  Broken hope, my broken heart, my broken me.

I went over and sat with her on the couch and held her.  She was literally limp in my arms.  I gazed down at her sweet tears and again assured her it would be ok... I remembered what my friend Carrie said when Paisley opened that present containing the snow globe... She piped up over the chaos of the gift-opening at the birthday party and said, "Paisley, be careful with that, it's real glass and Finley's already broken hers!"  I reminded Paisley of that moment... That her friend had done the same and she was not alone in this sorrow.

Sunday morning at church I led a new song and the words came from John 16 so I was asked to read that and briefly say something to start the song.  As I read it the part that stood out to me was not the main part the song came from, but what Jesus said right before...
"In this world you WILL have tribulations, but take heart I have overcome the world."
He didn't say IF.  He said you WILL.  Once again I'm reminded as I have been so much in the past year that God is not surprised by our heartbreak.  He's not put off by my grief.  He's there to pick the pieces up and hold me.

A few weeks ago I laid on the table in the perinatologist office once again.  This time 16 weeks along.  The same office I sat in for hour upon hour two years ago as my world was changed forever.  I laid there and held my breath.  Literally.  I held my breath as the sonographer began to measure blood flow in the baby's brain.  It flashed in red and blue.  We watched as the sweet little one twisted and shifted around within.  I watched as they moved the image around in the dark caverns on the screen, slowly scanning the areas of the head over and over.  I'd seen it before.
But this time I wasn't naive.
And if we're being completely honest, this time I was much less hopeful.  I wanted to be.  EVERY thing in me wanted to be hopeful that there would be only good news...
that I was holding my snow globe completely intact and that it wouldn't fall and shatter into a million pieces again.  But my soul knows the true pain of this life.

When we found out we were pregnant this time we just kinda sat and stared at each other.  There was a weird almost reverent mix of joy & fear.  It wasn't like I wanted to run out and tell the world this time, even though there was so much joy in this news.  I'd finally gotten myself to the place of trusting that it was even possible.  Even though I'd been told by doctors it was possible to have a healthy baby over a year ago I hadn't convinced my heart of that quite yet.  And maybe I still haven't completely.
So, grateful for this new life within, but fearful of the road ahead we began the journey again... With hesitant hope.

There we sat waiting for the doctor to come in and give us the report.  Paisley played in the floor completely carefree and unaware of the tension in the room.  But Daniel and I sat silently.  The doctor came in a few minutes later.

The last time I saw her I was clinging to her chest crying as she'd just told me I would deliver immediately and that she didn't know if he'd be ok...

She sat in front of us explaining the blood flow they were measuring.  At the end I finally just blurted out, "Is there fluid in the brain?"  "No," she said, "Not at all."  I could breath again.  She went on to tell us that everything looked good at this point.  We would continue to come in for check-ups each month.

So we carry on with hope.  Maybe hesitant hope, but hope that I will hold onto my snow globe.  And in the end hold this sweet healthy baby.  But I do now know more than ever that trials will come, but take heart, God is faithful.
And unlike anything I could do for Paisley's treasure, He pieces the shattered parts back together and makes them complete and new.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Turning SIX.

Our sweet first born is turning 6 today!!!  How could that be possible?

We've been in our new house for about 10 days and last night after he went to bed I lined the stairway with streamers & balloons.  The grin on his face this morning was priceless.

Sunday I took him to a friend's birthday party after church so I had a little one on one time with him, which is rare these busy kindergarten days.  We sat and ate lunch at La Madeline and I stared across the table at his cute shaggy headed, wiggly tooth, bruised & scratched up little self.  If there's one thing I know for certain about the little guy is that he will make an amazing husband one day.  He thinks and worries about who he's going to marry, when he's going to get married and where he will live with his children more than any kid I've ever known.  He looked up at me sweetly and said, "So Mommy, are you having a good date?  What do you wanna talk about?"  I laughed and told him he was the second best date ever.

After we went to the birthday party we were driving home, it was a beautiful day, Ryder was quiet (again - rare!) and I was just thinking how lucky I was to be driving to our new home.  Suddenly he broke the silence and pierced my heart out of nowhere, "Did they try every medicine in the world?"  My heart sunk and I thought for a moment.  Assuming I hadn't heard him he said, "On Gibson, Did they try every medicine in the whole wide world?"  "Yes," I said, "They did everything they could for him."  He paused for a moment then said, "So then what was really the problem?"

An inquisitive six year old has questions.  Hard questions.  That rip off scars you think are healing while warming your soul at the same exact moment.  Because as much as I didn't want to have that little conversation at that very moment, it told my heart that his little tender heart was staring out the window on that sunny day thinking of his brother.

I wrote a blog almost exaclty 2 years ago called Celebrate Life.  It was a little before Ryder's birthday and although it was not public knowledge at the time I was pregnant with Gibson.  And the party I was helping out on that weekend was for a friend who had walked a similar path as I was unknowingly about to embark upon.  The blog was nothing fancy, just about parties and why I like to do them and the importance (that I knew little about at the time) of celebrating life.

This morning after he walked down the stairs we gathered around him for donuts & presents.  I took him to school and reminisced in the car about how he was THE cutest baby I'd ever laid eyes on - squishy, round, smiley and adorable in every way.  (That was before he could talk back, sass me & drive me completely bananas!!!)  As I drove home I thanked God for SIX healthy years!!!  Something in me ached as it always does on days like this.  That haunting thought of never celebrating a 6th birthday with G.  That question of what he would be like at 6.  Sometimes I watch moms with healthy little babies running around and something in me cries, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA what a miracle they are?!?"  Seriously, it is a miracle they grow inside of us and overcome everything they do and thrive and grow.  It truly is.

I'm just once again reminded they are ours on loan.  They are truly HIS.  A gift... and one worth celebrating.

We celebrated all day and tonight Ryder said, "Mom, I'm gonna remember this day for-EVER."

Me too, buddy.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Exciting home video

We are on the final countdown of moving into our new home!  It's been an interesting few months but we've ALMOST made it. We are set to close next Friday (fingers crossed!!!!)
The kids made this little video of our house last week that we're excited to share.
Make sure and watch till the end...


That's right!!!!!!!!! :)

Thanks for all you love & prayers as we anxiously but gratefully enter this new season.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Do angels have shovels; Guilty as charged.

Yesterday I sat outside Paisley's dance class listening to a conversation between two moms who do not know me, my life, or my story. Completely unaware of the words coming out of their mouths with me sitting a couple feet away floods of guilt covered my soul once again.

I don't even know who they were talking ab but their story resolved with the tough decisions at the sudden end of a life. The moments of deciding that's all their loved one could take, that's all they could take or allow their family to bear. The decisions to have family there or not. The decisions that come flying in your face faster than life could possibly prepare you for. Things that get dealt to you that seem so far beyond your means... Too fast to brace yourself for the fall. The frantic calls, the anxious breaths. I could feel it in my lungs again as I heard the unassuming words seep from their lips.  I heard sniffling. And I feel the wailing deep in my loins.

The guilt of each move I made that night attempts to haunt me.   Will it ever not?

I've sworn to myself I will write in detail every single thing I remember about that night. Every time I try I fail and curl up in a ball. Just as I did that night.

I know that I know that I know God is sovereign and powerful and in control far beyond anything I will possibly hear, see or learn in this life, but does that ever prevent us from seeking some sort of revelation or asking the hard questions to our grieving, guilt-filled hearts?  Will it ever satisfy?

As they continued to talk, a pregnant woman sat just seats over from me with her hand sweetly resting on her belly. A baby sat on the floor gazing at his mother and the moments of that night flash before the eyes of my soul. Moments I long to remember each detail of-  the shape of his face and scent of his skin... but how so selfishly I wish I could permanently erase it from time. Moments I hope to never re-live but some how pray I don't loose what they have sewn in the depths of me.

This week I mentioned guilt to a friend and she stopped me and said, "What do you mean, you deal with guilt??"  It seems easy to me too. If only it weren't my story. Of course it wasn't my fault. Doctors told me over and over nothing I could ever possibly have done caused the problems he had.  Nothing I could have done could change how things progressed or how things ran their course...how life was slowly ripped from his grip. 

But do I believe that?  If it were only that easy.  This is the rub.

As a mother you long for, strive for, fight tooth and nail for your child. To protect them, to guard them, to nurture them. They take one step off the sidewalk- you jump with all your might. They get a cold- you worry what you exposed them to. They have an accident and you think of all the ways you could have prevented it.

The weeks after Gibson's death this indescribable guilt washed over me in waves.  Maybe more like a tsunami. I never saw it coming, never heard the quake and suddenly I was drowning in it. What did I do wrong?  What did I do during my pregnancy?  What did I do to deliver early?  How did I cause all the problems?  What decisions of the thousands I made regarding his care were wrong?  What more could I have done?

That night. That awful night.
Was I wrong to guard the hearts of the ones I loved, the ones that so loved him?  Was I wrong to want to run away?  Such fast and hard decisions we had to make while our hearts were in a state of shock.  Did we make the right choices?  

And then in the months following a new guilt rolled in...
Last weekend I was sick with the stomach bug and I got caught up on my favorite show Downton.  During this awful episode there was a quote that cut me to the core.  Isobel Crawley, Mathews mother, said this, 
"But you see I have this feeling that when I laugh or read a book or hum a tune it means that I've forgotten him for just a moment.  And it's that that I can't bear."

That's the guilt of it.  We move on and lives move on but with that comes guilt.  Daniel's birthday is tomorrow.  Last year he turned 30 and I wanted to celebrate.  It seemed weird to be able to celebrate anything 2 months after life had stood still.  Love, laughter, friends and life filled the lonely grief-stricken walls of our house and it was reviving, yet followed with a tinge of guilt.  For a while every good moment was such a blessing and such a confusing ball of tightly wound guilt

The guilt of enjoying life with these sweet ones I've been entrusted with but longing to be with the one gone before...

Usually people struggle with guilt from a sin.  So what if it is not from a sin?  Can guilt itself be a sin?  I wouldn't go that far.  But I would firmly say that it can lead to destruction.

Psalms 103:2-4, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"

I repeat those words in my head.  His plans are to prosper and not to harm me... I am to walk in full knowledge of and with Christ, it is for freedom Christ has set me free, old things passed away... all things new...  

Philippines 3:13, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."

This morning on the way to school Ryder and I had a funny conversation which I briefly referenced on Facebook.  His timing is (per normal) priceless.  And the whole way home I was dying inside with thoughts of the various things he could have walked in and told his teacher...

He says out of no where, "Mommy, turn the music down (here we go...)" 
"Do angels have shovels?"

(UMMMM. What?!?)  More calmly than that I ask what he meant as we are literally 45 seconds from pulling into the school.

"You know, to take the bodies to heaven," he says very nonchalant.

We continue in the rapid conversation of souls, new bodies - new HEALED bodies like Gibson has.  I mention that bodies are just the earthly dwellings, they can be put in the ground... the ocean... He hops out of the car and I'm stumbling over my words, retracting the ocean comment knowing he has no clue what that means and thinking of all the things that could come from that!  
He kisses me and says bye.  Unfazed.  With sweet belief he skips down the sidewalk.

This guilt & grief stricken world is not my home.  Heaven is near.  And that's the glory of it all.  Ryder's sweet faith-filled, believing heart is the relief from guilt and questioning for today.  Thank you God for answering me each day in new ways...

2 Corinthians ...we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Kickball & Hobby Lobby

I had big (kinda) goals for this week. 
If you read my last blog you know I was planning, setting a positive outlook, going into the new year counting blessings (in the voice of Gru from Despicable Me... Goodnight Sleep tight, blah blah blah... blah blah...)
So this week didn't exactly go like that. Figures.
Ever been dead legged? Got the wind knocked out of you?

I have a vivid memory in elementary school of playing kickball on the big asphalt circle. A few things come to mind... One, although I couldn't run (previously mentioned on blog!) I could however kick that kick ball- because let's be honest if you can just make contact with the huge round empty ball you can kick it pretty far, making every non-athletic 10 year old feel like a rockstar. That's the beauty of it.  My other memory of kickball was my friend Candace's perm. She had beatiful blonde ombré hair -before that was even a thing, and the most magnificent perm I'd ever seen. (It was the 90s people!)  It was a Monday and she'd had the perm done over the weekend. She was explaining how they did it, how long it took & how it smelled while all us girls stood awestruck. I wanted one. I can now firmly blame my curly hair on her because a couple years later I got that long awaited perm.  However my long brown hair ended up looking like Kenny G and NEVER went to straight again. Totally serious. 
So there we were standing around gazing at her golden locks when suddenly I was jolted back to the reality of the kickball game with one flying ball straight to the gut. It knocked the air completely out of me.  

That's kinda how I felt this week - I was gazing into the new year and more like a few flying balls all in a row knocked the air out of me. Life got messy... ugly.  It knocked the thankfulness right out of me.  

Sunday I prepped meals & lunches.  Monday I wrote thankyou notes & filled up my fancy new little planner.  I started my new devotional all dreamy eyed and full of faith.  I started a couple new party jobs and scheduled when I'd work out 5 days this week and {fantasized} how I wouldn't eat sugar.  None (I repeat, none) of that worked out so well... Plans got messed up, goals got interrupted.  Life around me snapped, things got ugly. Things pounded down on my soul just like the erratic weather on our house progress!  Ryder (and half his class) got strep.  I didnt get to do what I wanted (whah!)  And I chose anger instead of gratitude. 

And then I went to hobby lobby.
I've mentioned before how I frequent HL. In fact it's gotten so bad that autocorrect on my phone changes JK (as in just kidding) to HL for Hobby Lobby.  For Real.  I know hobby lobby is a good company with good morals (again blah blah blah...) but their workers couldn't give a rip and are unhappy, unhelpful & rude pretty much all the time.  Except the fabric ladies. After 5 years of going to the same store I've finally woed them into at least a pleasant exchange of words each visit. I'm certain they know I really can't sew and I'm mainly bothering them for fabric I'm gonna glue, wrap or drape on something. Nonetheless they are sweet to me now. So I went in and saw Lois a sweet gray haired lady in her 70s. She's got just enough southern sap to deal with most people but just enough edge to scare off unwanted customers and keep me in the know of how to work the Hobby Lobby system.  So I smile and ask how her Christmas was. Her demeanor shifted. Not so good she said. She went on to tell me how her 50 year old son had a third heart attack and had been in a comma for 3 weeks, with little brain activity, expected not to ever come out of it.  {gulp}
She told me how she'd spent 2 weeks by his bedside in Houston and there she was... back cutting my super important fabric.  I was jolted back to the days I couldn't be by that hospital bedside and how my mind was constantly racing and consumed elsewhere. 
I asked her what his name was and told her I would pray for him. That I was SO sorry. (The BEST thing you can say to prevent saying something stupid in this situation!!!) and I told her to hold on to hope.  She said she knew all she could do was pray.  And then she said she knew I understood grief & loss & she couldn't imagine & began to tear up...

There I was. THAT was my New Years goal. To just be. When God wanted me to be- just be. What was important in the course of eternity?  Not any of my other futile plans (or changes there of) this week.  No, those didn't matter.  But that sweet little lady cutting my insignificant fabric on this mundane morning needed to hear little ol' me say that there is hope & God is good. 

Because there is.  And He is.

To bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice our understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because HE is benevolent.  -Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Graces ::: 2014 Goals

We saw much grace in 2013...
more than I could ever have imagined.  

We faced the year head-on knowing there would be many tough days and now I can look back and say "You know what?  We had a surprisingly great year."

So I thought I'd do a recap of some of the many graces we saw this year.  
Daniel and I started the year with a trip away full of rejuvenation & healing.  We purposed in our hearts we were going to focus on our kids, try new things and pouring into the people who'd poured into us for the past year.   

::: we discovered more and more of the love of Christ :::
More than I know how to possibly express.  
I've talked about it a lot on here, but there's really no way to explain the nearness we've felt to God this year.  God is real, heaven is near and some how this whole story has taken us there.

::: we went deeper with friends & community :::
Best thing ever.  I love our friends so much.  Our community group has been so great.  Our church has been amazing.  My girlfriends started the year somehow knowing what I needed before I knew myself.  There were bad days where they cried with me, there were days they spurred me on, & there were days they celebrated the good with me.  I am one thankful girl.

::: i discovered a love for a few new things - painting, running & writing :::
I may never be an expert or even good at any of these but God has brought me great purpose and      used all 3 as extreme therapy!

::: ryder played tball :::

::: paisley started dance - and loves it :::

::: our bills were PAID :::

Yes, that's right.  All of G's hospital bills got paid.  We will never EVER be able to truly express our gratitude to all who so selflessly  & lovingly gave and made this happen.  People gave and gave and gave...  And they ALL. GOT. PAID!  And somehow (by the grace of God) the largest bill that we were being charged as an "out-of-network" charge which would have added almost 30k to our already mounting bills was pardoned.  All the sweet lady at Dell said to me on the phone that day was, "I've spoken to 'some people,'  you will not be charged over what your insurance has paid for this one.  Hope y'all are doing ok..."  I really didn't believe it and thought for sure I'd receive another bill soon.  To this day I get a knot in my stomach when I receive the mail!  But we are so happy to say they're PAID.  

::: we went on a safari :::

::: we celebrated 10 years of marriage :::
And I can say I'm more in love than ever after watching my husband stand like a ROCK for us this year.

::: we celebrated G's birthday :::
yes, celebrated.  it was bittersweet but it was again, more than I could have imagined. 

::: ryder started kindergarten :::

::: sold our house :::
So we got a wild hair and sold our house.  Wasn't exactly what we saw coming either! 

::: started building a house!!! :::
Again, wasn't exactly what we saw coming, but we're oh so excited for what's to come. 

::: moved in with friends :::
Yep, that's what we're doing!
(we have pretty great friends!)

::: daniel got a new job! :::

::: God has brought us purpose :::
Our story is our story.  And God has continued to give me purpose in that mystery.  I've shared it in multiple ways this year only by His grace.

So it's been a pretty great year.

2014 GOALS...

::: live more simply :::
I know, I know I just spent the whole day shopping at Dillards!  But seriously, after packing everything we own to go in storage I really just want to live more simply!!!  That means different things for every person, but this year I hope to discover what it means for us.  I bought a planner today.  Yes, an old school paper planner.  I want to write things down. I want to use my phone less. (GASP!)  I want to be present.  It's a re-programming I think.

::: let go of the heavy and just be :::
What does this mean in the course of eternity?  Or even the course of this year. I want to do what's important and let go of the rest.  I feel like we just touched the tip of the iceberg this year.  
The other night Paisley was putting a little nativity puzzle together.  She's probably put it together 10 times in the past couple weeks.  But I laid on the floor and watched her and was amazed at how fast she did it and how smart she was.  How could I have missed this?  Was I on my phone?  Was I focused on something more important?  I have lots of dreams for my kids and for myself.  Time to stop dreaming and do the little things that we can each day in the direction of our dreams and let go of the rest. 
(My goals are to pursue my business/brand more and write... as in a book.  Did I just put that out there!?!)

::: counting blessings :::
A few years ago I read One Thousand Gifts for the first time, having no idea how much I'd need it in the coming days.  Last week I bought the devotional because I need to be reminded going into 2014.  Somehow it's easier to see the little blessings on the bleak days.  Last year I was grasping for blessings at every turn to help get me through.  
The other night while my parents were putting up Christmas my dad stepped outside and called my mom & I out to look at the stars.  They were so bright and clear.  You could see them everywhere.  I thought about it later... You see the thing is the stars were always there.  We just couldn't see them in the city light.  For us God's light has shown brightest in our darkness.  But I want to see(k) him the same in the blessings.  

So here's to a new year, of new starts and new blessings to be counted...