Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday

Today is a special day, as you all know... It's Maddox's first birthday! We are celebrating as a family and have decided not to make many big plans so we can spend time remembering our baby boy. We talked to Deacon last night about Maddox and his birthday today and so this afternoon he wants to go get some balloons to send up to Heaven~ absolutely perfect for me! This evening my grandparents, who live in Nebraska and have yet to meet Faith Clare, will be arriving in town and keeping the kids for Dusty and I to have some alone time together. And I can't forget to mention my afternoon massage- a sweet indulgence gifted to me last year by some wonderful college friends! All in all, looking out, the day seems beautifully simple.

I have to tell you, I am absolutely filled with peace today. I have prayed and prayed and prayed these last few days and especially the past 24 hours that the Lord would continue to spread His peace and protection over our hearts today. This day last year is absolutely engraved in my mind and though without a doubt it was the hardest day I've ever known, I would have to say that it is probably the most beautiful. To see the hand of God in such a life-changing, vivid way is beyond compare and something I will always be so grateful for. For that moment of life with Maddox and then for hours holding the most precious piece of Heaven... well... it is something I will carry with me until I see his sweet face again.

I know there will probably be more difficult times today than these very moments... and likely more difficult days than this one that is covered in prayer and flooded with peace... but for right now I am simply marveling at the memory of my baby boy enjoying his first birthday in the presence of his Creator. Oh, how he must be dancing!

My sweet Maddox-

Happy 1st Birthday precious boy! Although you are not physically here with us today, your memory is never far from our minds. You came into this world for such a
short time, but you blessed us beyond measure... Oh, to think that a tiny little boy could change so many hearts and cause others to search for the Giver of Life himself is absolutely astounding to me.

Maddox, I could tell you so much about this journey that I have been on, about your new baby sister, about your sweet big brother, about your loving Daddy... I could tell you about each and every memory of my time with you... about how I knew you intimately inside and about that brief moment of life when you made your appearance into our arms... I could tell you so much about your grandparents that love you, about how we still cry at the thought of you not being here, about how your absence has been so strongly felt ... Precious baby, I could tell you those things and a million others, but deep inside I know that all you need to know is that you are so deeply loved. One day, when we are together again, I can share those memories that absolutely flood my heart right now. I bet when we talk, you'll have so much to tell me too. I know that you already have many answers to the questions that my mind still asks... will you share it all with me? Can you tell me of the day you arrived last year? I can't wait to hear how beautiful your homecoming was! I love you son and you will always hold a special place in my heart, just like Deacon and Faith Clare. You are each my children and I thank the Lord daily for the perfect gift of you.

Happy 1st Birthday!

Love eternally,

"And now thus says the Lord, your Creator, and he who formed you; 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.'"- Isaiah 43:1

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who's Strength?

Today I was confronted with a question that I haven't faced in some time... definitely not since the birth of my third precious child... and not even for months before that. You could say it's been a LONG time. Of course this was not just any question but THE question that I struggled with so long ago. Maybe I have unknowingly surrounded myself with people that "know" and therefore don't have to ask, or maybe it is simply that I have been a little "laid up" since September. Whatever it is, I faced it head-on today... exactly 1 year ago to the day (not date) that sweet Maddox was born. I hate making excuses but I truly don't think that it is a fear of the real world or meeting new people... I just haven't had to confront it. That is... until today. Today it came up. It came up not only once. Not twice. Not even three times. Yeah, I answered the question four times today in the only way I know how.

I have three children.

It was that "mixed" feeling I had as soon as the words left my mouth. Words that many of you mamas have had to search for as well. Words that, if you haven't, I pray that you never will. Words that feel fumbly and awkward as you struggle to explain... as you struggle to not make others feel sorrow or pity or awkward themselves but yet somehow try to preserve the memory of your child that is gone. I know... "to each his own." I totally agree that each mama should answer in the way that is only right and appropriate for her and for that reason I still choose to say three. I know what it feels like for me to leave Maddox out and I have left feeling sick and wanting to literally tackle the person I said that to in an attempt to take it back... to explain my answer.

So today I said three. I think in the foreseeable future I will say three. Did I caveat my answer and feel the need to justify? ... Today I did. In the future I might not. Either way, although today was so much about that simple question- it was also about so much more. God had something big to reveal to me...

See, we are just beginning the study No Other Gods by Kelly Minter and our teacher was giving an overview of the study, talking about the "common" idols (money, children, media, etc.) and how this study actually makes you confront other idols you might have never considered. Now, I certainly wouldn't be bold or arrogant enough to say "not me" regarding many different idols in my life, but check this out... As I sat there and "listened", these thoughts were running around in my mind...

Wow, Kenz... pretty impressive. You just answered that TOUGH question that used to make you cry. You did it well... You didn't even get emotional. Girl, you have come a long way in a year. Just think of where you were on this day last year and how well you have done. You are living... you are managing. Gosh, not even just managing, but thriving! Way to go! You are so strong. Others grieve daily and here you are, approaching Maddox's first birthday and you are holding it all together. Look how together you are!

I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I'm feeling like this study is going to be great and in the coming weeks it's going to show me so much... Little do I know.

Then we get to small group. You know... introductions. Most of the people sitting at the table are friends I have known for years and they "know"... But there are a few girls there that don't. So here it was, the fourth time having to answer the question. As everyone proceeds around the table to answer get-to-know-you questions, I am feeling sicker and sicker. I see it from the beginning. I am the last one to answer. Each person answers casually and it is getting closer and closer... WHAT?? I answered this question completely emotionless just an hour earlier and here I am LOSING IT at the thought. It's finally my turn and I say "I'm married to Dusty and we have... I'm feeling so sick... we have three kids. (...tears, struggling to speak, to breathe... can't quite get it out...) Deacon is 3, Maddox would have been one in two days, and Faith Clare is 10. 10 months. No, 10 weeks. I can't even think..." I continue to answer the questions with tears pouring down my face. I glance around the table, looking into the eyes of my friends. A few friends who sat with me one year ago at the hospital. Several other friends who sent cards, brought meals, and prayed and prayed and prayed for our family prior to meeting Maddox and walking with me through the grief. As I peered into the eyes of those sitting at the table with me and saw their tear-filled eyes as well... God spoke so clearly to my heart.

Isn't it interesting how you think YOU did this? How YOU managed so well? How YOU got through the grief? Who did all of this? Who's strength did you rely on for so long?? Was it your own? What about these people that surround you? Think Kenzie, Who's words did you turn to? Who gave you comfort all these months? Who continues to fill your heart and bless you? Why are you now taking the credit for something that only I am big enough to handle? Kenzie, I love you but it is only through MY STRENGTH that you have done ANY of this.

Honestly, He brought me to my knees today. He showed me that in a moment... on my own ignorant self-reliance... that I can absolutely fall apart. Those thoughts I had as I "listened" weren't ones that were from the Lord. They were self-centered thoughts... ones of pride and ones that Satan has slowly been feeding me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I could see the grip that he has had on my life. I have permitted these idols to take up residence~ idols of self-reliance and pride. Somehow secretly loving the fact that I was "coping" and feeling a certain amount of pride at "how well" I was doing. It's like because I'm consciously not allowing grief and fear to dictate my life now, I have been unknowingly giving way to a God-ignoring, prideful, self-dependence. It's absolutely sick... and so revealing. God grabbed a hold of me with two hands today.

Now you see it... Hopefully soon you won't. It will be a lifelong battle to give up control.

Thank you, Lord, for again revealing to me my need for you and YOU ALONE. I cannot and do not want to do this on my own. I again turn my life over to you. YOU are my strength and I ask for you to be my Rock and my Foundation. Fill me with your peace and Lord, continue to reveal areas in my life that I still cling tightly to... areas that must be turned over to you. Thank you for my children, all three, and the testimony that you have given me to share of your complete faithfulness. I love you and trust you with my life and theirs.

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you."- Psalm 5:11 (God's Word- My prayer of protection over my children)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Out of the Darkness...

I can't believe that Faith Clare is 2 months old! These past few months have flown by and for the most part, the sadness that used to reside constantly within me now only seems to creep in every once in a while. It's almost as though we have wandered through the darkness and stepped into glorious light.

The reality is that the busyness of life with two at home has helped keep my mind occupied and although Maddox's memory is always vivid and close at hand, joy has overtaken me. The new-found smile of my precious baby girl just floods my heart and brings me such hope for the future and for our family. To see my firstborn adore his baby sister and care for her has touched me in ways I have never known. I love watching him bring her toys, share his prized blankey, kiss her face, and tell her sweet nothings... the love he has for her blesses my heart beyond words. God continues to answer prayers in such amazingly tangible ways and we are so grateful for the "normalcy" that has replaced the intense emotion we were experiencing at this time one year ago.

I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't admit that with the 23rd of this month quickly approaching, the excitement that would usually come with celebrating a first birthday now somewhat overwhelms me... I can feel a heaviness that is looming above as I think about honoring the memory of our precious Maddox. Nothing I can think of quite does justice and I oscillate between planning the entire day and having nothing scheduled. Thankfully though, at the end of it all I know that whatever we decide to do on his birthday will be enough... We remember Maddox daily and lift his name up in thanksgiving to the Lord each night with our other two babies. Even with the tears that will certainly flood my eyes on his first birthday, I feel like I am in a unique position because while I cling to the memory of the baby I mourn, in my arms I will tightly hold on to his little baby sister. It's so strange... the darkness and the light, the celebrating and the mourning, the baby in my arms and the baby in Heaven. I am amazed at how this year has crawled by in some respects, and flown by in others. The blessing? In all things, we are so thankful...

Thank you for continuing to walk this road with us. You walked with us through the darkness and fear and we are so grateful that you continue to stand by our side and accompany us into the light... the joy, the healing, the hope. Thank you for sharing in our happiness and loving our babies too.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstance, for that is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Words of Reflection- 2008

Anticipation. Fear. Wonder. Excitement. God. Anxiety. Uncertain. Faith. Stress. September. Thankfulness. Marriage. Joy. Love. Desperate. January. Sons. Beauty. Moment. Healed. Whole. Jesus. Pain. Sadness. Peace. Tearful. Sick. Overwhelmed. Tiny. Photographs. Sickness. Prayer. Reflection. Dusty. Passion. Conviction. Purpose. Plan. Presence. Heaven. Unknown. My wants. His will. Expectations. Devastated. Family. Pregnant. Hurt. Hospitals. Questions. Anger. Carved. Empty. Nightmare. Fighting. Friends. Labor. Numb. Silence. Compassion. Emotion. Surprise. Mercy. Grace. Children. Grandpa Chuck. Support. Service. Ashes. Death. Arms. Broken. Heavy. Repentant. Motionless. Sleepless nights. Unfulfilled. Knees. Hurt. Wednesday. Misunderstanding. Settled. Determination. No regrets. Deacon. Playing. Needs. Distractions. Resolve. Focus. Church. God’s Word. Touched. Music. Reading. Skin. Tender. Strength. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Memories. Lifeless. Deeper Still. Uncontrolled. Ugly. Weary. Tantrums. Discipline. Frustrated. Understanding. Refining. Fire. Hope. Confused. Sensitive. Withdrawn. Seeking. Found. Deep. Desires. Dazed. Unspoken. Re-emerged. Surprise. Scared. Functioning. Faraway. Dreams. Threatened. Grumpy. Funk. Conflict. Blessings. Daydreaming. Nursery. Gripped. Tests. Ultrasounds. Relief. Contrast. Reassurance. Work. Worry. Finances. Noisy. Baby. Bedrest. Pictures. Help. Scripture. Husband. Provider. Immanuel. Safe. Loving. Assured. Surrender. Submission. Willingness. Long-term. Used. Ministry. Called. Saved. Needy. Lost. Freedom. Listening. Advice. Salvation. Counsel. Games. Blogger. Blurb. Email. Sitter. Money. Preschool. Difficult. Concern. Sinful. Rest. Sustained. Medicine. 4N10. 3. Birthdays. 23rd. November. Doctor. Blood. Appointments. Adjustments. Nurses. NICU. Warriors. Breathing. Daughter. Namesake. Birth. Lovely. Grateful. Clarity. Gorgeous. Sincere. Sweet. Gentle. Nestled. Precious. Girlie. New. Celebrate. Relief. Old. Longing. Searing. Eyes. Lips. Hair. Hands. Toes. Faith Clare. Blankets. Diapers. Reflux. Nights. Nursing. Reflection. Christ. Challenges. Christmas. Angels. Party. Mary. Satisfied. Savior. The Cross. Resurrected. Promises. Truth. Light. Life. Father. Maddox. Restoration. Healing. Forever. Eternity. Remembering. 2008.

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."- Hebrews 1:3
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