Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blessed

I am so blessed... so thankful! God is GOOD (dare I say perfect!) and His provision and faithfulness in ALL THINGS are astounding (really? check out this and this). It is crazy to think that in just a couple of months it will be two years since that September day when we received Maddox's diagnosis of Trisomy 18. So long ago... and yet, somehow just yesterday. Over this time, I've grown quite a bit: spiritually, emotionally and mentally. But I also feel that I have grown in other ways. I have grown in love, compassion, understanding, purpose, and maybe even a bit in where the Lord will be calling me in the future... but the biggest place I have grown is in prayer and friendship.

When we received the diagnosis for our precious second child, the only thing we knew to do was to cry out to God. We cried out for comfort, for peace, for faith, for guidance, for hope and for love. As the Lord began to work in our hearts, we saw Him reveal answers to each of those desperate prayers in incredibly tangible ways... in large part He answered through the love of His people. He brought our families to rally in prayer with us. He brought amazing friends to serve us in unimaginable ways. He brought "strangers" from around the globe to pray for our family and for the life of our child. He brought women who would become precious friends walking a similar road to meet their babies- women of different ages and experiences and backgrounds to share the fear, joy, and praises, and eventual pain, sorrow and longing. AND He brought something so beautiful... He brought us hope through life already being lived. Not "incompatible with life" life, but L-I-F-E!

On Friday, I met face-to-face one of those precious babies, living this life, with Trisomy 18. To see her face, to see her talk and play and sit and interact and study... she is a precious miracle, God's miracle, proving that each child deserves the gift of life! To see Annabel's beautiful face and look into those dark brown eyes... I was flooded with emotion- emotion that I can't even explain. Her sweet presence, just being in our house, somehow confirmed to me what I have always known but haven't been able to fully realize... Annabel proved to me that Maddox's life carried great purpose. His was short, just an instant, and hers in longer than most medical professionals would allow you to believe possible... and yet they are united. Two precious lives united in life, united in Trisomy 18, united in love, and most importantly, united in the purpose and perfection they bring to God's kingdom.

Our short time together, simply put, was amazing. Annabel (with her mama Cathy and her awesome sister Tara) brought an unspeakable sense of hope to my heart... Hope and joy and life... LIFE is such a beautiful gift! How blessed we all are.


"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love
him."- James 1:12

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Picture (Im)Perfect

I'm no photographer, but man, do I LOVE these pictures?! Especially the last one... of the BEST Father ever with two of his sweet babies! I love my husband so much and it was a joy to shower him with that love on Father's Day~ just as a reminder! The rest are a few snapshots of our summer fun...





"Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me."- Psalm 31:3

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life Lessons

I received this from my friend Christa as a forward and thought it to be insightful, fun AND inspiring!
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Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer- Cleveland, OH

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we’d grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."- Romans 6:23

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Me! Monday


So I have never actually played along with "Not Me!" Monday that is hosted by my friend MckMama, but I figured it's never too late to start... AND I did have an interesting time this past week hanging with the kiddos all by myself while Dusty was gone at Beach Retreat (High School Ministry retreat to Gulf Shores, AL). So here are all of the things that I definitely did not do these past 7 days!

I am so patient with my children and others' children as well (really I am!) that I certainly did not declare like a 2-year-old, "Hey, remember I'm in charge!" and "You don't own that!" to a few little ones this week. That is definitely not something I would do!

I am never, ever sleep-deprived so I definitely didn't in a sleepy haze put sugar instead of Miralax in Deacon's morning milk and realize it as I handed it to my wide-awake three-year-old as I glanced back at the counter and the open jar of sugar. Nope, not me!

When Deacon, Faith Clare and I all stopped at Jamba Juice after a morning at the Y, I definitely didn't laugh like a junior high boy when Deacon asked me for a snack and then proceeded to point to what he wanted. He said "what is that called?" and I responded "Pirate's Booty" to which we both feel over laughing as he continued to say "You eat Pirate booty? Ah hahahahaha!"

After said trip to Jamba Juice, I definitely didn't have it up to my ears with Faith Clare's cries and say rather loudly "Ugh, Faith Clare what are you DOING?" when my 6-month-old (who grabs everything) ripped my straw from my cup and threw it on the floor. That would totally be over the top and ridiculous to yell at a 6-month-old!

I would never, ever be so unconscious about what I looked like that I would wear a ragged t-shirt, no makeup, tennis shoes and really short booty shorts to HEB... only then to realize what I looked like and try to sag ultra-short shorts so I wouldn't look like a trash-mom at the grocery store. Not ME!

My sweet baby girl certainly wouldn't have diaper rash for 8 days (with a doctor's prescription for said rash) only to take her to Babies R Us, after declining an appointment to see the doctor, to have a store clerk tell me "Oh honey, that's no diaper rash, that's YEAST!" I would never be that silly or naive to not realize that!

With my helpful husband out of town, I would never be so exhausted and at my wits-end to say to my 3-year-old "stop acting like a child" or to my 6-month-old "ah, you're such a crybaby!" DEFINITELY, not me!

And last of all, I definitely didn't work out at the Y, go to the swimming pool, go to bed that night in my clean sheets and then again go to work out at the Y, all without taking a shower. That would be just plain gross and no one would ever think the swimming pool is kind of like a big, huge public bathtub without soap. No one!

If you want to join in the Not me! fun, just hop on over to MckMama's blog to play! Wow... definitely therapeutic!

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy..."- Psalm 126:2


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why do we do what we do?

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about people's nature. Why exactly do we do what we do? Why do we stare at accidents on the side of the road? Why do we look at that lady's children in the store and think "my child would never get away with that?" Why do we put ourselves in vulnerable situations at the risk of our own safety or comfort to help another? Why are we drawn to stories of heartbreak and tragedy at the risk of our own mental state? Is this our most basic humanness at work, or is there something to be learned from all of it... any lessons from God?

This week the story of "April Rose" had me up for half the night when I found out the truth of what was going on and honestly, I laid in bed for hours thinking about what would lead someone down that road. I myself have had several unbecoming, prideful moments this past week as I solo-parented while Dusty was out of town. Quite a few times I amazed myself with my own capabilities and then, literally, the minute the pride made it's way to my brain, the roof of the prideful situation came crashing down and I once again got a taste of humble-pie. I have several friends that have recently announced pregnancies- three of my friends actually, and all three are carrying their third baby. As you can imagine, discussions quickly go to the presumed, or hoped-for sex of the newest blessing growing inside. So then what really got me thinking about all of this, and why we do what we do, was what one of these dear pregnant friends said to me the other day. During conversation she said, "A friend asked me what sex I wanted this baby to be and she said 'and I don't want to hear all that 'healthy baby' junk, just tell me what you really want'..." As my friend and I continued the conversation what do you think happened? Do you think I A) went right along with the conversation without missing a beat and totally understood her rationale for hoping "boy" B) acted fine but was appalled that she would say this to me, someone who really understood what it meant to want a healthy baby C) said "well the sex of the baby would never be quite so important once you experienced leaving a hospital altogether without a baby"?

If you guessed B or C... you'd actually be wrong. The answer is A. Should I be declared a saint? Hardly! Am I crazy? Am I just a big liar? You might think so, but to be honest, I didn't even think of the conversation again until yesterday evening when it came up differently... So why do I bring it up now? Because all of this has me thinking about how we allow others' experiences to influence our own.

For me, the answer to that question is deeper than just "A". It is "A" because this friend has not walked in my shoes. Although she walked right beside me through it all, she has not been where I have been or experienced things the way I have. My apprehension and fears about pregnancy and loss are just that, my own. For good or bad, I've experienced a lot, and have walked through so many other losses with other mothers. My answer is "A" because I want this precious friend to continue on with her blissful thoughts about the future. I want her to know our story, but not own it. God has chosen her for many things, and for His reasons He chose Maddox for us.

But how does my experience of pregnancy and fear and loss play into her expectations for her own child? Does walking that road with us influence her thoughts about her child's safety? I pray not, and truthfully I haven't asked her... but for the most part, isn't that human nature? To watch others experiences and somehow allow them to directly impact our own? So then if that is the case (as I feel it is in my life) how do we as Christians "get in the trenches" with others and yet not allow their experiences to pull us to a place that isn't from God??

I guess ultimately what I'm wondering is... how do you walk through a significant "life-event" with someone (in real life, through the blogworld, through prayer, through a friend-of-a-friend) and not let it alter your joy, your high-expectations, your actions, or your faith? Do you feel it is basic humanness to want to be a part of dramatic events or do you feel God is teaching you valuable lessons through those experiences?

I've thought so much about this blog and what I know is that I would never want anyone to hear of our story and be frightened for the life of their own child. I never want anyone to be so paralyzed by the fear of what has happened to us that it translates into a tangible fear in their own life. So then how do you balance that? How do you all walk this with us, with all of us mamas that have lost babies or experienced near-death situations, and not let it overwhelm you?

For me personally, it has been a camaraderie-thing to walk this with other mothers. To share experiences, to minister to hearts, to talk about frustrations and disappointments and the sense of loss... But for others... do you now feel like yo "know too much"? If I hadn't been in my own shoes, I'm not sure if I would want to share in this... Does this blog, or any blog for that matter, cause you to stumble? Do you compare, learn, reevaluate, laugh, renew, cry? What brings you here? Why do you do what you do?

Thank you, dear friends, for sharing in our life, for your words have supported us as we have stumbled; you have strengthened our faltering knees as you bathed us in prayer! (Job 4:4)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What are we gonna call her?

A few funny things Deacon has said over the past 24 hours, just to remember where we are...

"Mama, now that baby Fef is getting bigger, what are we gonna call her?
"What do you mean, D?"
"Are we still gonna call her baby Fef or are we gonna call her big girl baby Fef?"
"Well, I'll probably just call her Faith Clare, but you can call her any of those!"
"Yeah, I think I'm gonna call her either Fef Cuar OR big girl baby Fef... she IS getting bigger you know!?"

"Deacon, I'm gonna call Ita, do you want to talk to her?"- (Ita is Dusty's mom's "grandma" name)
"Why you gonna call Ita? She's not your son... she is Daddy's!"

Oh, and how could I forget this one!
"Mama, do all big girls wear undies like that?" (referring to my less-than-full-covering bottoms). A-w-e-s-o-m-e! No more being in my room when I'm getting dressed buddy!

And one that could lead down SO many interesting roads in the future... just a few minutes ago he asked, "So mama, how did God put us together?" Sweet boy... asking so many questions. Lord, give me wisdom!!


I pray that I will always speak with wisdom, and that faithful instruction will be on my tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recommitting

So this blog... it's tripping me up. I honestly come here, every day in fact, planning to write something, anything, and I feel like I have nothing. There are so many things that I want to say. Things about our life, about my kids, about parenting, about Maddox with our Lord, about my frustrations, my pride, my fears, my little joys and triumphs and accomplishments... and yet, it just doesn't happen. I can't really figure out why except that more often than not, lately, I feel like I'm just living day to day.

While doing this day to day thing, I've realized is that there is great joy in living in the moment, simply going from one day to the next. But while in it, I've also come to understand (and used to know in my former me, before mommyism) that it is also CRUCIAL to have goals set forth for future attainment. I love my life. I love being home to care for my family. But, I also want to set my aspirations on something longer-term. Where do we see ourselves at this time next year? Where do we want to be in 5 years? What are our financial goals and what do they look like in the next 10 years? What do we envision our family structure looking like? How can we grow spiritually? What does that growth look like? I told Dusty on our date night last weekend that I'm feeling like I am just keeping my head above water most days. I'm managing things at home, trying to spend quality time with him and the kids, collectively and individually... but somehow I don't feel like it's enough. I'm feeling like I want more... a little more organization, and planning, and follow-through... all on my part.

Sooooo... what am I going to do? I have decided I'm going to be more intentional. Intentional about my time, my day, discipline, cleaning... Yes, no doubt such intent is a LOT more work, but I also know it will be a lot more rewarding. I realized this a few weeks back when I started a new discipline book and it talked about speaking to the HEART of our children. Ahhhh, that's where it is. All in the heart. And being intentional is what speaks to the hearts of others. To the heart of my husband, my children, my friends, my family and quite possibly to one or two of you out there!

So that's it. This is me. Here. Now. I'm committing to being more intentional, starting with documenting our life here. This blog started for one reason, but can continue for many others. Maybe I avoided it for a while, not feeling that anything could compete with the journey we walked in meeting Maddox. Other things I have come here to write have felt cheap, and trivial. Virtually any emotions I tried to express seemed vastly different to those deep and intimate ones I shared with many of you and with the Lord during the sufferings and sorrow of those months leading up to Maddox's arrival, and after his death. HOWEVER, (and this is the kicker!) I have been reminded lately that they don't have to compete. This is our life. Our journey. The ups and downs. Trivial and tremendously important. There is sure to be some serious stuff, and with my kids, there is sure to be some silliness. But it's worth it... for them and for me. So here I am- recommitting to reconnect. I asked the Lord to walk beside me through it all and He has already committed to come. Will you join me??


See, even Faith Clare wants you to come!!
"I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people."- Leviticus 26:12

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lovebugs


"And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."- 1 John 4:21
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