Friday, January 29, 2010

Prayer for the Batiansila Family

Please pray the precious Batiansila family. In the last 24 hours they watched their beautiful daughter Zoe make her way into the arms of our Savior. She was born just two months after Maddox and I have followed their journey as they have given selflessly to all eight of their kids and poured love and light into this world of Trisomy 18.

Please pray for them as God leads you... my heart is breaking for them.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord, "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."- Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let Down

All day today I have been glancing at my clock, staring at my phone, looking at the calendar and thinking "January 26th... today means something but what is it? What am I forgetting?" It literally, JUST NOW, dawned on me. It's another one of those "dates". Weird? Maybe, but if you are a mom who has sent a child home to be with Jesus, I've realized that it just might be part of life. I'm beginning to see a trend and I don't necessarily like it but dates stick out in my mind... and today? Today was Maddox's service two years ago.

I suppose it is fitting that today has been more emotionally charged than any other day leading up to his birthday... it was two year ago as well that I cried myself to sleep, for the only time ever, understanding the finality of letting Maddox go. Today on January 26th, two years later, the emotional charges are somewhat different. I'm not experiencing the feelings of intense grief, deep sorrow, overwhelming pain or the trembling fear I felt to face the world, but instead ones of sadness, confusion, hurt and of being let down. Nope, not by God, but by people.

Have you felt that way before? Just totally let down, brought to tears, by someone that you had high expectations of? I know that biblically speaking it is a certain truth that virtually everyone, at some point in our lives, will let us down- our parents, our children, our husbands, our friends, our pastors, the list just goes on... I know that is why God truly is who He says He is... the Only One who always has bigger plans, a bigger perspective, our Sure Foundation... But sometimes, lets just be honest, that knowledge still doesn't make the pain that is inflicted by those we love any less hurtful.

Sometimes it's unintentional. Sometimes it's for lack of knowledge. Sometimes you might even wonder if maybe it's unjustified... maybe it's just not that big of a deal. And then just as quickly you realize how real your emotions are and if it is important to you, then it should be important to those that love you. And really, it probably is... For the most part, it certainly is. But it is hurtful and confusing all the same. You wonder, how could they let me down like this?

So these emotions- anger, hurt, disappointment, sadness, frustration, bitterness, resentment- these feelings of being let down... what do you do with them? You might get angry and cry. You might talk and yell. You might process them over and over in your mind and you just might seek counsel from other trusted people. I've done all of those today.

But as for me tonight, because these emotions have dictated my day and brought me to tears on numerous occasions, I know that I only have one choice. I am going to take them to the Lord. Lay them down at His feet. Ask for strength and commitment not to pick them back up again. Ask for forgiveness, for patience, for love. If I fail, I'll ask again. As hard as it is and as much as I want to hold on to them, I know they are only hurting me. God can take them away. He can help me to forgive those who have hurt me so deeply, those who love me so much. Heaven knows I've hurt others. I can't even fathom how often I've received the grace of forgiveness when I've let other people down. It's grace that I don't deserve. It's life in Christ.

Does it still hurt? Yes. Will I eventually address it when I am more calm? Yes. But to be able to release this... it will change my world, for me, immediately.

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."- Romans 5:5

Saturday, January 23, 2010

mama's hands, Father's arms

In my mama's hands, In my Father's arms


Happy 2nd birthday you precious little boy! Maddox, you have rocked our world and we wouldn't have it any other way. We love you desperately, miss you tremendously, and can't wait to hold you again. You are constantly on my mind today and all I can picture is Jesus standing tall and holding you tightly. You are so loved! Hope your party has been awesome!

But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine.- Isaiah 43:1 The Message

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fear

Do you ever feel gripped by fear? Totally overcome to the the point where you can't move? Last night I was fearful as I heard noises on our back porch. I laughed a sigh of relief when my husband got home to check it out and we discovered an unusually large possum sniffing around. That is one kind of fear. Real. Legitimate. But what about the other kind, the one that you feel deep in your soul? That is very different.

Do you experience this sickening fear? The defining time in my life is when I was carrying Maddox. I didn't know what to think, where to focus my attention, or even how to pray. I was deeply entangled in fear. Have you experienced it before? Fear over losing a child? Fear of losing a much-needed job? Fear of being alone? Fear of your past? Fear of your current circumstances? Fear for your safety? Fear due to finances? There are countless fears that can grip our hearts and hold us captive. We can quickly become a slave to fear and allow it total control in our lives when something BIG doesn't happen to change it. Each of us has probably struggled with some sort of paralyzing fear. Have you thought about this fear... the one that grips so many girls that find out they are carrying a child that was unintended?

As I was reading from Isaiah this morning, I quickly discovered a trend. One that I knew was there, but I honestly forgot about. "DO NOT FEAR." God commands us to trust in Him and verse after verse He states "do not fear", "do not be afraid", "fear not". And then... do you know what is so awesome? Most often what follows those phrases are the words "for I am with you."

After receiving Maddox's diagnosis, I stumbled through a few weeks. I cried often and was really in a daze, trying to decipher my feelings and come to terms with what we were facing. A precious friend that I had just met, Yvette, told me that she would be praying that for God's peace. It seemed so simplistic but I figured that since she too was carrying a sweet boy with Trisomy 18, it wouldn't hurt to begin praying that for myself. I guess there seemed to be so many things to ask God for that peace slipped through the cracks.

Slowly, that peace began to come and the gripping, binding fear that I once felt was replaced with honest faith that He would do what was best for Maddox and our family. It was not a resigned peace that I would just "be fine" with whatever happened, but it was a peace that words cannot describe. One that surpasses all understanding because I knew without a doubt that He was with me.

Today, on Right to Life Day, I would ask that you pray for all of the girls right now that are frozen with fear because they are pregnant and don't know what to do. The God that I serve, the One that replaced my deep fear with His peace, is the same God that can transform their fears as well. If you feel led, please pray for wisdom and Truth and Life today. How beautiful to know that God can speak directly into your life, telling us to trust HIM. He has done it in mine too saying, "So do not fear Kenzie, for I am with you."

Allow that fear to fall off you today as you seek His face and pray for that peace, for yourself and for others, that can only come from Him.


"The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?"- Psalm 27:1

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brown Shirt Mamas


Over the past year and a half I have been asked for countless updates on the seven other mamas that decended upon Atlanta for a fabulous Deeper Still weekend filled with worship, late-night talks, tears and laughter. One of the girls, my precious friend Emily, was asked to write a current "status report" on what God has done in each of our families' lives. Her beautiful account is written below. Enjoy God's story...

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I was recently asked for an update on our "Atlanta Eight" and thought y'all might be interested in hearing where we are now, too. By His grace alone.

We became known by the color of our t-shirts, but we had more in common than that. We had each said goodbye to one of our babies in the last year. But we had more in common than that, too. Heartbroken and confused, we were clear about one thing and one thing alone: we wanted to see His glory.

It was in the praying for, the holding tight, and the letting go of our little ones that we found out who our Savior really was and is and is to come. He is mighty. He is meek. He is quiet. He is loud. He is strong. He is gentle. He weeps with us. He rejoices with us, too. He listens closely and answers clearly. He heals. He holds when healing doesn’t come. He makes sense when nothing does. His breath is warm. His arms are strong. He is real. He is present. He is God.

It had been exactly one year since my daughter’s death. It had been four weeks since Karen’s son had died. In the time between, Angie, Yvette, Kim, Kenzie, Kristy, and Chrissy had all said goodbye to their babies, too. For Kristy, it was her second son to release to the Lord. By the grace of God, we converged on Atlanta for a weekend that would change us forever.

Deeper Still: The Event was sacred to us. We were able - for the first time in a long time - to feel somewhat normal and understood as we sat together, prayed together, learned together, and worshiped together. Our eyes and the tears that flowed from them, our hands and the way they couldn’t stay down any longer, our voices and the way they quivered as we sang His praises seemed to say it all.

It has been a year and a half since we have seen each other’s faces and held each other’s hands. As long as I live, I will never forget how it felt to take Karen’s sweet face in my hands just before she climbed out of my car and onto her plane, as I promised her that her God was still going to be good a year from then. I remembered wondering how I would make it through a day, when my grief was fresh and my heart was raw, and it was my heart cry to prove to her that our God was more than able to carry her through, too.

I think all eight of us would agree today that God is indeed good and He has indeed carried us further than we ever dreamed He dreamed He might. God was doing a work in our hearts before our babies ever came or our suitcases arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, and He will be working long after our new babies are grown and gone. That’s right. Every single one of us has been blessed with a brand new life in her home. If you had asked us that weekend in Atlanta where we would be in a year and a half, I am quite certain none of us would dared to dream we could possibly be right where we are now.

Poppy Joy Luce was the first of our babies in Heaven to gain the Big Sister status when her parents and big sister brought the beautiful Adrienne Christine home in May, 2008, and made Adrienne’s adoption official on Poppy‘s 1st Birthday that December. Tristan Asher Hostetter’s parents were blessed with the opportunity to bring a sweet baby girl (born on Tristan’s mommy Yvette’s birthday, no less) home from the hospital in October, 2008, making him a Big Brother, just like his own two big brothers at home.

Maddox Donald Stanfield soon earned his Big Brother status when his stunning baby sister, Faith Clare, was born in November, 2008. Judging from his own Big Brother’s smile, I imagine Maddox was a happy boy that day, too. Eva Janette’s mommy learned she was expecting her new blessing - Eva’s adorable baby brother Dante, born in February, 2009 - the very weekend we were all together in Atlanta. Many of us watched Chrissy’s elation and wondered if that would ever be ours again. Oh, how God must have been smiling then!

Kim and I, both Kentucky natives and moms of three girls, were roommates that weekend. We could never have dreamed what God in store for us. The following April, our newest baby girls were born a week apart. Miller Grace Cassetty became a Big Sister to my dear Abigail Joy on April 2nd. Mary Grace Summons became a Big Sister to the precious AnnaGrace Pearl on April 9th. How awesome.

But, God wasn’t done!

After four boys, Kristy welcomed an amazing baby girl, Hope Amelia, on the first day of June. I can only imagine how proud Isaac Matthew and Asher Joseph had to have been of their family that day. True to form, our dear friend Karen was the last to join our joyful chaos. Jacob Ryan Fahmer became the third Big Brother in his family when Karen delivered her fourth gorgeous boy, Jeremiah Gabriel, this past August.

We are just eight women. If you passed any of us in the grocery store, you likely would not give us a second glance. (Unless, of course, one of our children threw an orange at you or something.) We are ordinary in every way. We come from farms and big cities alike. Some of us are working moms and some of us stay at home. Some of us home school and some of us do not. Some of us are nursing mothers and some of us are not. While it is true that some of us have urns on our mantels and others of us buy silk flowers instead of toys when special occasions roll around, you would never know that by looking at us.

Our story is one of God’s power. By no other means could we, as ordinary women who love our children with all we are, have survived the storm we have come through. By no other means could our scarred hearts have healed so much. By no other means could our families have known peace and joy again. Our hope is not in our children in Heaven any more than it is in the children in our arms. Our hope comes in knowing where our true treasure lies, fixing our eyes on what is not seen, but unseen; on what is not temporary, but eternal.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Me! Monday... with a Rockstar!

Nope, not me, I definitely did NOT hang with a rockstar this weekend! I mean, maybe not a bonafide "rockstar" but as close to it as possible. No, I am certainly not the one that so many envied as I picked up this rockin' girl at her hotel and met her sweet Prince Charming so we could grab dinner and formally "meet" after a few years of blog-following and emailing.

We definitely didn't go to Lupe Tortilla, the best Mexican restaurant in Houston. We surely did not talk about Maddox, Stellan, Trisomy 18 or SVT. You can be sure that we didn't talk about the plans God has for us presently, and in the future and how He can use our past experiences to minister to others. We never considered discussing Big Mac and Doodle and them being the "oldests" as they set the stage for their younger siblings. We didn't talk about Stellan and Faith Clare and their latest words, or lack thereof. We didn't talk about marriage, kids, family, careers, faith, blogs or anything of the sort. We didn't laugh and you know for SURE that we did not cry.

We most definitely did not leave the restaurant in pursuit of last-minute cruising items and end up at the sketchiest HEB in town... that would be crazy, funny and possibly scary all at the same time! I would never casually speak to a man in the longest checkout line in history who would then not.stop.talking. And I surely would not concede that the necklace I was wearing was for "Mardi Gras" just because he insisted it was. That would never happen because that would just be weird.

And just in case anyone was wondering, we did not get to the hotel and hug. We didn't take a few hundred pictures that a random girl in the hotel couldn't seem to get right. We didn't bid farewell and I certainly didn't wish we'd had even more time. I would never be selfish like that and want to monopolize all of her time! Quite simply, I did NOT have a great time spending the evening with a wonderful mother, wife, and woman of faith. I'm definitely not thankful to God for allow our stories to intersect or for having the privilege to pray for one another... okay... well, maybe, just maybe I am.

(Thank you iPhone for not being the only thing "said" random girl could get to take!)
Thank you MckMama for taking time to get together! You are NOT fabulous.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."- 1 Peter 4:12-13

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moving On

Life is good. It is, isn't it? Life is hard and full of disappointment though too. Right? I feel like I've been all over the place lately, oscillating back and forth between those two extremes, knowing they are both true and also knowing that God is still the same in all of it. Let me just be honest and say that lately I have been feeling the weight of life. The weight of a husband that works incredibly hard for our family, but is gone often. The weight of managing a one-income home. The weight of giving my all to my children throughout the day. The weight of Maddox's birthday upon us.

The words have almost left my lips about a half-dozen times in the last few days... "Please pray for me, it's almost here..." and then just as I felt the urge to blurt them out, they disappear. I struggle with the conflict- I don't want to be needy and yet, I don't want to ever feel like we are past it. Maybe that's my biggest fear and therein lies the conflict... maybe I just want to feel emotional because at least then I know that I'm feeling something about my 3 lb baby that left my arms too quickly. Everything considered, I will certainly never forget... but will others?

It's hard moving on... like anything I suppose. Maybe that's why our grandparents speak of the "old days" which such fondness. Maybe those old times weren't even that great and yet they linger in our minds for a lifetime. It seems that God has created us with an amazing ability to retrospectively gloss over the pain and difficulty of a situation and instead allow the blessings of that same situation to linger. I'm so thankful for that ability... and yet, some days the overwhelming weight of it all can still pull me down.

This happened the other night when I spoke to a girl who's father just passed away. I was telling her that I had been praying over her family, for her father's salvation, and that they were really on my heart. I knew that she didn't know me, but then I realized amidst the conversation that because of that, I really didn't know how to explain that I understood the hurt of losing someone you deeply love. I stumbled through it, usually not the one to be lacking words, and left feeling confused, frustrated, and honestly sad. I don't ever want to be "that girl" and yet, after walking away from the conversation, I longed to be known. On some level I know that it is selfish, but I also know that I really wanted her to know our story- to know of God's glory, answered prayers, and beautiful healing. The bigger picture? More than anything I want people to remember Maddox and the faithfulness of our precious Lord. That's Maddox's legacy, God's story, and my ministry. I just don't want any of this to be forgotten... and still life moves on... and so do people.

It's all just so hard.

Instead of allowing the words to escape me again, I would simply ask that you would pray for us in these days leading up to Maddox's birthday. They are bittersweet as I recall the "lasts" that I shared with him before and right after birth. I love each of my babies and while God has overwhelmed us with joy in Deacon and Faith Clare, Maddox is still Maddox and I miss his presence in our daily lives.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."- James 1:2-4
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