Sep 29

Can’t go back

As we sit by the waters edge this morning thinking of our baby girl, I can’t help but think about something that I said a few days ago. I don’t remember what someone asked me but my response was, “I’m not glad about what happened to Mary Anna, but I do know that I could never go back to who I was before.” As I ache for her little fuzzy head this morning, I hear my own voice echo in my head, and I hear my heavnly Father saying, “It is for your good and my glory.” I will keep walking. I can. I think.
After a little anger, sadness, and tears, D and I saw some butterfly’s slowly fly by us at the waters edge. It wasn’t her and she isn’t here we know, but it was a touch from our little princess. We see her in everything we do. Then, we read a passage out loud to each other that we read to MAC that was written for us long before:
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. 
May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. 
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. 
May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. 
May the Lord grant all your requests. Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. 
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 
Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20:1-9

And the truth is that I can’t go back. I miss her, but this is who I am now, and I am learning to accept it.
Sep 26

Words of Wisdom

One of Dan’s favorite quotes he heard in a sermon a long time ago from our pastor, where he said that each person has a God shaped hole that only God can fill. It’s a quote by the famous scientist Blaise Pascal. There are times that we try to fill that hole with other things, but ultimately we remain empty without Him.

Recently Dan said to me, “Karebear, it’s like we have a Mary Anna shaped hole in our heart that will never get filled.” The one thing that I have learned about a loss like ours is that it never truly goes away. We have confirmed it with people much older and wiser than us who say, still now after they lost their child thirty years ago, that the pain is still there. I think sometimes people want to tell us something quick to make us feel better like, “I’m sure it gets better with time.” While yes, they are right, it does get better with time, but it never goes away. The love for a child is instant and that void sticks.

So yes, Dan and I have changed, we have changed a lot since July 14. We are not and never will be the same people that we were before. The majority of the changes are for the good and for His glory alone. There’s just a different way that we look at life and death now. And although very painful, we learn each day to be thankful that we are different. It’s like we see a little more clearly who our King Jesus truly is even with a Mary Anna shaped hole.

Therefore we do not lose heart. 
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18


Sep 25

Amen.

don’t watch this video unless you want to be changed.
Sep 25

Chose Life

It’s hard for me to write about things that make myself look good. I don’t write to pat myself on the back, but only to pat my girl on the back. She’s the real winner here, but I do have a story to share.
Dan and I rejected all testing to find out if our baby had any genetic issues. We were given the opportunity when some concerns happened early on in our pregnancy to show the doctors that there could be more going on. I remember researching and praying about what to do, and it became very clear to both of us that the right step for us was to reject all testing. We knew that no matter what healthy or not that we would love her with every fiber of our being. I’m so glad that we didn’t know.
After she was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 in the hospital, the doctors told us that because I was so healthy and took care of myself during our pregnancy, that it gave her more time alive. Her body initially appeared to be okay, because she was living off of me, but it was when her little body kicked in that it was clear that she was too sick to live. I will never forget the doctors looking at me and telling me this and saying, “You gave her life.” If I have never done anything right, then the one thing that I know that I have done right was giving my baby girl life.  This definitely gave us closure that we did all that we could do for her.
I know now that we had a chance early on to give her life, and we chose LIFE for our girl. Then when things kept happening that could have easily given us every reason to give up, we chose LIFE again. We chose to do everything that we could to make sure that she had the best start into this world that we could give her. The last few weeks of our pregnancy, Dan would shove protein down my throat like candy to ensure that she would gain as much weight as she could. It made her as strong as she could be on July 14th.
When things starting spiraling downward fast in the hospital, I can not count how many times my mom would look at me and say, “Kari, you gave her life.” Then when Dan would get down she would say, “Dan, you gave her life.” We did. We chose life. I pray if you ever come to something in your life that gives you the choice that you always chose life. For our Mary Anna, life meant 4 days, but those 4 days were worth it all.
Sep 23

Each Morning

His mercies are new every morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23
After a hard evening last night, I woke up feeling a little foggy. When I’m really sad at night, I usually wake up really tired and with a headache. It’s like for a second I feel like a normal person, and then my head kicks in and I feel pretty crappy. This morning I was hungry for the word. I stumbled into Mary Anna’s room with my Bible in hand wanting to know His truth, mercy, and grace so bad. I flipped through Psalms a little, and then opened this new devotional book that someone sent me last week.
The lady writing the book had a loss, and something jumped off the page in the introduction. She was talking about how she asked her sister-in-law the day of her child’s funeral, “How do I do this?”, and she responded, “Manna”. It hit me hard. 
I want my friends to get my pain. 
I want to feel love from the people I love everyday.
I want them to make me feel better.
I want Dan to cry every time I cry.
I want someone to make it all go away.
The problem is not walking through pain with the people you love, it is expecting them to fulfill something that only the Lord can. Last night during our cry after small group, Melissa said to me, “Kari, you are trying to do too much… stop being so strong.” I tend to fix things instead of humbling myself before the King and letting him fix me.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Psalms 119:68
I can identify with the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. There’s nothing that I need right now but His manna to get me through each day. Just like we sang yesterday in How Deep the Father’s Love for Us:
How great the pain of searing loss…
 bring many sons to glory
The pain in loss is great, and yes, it is searing, but it brings me closer to glory. All praise be to the King of Kings who holds my tears and knows my pain. I will Keep Walking.
To Read the devotionals along with me, click here to find “The One Year Book of Hope Devotional” by Nancy Guthrie.
Sep 23

Small Group

We have small group on Sunday nights, and frankly I wasn’t interested in going tonight. I was sad and frustrated and feeling like no one understood what we still are going through. D encouraged me to go, and on our ride there we saw the most beautiful sunset. I told D, “I wonder if Mary Anna sees the same sunsets that we do?’. I obliviously don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that each beautiful sunset that I see makes me miss her more. Something about the slight pinkness in them makes me think that she does that for me. Guess I will know one day.
We got to small group, and as I walked in, the room felt so full, but I was so empty. I fixed some tea and slowly walked into the other room and sat down alone in the dark and cried. The buzz in the next room felt like an out of body experience, because the world keeps going without Mary Anna in it, and I hate that feeling. Sometimes I don’t want to be alone, but I’m not just ready to move on either. It’s just a feeling that you wouldn’t get unless you’ve been there. It hit me that I can’t expect people to understand when they just don’t.
The Lord went before us with the depth of our loss, because our small group leaders/adopted auburn parents/friends lost their first baby over thirty years ago. Little did we know that when they shared their loss with us over two years ago that we would know exactly how to relate to their tears. They’ve walked through our journey with us with our Mary Anna, and they have relived the loss of their baby boy. I’m sure that Drew and Mary Anna are friends now in heaven.

After everyone left tonight, she said, “What’s on your mind?”. I told her how I felt, and she told me that she could see it in my eyes when I walked into the house. So we wept together, and she identified with me, and it helped. The boys came in and cried with us too, and we prayed together. It reminded me that HE knew long before we did, and HE placed them in our lives to love us through this. We are eternally grateful to the gift that they are to us. They teach us how to keep walking.

I have set The Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalms 14:8
Sep 21

Hey Pretty Girl

This song came out during our pregnancy with Mary Anna, and Dan came home one day from school and played it for me with tears rolling down his face. We thought it was such a sweet song about a walk through dating, marriage, and a baby. The ending did not hit us until the day that we got into the car from the hospital. Dan cranked our car as we were driving away from UAB without our baby girl, and we didn’t know what to do or say or think. Instantly, the radio starting playing, and this song was on. It was at the end where it said:
 Hey pretty girl, you did so good 
Our baby’s got your eyes
And a fighter’s heart like I knew she would
Hey pretty girl, you did so good
Hey pretty girl, when I see the light
And it’s my time to go
I’m gonna thank the Lord for a real good life
A pretty little girl and a beautiful wife
Insert lots of tears.
We don’t believe in coincidence. 
Sep 20

My Man…

my baby shower

I could go on and on about how thankful that I am for my husband. Like I said a while back, I really do not know what I would do without him. Honestly, I think that everyday when you wake up, you have a choice to run towards or away from your marriage. Dan and I have been through a lot in our 10 years together, and I know the Lord prepared us for this year long before we realized it. The thing is the divorce rate after your child dies is stunning. I’m horrible at research (this is D’s area of speciality), and I tried to find statistics, but could not quite find what I was looking for but basically, I’m pretty sure that it is one of the top, if not the top, reasons why people divorce. The last percentage that I heard was that after the death of a child 75% of marriages end. WOW people. That’s huge!

The day we got married we decided that no matter what that we would never mention the “D” word in our house. We are by far from being perfect, but we chose to run to each other instead of away. When I look at Dan, I see Mary Anna. I mean it’s kinda hard not to when they share the same lips! I told this to my mentor recently, and she said, “Yeah Kari that’s the reason some people walk away from their marriage is because it is simply to hard to look at their spouse because they see their baby.” For us it’s different, although the way he holds his mouth sometimes can bring me to my knees because I miss her, it makes me feel close to her. She is half of me and half of him. How could I lose both of them?

Once she was gone, we knew the road ahead was going to be horrible, but we knew that there was no question but to do it together. We were going to fight, because our little fighter taught us how to never give up, and we were going to love, because she taught us a love like we have never known before. My heart aches for every marriage out there that’s struggling, and I just pray for restoration. Clinging to your spouse is hard, but it is worth it. I wake up feeling blessed that I married my best friend.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
….
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
LOVE NEVER FAILS.
And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Cor 13: 1-13

It’s our prayer that the Lord will protect our home and our marriage. We pray this every night. There’s nothing about us that’s saying it’s always easy, but we just knew that we had and wanted to Keep Walking TOGETHER.
Sep 19

It’s okay

So I was at my workout class this morning, and this song came on during the end of the class and the lyrics said this:

It’s okay to not be okay…
Just be true to who you are…
Unfortunately I’m not up on my pop music right now, and I don’t have any idea the context of these words, but yep, I started tearing up during abs at my class. I kinda just needed to hear that it’s okay to not be okay.
I am a hot mess saved by grace. 
My strength, or lack there of, is not my own. 
The thing is sometimes people tell me that they feel guilty for complaining or thinking that whatever is going on in their life is hard. When they look at me, some people don’t know what it feels like to lose their child. In all reality, we all are in a valley one way or another. It isn’t supposed to all make sense here on earth, and it’s okay to be real. I’ve told all my people that I don’t want them to not be open about their lives with me just because I lost Mary Anna. I mean that.
So as corny as it is, no matter what your struggle is right now, whether it is your marriage, death, friendships, weight, job, family, etc; it’s okay to not be okay.
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes- I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19: 25-27
Sep 19

Time Passes

As the meals, calls, and tears calm down and life gets back to normal, my heart seems to feel just as broken. I thought time would instantly heal, and gosh it just doesn’t seem to. Everything I do reminds me of my girl, and it reminds me that she’s not here. The hospital bills and the insurance phone calls hurt so bad. Seeing the kids in their precious outfits on Sunday mornings, and the talk of teething, growing, and school days remind me that Mary Anna will never do those things. Waking up some days and going to work tell me that it’s another day that I don’t get to be at home with her. My coffee tastes a little bitter everyday, because I don’t have her on my hip while I’m drinking it. The puppies remind me that my girl isn’t pulling their tail and driving them crazy. Each room in our house has something in it that she should be using, and all her things are just collecting dust. She’s everywhere. In everything I do. It’s just all wrong.
I miss her.
What’s the plan in all of this?
Why us?
I know God is sovereign, and I know he ordains my every step, but right now I just can’t bear the thought of walking without her. He is good. He chose us to carry Mary Anna, because he knew that no one could love her like we do, and you know what, He was so right. 
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13
Please help us Lord. We need you now.
Keep Walking.