Oct 31

October 31st.

Mary Anna’s pumpkin at my parent’s house

I am just mad. Really Really MAD right now. I am not a huge Halloween fan and never have been. I’m not against it or anything, but I just don’t really care for it. Therefore, I had psyched myself up to think that today would not be hard, because naturally I don’t like Halloween, so I won’t miss Mary Anna today. WRONG. Dang-it. I just want a little tiny pumpkin in my arms. Instead in order to avoid my emptiness, I decided to clean my house, and I do not want to be cleaning my house. Then, I sat down to write in between dusting and I feel  like if I wasn’t me that I would not want to read my own blogs, because they are just too sad, but the truth is that this is how I feel. I wish my blogs were full of fun recipes and trendy outfits, but a lot of times they are just full of tears.

I weep as I write and clean today.

There’s a podcast that my dad has encouraged us to listen to by Chip Ingram called “Trusting God When God Doesn’t Make Sense.” I figured that I would listen to it, because I want to trust, but I feel like He’s not making sense right now. I encourage you to listen to it. He said that so often we want God to solve the big problems in our lives, and what God is saying is, I want to give you a better gift. I realize that as I prayed for healing God would not heal, because he had something better in store for us. He had Mary Anna. She was our gift.

We have a party to go to tonight, and I have acted like I didn’t have an outfit to wear, and I think it’s because I have been avoiding how sad it really is that I do not get to dress up my baby girl today. I know it is so trivial and so lame, but as Chip Ingram said, sometimes  God let’s our problems go from bad to worse in order that we might believe. I feel like our past two years have been bad, and they got worse on July 17th when we lost Mary Anna, and we are realizing it all got worse in order that we might believe. We do believe. Even here in the pain, emptiness, loneliness, and without our little pumpkin, we believe.

But I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Psalms 55:16
Oct 30

the Word

Growing up in church, I would always hear people say that the scriptures are alive, that they have answers to your problems, and other big promises like these. Sometimes I would go through phases in my life where that just did not make sense. I would want the Bible to have clearly written in it where I should go to college, who I should marry, when we should buy our next car, etc. Obviously I had an ignorant view of what these older and much wiser people were saying, but now I do get just that. I open the Word of God, the very written word of the Lamb, and it’s like the words jump off the page, and I just can’t get enough of it. I crave it when my morning gets a little too busy or when I am too sleepy at night to read. Sometimes when I need a boost during the day, I find myself opening my “ap” on my phone just to read a quick verse. We need His Holy Word. We all need it bad.

Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
Psalms 71:20-21

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalms 34:18

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again because the Lord sustains me.
Psalms 3:5


Oct 30

Blanket

I tend to be a little a lot girly, and I like pretty things. Having a baby girl was like a little too much fun for me. Each time that I opened a gift for Mary Anna, my inner prissy self would just jump for joy! A dear family friend of ours sent us a precious blanket and gown set while I was pregnant, and it was one of the first things that I packed into her hospital bag. When we knew that our days were very numbered with our princess, one of the first things I asked the nurse was if I could put one of her pretty blankets in with her in her house (what we liked to call her incubator). Our precious nurse said of course, and she helped me get it in there.

I will cherish this blanket for the rest of my life, and this might seem silly, but it was something that made me feel like I got to enjoy my baby girl. It was a way for me to make her little life special and meaningful. When I really miss her, one of the first things that I do is grab this blanket.
Oct 29

Busy

Since last Thursday, life got a little chaotic. I haven’t done much but fall into bed the past four nights and wake up with bags under my eyes to start again. The exhaustion is because our friends are closing their retail store, so I volunteered my talents of being a selling machine to help with the big sale to move the final inventory. Then I had to wake up today to go to my “real” job and work a full day (which I have not done in a while) to relieve someone who was going to be out. This evening I told Dan that I was feeling a little numb, and I knew that I needed to spend some time in the Word and thinking about my girl.

We are not big t.v. people, but one of our shows that we are trying to catch up on has an underlying theme about a dad who’s daughter passes away. Tonight as we ate dinner, the episode was about him seeing his little girl as a teenager. Blah, blah, blah… fast forward to the show being over, dishes done, a load of laundry folded, and I went upstairs to have a little “me” time while Dan studied. I read a little, and then I turned on the song that really brings me to my knees, Rock of Ages. It began to play, and I did something that D tells me that he does a lot that I have never done, and that is stand over the crib and look down into it. I began standing and realizing that the sheets have never been washed, and then I fell to my knees in humility, then I fell on my face in agony. “I just miss her ,” I said to the Lord, and “I don’t know how to pray or why she had to go.”

It reminded me of a passage that I read Friday morning that was talking about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, was learning of her son’s death right after his birth. She was told:

And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
Luke 2:35
Man do I get that now. This verse has been on my heart ever since. As I stared into a perfectly decorated empty crib, I felt like someone was stabbing me deep into my soul. I know Mary’s pain of watching her own son die. I hate and love that the scriptures seem so alive to me right now.
My Mary Anna,
I want to talk to you so bad right now. When I looked into your crib, I saw a hair in it, and for a split second I thought it was yours, but I realized that it was mine, and it broke my heart. I ask daddy all the time if you know how much that I love you. Sometimes I feel like a bad mommy when I get busy, because I want you to know that I will never forget you. I looked into your bathroom tonight, and I wondered if our next baby one day was a boy if he would mind if I left it coral. I can’t seem to fathom changing your room. I still put the lotion on my hands that you used in the hospital, and I can instantly smell your scent, and it hurts but makes me feel so close to you. I know I tell you this all the time, but your daddy is so strong, and he is so good to me. When I was pregnant with you, I would always tell you that I hoped that you would marry someone just like your daddy. My heart aches for you, and I hope that I make you proud.
With all the love in my heart,
your mommy
Oct 24

Joy

There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the time time it is also a great comfort. For the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but more more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve- even in pain- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrance, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lonely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer
can you see her little hand holding onto mine?
One of the things that people said to me a lot early on and still do now is, “It will get better.” The thing is that’s so wrong. Unless you have walked here, you can not comprehend the immense emptiness that you feel all day long. The loneliness, emptiness, and sadness do not go away, you just learn to live with it. A friend sent me this quote this week, and I can’t begin to be a commentary on it, because he just says it in a way that I can’t. 
God does not fill the Mary Anna shaped hole in my heart. He leaves it just the way it is, because it is what makes her the precious gift that she was. It is what reminds me that she is real, and also makes it all the more painful. Yet, that gift is where I find the most immense joy. 
Oct 22

Prayer

I will never forget the moment at about 2 a.m. that the doctors explained to us that blood was filling Mary Anna’s lungs and that she could not breathe on her own anymore. I couldn’t breathe either. They told us that they had to put the tubes in her little mouth and that they probably wouldn’t be coming out. I still couldn’t breathe. I prayed fervently for healing. We believed together. Healing was not going to happen on this earth, but her healing came in heaven.

The day we got home from the hospital, I remember saying to my parents that I was just so frustrated, because I had truly prayed and believed in her healing. Even before I knew that it was going to be fatal, during my entire pregnancy, I prayed and believed. I have thought so much that it just was so unfair, because so many people do not pray for their children, but I prayed for my daughter. Unreal. My mom told me that she knew that I had prayed everyday, because I used to call her on my way to work each morning, and she realized that when I stopped calling, it was because I was praying the whole ride to work. It never hit me that I consciously stopped calling her, but I did. Sometimes I would walk into work with tears in eyes, because I was so moved during my time with the Lord. I prayed.

There have been times ever since that I want to just quit this prayer crap. I want to forget it all, but I just can’t. Many times I want to pray, but I just don’t know how to pray, and you know what, you don’t have to know what to say all the time.

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Romans 8:26-27

Many mornings, I lay in bed and just stare and think before I get up. This morning I was thinking that I know that He does answer prayer, but it is hard when his answer to prayer means the death of your baby girl. He keeps telling me that I can’t fully know why.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Romans 11:34

Prayer is important. It is our conversation with the King of Kings. It’s an open dialogue. I heard a sermon once where the pastor was saying to stop with all these lofty prayers, and start just talking to God all day long. I do that now. And sometimes I shouldn’t even repeat my prayers, because they are real and raw and can be harsh, but guess what? I think of all people, the creator of the universe can handle the REAL us. So even though I struggle with praying, I still do it, and all the while, the Spirit is praying in accordance with me. Prayer is real and powerful. It doesn’t change God, it changes us. He remains faithful.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.
Job 1:21
Oct 19

Were You There?

Ever since I started the book that I am reading that compares suffering to the story of Job, I have had a passage from chapters 38-40 in my head almost constantly lately. I challenge you to read the whole thing, because it is life-changing, The Lord talks to Job and asks him if he was there when the world was created. It is while Job is really struggling with why everything keeps happening to him, and basically the Lord is speaking to him asking him who he is to question why He does what He does. It’s like He’s reminding Job that it is not all going to make sense right now. This is the Lord speaking:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off it’s dimensions? Surely you know!
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of  the hail
Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?
Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Then Job responds:
I am unworthy- how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer-
twice, but I will say no more.
Not that this lesson is learned over night or that I won’t continue to question the reasoning behind life’s unexplainable events, but reading this passage reminds me time and time again, that who am I to question the creator? My response continues to come back to Job’s, and I will put my hand over my mouth and say no more. For I know that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. His ways are higher. He created my baby girl to live for 4 days only, and who am I to question why?
Oct 17

Ugh.

The bills never stop coming. A bill for my c-section, my ambulance ride, Mary Anna, the NICU, etc…. Each one we open is horrible. I hate it when I see the hospital’s name on the outside of the envelope and slowly have to break the seal to see what else we owe. We get one saying they need more information or one of the insurances doesn’t understand the charges, so I spend hours of the phone listening to stupid elevator music and wait to explain our situation over and over and over again. Today one of the ladies on the other end of the line said, “For some reason the charges for Mary are terminated on July 17th.” I was like, “umm… her name is Mary Anna, and that’s because she died.” Insert awkward moment of sobbing to the insurance lady.

It’s rainy and gross here today, and I just heard the word terminated on the other end of the phone, and I want to know when this all will end. I want to find the money tree to help pay all these bills with a sweet husband who’s working his tail off trying to stay motivated in vet school. I try to find peace and hope and comfort but some days it just doesn’t come.

Oh Mary Anna,
I just miss you so much today that I can’t even stand it. You are my sweet angel, and I want to be a good mommy. My mommy told me today while I was crying to her that I was strong, and I told her it was because I want to take care of you and your bills, and I want to make you proud. I miss your innocent little eyes and your big lips. I wish that I could just hold your tiny little hand right now. You are my baby girl and always will be.
With all the love I have,
your mommy

I got this text just now from my sweet friend that reads:

It has been three months since you went to heaven little Mary Anna. We miss you so much! You had the greatest mommy and daddy. Even though you are not here, you are loved so much and are in our thoughts daily!
May the Lord give you strength and “rest” today. I know this week has probably been especially hard with it being three months since Mary Anna was born and went to heaven. Praying and thinking of y’all today. Love all three of you!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30

This is how we Keep Walking.



Oct 16

Scattered Thoughts

As I had a melt down on the phone the other day with a friend who just gets me, she told me a story. Her pastor told of a young child that passed away at age 5, and in the room they had a picture of the moon that said, “The moon is round.” One of the parents told the pastor the reason they had that was because the needed to know what was constant and true. Even though you look at the moon and sometimes you only see pieces of it, it is always round.

A month or so ago I was at a foster home in the area that I have had the privilege of helping some with, and the intern begin to ask me lots of questions about my work and such. It led to me telling her my story and why I am not working full time right now. She began to cry, asked to pray with me, and told me that her friends baby just passed away. Her encouragement still warms my heart, and she told me that God was loving us a little bit more right now, and that we needed to be careful when we spoke, because people will be listening closely.

One of my dearest friends was going on a mission trip this past summer, and we were worried that she was not going to be there when MAC was born. Her trip got canceled due to the lack of safety in the country where she was going for Americans. She was so disappointed, and when we lost our girl, a few hours after it happened, I heard she was on a plane heading to Alabama.  The next morning I woke up, and she jumped in the bed with me and just began to weep. She said, “Kari, now I know why my trip got canceled”, and although I know she felt called to go on the mission trip, she booked a one- way flight to be with me and said that she would stay as long as I needed her.

The reason my blog got an update is because a family friend who I have not seen in years, sent me a gift certificate to do this. She saw my ramble about how my blog was ugly, and she had been wanting to do something nice for me, and it jumped off the page to her, so she sent it to me. I got an email from her telling me that it was something she could do for me that would make me happy.

The pediatrician that caught Mary Anna the day she was born was really special to us. Dan said he saw the seriousness in his eyes while he was holding our girl, and he kept thanking the good Doctor every time we would see him in the hospital. Finally he said, “Please just call me Brian.” The day we were checking out a bereavement nurse came in to talk about arrangements, and D asked if Brian was there that morning. She ran and got him and they both walked into our room. We talked a little, and he said, “I see a lot of patients and very few of them will I remember, but I will never forget Mary Anna.” The young nurse looked and us and asked if she could pray for us, so we all held hands and prayed for strength.

I have gotten countless emails of encouragement since I started this blog. The thing is that a lot of what I write helps me remember and process my thoughts. I do no edit or ponder blogs for days. I just sit down and start typing. For example this post, I have all these little thoughts that I just don’t ever want to forget so enter: Wednesday rambling. The Lord should be praised, not us.

Some friends in Auburn texted us and asked us for our house key while we were still in the hospital. When we got home for the first time, our whole house was cleaned, there were fresh flowers all around (I will never forget the little pink roses on my night stand), and they filled our kitchen with food. The husband sings, and we asked him to sing at Mary Anna’s service, and he spent hours figuring out how to put her sweet footprint on all the slides because he knew that would be special for Dan.

One friend came to see me every single day except for one that I was in the hospital. Each person that came meant the world to us, but she just kept showing up and you know what, I would not have ever of asked her to come that much, but I will never forget that. It made me feel so loved.

I had a good number of friends who were pregnant, and they were worried about how to act around me. One of them came to me the Monday after Mary Anna passed away, and she began to cry. She told me that I love her little boy like my own son, and that she is so sorry the timing of her second pregnancy, but she wanted me to know that she will always love Mary Anna like her own. We cried together, and from that moment on it has never been hard for me to rejoice with her.

My big sister drove 2 hours while she was 8 months pregnant just to be with me moments after Mary Anna went to heaven. I heard her weeping so loudly in the hallway, because she didn’t get to meet her. Her twin girls are my goddaughters, and she left them at a friends house with no plan or no place to stay, all she cared about was being there for me.

Literally the list goes on and on and on…. The friends who came for the day just to spend time with me, the one who asked to see every single picture that I had of my girl and cried as she saw them, or the one who literally every time I start crying to her she cries with me…. Each letter, donation, person who gives blood in honor of Mary Anna, prayer, meal, text, flower, etc….

we have been so surrounded by love it is unreal.
we could not keep walking without each one of you.
we feel the prayers everyday, and we could not wake up each morning without them.
we know that God is good and He provides.

the moon is round……

Oct 15

Jonah

Okay… Seriously who doesn’t love the story of Jonah and the whale. It’s a true Sunday School classic right? Well Dan and I read the story during our pregnancy with Mary Anna, and the prayer that Jonah prays while he is in the belly of the whale really hit home with us. We would pray that prayer together many nights as we cried out to the Lord for healing for our girl. Last night as I was feeling a bit like I was sitting in the belly of a whale, I decided to pray that prayer again:

In my distress I called the the Lord, and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled around me;
all your waves and breakers swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountain I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord
Jonah 2
The very last verse in the chapter says that the Lord told the fish and Jonah was spit out on dry land. Sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom before you can begin to walk again. I think the Lord keeps us in the pit until he knows we are ready to keep walking. As I said last night that the seasons changing and life moving forward makes my sadness harder sometimes, I know that I can look again to the Lord and He is the source of my salvation. It just helps sometimes to see that someone else gets it, and reading that real prayer from Jonah is just that.
We will keep walking.
We will keep praying.
And we will keep singing a song of thanksgiving.