Oct 15

This is my story…

As the leaves change, the weather cools off, and pumpkin everything is on every shelf, I find myself feeling like I am starting to grieve all over again. As I water my mums out front and set my pumpkins on my porch, I picture how 3 month old Mary Anna would look leaned against them for a quick instagram picture. Each party being planned and the thoughts of turkey and Christmas trees make me ache. It just does not seem fair. I begin to ask why again and again and again, and I weep writing this knowing how lonely these next few months will feel.

Sunday we sang the old hymn “Blessed Assurance”, and I have had those words in head ever since:

This is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior all the day long…

I can help but think, “Is this really my story?”. At times I am proud of my story and how well I feel like we are doing, but others I just want a pen and paper and want to re-write this whole ending. This whole part of our story where we learn to live each day without our baby girl. The part where we put up our Christmas tree without her here, and we eat our turkey on Thanksgiving without bouncing her on our knee. My heart just hurts.
Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.
All I really can do is rest in Him, and watch and wait. So as you set out your candy corn and switch out your closets, love the ones near to you well. Relish in each moment that you have and learn to be filled with His goodness and lost in His love.
Oct 14

Love and Victory

I decided a month or so ago that I wanted to do something special for D. There have been so many thoughtful things that people have done for us and given us to help us remember our baby girl by, and I just really wanted to get him a keepsake. I could not decide what to do for him, but after a long search, I found the perfect gift.

Meg, the owner of this company, was so helpful. She did not ask me to promote her on my blog, but I was so impressed with the products and the service that I could not help but share. She had a lot more options on her website, so if you are interested click here: http://www.love-and-victory.com/. I was so happy with her work that I could not resist my baby girl’s silhouette, so I ordered a necklace as well!
When I emailed her some pictures of Mary Anna, she could not get a good angle to draw the silhouette. She asked me for a better shot, and I had a little melt down. I didn’t have any different angles, and I can’t ever take another picture of her, and it broke my heart to come to that realization. Thankfully Meg worked with what we had and made the most beautiful silhouette. I got the package in the mail, and I was dying to give it to D. When he got home that day, I gave it to him, and he couldn’t say a word, but tears just started rolling down his face. He told me it was the perfect gift, and we have had it sitting on our coffee table ever since. We both agree that we will do one of these for all of our children.
Oct 11

Grief

I have thought  a lot about grief lately. It is such a tricky place to be in, but as I walk through grief right now, I am learning that yes it is vulnerable, but it is so rich and rewarding at the same time. I think that everyone has been through or will experience grief at some point. Grief can come in so many different forms and for so many reasons. You can grieve a friendship, job, marriage, and of course, a death. The thing is the way grief looks is usually the same, it is just the way the person enduring it handles it. I have been told a lot that I look like I am handling my grief so well, but I manifest my grief in appearing strong, even though sometimes I am not.

Although I can put on a happy face and sit through a whole dinner party, I do know that you do not know when grief will erupt. It is literally like a ticking time bomb and, BOOM, it just goes off. Sometimes you have done the same thing 10 times and all of the sudden it’s overwhelming and you just can’t do it that day. I have had to explain this to friends a lot, because I will be sad out of nowhere, and it’s because something has hit me that’s made me really miss Mary Anna, and I can’t explain why. There’s a lot of times no reason or purpose for grief to come, but it just does. It’s just an awkward dance that you at times enjoy, because you realize you’re growing and learning so much, but most of the times you just want to run off the dance floor and start all over again.

During my devotional this morning I was reading Romans 8:15-17:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.
And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Suffering is a blessing, sounds really stupid I know, but it’s true. Learning the heart of God is a gift, and I KNOW there is an eternal inheritance for the hard stuff that we walk through here on this earth. It’s like a friendship, you want to be there when things are fun and good, i.e when the baby is born, but you don’t want to be there when things get messy, i.e. when the baby dies. I get it. I’m not fun to be around right now because I am just sad so much and grief shows up and it’s not pretty when it does, but I am starting to realize that sharing in the blessings of the Lord also means sharing in His suffering.
I told someone yesterday that I was glad that we are walking through this. I feel blessed that the Lord has called us to suffer for Him. As crazy as it sounds, she responded and said that she was jealous of my view of the cross, because she knows that she can’t know what I know without the suffering. So all this to say that the glory is good, but it does not come without suffering, and whether you are suffering or you know someone who is, be tender with grief. It’s complicated, but walking with someone, or in it yourself, is worth it I promise.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My future is in your hands.
Psalms 31:14-15

Keep Walking.

Oct 10

Baby Girl

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40: 26

During a flight delay to San Fran less than a week after I lost this beautiful angel, I felt so lost. Some of my thoughts I would journal in my phone before I started blogging, and I look back at them and incorporate them in my writing now all the time. I found this note that said:

sitting in the airport and really missing Mary Anna and this was the verse of the day

Every time I look at this picture now, I think of that verse and love that it says that not one of them is missing. She was created for a purpose, and God knew that something would be missing without Mary Anna. AND because of his great power and mighty strength she is here with us always.
Amen to that.
Oct 09

I will take care of you….

I am not a morning person. I do not wake up by alarms, and this is reality. If Dan leaves the house before I am awake, he will have to call my phone over and over to wake me up. When I go to sleep, I take it very seriously, and I sleep like a rock. I can sleep anytime, anywhere, and yes, be very jealous, because I love to sleep and I am just plain good at it!

I have been a bit lazy lately. My job, such a blessing, is very flexible, and I do not have set hours right now. This has allowed me much needed time to think, be alone, miss my baby girl, blog, go on walks, lunch dates, etc. Last night I decided to do the unspeakable and set an alarm to get up and get going this morning. I turned it on before I went to sleep, and after who knows how long that it had been going off this morning, I looked over and my phone said, “I will take care of you.” Whew. I heard a sermon a long time ago, and he suggested putting truths all in your phone to remind you during the day the truths about the Lord. So, I had put that in my alarms that day, and I am pretty sure that I have not set an alarm since, but today I needed just that.

It’s hard not to look towards Dan, my parents, my friends, and my church to take care of me completely during this time. The Lord wants me to learn to lean on him and be reminded that He will take care of me. Although I still need my people to love me during this journey, I turn my eyes to Him to sustain me. I had to apologize to D last night and tell him that I was sorry for expecting him to fix everything, I know he can’t, and even though he’s the best husband in all the land, that we both can only look to Christ to fix us.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

He is faithful. And He will take care of me.
Oct 06

Not Today…

Today as I walked into church I thought that I could do it, but I just could not. I tried. I stood there for the first two songs, listened to a prayer, and then looked at Dan and said, “I can’t do it today.” He handed me the keys, and I walked out. I drove home weeping and swerving because I was so sad that I could not drive straight. I opened the door, ripped off my stupid skirt and heels, and walked upstairs and put on yoga pants and fell into my rocking chair in my baby girl’s nursery. I wept for her. I cried out to the Lord in anguish and deep rooted anger. WHY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I went to church today for you, but I just don’t want to do it right now. I want to scream and yell and tell everyone that SHE IS STILL NOT HERE. Stop smiling and stop singing these words of these songs that promise hope and rest.
Although you probably are thinking that I am crazy, which at times I think that I am, I opened the Word of God. The infinite, infallible Word of my creator, of Mary Anna’s Creator, and He spoke to me. He told me that He gets it. He told me that he is weeping with me and loving me a little bit more right now. I ended my anger spell in humility and trust again. HE always seems to bring me back to Him. I think that I needed this time this morning to just be alone with the Lord and trust in Him. Not to be at church appearing to be o.k. in my trendy little outfit and my pretty red lips, but alone with puffy eyes in my yoga pants at the foot of the cross.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Hebrews 4:16, 5:7-9

Dan kinda started this hard day, because before church he told me that he was sad. I hopped into the car with my game face on, and I turned on this song that has been touching my heart lately:

The part where it says, “Twas He who taught me thus to pray, and He, I trust has answered prayer, but it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.” I told D that I know that Mary Anna was such an answer to prayer, but that answer has driven us to such despair. We pray for rest. Then I told him about how not long after Mary Anna passed away that I was crying and saying that I could not take another hit, and Melissa said to me, “Kari, I know that you say that you took another hit, but God is saying I didn’t give you a hit, I gave you a blessing. So Mary Anna was not a hit, she was a blessing.” So in the depth of despair, we know that He has answered our prayer and given us a blessing.
Keep Walking.
“That thou mayst find thy all in me.”
Oct 05

The little things…

Yes… this is a waffle from Waffle House. When I say that I have changed, gheeze I have changed. A lot. Not that I tended to be a bore or anything, but I was, I admit it, a little bit of a food snob. I volunteered to go to Waffle House with D and have a little date! He was a little blown away! I think that life is just a bit more in perspective now, and the things that were important to me in the past seem a little minor in comparison. So here’s to slowing down and enjoying the little things, and a pecan waffle with chocolate milk a little more often. 
Happy Saturday and War Eagle!

Oct 04

San Fran

About a week after we lost our girl, Dan and I hopped on a plane and headed to California. We figured that we needed some time alone and some time to process the life and death of Mary Anna. It was the perfect place for me to burst into tears in public, and no one think that we were too abnormal. Mainly because we knew no one…

due to my recent c-section, D had a lot of bags to carry
happy boy

one of our 500 pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge
Muir Woods 
this place was hauntingly beautiful, and we shed many tears here thinking of our baby girl
favorite mode of transportation 
marital sacrifice… i hate baseball!

one of the boats from the America’s Cup races
Monetary Bay Aquarium
Pebble Beach
he’s cute
a little vineyard tour
This trip was hard, and there were many times that I said to Dan, “I don’t want to be on this stupid trip, I just want to be at home with my baby”, but we think that getting away was exactly what we needed at the moment. It was a breather for us before we had to face the reality of “normal life” starting back. I definitely recommend taking a trip after a loss. Traveling has always been important to us, and we both agree that traveling together strengthens a marriage. Our Cali adventure gave us so much strength and a little time to just be anonymous and focus on each other.
Oct 03

Keurig

My parents got us a Keurig this year for an early Anniversary present. It was the perfect timing knowing that little Mary Anna would be here soon, and I could make a quick cup of coffee whenever I was in desperate need! Now that little coffee wonder of a machine is my fuel  for thinking and writing. Not exactly the reasons for the initial purchase, but thankful for its quickness in my time of need! As I sipped my first cup, I was thinking about the story of Stephen, and now as I sip my second cup, my heart is full with the fact that Christ truly grieves with me.

My devotional this morning talked about Lazarus and how Jesus wept with Mary over his death. One of my dad’s friends favorite verses is the one in this story, because he says that it shows him how real Jesus is.

Jesus wept.
John 11:35
I have heard the story of Lazarus since Sunday school, and I have read John 11 many times, but today Mary’s heart of sadness hit a home run with me. If Jesus is all knowing, then He knew all of this would happen before it did, and he knew that Lazarus would not only die, but he would be raised from the dead. So, in the context of Mary weeping and Jesus weeping with her, HE KNEW that not long after that Lazarus would get up and walk out of the tomb. Which also means that even though He knew that my Mary Anna would not walk out of that hospital room, He knew the outcome, He knew the reasons, and He wept and still weeps with me. Can we take a moment here? The creator of the universe weeps with me. With me!
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
John 11:40
Then the story of Stephen came back to me. Not long after MAC was gone, our pastor stopped by our house to visit with us. He reminded us of the passage of the stoning of Stephen in Acts, and if you recall:
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Acts 7:55
Rick, our pastor, told us this to remind us that Jesus empathizes with our sadness. Apparently the only time that it is recorded in the Bible of Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, standing not seated, is when Stephen was being stoned. He grieves the death of the saints. Rick then told us that this passage came to him while he was in the hospital with us the day Mary Anna passed away, and he just knew that Jesus stood as she died. Wow.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Psalms 116:15

I have struggled a lot the last few weeks. Sadness and anger have overwhelmed me everyday. I started feeling more normal the last month, but lately I feel less and less like myself. The Lord let me shake my fist and cry out in anger, and now, this morning, He reigned me back in with His truth. The truth that He weeps with me, and that he stands at the death of my baby girl.
Oh Father. 
I do NOT get this. But what I do get is that you love me and this is not about me, but it is all about you. I cling to your Word and your truth right now. You are good. I am just a sinner missing my princess, and you get that more than I realize. Thank you for letting me be angry, but lifting me back up. All praise be to you alone.
Oct 02

For You

My baby girl,

My sweet firstborn I miss you so much. Right now you are the only person that I want to talk to and you aren’t here. That makes my whole body hurt. I watched one of your little videos this morning, and you always looked so peaceful. How were you so strong? I want to be strong like you are my princess. There are all these people around me having babies, and all I want to do is snuggle with you. It hurts me everyday, and I keep walking for you and for daddy. I try to be strong. You are my whole world. When I was sad last night, I was telling daddy about it and while he was looking at me and listening all I could see is you baby girl. You were such a daddy’s girl. Right after you were born, one of the nurses said, “Oh man, she’s going to have him wrapped around her little finger” and the other nurse said back, “Oh she’s already wrapped around his finger!” She’s right MAC, you had your dad wrapped around your finger since the day you were born. Well actually the whole time that we knew about you! I will see you soon I know it, and until that day comes, I will always miss you. Your daddy and I will always miss you. You are so beautiful Mary Anna Caldwell. I can’t write I love you enough to express how much I truly love you.

Love,
your mommy

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years
….
They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
Isaiah 65