Nov 27

Early morning

woke up early this morning, which is not a usual habit of mine, and when I was walking across the house, I could see the ocean. My family lately has been coming to the beach for thanksgiving, so I not only anticipated thanksgiving being hard , but also the fact that we came to the place where we feel closest to Mary Anna. Bittersweet. It’s windy and messy here, and as I walked closer, I could hear the crashing of the waves. I came to get back into bed, but I needed to feel my Mary Anna, so I grabbed a sweat shirt, my glasses, and my man, and we sat by the waters edge. We did not sit long, but we took it all in. The sounds, the sun slightly rising to our right, the crashing of the waves, and the air was so cold that it made our bones hurt. Not as much as my heart hurts. I quietly cried and softly said, “I just miss her”, and D held me and said, “I do too.”
So that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none beside me. I am The Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, The Lord, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:6-7


Nov 26

Packing

I do not want to pack for thanksgiving, because it is a reality that Mary Anna will not be there. This was supposed to be our first holiday with her, and we are supposed to be figuring out how to jam all her stuff in our car, but we aren’t. I keep trying to muster up the strength to pack, but instead I end up laying in the bed crying and watching all her videos. When I want to know that she was real, I press play, and I can hear her breathing and know that she existed. I know it sounds crazy, but unless you have been here, it is so easy to feel like this was all a dream, but then again I hate when it feels like a dream, because she was very real. I want to be holding this girl while I pack.

Today has been hard, because I know of quite a few friends grieving their babies that they lost too soon, and it makes this upcoming day so tough for so many. As I prayed over a few dear girls to me earlier, I could not help but think now much our Father loves children if He keeps calling these babies home to Him. He knows that He can rescue them, and He chooses to bring them to be with Him. Part of recognizing that God is sovereign is knowing that this is a part of His plan. I am so thankful that my King rescued my baby girl.

Mary Anna,
My sweet angel. I miss you so much. I wish you were here, and I want you to know that the one thing that I am thankful for right now is YOU. You are the reason that I keep walking, and you make me want to be the best version of myself. Today I was telling one of your sweet “aunts” about how sad that I was in anticipation of Thanksgiving without you, and she told me that this is not plan B. That this was the Lord’s plan and, that He is sovereign. I am so thankful that He is holding you, and that you were the plan for you daddy and I. You are not plan B. My girl, you were so strong, so I will be strong right now for you. I miss you so very much my little turkey.
With every ounce of love in my heart,
Your mommy 
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4
Nov 24

Contentment

I learned this morning that the Lord speaks, but I do have to listen to hear what he is trying to say. Lately, I have not been in the mood to listen, so I have kinda tuned Him out, and I have listened to myself and had some serious pity parties. Not good. Today was the second day in a row that He made something very clear to me. Like I wrote yesterday, I have not only had that verse on repeat in my head, but also this one.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
Philippians 4:11-12

I have struggled with how Paul could be content in all circumstances. Lately I have tended to question the future and be a little mad in my circumstance, but I have felt the call to find contentment. Now let me interrupt here and say that being content right now is not easy, but I just knew for some reason that contentment should be my ultimate goal. Obviously it will not totally happen here on earth, but I am trying to rest in the life of my baby girl and know that her life, although way too short, was for a purpose, and in that purpose I can somehow find contentment.
All this to say, of course, the sermon today was on thankfulness, and early on, our pastor read this verse from Philippians, and I thought to myself, “DANG-IT, I wanted to run from contentment, but you are making it pretty clear this is what I should run to and not away from… ok, ok, ok.” Then he read this verse:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9: 8

So, every rebuttal that I wanted to have to the truth was swallowed up in this verse. In ALL things. At ALL times. Having ALL that you need. I WILL abound in every good work. He ended his sermon saying that thanksgiving is our response to the gospel. In the midst of my ups and downs in deciding how I want to respond to Thursday, I know that I need to respond in thanksgiving if nothing more than because of the gospel. Finally, we sang this little song that I had never heard before, and it just confirmed what I needed to hear.
In living or in dying.
ALL must be well.
Nov 23

Thankfulness

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

One of my mommies I have a few moms texted me this morning saying that this verse had been on her mind for a few days, and that she felt like she was supposed to share it with me. I have always loved this verse. After reading it a few times, I opened up my devotional to read it really quick before I needed to leave, and guess what verse was on it? I know that I needed to be reminded right now how wide, long, high, and deep that Christ love is for me.
As I begin to think about Thanksgiving coming up, I have felt less thankful and more depressed. Yet in the midst of some confusing feelings about this upcoming holiday, today my thankfulness overwhelms me that the love of God knows no boundaries. He loves me that much. He loves Mary Anna that much. I choose to be a little more thankful and a little a less depressed today. His love is that big.
Nov 21

Work

I just got this picture from a friend who texted it to me and said, “Praying the Lord gives you extra strength today”, and the truth is that I need it. Going to work has been extra hard lately, because “our plan” included me staying at home and focusing on our baby girl. Our plan did not include me working again or putting back on my scrubs and showing up to do insurance. Our plan did not include death. Our plan seemed just fine. But, it was not His plan. Apparently this picture is the sunset from the night of Mary Anna’s service, and I have not have seen it before today It made me cry at work when I got this text. It made we want to go home and lay in the nursery and be a mommy. Not an insurance and billing lady. His plan prevails, but I just do not see it today. 
And as I write this blog at work don’t judge, my sweet UPS delivery guy asked me how my baby was doing, and I gracefully had to tell him in front of the whole office again that she passed away. Life is tough, and it seems extra tough right now. I try to seem strong when I work, but sometimes I end up crying behind the building alone. In my scrubs. Because right now I am an insurance lady. Even though I am a mommy, I do not get to act like a mommy day to day and that breaks my heart.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast
1Peter 5:10
Keep walking.
Nov 20

Written Down

A few years ago Dan and I were driving to the beach for Thanksgiving with my family, and we were talking about how so many things in our lives, in the midst of whatever situation we were in, seemed hopeless, but looking back how everything seemed to just work out. We went through story after story of how we could see the Lord’s hand in our lives, and how His plan would prevail. For example, Dan was adamant that he was supposed to go to vet school, and he was pretty positive what school he was going to get in at. So he applied for early acceptance, and he did not get in. He applied the next year, and he did not get in to the school that he wanted which made no sense, because we knew it was where he was supposed to go, and his second choice sent a letter stating that he had to go through a program for 6 weeks to fight for a spot in the class. All this to say, Dan is exactly where he is supposed to be. It was not the path that we would have chosen or what we would have expected, but it has been made very clear that the Lord has him there for a reason. Now when people ask if Dan likes his school, he always says, “They are the ones who believed in me.”

Okay sorry, back to the point, after that car ride, Dan decided to make a list on his phone of all the unmistakable things that have happened/continue to happen in our lives that prove how real God is, and that He is indeed working. It has been a source of strength in times of doubt and frustration. When we have assurance of a decision, he writes it down, so when we begin to doubt it, we know that the written word is true.

Right after Mary Anna passed away, I decided to start a list of all the things that happen whether it is a memory, verse, statement, or whatever it was that gave me strength or helped me remember the little time that we had with our girl. When I need encouragement to write or I want to hold onto something because I miss her so bad, I open up that list on my phone. This morning I was feeling a little down, and I was about to close shop on this blog, because I feel like a horrible writer, and I remembered the truth that I had written down. My friend has her masters in English, and she loves reading and writing. She told me to keep writing one day, and she recited this verse:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
John 1:1
After she said this verse, she said it again, “keep writing.” We began to talk about how without the written word of the stories of Jesus that we would not have the Bible. God’s people wrote down the accounts of what He has done, and that is where we have the truth. She reminded me that God is still working, and that I am called to write down the accounts of what He is doing through our Mary Anna. So this is why I write. I listened to her, of course, partly because she can be a little scary when she is on a roll just kidding!, but mostly because she is right. Sometimes writing down our story is hard and messy, but it is the Word of God. It is a written word of how He continues to work.
Even though publicly writing like I have chosen to do is not for everyone, I encourage you to write down all the times that the Lord has worked. Let it be a reminder of what is true, and let it encourage you when you feel like He is not there. I get it. Sometimes, like today, I lay and try to pray and just say, “are you sure you are here?, do you hear me?”, and I assure you that He is.
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on 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
Nov 18

Be Strong

O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.
Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.
Isaiah 33:2

Saturday, I remembered as I showed this picture to a friend, that Mary Anna had webbed toes just like I do. Sweet Memory. I love remembering little things about my baby girl, and I love sharing them with others even more.

Sunday, as Dan and I were weak in sorrow, I told him that I was not strong enough to go to church, and he sweetly said through his tears, “just try…”. I tried even though it was the 4 month anniversary of her death, I tried. I cried the whole service and during communion as we sang Amazing Grace, I ate the bread and drank the wine in remembrance of how much our God loves us. I am thankful for Dan’s leadership and love and for the church.

Today, as I started my week off in prayer, I found this little book from a friend called “be strong” with a quote in it that read this…
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.
Helen Keller

Suffering has been overcome, thanks be to God.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. to him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11
Nov 18

Fragile

I was cleaning out my emails and found this from one of my best friends. She told me that she read it and that it encouraged her restless heart, and that she wanted to share it with me. A blog entitled “What to Do When You Wake Up Feeling Fragile” written by John Piper:

There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.
As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out — not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.
How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.
Instead of letting me sink into a paralysis of fear, or run to a mirage of greener grass, he has awakened a cry for help and then answered with a concrete promise.
Here’s an example. This is recent. I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. Weak. Vulnerable. I prayed: “Lord help me. I’m not even sure how to pray.”
An hour later I was reading in Zechariah, seeking the help I had cried out for. It came. The prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4–5)
There will be such prosperity and growth for the people of God that Jerusalem will not be able to be walled in any more. “The multitude of people and livestock” will be so many that Jerusalem will be like many villages spreading out across the land without walls.
But walls are necessary! They are the security against lawless hordes and enemy armies. Villages are fragile, weak, vulnerable. Prosperity is nice, but what about protection?
To which God says in Zechariah 2:5, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” Yes. That’s it. That is the promise. The “I will” of God. That is what I need. And if it is true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem, it is true for me a child of God. God will be a “wall of fire all around me.” Yes. He will. He has been. And he will be.
And it gets better. Inside that fiery wall of protection he says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us pleasure of his presence.
This was sweet to me. This carried me for days. I took this with me to the pulpit. I took it with me to family gatherings. I took it to staff meetings. I took it to phone calls and emails.
This has been my deliverance every time since I was first marking my King James Bible at age 15. God has rescued me with cries for help and concrete promises. This time he said: “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Cry out to him. Then ransack the Bible for his appointed promise. We arefragile. But he is not.

It encouraged my restless heart too.

Nov 14

4 months

Today baby Mary Anna would be 4 months old. I did not plan or know how to handle each milestone day, and most times it’s like I notice the date at some point, and it just is what it is. A reminder of what life is for us. I have had a verse echoing in my head the past few days, and it is simple, but life-changing and exactly what I need today.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

My mom actually reminded me of this verse the other day, and I think it has been in my head, because the Lord knew that I would need it today. The story goes like this…
During my pregnancy, I was always wanting reassurance that my girl was going to be healed. Again, we did not know about her genetic condition while we were carrying her, but we did know that her little leg was turned, and that we might have some complications with how little she was, but that was it. Dan and I were confident that even though our road might be rocky, that she would be fine. We never feared death. 
Each doctors appointment was hard and each time we saw the specialists, we would leave in tears, confused at what really was going on, but we kept clinging to the truth. Before one of my appointments, I opened the daily verse on my phone, and it said that verse in Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I was a little annoyed, and I told God that. I mean come on, could you not let the verse of the day say, “I am the great physician, and Mary Anna will be healthy, and after a little bracing her leg will be healed, and she will be like every other child”, but it did not say that. I remember sitting at UAB with that on repeat in my head and leaving in tears hearing, He is the same. Yesterday. He is the same even today. What. Really. He is the King of Kings today? On what should be Mary Anna’s 4 month old birthday?
I do not remember exactly what doctors appointment that this verse was on, and I do not remember what news that we got or did not get that day, but I do remember is sitting on my couch that evening and telling my parent that I finally got it. I needed to know that in the midst of all this chaos that HE was still the same, and that even after all the disappointments and the crushed dreams that He remains the same. Does that resonate with you?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

AMEN.
Even Today.
Even in death.
Nov 13

Vivid

As I was waking up this morning, I was in the middle of a dream. It was very real. Dan and I were at an event, and we had Mary Anna with us. I still do not know where we were or who we were with, except I just remember holding her. She was upset, and someone tried to take her from me to make her happy, and I spent a long time wandering around finding out where they went. When I finally got to her, she was still upset, so I grabbed her, and she instantly stopped crying. She just wanted her mommy, because she felt safe in my arms. I happily walked around showing off my precious girl, and then I woke up. And my arms are still empty.

This is what I vividly remember. The back of her head with all that brown hair. It was real, but I wish it was really real. And her sweet cry face.

So I cling to the verse of the day today:

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in ALL he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Psalms 33:4-5
Keep Walking.