Nov 12

Very Hairy Bear

If I have not explained who we are very well, I apologize. I have plans to fill the tabs on my blog with who we are, books I recommend, etc, and frankly, right now, I can’t even remember what I planned to even write on them. The skinny is that Dan is a veterinary student, and I work at a local optometrist doing billing and insurance. D is very driven, and he works very hard at his job, which is school right now. I am not a career person at all, and I would be totally fine if we went back to the days where women had babies at 18, made biscuits, and watered the flowers all day. A minor joke is that the degree that I received in college is most commonly known as the “MRS.” degree, and my high school year book plainly states that all my classmates thought that I would be the first one married with lots of children. Insert that I have tons of girlfriends who are career driven, and I totally support their goals, it’s just not me at all. All of this to say that, many days Dan leaves early, comes home, some days goes on a quick jog, briefs me on his day, showers, starts studying, eats a quick dinner, studies until bed time, and goes to sleep. Many weekends are spent studying long hours, and it makes our time together short. I am in full support of how hard he works, because I know it is what it takes, and it is for our family.

Needless to say, we enjoy pillow talk at night. Many nights we hop in bed, and it’s like, “oh hey, I love you, miss you, I’m so tired, but…”, and we think and talk. D and I are very close and always have been, and we share everything. One thing that we anticipated as being parents is bedtime with our Mary Anna. We spent a lot of time filling her library, and D spent countless hours reading all the books and carefully chose the ones that he put in our hospital bag. There was one entitled, “The Very Hairy Bear” that we got on a trip a while back. It is a special book, because my nickname has always been Karebear, so we love things that have to do with bears. This book of course made the cut, so the night before Mary Anna went to heaven, Dan asked me if we could read her the first and last bed time story that we would ever read to her. Writing this makes me a little sick to my stomach, because that memory is one of the sweetest ones that we have, yet one of the hardest.
So Tuesday evening on July 16, we said goodnight to my parents, and we slowly made our way to our baby girl. We talked to her and told her how much we loved her, and spent a little time holding her finger and rubbing her head. Dan prayed over her and read scripture, and right before we went to sleep, he got out that sweet book. He read every page to her and showed her each picture, and at the end of the book it says something like this, “The very hairy bear puts his paw on his no hair nose and went to sleep.” So we all went to sleep.
The next day as Mary Anna was slowly leaving us, Dan felt her heartbeat slowing down, and once she was finally gone, he said to her, “The very hair bear puts his paw on his no hair nose and went to sleep.” She went to sleep. She went to be with Jesus.
Last night as we were going to sleep, we looked at our baby girl and talked all about her. Many nights I hear sweet Dan’s voice in my head saying that line, “The very hairy bear puts his paw on his no hair nose and went to sleep.” This book probably has no significance, and I’m pretty sure it has not won any awards, but it will always be special to us and our children. As I woke up this morning, I was thinking about my PawPaw and what was read at his funeral when I was in high school. The only really words that I remember was:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15: 54b-57

And I think that even though our very hairy bear went to sleep that her death will not have victory over us. Jesus conquered sin and death, and we can actually look to Him with praise and glory in the midst of death. He has won the battle. For me. For Dan. For Mary Anna. For you.
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:17-18
So when I get nauseous thinking about my little bear going to sleep. I will have no fear, because His love made her life and death complete. He is love. Perfect love.
Nov 11

Day to Day

Since today is Monday, and I haven’t taken a deep breath in about 4 days now, I began to reflect while reading this morning on the past few days to try to figure out why I feel so overwhelmed. The past few days have looked a little like this:

  • Friday
    • work from 7:45-12 while sick
    • call the insurance companies for the millionth time and the hospital to then go a little nuts on the the poor lady who answered the phone because I am just over it all
    • spend the afternoon crying and angry
    • run some errands and get myself together
    • best friends come into town late so a little midnight chatting before bed
  • Saturday
    • brunch with friends and Auburn wins <insert joy>
    • a little shopping at half time
    • walk with my girl and a lot of crying together and talking about Mary Anna and how it just is so hard
    • spend time in the nursery with her and letting her love me and fill me with grace over and over again while the boys watch football
  • Sunday
    • wake up at 2 am to go take care of my friends toddler, so she can go the hospital to have her second baby
    • church very sleepy with mixed emotions about how I feel about the Lord right now
    • a precious prayer about life and death in our church as we rejoice the new birth of baby Ethan and love him, and we continue to mourn Mary Anna
    • friends leave and D and I cry a lot and Dan tells me he realized in church while the girls were singing that he will never hear our baby girl sing on earth 
    • visit baby Ethan and praise the Lord for life
    • church chili supper where I was trying to keep walking, but my girl who knows me well said, “Kari you’re being really busy are you o.k.?”, and I said, “It’s just so hard”
  • Today
    • wake up in sweats to break a fever from the rotten cold that I just can’t get rid of
    • lay in bed and soak up the Word in desperate need of Him
    • chat with mom and fill up my love cup
    • now off to face the reality of the day with a little work, errands, helping a friend with a paint decision, and a birthday dinner
You see… my life looks exactly like everyone elses does, yet so totally different at the same time. I realized today that life is “normal” now. We do pretty much everything that everyone around us is doing, but it is sprinkled with sadness and reminders of her everywhere we go. Yet, our days are filled with so much love and grace.
As I get ready to leave my house, I pray the same prayer I do every Monday:
Lord, I pray for strength to get through today. It’s your day. It’s your week. Your will be done. We miss Mary Anna and we still do not get it, but we trust in you ALONE.
Nov 08

Voice

Dan found a video on his phone from when we were at the beach in May. It was a funny video of the dogs playing in the sand, and at the very end of it, he turned the video to me and told me to show him Mary Anna. I turned towards him, and I showed the camera my pregnant belly, and with the sweetest tone in his voice, he said, “Hey Mary Anna, I love you and I can’t wait to meet you!” How precious. It of course brought tears of joy to our eyes to think about how happy we were anticipating her little life. We made it a daily activity to talk to her during the whole pregnancy. At first it felt a little silly, but slowly we didn’t care how silly we were, because we really wanted her to know our voices.

We took some time to look some of her pictures, and then we watched another video on his phone from the hospital, where as soon as he started talking to MAC, she opened her tiny little eyes and looked at him. We have a few videos where that happens in, and it is so precious to us that she knew our voices. Even right after she was born, literally minutes after, there’s a video of Dan saying something to her, and she opens her little eyes up for the first time at the sound of her daddy’s voice.
It made me think a lot about how much time it takes to learn our Heavenly Father’s voice. So many times if we aren’t careful, we can end up listening to the world and not to Him. In the midst of pain, Dan and I have learned to listen more and hear what the Lord is trying to tell us, but I think back on so many times in the past, when my ear was not in tune to hearing what He was trying to tell me. Just like if we did not focus on teaching Mary Anna our voice then she would not have opened her eyes every time we spoke,  if we do not learn His voice, then we will not be able to open our eyes to Him. I’m empty today missing her so bad, but I continue to feel so blessed at all the things that she is teaching me. Who would have thought that she would teach me how important it is to listen to our Heavenly Father, by showing us how much it means to us that she knew our voices. 
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27

Nov 06

Remember, Remember

When Dan is asked when his birthday is, he usually replies with this:

Remember, remember the 5th of November….

Most of the time people don’t forget his birthday for that reason. Birthdays are a big deal to me, therefore since Dan and I started dating over 10 years ago, birthdays have been a big deal to him. I love to celebrate and enjoy a day, week, or I have been known to even enjoy a whole month from time to time! So today we woke up trying to celebrate in the best way that we knew how.

This morning as I was making Dan a birthday breakfast, he came down a little happy and a little somber. He told me that for clinics today that he was wearing his scrub top from UAB (the one he wore the day Mary Anna was born). It has been in his closet ever since July, and today just felt like a day to celebrate her, so he wore it proud. We shed some tears over coffee and scrambled eggs this morning. It just felt bittersweet.

D told me when he got home today that at lunch our pastor came to eat with him, and he asked him what his favorite birthday thus far was. He quickly answered that today is because it’s his first birthday to be a dad. You see, it’s the hardest birthday so far without our little angel, but it’s the best, because as he said, he has now experienced the greatest joy thus far in this life, and that’s the birth of our baby girl. 

Dan the Man,
Happy birthday to the man of my dreams, love of my life, and the daddy to my baby girl. You complete me and make me a better person. I will never forget how you acted the day Mary Anna was born, and what a birthday celebration that we had that day. Today we celebrate you and all that you are and all that you have accomplished. I love you so very much big D. Mary Anna is so proud of her daddy, and she loves you so much. Thank you for loving me and her unconditionally, and teaching us how to keep walking. You are our rock, and we could not ask for a better role model for our family.
We love you so much!
-Karebear

Nov 03

Showers

I woke up today wanting to know more of who Christ is. I have been hesitant to write this post, because most of the people that I love dearly are pregnant or recently had a baby, and I would never want any of them not to know that my heart is full of love and support for them. The truth is that baby showers and births are hard for a lot of women who are in the midst of infertility, miscarriages, loss of a child, and even for single women, so I have felt like as I share my story, that I need to share it all, and this is part of it.

Yesterday I was a host of a baby shower to a VERY dear friend of mine. She has loved me so well through the loss of my girl, and I have wanted nothing else but to fully support her in the birth of her baby boy. I woke up sad yesterday not because I was mad at her or angry or even jealous, but purely because I thought that Mary Anna should be a part of that day. She should have either been with me or at home while my husband was trying his best to do it all right while mommy was gone, and she was neither. She is not here. My heart wants to be selfless and let it be all about Morgan, but y’all when grief hits, it hits. I cried all morning, the whole drive there, and as I parked I saw a friend waiting outside on me, and I fell into her arms sobbing. She told me to go home and that I had already done enough, and I said that I could do it, so I put on some lipstick and walked in. I was doing okay, and then another hostess said to me, “I have been praying for you all morning and you are a sweet friend to do this.” Insert losing it again. My friend walked back up to me as I realized that a baby girl was there who was about Mary Anna’s age, and I cried harder. I walked into the bathroom to try to get it together, and I did the best I could, and then I walked into the area where, by this point, most of the guests were all there and mingling, and another friend saw me and I lost it again. We walked back into the bathroom, and she told me to leave, and I just kept saying that I tried and that I was a bad friend for not staying, and she said, “Morgan understands, she knows you love her, and go home.” So I left. I walked out and saw another lady from our church and I began to fall into her arms and weep saying, “I just don’t get it, why is she not here…”

That was my final straw to know that I was not strong enough to do it. Although, I spent most of the rest of my day in extreme guilt. I want to be a selfless friend, and my heart hurt thinking that I was not strong enough to be there for my sweet friend. I want to love my friends who have loved me, and I tried, but my heart was fully there to do that, but I was weak. Morgan was gracious and loving to me and again loved me well. She would tell you that she is not sensitive, and that she is not good in times like this, but she lies. Her friendship and support yesterday was above and beyond, and she could have easily never forgiven me for not being able to hold it together, but she covered me with grace. I WILL celebrate the birth of her baby, and will love her as she finishes out her final days of her pregnancy.

This is what life is like when you walk together. She chooses to keep walking with me, and I will keep walking with her. As for my other friends who loved me so well yesterday, I woke up knowing the church is real. The community that the Lord has given us here during these dark days is overwhelming. I have never felt so lonely and loved at the same time. So today, I want to continue to love my friends, their babies, and the ones on the way too, who would have been Mary Anna’s friends. I want to love well, and I hope that I do that as best as I can right now. I went on a run this morning to blow off a little steam, and I listened to this song:

And as Dan and I said yesterday in the midst of a lot of pain, we want to know Him. We want to know more of who He is, and if that means suffering, then we will remain faithful even in the hard stuff, because He is faithful. 
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
Lamentations 3:32
Nov 02

Good

I did not sleep well last night, and I woke up early this morning thinking of my Mary Anna. Usually when this happens, I lay in bed and look through her pictures. I found this one, and I hadn’t really seen it before, because it was so dark that you could not tell what the picture was, so I lightened it and it made me smile through my tears. 
Mary Anna loved to hold our fingers. She would squeeze them really really tight.
I love seeing her sweet little shoulder snuggled up to mine and her tiny finger holding onto mine. It makes me so happy to be her mommy. I came downstairs to read a little, and at the end of my devotional it said to read Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Then it said to rewrite it your own words, so I wrote:
ALL things work for my good.
It’s just what I needed to hear this morning. Not all things are good or easy or make a lick of sense, but for those who love Him, all things work together for good. For my good. And for that I am thankful.
Nov 01

Not Our Home

The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t supply is proof that Heaven must be our home.

C.S. Lewis

Today I am thankful for the fall leaves, cool weather, friends that love deeply, and a family that stands by me. Although the past few days have been tough, I woke up today feeling grateful. My heart longs for heaven, but I am learning to be content here right now. 
Keep Walking.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9