Mar 25

Healing?

We have a dear friend who is an interim college minister at Auburn, and he is heading off to seminary in May. He is talented and going to me an amazing preacher man. Our church is currently going through a lot right now, and he had the privilege of preaching at a very emotional service this past Sunday. I honestly felt sorry for him having to get up there, but I can tell y’all, he knocked it out of the park! Thank you for your teaching of God’s Word Joe, you rock.

I was honestly a little mad at him as he began his sermon from Matthew about Jesus healing a leper. I mean come on friend, it is the day before my birthday, and you know that our baby girl was not healed, so you could have been a little more sensitive. Props to Joe for not consulting my selfish heart for his sermon prep, but for listening to Christ alone.

When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy  came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 
Matthew 8:1-3
As he read this passage, prayed, and began to speak of the lepers faith to approach Jesus and ask him, “IF you are WILLING, heal me.” I thought to myself, okay really, I boldly approached your throne Jesus, and begged for healing for Mary Anna, and where were you then?
Jesus healed the leper compassionately, powerfully, and completely, states Joe.
As I kept trying to clear my heart and head to hear the Word that was being so powerfully preached, I truly was in a boxing ring with Jesus and Satan. Who should I listen to?
Satan tells me that Jesus can not heal anymore, that he does not love me or Mary Anna, and that I should let it all go.
Jesus quietly answers, “I do heal, I do love, and I healed Mary Anna compassionately, powerfully, and completely.”
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 48:10
As I chose to listen to the Words of my powerful King, my heart began to transform, and sorry Joe, I am not mad at you anymore! And I wish that I could post his sermon, because it would change you if you heard it.
I have been praying through all of this confusion the last few days, and as I woke up yesterday on my first birthday without my baby girl, I began to get even more lost in my thoughts. I wanted to know why he heals some and why we are still walking through this fire. I do not get it most days. 
 I, I, I.
As I debated writing about this, I shared my heart with Dan on the way home from my birthday dinner last night all dressed in my new black dress and new necklace that were both sweet gifts from dear people. I cried, and I did not want the gifts or the cupcakes (which are usually my favorite), but I wanted my baby girl back. I wanted her to be healed like Joe preached about Sunday. I wanted to understand.
Jesus spoke to me again.
“Maybe,” I said to D, “Jesus did not heal Mary Anna the way that we thought he would, because he needed us to show the world how to keep walking and trusting him when it does not go our way.”
I am slowly learning my testimony and role for the gospel in all of this sadness.
So many times it is easy to keep praising, praying, and being thankful when things go our way, but truly are we ready to say to the world that Jesus is my King, he heals, he saves, and he is GOOD, even when things do not go our way?
Our story is raw, and at times I am brutally honest in my thoughts on this blog, and I do indeed proclaim all of those things that I just said. 
Somehow, at times I can truly say, Jesus thank you for taking our baby girl home.
I am a lost cause that has HOPE only through the healing blood of Jesus Christ.
These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7



Keep Walking.

Mar 18

Well Said

There’s something that Dan and I have really struggled with a lot in the last 8 months, and that is feeling the need to “get over it all”. People early on are very free to tell you to take as much time as you need and give you grace, but sadly that grace goes very quickly. We notice more and more as the time goes on that we feel distance in some relationships, and it because we honestly do not feel free to be who we need to be. It’s happened in different ways with different people, and the more that I talk with people who have been where we are, the more common that we learn this feeling is.

Please do not take this the wrong way, because it is not as if we have a “good list” and a “bad list” or anything of those sorts, and misinterpretation is something that scares me at times when I shed light on parts of grieving, but sadly it is the truth. Losing a child changes you FOREVER, and Dan and I are confident that we will never be the same. It is hard to explain, but someone did a much better job of explaining how we feel most days. Her name is Kay Warren, wife to Rick Warren, and they are in ministry in California. I am sure many of you have heard of their family and their story. Their son committed suicide about a year ago, and they have been open with their grieving process. My mom sent us this article, and as we read it together, D and I both were saying, “EXACTLY!” over and over again.

Hopefully this sheds some light on grief to those of you who have been there or who want to understand more about why someone you love seems “different”.

As the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to “move on.” The soft, compassionate cocoon that has enveloped us for the last 11 1/2 months had lulled me into believing others would be patient with us on our grief journey, and while I’m sure many will read this and quickly say “Take all the time you need,” I’m increasingly aware that the cocoon may be in the process of collapsing. It’s understandable when you take a step back. I mean, life goes on. The thousands who supported us in the aftermath of Matthew’s suicide wept and mourned with us, prayed passionately for us, and sent an unbelievable volume of cards, letters, emails, texts, phone calls, and gifts. The support was utterly amazing. But for most, life never stopped – their world didn’t grind to a horrific, catastrophic halt on April 5, 2013. In fact, their lives have kept moving steadily forward with tasks, routines, work, kids, leisure, plans, dreams, goals etc. LIFE GOES ON. And some of them are ready for us to go on too. They want the old Rick and Kay back. They secretly wonder when things will get back to normal for us – when we’ll be ourselves, when the tragedy of April 5, 2013 will cease to be the grid that we pass everything across. And I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. We will never be the same again. There is a new “normal.” April 5, 2013 has permanently marked us. It will remain the grid we pass everything across for an indeterminate amount of time….maybe forever.
Because these comments from well-meaning folks wounded me so deeply, I doubted myself and thought perhaps I really am not grieving “well” (whatever that means). I wondered if I was being overly sensitive –so I checked with parents who have lost children to see if my experience was unique. Far from it, I discovered. “At least you can have another child” one mother was told shortly after her child’s death. “You’re doing better, right?” I was asked recently. “When are you coming back to the stage at Saddleback? We need you” someone cluelessly said to me recently. “People can be so rude and insensitive; they make the most thoughtless comments,” one grieving father said. You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that it was standard in our culture for people to officially be in mourning for a full year. They wore black. They didn’t go to parties. They didn’t smile a whole lot. And everybody accepted their period of mourning; no one ridiculed a mother in black or asked her stupid questions about why she was STILL so sad. Obviously, this is no longer accepted practice; mourners are encouraged to quickly move on, turn the corner, get back to work, think of the positive, be grateful for what is left, have another baby, and other unkind, unfeeling, obtuse and downright cruel comments. What does this say about us – other than we’re terribly uncomfortable with death, with grief, with mourning, with loss – or we’re so self-absorbed that we easily forget the profound suffering the loss of a child creates in the shattered parents and remaining children. 
Unless you’ve stood by the grave of your child or cradled the urn that holds their ashes, you’re better off keeping your words to some very simple phrases: “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Or “I’m praying for you and your family.” Do your best to avoid the meaningless, catch-all phrase “How are you doing?” This question is almost impossible to answer. If you’re a stranger, it’s none of your business. If you’re a casual acquaintance, it’s excruciating to try to answer honestly, and you leave the sufferer unsure whether to lie to you (I’m ok) to end the conversation or if they should try to haltingly tell you that their right arm was cut off and they don’t know how to go on without it. If you’re a close friend, try telling them instead, “You don’t have to say anything at all; I’m with you in this.”
None of us wants to be like Job’s friends – the pseudo comforters who drove him mad with their questions, their wrong conclusions and their assumptions about his grief. But too often we end up a 21st century Bildad, Eliphaz or Zophar – we fill the uncomfortable silence with words that wound rather than heal. I’m sad to realize that even now – in the middle of my own shattering loss – I can be callous with the grief of another and rush through the conversation without really listening, blithely spouting the platitudes I hate when offered to me. We’re not good grievers, and when I judge you, I judge myself as well.
Here’s my plea: Please don’t ever tell someone to be grateful for what they have left until they’ve had a chance to mourn what they’ve lost. It will take longer than you think is reasonable, rational or even right. But that’s ok. True friends – unlike Job’s sorry excuse for friends – love at all times, and brothers and sisters are born to help in time of need (Prov. 17:17 LB).The truest friends and “helpers” are those who wait for the griever to emerge from the darkness that swallowed them alive without growing afraid, anxious or impatient. They don’t pressure their friend to be the old familiar person they’re used to; they’re willing to accept that things are different, embrace the now-scarred one they love, and are confident that their compassionate, non-demanding presence is the surest expression of God’s mercy to their suffering friend. They’re ok with messy and slow and few answers….and they never say “Move on.”

https://m.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10152032456227569&id=105128507568


Wow! As I re- read her honest words, I just want to give her a big hug and cry!

I walked into the house last night, and D asked me how my day was, and I burst into tears. It was nothing major that made me cry, but what happened cut my heart really deep. He let me vent and was sensitive, and then he softly said, “Karebear, just like that article said the other day, this is our new normal, and I love you more in the new normal than I ever have before.” Somehow Mary Anna taught us to cling to each other deeper in this new life that we are living.

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

Keep Walking

Mar 14

Late Night Spill

It’s 1 a.m., and I am awake coughing, sneezing, and feeling pretty crummy. As I am laying snuggly on the couch in hopes for Dan to get some rest, I can not help but think about the last 24 hours. We had a big appointment at the doctor yesterday, most commonly called the anatomy ultrasound. A few weeks ago, we found out that we are having a baby boy, but he was not big enough at time to do all the measurements to make sure that he was/is growing strong and healthy.

This appointment is typically an exciting one where most people find out the gender of their baby and head home to celebrate the happy news. Some plan a gender reveal party to share with the people that they love the new joy of knowing whether to think pink or blue, others choose to keep it close and not share the gender, and some never even know what they’re having until after birth. Never say never, but I do not think that I could wait roughly 40 weeks to know what we were having. Props to those of you who can! 
With Mary Anna, we did not have any set plans on how to share her gender with our people, but that ultrasound day was a highly anticipated day that ended with lots of heartache. I remember the ultrasound lady doing her measurements, and then slowly turning to us and saying something to the tune of, “Well there are a few findings….”, and I really just remember bursting into tears and thinking this was supposed to be a happy day, and I truly wanted to crawl into a hole for a few days at that moment. She told us after all the scary news that it was a baby girl, and then we sat in the waiting area waiting to meet with our doctor. We left the office after the appointment ended, and we wanted to celebrate, but we felt very robbed. 
I remember thinking to myself how in the world am I going to answer all of these texts and phone calls from all the people that we love dearly and tell them this news. We decided to share that our angel was a baby girl, and to wait out the rest of the concerns until we had a second opinion. We had a few prayer warriors praying, but that is all our hearts could handle at the moment, and you know how the story goes on…
Needless to say my heart stops at each appointment with our growing little man. I have a hard time processing good news, and at times I feel guilty for being relieved that he is healthy. My heart is constantly feeling a deep low or an intense high. After our first ultrasound where we found out the gender, I was relived to know that he was okay, but deep down I thought to myself that surely when he gets bigger, then they will find some rare finding and slap us with it.
Yesterday we walked back into the building where we had ultrasound after ultrasound, and ultimately welcomed and said goodbye to our baby girl. Dan had not been back there yet, and I had only been once for the previous ultrasound. He took a deep breath, and I could see the pain in his eyes. We turned the corner to get on the elevator, and we both began to softly cry, because there was a picture of a baby in the NICU, and it looked so much like our Mary Anna.

We walked into the elevator, hugged each other, and we said to each other without saying it, that we were in this together. D quietly whispered, “I am proud of you and I love you”, and I told him the same back. 
He gives me strength.
We went through the appointment, and one of the doctors who did Mary Anna’s echocardiogram before she was born was who we were seeing, and he realized quickly who we were. He told us they he was shocked at what happened, and that he had never seen a baby with such a healthy heart that had Trisomy 18, and that in fact, he would have never guessed that we would have lost her. That was a hard pill to swallow. He began our little fellow’s ultrasound, and he ended it with, “Well, he is healthy, and there are no concerns, and I hope to send y’all home with a healthy boy this time.” He smiled, we chatted a bit, and we were all done.
What? Healthy?
We got in the car and both cried again tears of immense joy and deep sorrow. We turned the corner around the building, and D reminded me which hospital window was Mary Anna’s. My only words were, “I am so glad he is healthy, but why did Mary Anna have to be sick?”. Dan and I were, and typically are, on the same wave length, and we slowly began to process that in 20 weeks or less, we will be parents of two, and Lord willing, we will be finally bringing a baby home after a 2 1/2 year journey with lots of pain.
I am sure this rotten cold that has me still writing at 2 a.m. has nothing to do with my anxious and fearful heart, 
As we went to bed last night, Dan reminded me of the verse of the day for March 13.
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.
Romans 8:28
And as I lay here on March 14, the 8 month anniversary of precious Mary Anna, I cannot help but know that God is and will continue to work for the good in her life, in our baby boys life, and indeed in our lives.
Mary Anna, 
We miss you dearly, and we will never stop loving you fully. You will always be an amazing big sister that will be able to teach all of your siblings far more things than your daddy and I can. I wish that you were snuggling with me on the couch, but instead you are at the throne of Jesus, oh how I envy you. You would be a precious 8 month old today, and I just miss you so much.
WDC,
You are strong, and you are a fighter just like your big sister. I cannot wait for you to be here and fill us with so much joy. We might be a little over protective at times, but we love you more than you will ever know. You are prayed for little man, and you are coming into a world full of people that love you and cherish you. And I hope you look just like your daddy like your sister did!
-mommy & daddy
All praise be to the King of Kings for he gives and takes away.
Keep Walking.
Mar 06

Perspective

I had the opportunity to attend a local women’s event this past Monday night, and the speaker was a lady that I honestly do not know, but I admire her very much. Dan and I have attended a few of her Bible studies in our early married years, and I have always thought of her as wise and wondered if I could ever know the scriptures like she does! Her talk cut straight to my core and of course, no shock here, but I could not help but tear up a few times.

She told a story about a tragic event in her life that caused her focus to change from earthly desires to heavenly desires, and this is where her journey to know the Lord more deeply began. I relate so much, because I know that my choices where when Mary Anna went to heaven was to be bitter and hate the heart of God for choosing her to come home early, or to cling to heaven and its promises and to learn about the heart of my King. After some bouts of bitterness and still fighting some each day, I choose to cling to heaven.

As her charge went on, she talked about how as women we think a husband will fulfill us, then children, a perfect home, and for some even career, and the deeper we get into each one of these desires we realize how unfulfilling each one of them truly are. Not to say that your husband or children can’t bring immense joy, but they will never satisfy the longing that the Lord has put in each of our hearts for heaven and for Him.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20
Right now, I am at a place in my life where I have some dear friends who are single who long to be married, married friends who are separated from their husbands, married friends with children, and married friends that long to have children, and lots of other scenarios in the middle. I realized as I heard the charge Monday night, how incredibly toxic that we can be to our families/friends when we expect them to satisfy and fulfill our every needs.
Marriage is not the answer.
Children are not the answer.
Money is not the answer.
Jesus is.
I know how much I idolized marriage, and even though I personally struck a home run with my precious husband, I know that he can not satisfy my every longing. And then I began to idolize having babies. All I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom and for goodness sake I even graduated from a college at Auburn that most call “the college of housewives.” I never wanted a fancy career or paycheck, all that I wanted was yoga pants, babies, and a mom mobile.
I knew when I got pregnant fast that it was a gift and that the Lord obviously agreed with my desires and was saying, “You are right Kari, your plans are best, and you can be a mom now.” Then we lost that baby, and again I thought, “ok, ok, ok, I needed to be a little humble, but this time it will satisfy me”, and we lost that baby too. Finally Mary Anna was going the distance, and sadly you know how that story goes too. The Lord knew that His plans were best, not mine.
My treasures were on earth, not in heaven.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21
Now there is nothing wrong with desiring marriage, children, or even a career, but the problem is when you expect these things to fulfill you, because I can assure you, they won’t.
I know that part of our journey with Mary Anna is teaching us to turn our eyes upon Jesus, and thinking of that old hymn, I want to look full into his face, because the things of earth will grow strangely dim. We miss her everyday, and Dan and I both long for heaven like never before. We have a hope that no one can take away not even death.
Thanks be to God.
So as we slowly learn to rest in the things of heaven, we know that one day He WILL bring us home to  heaven to be with Jesus and with our baby girl.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 5:2-3,5
Mar 01

Mom of Two

Eating my chocolate granola, by the way, it’s Saturday, so it is fine to eat chocolate for breakfast, and chatting with a friend this morning brought up the sweet delicate dance of the pleasure of being a mom of two babies. Lately I have felt a little “emotional”, please try not to laugh, because I am sure that I look emotional everyday to my sweet followers, but I think it’s been the part of my heart that is expanding to becoming a mom of two. As I think about this, I know that I am such a rookie in this department, so some of you wonder moms out there don’t worry, I know that I truly have so very much to learn.

I think about growing up with an older brother, and there were times that he or I would get a little bit more attention for various reasons. My parents would always tell us that each child needs a different style of parenting, love, and discipline, and that we should never get jealous or think that we had the easy way out, because they refused to pretend that my brother and I were the same person. We were different and had different needs, and we still are/do! As I embark on the heart-pulling journey of being a parent, I realize how truly wise my parents are.

My dad always ends each prayer with, “and give us wisdom, amen.” I asked him one day why he did that, and he told me that if we should ask for anything everyday it should be wisdom.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

I have been praying specifically for wisdom so much lately.

Back to my roller coaster of emotions. If you have not noticed, I tend to write like I think, which is basically all over the place. Welcome to my life.

The problem is that I have not been able to let myself be in two places at once with my sweet babies. I have wanted to feel guilty for missing my girl, because it takes the joy away from my growing baby, and then I feel guilty for being excited about him, because it takes away from the reality that Mary Anna is not here. My mind has been spinning, and I did not know what was wrong with me. I felt like a bad mom, and I told Dan recently that maybe I was just a bad mom. Since wisdom has been the theme of my prayers, the Lord has indeed given me just that.

I was talking with someone this week and telling them all of this and her response was, “You are now realizing what it is like to be the mom of more than one child, and it is not going to get any easier.” It’s like the saying that you hear all the time that being a mom is the best job in the world, yet it is hardest.

Unfortunately, I realize that my prayers of wisdom are just beginning, and I know that it will be a life long journey of learning how to balance being a mom, but I welcome the challenge. It is the hardest job, but I have learned the greatest joy in loving my babies and the deepest sorrow in letting one go back to the Lord. I wish that my realm of emotions was not so extreme, but I thank the Lord for the way that he chose to give us our children.

I embrace this Saturday morning with coffee, chocolate, our sweet Marley’s 8th birthday, and the realization that having the wisdom to know that be a parent is a daily struggle.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
Psalms 111:10

the day we got Marley… she has been with us through dating, marriage, college graduations, vet school, and now babies! we love our yellow dog!