Apr 22

Preparation

“So… have you started getting your nursery ready?”

no.

Awkward look on someones face… “Have you like made changes… ya know… in the nursery yet?”

no.

“So what will you do with all of Mary Anna’s things….”

I am not sure.

“Do you think you should change some things…”

no.

These are the questions that I get so much recently as I am nearing my third trimester. Some are asked in sincerity and some out of other reasons, but I appreciate that people care. I truly do. As my belly cannot go unnoticed and the emptiness in my heart continues to grow for my girl, it is a reminder that we are in serious limbo at our house.

We prepared a full place for our Mary Anna. And it reminds me of what Jesus did for her too. And I know that He is preparing Dan and I a place with our sweet girl and our Savior.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also my be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.
John 14:3-4
As I have said before, we did not have any idea that our girl was going to go to heaven so soon after her birth. We knew that we had some challenges ahead, but they were all manageable, and at the time we thought that they all had to do with an orthopaedic issue on one of her legs. That is what we prepared our hearts for, and so we chose to move forward and get her space ready. There was no reason not to. She was coming, and we needed to get her space ready.
I remember looking at my mom the last day in the hospital and asking if I should return all the gifts and how to handle that situation. We felt/still do feel so guilty, robbed, and confused.
When we walked back into our house for the first time, D and I walked upstairs quietly, and we just looked at her beautiful space and wept. She was supposed to occupy that place, yet she was not with us.
Now, I have no regrets at all for fully preparing, and I feel like having a nursery ready has been one the most healing parts for us. We now encourage anyone with uncertain outcomes to still fully prepare, because you know what? When we doubt her short life or feel like it’s all a dream, we walk into her room, and it was real. She was real. She is real.
As beautiful and loved her little room is, I can not even try to fathom the place that Jesus prepared for her. I have a feeling he outdid me a little! It’s comforting that just as we were preparing a place for our baby girl, the King of Kings was doing the exact same thing.
So, as I said earlier, we are not making any major changes to the nursery. Thankfully I chose neutral colors before, and we are leaving it the same. Slowly William’s things will be placed next to his big sisters, and we hope that many more children use that crib, and as we rock them in my favorite rocking chair that we picked out with MAC in mind, then we will tell them about her and help them know her and love her like we do.
Eventually I will have to empty the drawers of Mary Anna’s sweet outfits, but right now my heart is not ready. Dan and I agree that we will take these steps when we can, and there is no time line or rush. We are slowly starting a stack of things for little William in our guest bedroom, and so we indeed are preparing for him as well.
I truly believe Mary Anna is always with us and always a part of us, so she will always be a part of our little family.
As we prepare for William and our hearts break over Mary Anna, we have the assurance of a place in heaven. You do too. Jesus is just as real as my sweet angel is. 
She lived. He lived. She died and went to heaven. He died and went to heaven long before her and prepared a place for her. And for you.

 Amen. Keep Walking.

Apr 14

My D.

I wake up today on the day that my sweet girl would be 9 months old, and I miss her big round cheeks and lips. I miss the things about her that make me remind her of her daddy, because I still get weepy at times when I look at him, because she looked just like him.

As my head and my tears fell on my pillow last night, I told D all of those things. Missing her so deeply every moment makes me more and more grateful for him.

So today, like everyday, with a heavy heart trying to make it through another day, I know that without a doubt, the Lord gave me a man to walk this journey with that would uphold me, be my strength, guard our home, and love our babies so well. I could not be more thankful for him and for the life of my baby girl.

How do you stay so close after losing her, so many will ask. Honestly, it is really easy. Loving Dan is easy. I never understood why in marriage books they tell you to wake up and choose to love your spouse, because it is the easiest thing that I do everyday.

Marrying Dan almost five years ago taught me how to love in a whole new way, and that love is how I can Keep Walking without my precious Mary Anna. Not without pain or heartache, but we do it. We do it together.

To my D,

You are my love. You are my life. You inspire me to be a better person, and you give me more strength than you will ever know. I do not know how you have been so strong for me through this journey, but somehow, you do it. I am so thankful to have met you so young and watch you mold into the man that you are today, and it makes me even more excited to walk beside you in life and to continue to watch you grow. The way that you love our babies is breathtaking, and it makes me love you in a whole new way. Today, I miss Mary Anna so much, and I know you do too. I wish she was crawling all over our floor and interrupting me writing you this, but she isn’t, and somehow all of this makes me even more grateful for you. Thank you for staying up late the night before a test to cry with me, letting me interrupt long study sessions to weep on your shoulder, allowing me to be a mess everyday, giving me grace, and for rubbing my swollen feet. You are the man of my dreams, and the Lord did a really good thing the day that he made us for each other. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love you so deeply it hurts,
karebear

Apr 09

Need.

Lord, I pray that you give us just what we need. 
Not what we want, but what we need.
As we lay down each night, we pray something that goes a little like that. We pray for the strength just to get us through each day. It’s a new kind of praying for us, and it’s not something that we would have ever thought to pray for before. 
Just enough.
It’s not elaborate or fancy, and it definitely is not all that we desire, but it truly is all we need. This kind of prayer and submission has done just that, given us just what we need to get through each day.

The strength for tomorrow.

Often times I hear that we are strong or that someone does not know how we do it. Honestly, it is a compliment, but it is frustrating, because we truly are not strong. After we prayed last night, I shared this snippet from my morning devotional with D that explains exactly just that.

We have the opportunity to put the faithfulness of God on display to those around us- not because we are strong people with strong faith, but because we are weak in courage and weak in faith. God gives us his strength in our weakness, so “that everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives become the canvas on which God draws a picture of these words (originally given to the hurting apostle Paul): “My power works best in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
-Nancy Guthrie
She nailed it! This is what I mean when I say that I am not strong. So again, after a sad evening of confusing feelings, we pray tonight for just what we need to get through tomorrow. Just enough. Amen.
Apr 03

His mercy will not end.

I woke up snuggling with one of my sweet puppies and my heart began to ache.

Why do I have to keep hurting?
I feel so discouraged, even though D shared a sermon with me about how Satan clearly uses discouragement to mask the people of God into thinking the way he wants us to think. I do not want to fall into his trap, but it is how I feel this morning.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4
I am mad at God, because Mary Anna is not healed, and one of my friends is watching her baby suffer everyday.
How is this real life?
Another friend who works in the foster system told me this morning of a baby with Trisomy 18, what our Mary Anna had, that was abandoned and passed away with foster parents.
Why is this world so broken?
I wept out loud, like really loud, and told God that I did not understand, and that I was tired of being strong. He told me that I do not need to be strong, because He is strong enough for the both of us.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all- surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7
I texted D and told him my heart hurt and that I wanted her back, and he said that he felt the same way, and then told me to watch this video again:
I am reminded that none of this pain is meaningless. None of it. 
Therefore we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:16
So I lay with my Bible open, continue to weep to The Lord, and W begins to kick. I have another life to nurture, while I still really grieve a different life.
I grieve a life with two babies. One here and one on the way. Not one gone and one on the way.
I cover my face in my white sheets that have mascara stains on the top of them, because I cry so much in bed that I can’t get the stains off, and I listen to this song that I sing as a lullaby to my sweet babies, and it gives me hope.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions NEVER fail.
They are new EVERY morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.
Lamentations 3:22-24
Keep Walking.
Apr 01

Handkerchief

As I was sitting there in my seat, I guess I was a little numb. I began to cry a little, and I reached down and grabbed my grandfathers handkerchief out of my purse, and I began to just hold it in my hand. The day of Mary Anna’s service, I went rummaging through my bed side table to find this special handkerchief. 

When my grandfather passed away my senior year in high school, the day of his funeral, we realized that he had just enough handkerchiefs for everyone in our family to have one. Even dan. We were dating at the time. It was special to us, because PawPaw always had a handkerchief on him, so it in some way it made us feel close to him to use his little square of fabric to wipe our tears.

I found the old white handkerchief in my drawer, and I kept it through Mary Anna’s whole service. Somehow again it made me feel close to my PawPaw and my baby girl. I knew that as soon as Mary Anna got to heaven that my grandfather swept her up and would not let her go. He was always keen on little girls, which is why he and I had a very special relationship.

Ever since Mary Anna’s service at our church, that little tattered white cloth has stayed in my purse, because tears have seemed to erupt more often lately. Almost every Sunday I get it out, hold it through church, and wash it Sunday afternoon, so it is ready to go back into my purse for the rest of the week.

This past Sunday felt different though, as I went through the same motion of getting it out that I always do, I realized that again, something else in our lives were changing. Something big and something hard. Our church is closing, and being received by another local church. It is God’s Will, and we are in full support of our leadership, while they have had some very hard decisions to make.

As I prepared my heart for this last service at Plains, the place where we first joined as a married couple, met dear friends, Dan got into vet school, we had two miscarriages, and we walked through the life and death of Mary Anna, I was a little confused at why we had to have yet another huge change happening in our lives. My heart was hurting, and I kept saying, “I am so sick of everything being so hard.”

A sweet friend stood up at the front of the church to tell of some of the good that Plains was doing for others in it’s last days, and he read this passage in scripture. 
“I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5

New? New is right..
Then it hit me. Dan and I are in a season, where the Lord seems to be making everything new. The change is painful,  extremely hard, and confusing, but I know that right now he is wanting to make us new.
As my dad told us recently while we were venting about all of these changes, “You know Ked, in every circumstance in life, you have the choice to look at yourself and see what God is wanting to do through you, or you can chose bitterness. I am thankful that you are not bitter about Mary Anna, and I think you just have to learn what God is wanting to do right now…”
He is such a wise old man. So as my heart is slowly trying to figure all of this out, Dan and I Sunday afternoon, as we strolled down the streets processing all of this, we decided once again to chose to learn what the Lord is trying to do through all of this change, and to recognize that he is “making EVERYTHING new!”.
So again, I am going to wash my handkerchief that is covered in mascara from Sunday, put it back in my purse to face another week, and keep walking.
in memory of Fred Lee Bass, my PawPaw
I can’t wait to reunite with you and my Mary Anna when the Lord finally makes all things new.