Jun 26

Update

I feel like a common question at this point is to ask if we are ready for little W.

Yes and No.

I am feeling very big, and beginning to have that slight waddle that you get towards the end of a pregnancy, and it is quite attractive for sure.

34 weeks

I sleep okay, but I would say that the past few weeks that we cry almost every single night.

We still faithfully go to church each week, but this past Sunday, we cried for almost 3 hours straight and did not leave the house the entire day.

Thankfully the summer for D has been a bit more low-key with his schedule, which has given him some much need time to process a lot of what he is feeling.

Can I say again what an amazing daddy/husband he is?

His emotions have been hard to watch. It is something about seeing a man who used to play college football on his knees begging for his baby girl that makes me so sad.

This is the reality though. Men have to grieve too, so we are both thankful for this time to prepare and feel what all we need to feel.

The nursery is not having any major changes to it, but we still emotionally have not been able to take Mary Anna’s things out of the dresser and replace them with the little guys things. Therefore, his stuff is in a laundry basket in the closet, and they are unwashed and just sitting there.

Often I go in there and think what all I “need” to do and turn around and walk out either weeping or angry.

We have chosen not to have any baby showers. It is way too emotional, and we have some wonderful people that keep asking to throw us one, but we just feel like it’s best to wait. I realized early on that we did so much to ensure that the people around us felt comfortable, and at times it left us drained and weaker, so we realized in this situation that a shower would be more of an expression to say to others “we are fine!”, and we are not fine, so although we are grateful that people want to celebrate with us, we just had to do what was best for us.

There is some guilt with that decision. Yes, I feel like a bad mom for turning down a shower, but I know it is whats best.

Last summer my final baby shower was set for the day after MAC’s funeral. My guest list was called and told that we would not have a shower, but that there would be a service to celebrate her life instead. With her birthday coming up and the timing with it all happening so close together, we just can’t do it.

D and I picked out a baby book for W, but every time I try to open it, I cry. The end of Mary Anna’s baby book is where everyone signed in at her service.

We have not packed a hospital bag yet, but Mary Anna’s is still packed and ready for her to come home. I do not know how to do all of this.

From time to time, I will wash a few of his things, and there is a small stack of my clothes in the corner that could be considered a “hospital bag”, but we are far from ready.

I am trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), so my anxiety about the actual delivery is at a high. My doctors are wonderful, and I feel very comfortable with them, but I am scared silly.

I was fearful before Mary Anna was born, because we did have some mild concerns with her, but this fear is very different. It is almost immobilizing most days.

As D reminds me nightly, “but we will look again to the holy temple.” (a paraphrase from the ending of Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2. We are truly trying to Keep Walking.

There are so many details that I left out I am sure, but this is where we are and what it looks like to lay your baby down after they go to heaven in your arms, and then somehow prepare for your next baby less than a year later.

I explain it as a roller coaster, where in one moment you are on top of a very large hill and then instantly you fall to the lowest valley, and the ride is exciting, exhausting, and takes your breath away all at the same time.

In great joy and in great grief we anticipate our sweet baby boy.

for the Mighty One has done great
things for ME-
holy is his name.
Luke 1:49
Jun 22

Hope in Pain

As my heart began to prepare shortly after Mary Anna’s birth to let her go, I remember feeling a wave of peace knowing in full confidence that she would be going to heaven, and that I would indeed see her again. Like that quoted movie line from John Q, the son says, “Good-bye”, and the dad says back, “It’s not good-bye son. See you later.”

The days and weeks started slowly moving on, and as I began to feel more and more of the reality of what it meant that she was gone. She was dead. She was not coming back. My pain grew, and it made me feel guilty to hurt so deeply. I felt like, because I had this hope to see her again that the pain should not be as bad.

As Nancy Guthrie put it in her book Holding on to Hope:

The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, “You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keep us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.”

This was literally one of the best pieces of advice that anyone had ever told to me. Yes, hope in pain is real, and it is what makes you Keep Walking, but it does not make the pain any easier. I remember wondering those first few months if this book really was telling me the truth, and now almost a year later, I can honestly say that the pain is real somehow at the same time that our hope in Christ is just as real.

As Father’s Day began to approach, I felt a weight to make the day special for D. He deserved to be celebrated, but I  had no idea what to do to make that day bearable for him. We had a day full of traveling ahead of us, and we woke up in a hotel room hours from home. I gave him a few things, two from me, and something from Mary Anna and baby W. We cried a lot, and we got on the road. As the day drug on and the road seemed endless, I felt myself getting angry.

I was angry, because he deserved to have Mary Anna in his arms that day. He was a dad. He is a dad. Why him? As we finally curled into the bed that night, I cried so hard telling him that I did not know how to express to him how sorry that I was that our journey was the way that it was. I was so angry for him. He cried too, and he was pretty angry himself.

We opened the Word of God and read Psalms 73:

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
v 23-25, 28

Yes, there is/was hope in our pain, but guess what? The hope did not make the pain any less. We still woke up with swollen eyes, broken hearts, and exhausted bodies the next morning. Again, there was hope in the morning, but the pain did not miraculously leave because of the hope.

I challenge you to walk tenderly around people in your lives that are in deep pain. Yes, encourage them, build them up, love them, speak truth into them, because I guarantee you that they need it, but also let them hurt. Let their pain be real, and in the end the hope does shine through, but it takes time. Not just a day or a week time, months and years, and most of the time, it is a journey that lasts a lifetime.

Jun 17

360

As a child/ teenager, my family would spend a lot of time at our lake place. I was a dare devil and loved nothing more than getting someone new on the back of our jet ski and throwing them off by doing a 360. The best was when they weren’t expecting it and sometimes the whole thing would flip over, and I was a master at flipping that baby back over and hopping right back on and going again full throttle.

My mom would anxiously sit on the dock and beg me to “SLOW DOWN” or “STOP THAT”, and of course, I would just laugh and keep on going. Needless to say considering I was a good kid and did not press my parents much, I loved a good thrill. Not so much now.

Those days are long gone, and I have turned very anxious.

I hate feeling so much anxiety, but it is a real struggle. You might say go to counseling, talk to a friend, read a book, find a good daily devotional, do something therapeutic, pray, slow down, etc, etc. And I would say check, check, check, now what?!?!?!

Find a good verse, memorize it, and repeat it to yourself when you feel this way?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
Philippians 4:6
Again, check. But really people? It all makes sense, I believe it’s all true, but in the moment telling myself not to feel anxious just does not quite cut it.
I was in a wedding this past weekend for a dear friend, and I was honored to be one of her Matrons of Honor. As the weekend began, I felt the anxiety rising, because large groups of people make me nervous now. It is so hard to walk into an event wondering what people will say, how they will look at you, and try all the while not to make it about yourself or run outside crying, because someone else said something stupid.
We got to the rehearsal dinner and as people began to talk about their toasts, my heart began to race. The groom and best man come to me and say, “When you say your speech…”. Dang! I literally can not do this.
A little back ground to my 360 days at the lake and my personality up until this point is that I am not an anxious person, do not meet a stranger, love groups of people, and I am an extreme extrovert. I need my friends and to be around people, and so this last year has drastically changed a lot of who I am.
Needless to say, I could not say a toast, and I felt like a rotten friend. As we got back to the hotel room, I grabbed my phone and through tears texted my friend what I wanted to say. I meekly told her that ever since Mary Anna that it was hard for me in groups of people, and that I was sorry, but it was not a reflection of my love for her. 
She was gracious and wonderful, and she has loved me well since I lost my baby girl.
The passage continues:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7
I pray through these little moments like this past weekend, and at times I feel peace, but honestly, I pray that in a week, month, year, or years that I am sitting at this computer telling you how much more peace I feel, because at the moment the anxiety is overwhelming.
I am anxious because…

- I am currently 33 weeks pregnant, and I went into the hospital with MAC at 33 weeks, and she was born less than a week later.
- I still can not bring myself to pack his hospital bag.
- I am scared of labor after having a recent c-section.
- My heart wonders what I would do if I had to let baby W go too.
- I sometimes think the feeling of intense grief of my girl and joy of my little man is more than I can take.
- I wonder how I will explain to him one day that my heart did not know how to handle the months awaiting his birth.
- I want Dan to be at the birth and by my side every moment right now, but obviously he can not sit next to me everyday for the next 6 weeks.
- I am just flat scared to death.
- This is my fourth pregnancy in over two years, and I still do not have a baby in my arms.
- WHY ME? WHY NOT ME?
- So many people have a solution for me, and honestly I am tired of always feeling like I am not doing something good enough.
- Some days it is just too much. 
So needless to say, I could continue my list for days, and writing all of my faults is quite daunting, but I pray for my Creator to show me HIS plan everyday, and like the verse says, for Him to guard my heart and mind in the process.
He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30
Keep Walking.
Jun 09

Facing it All

We got a new chair for our den, and it is one of those glider things that move around and can go in any direction. It was a huge step for me to pick this chair out. Silly I know, but preparing for little W has been a challenge. It’s like we started running a race, and we can taste the finish line, but yet each step our muscles cramp and ache, and we keep wondering how we will make it there. If any of you have ever ran a race, this is how it feels towards the end.

I was sitting in the chair this morning, and finally decided to read and reflect a little, which I have been avoiding. Don’t worry, I have been checking my daily devotional off lately, but my heart has been far from in it. I have sat in the pews at church, but my heart has been hard, and I want to just crouch under the ropes and stop running this wretched race.

As our pastor began reading about Jesus’ death yesterday, he asked the question: “Why did Jesus HAVE to die?”. It’s the same one I ask every single day, and I mean it… every. single. day.

Why did my Mary Anna HAVE to die?

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28
Jesus had to die for me or else I could not live.
During our meeting last week where D and I processed our feelings about our sweet girl and the mixed emotions about our little man making his debut, our pastor told us that when Jesus asked us to give Mary Anna back to him that we obeyed. And that after her baptism as we held her, sang over her, told her about important things and people to us, and read scriptures that we were slowly standing at the gates of heaven and literally handing our baby girl over to Jesus. 
It was a visual that helped me. Although, I do not quite view myself as obedient as so many days I want to run away from this whole race that I did not sign up for.
Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.
Psalms 40:17
As the sermon wrapped up yesterday, he said that Jesus walked into the face of death with JOY, so that we could do the same. That is when I knew that embracing death as joy is my task at hand. This can be done, which defies my inner nature, but it can be done, because death has NO power over me, Dan, or even Mary Anna.
NO POWER.
I have to keep telling my doubtful self that. Part of believing all of this is that I need to continue to deny what comes naturally and start acknowledging His mercies. His life. His death. His grace. Mary Anna’s life. And death too. 
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
And part of denying myself is denying the wishes of my heart, and trusting that I can surrender all things to Him who is able. Even my baby girl. My heart wants to hold onto her life so bad, but slowly I know that I must release it ALL to the King of Kings.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
Jim Elliot
Keep Walking into death without fear. Keep Walking because Jesus walked that long road to death with confidence and victory. He has already won this race for me. Amen. Thanks be to God. 
So I sit in my glider with my kicking little boy and my heart has a little joy this morning in Mary Anna’s life and in anticipating his life. What a gift my babies are to me.
Jun 04

House

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are no surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.
What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. 
You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage; but He in building a palace.        
He intends to come and live in it Himself.
- C.S. Lewis


After an emotional meeting this morning with some wise counsel, D and I took a big sigh. I remembered our favorite quote of all times, and so I quietly read it again out loud. 

It’s how we feel.

Like a house under construction that keeps being hit and moved about, but the final result is worth all the changes that need to be made.

At times I feel satisfied being a decent little cottage, but I know that a palace is what I am supposed to be. It’s what I want to be. Not because I am worthy or think that I deserve it, but because it was what I was created to be.

My tiny baby girl is already a palace.

Keep Walking.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17- 18

And to quote John Piper… None of this is meaningless.


Jun 03

Pray for your Spouse.

I have been burdened since I lost my baby girl to pray for my husband more. As I wrote here, I have learned what a gem he is, but not one of us are free from the battles against our flesh. D and I pray for our marriage every night together, and I spend time every morning praying for my man. Even if it’s quick. I do it.

I hope this devotional gives you some direction in how to pray more for your spouse.

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Lysa TerKeurst
February 6, 2014
Five Scriptures to Pray Over Your Marriage
Lysa TerKeurst
“[Jesus] also told them this parable: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?'” Luke 6:39 (NIV)
I sat down to write some thoughts for a young friend getting married. I wanted these words to be encouraging but also realistic. I didn’t want to pen the typical “best wishes on your wedding day.” Wishes might be sweet for a church full of flowers and white tulle, but it takes a whole lot more for a marriage to go the distance.
So I wrote honest thoughts as they came to me:
“Being married is incredibly difficult. Being married is amazing. Being married can seem impossibly hard. Being married can seem incredibly beautiful. There is no other person who can frustrate me the way my husband can. There is no other person who can make me feel as loved as my husband can.”
As these words tumbled out I wondered if my friend would think me a bit crazy. One minute I painted marriage as blissful as a kite catching wind and rising to the sky. And the next minute it was as if the string had gotten caught in a thorny bush and sent the kite crashing to the ground with thuds of disappointment.
So which is it? Bliss or disappointment?
It’s a fragile blend of both.
In the end, I crumpled up my original note and simply wrote this: “Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage.”
I wrote that note not because it had been true for my relationship but because suddenly I wanted it to be true.
The teacher being taught by her own lesson.
And you know what I’ve discovered in the weeks since? I haven’t been praying nearly enough for my marriage.
I think about things. Discuss things. Complain about things. Attempt to fix things. Work on things. Apologize for things. Want to change things. And then I discuss things some more.
But talking about things, thinking about things and working on things … these are not at all the same as praying for them.
In Luke 6:39 Jesus asks an important but simple question, “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” My husband and I need Jesus leading us, guiding us, teaching us, redirecting us and showing us how to have a marriage that honors Him and each other.
This year, my goal is to spend a lot less time in the pit. And I think praying more words over my marriage will certainly be key to this.
Here are some Scriptures I’m praying:
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters … You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:17 and 29, NIV).
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6, NIV).
“What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NIV).
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”(Hebrews 10:23, NIV).
Actually getting intentional about praying for something in my marriage today is the first step toward that marriage I’ve been dreaming of—the one that seemed so possible for Art and me 20 years ago in that church full of flowers and tulle.
Making sure I’m headed in that direction as a wife is only a few intentional prayers away.
Dear Lord, I want to honor You completely with my marriage. Help me to remain dedicated to praying over my relationship with my husband. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.