Dec 15

Legacy

I’ve thought a lot lately about how I want my kids to remember their childhoods. Dan and I were raised very differently, and we spend a lot of time talking and praying about how we want to raise our miniature people. The thing is that our life is literally chaos right now. Like a friend said to me recently: Kari it’s okay to admit that your life is just crazier than most right now, because it just is. I am a giver, so it’s hard for me to slow down and take very often. I am also super type A in a super chill kinda way. Sounds weird, but its the truth.

So with this season of super close in age toddlers, a new business that we feel so overwhelmed with most days, a blog that I feel called to write more on, two websites, t-shirts, dogs, a power bill, dinners, and the list goes on…. I have realized that my fuse has been short, and although I swore I would never yell, well sometimes I just do.

Like the other night when I was going on 48 hours of single parenthood, and William didn’t nap, and the shower curtain fell on my head about the same time that William pee’d on the floor. You bet. I yelled. Sure did.

But then I curled in bed with buddy, and I told him exactly what was going on. I told him that I missed daddy, that I was tired, and that it was hard to open daddy’s new office. As I held his sweet little hand, I apologized, and told him that I didn’t always make the best choices either, and that’s how I was able to forgive him when he wasn’t kind too.

He told me: It’s okay mommy, I love you, and I miss daddy too.

So today it happened again. I was up late baking for some extra money for some Christmas orders that I received, and Dan’s super stressed trying to get the final things done with the clinic. I somehow managed to bake 13 mini pumpkin loaves, dress both kids and myself, and pack lunches and head up to the clinic to deliver sandwiches to daddy. We got there, and it was a bit crazy, so our visit was pretty short.

I was driving home with more butter and cream cheese to bake some more, and my head was hurting, and I just was feeling spread thin. This song came on:

I’ve had this on repeat lately, because this song y’all. I mean it’s the gospel. And I heard some noises from the back of the car, and little William was singing along. He only knew a few words here and there, but to hear his little voice singing “EMMANUEL”. WOW! A few tears began to creep down my cheek, and it hit me.

I want them to remember their mommy and daddy as real and raw. I want them to see us mess up, and I want them to see us asking them for forgiveness. I hope that our house is one of grace and willingness to meet each other wherever we need to. In a world full of filters and botox and murder and hate,  I hope that under this roof they feel no reason to be anyone, but who God made them to be.

Behold, behold the One our Love has come.

Behold, behold the One our King has come.

Emmanuel.

I hope that they feel the freedom to know that the King who came doesn’t expect us to carry all of this on our own, and that we leave a legacy of love and laughter and mess and hugs.

This pressure to be everything for our friends or kids or spouses is just unattainable, and I am the worst at this.

So cheers to more grace and recognition that our King has come.

Keep Walking.

Defeated death, He broke the grave

Our hope returned, the lost are saved

We lift our voice in never ending praise.

Dec 06

Big Momma

So…. Dan has this thing going for him. Well not really. Well it depends on how you look at it.

He’s really brutally honest, which is great and all. Don’t get me wrong. I am so over fake and put together and that crap that people like to work hard at, but there is a line people. Dan sometimes crosses it, and the story goes this way…

me: I mean Mary Kathryn is such a little momma these days
{insert random stories of the kids from our day}

dan: yeah she really is…

me: I was thinking how much MK and I were alike today…

dan: yeah… so, if she is a little momma, then does that make you a big momma?

WOW….

Moments like that happen often living under the same roof as D. Or leaving dinners or wherever, and me explaining to my very intelligent husband why what he said came off the wrong way.

Well, we make a good team. I always say that he’s book smart, and I am common sense smart. We don’t really overlap much on our strengths either.

Just sayin…

Anywho, that’s all I got for ya. Just one more encouraging story from our house to yours. Know your strengths, and know when not to call your wife a big momma.

Merry Christmas.

Keep Walking.

One more chocolate muffin please and thank you.

Dec 02

Robbery

So, I think I said this, but we are opening our very first business. My husband is a veterinarian, my dad is a veterinarian, and I have been told that I can be an honorary veterinarian, although I think these people are NUTS for going to school that long. But whatever, i’ll take the title. I can give some pretty sound advice after all my years of over hearing my dad on the phone at the dinner table, and my summers working the front desk at his office, and the launch of our marriage being vet school for Dan.

Well, we are a few weeks from being opened, and money is tight, and budgets are having less wiggle room, and we walked into our little clinic yesterday morning ready to work hard. My parents were taking our kiddos for the weekend, and we had long lists of things that we could accomplish without a 3 and 1-year-old {which is how we’ve built 95% of this practice is with one or both of them with us}, and we realized that….

we

had

been

robbed.

yep. robbed.

Someone the night before decided to walk out our back door and take things that were ours as assume it was okay to claim them as their own.

insert cuss words.

It was rough. Emotionally. Physically. Financially. Rough.

We cussed, cried, stared at each other, argued, were short with our words, and the list goes on. And then in the middle of it I looked at Dr. Dan and said this:

okay stop. we either trust God or satan and right now we aren’t trusting God. HE has called us. HE has good things in store. Satan wants to destroy that, and we can’t let him. Let’s claim this for good right now.

Now don’t go envying my attitude quite yet. I am pretty sure we debated punching the robbers in the face many times and still continued to cuss off an on through the day. And if I am honest I woke up just ANGRY today. At some point during the day my phone buzzed the verse of the day on my screen, and I was about to “swipe up” to get rid of it, and I stopped with my dirty yoga pants and socks with a hole in the toe and read this:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

This is the truth. Not the lies that we’re fighting. Not the violation of someone stealing our things. Not the loss of confidence. Not the anger. Not the cuss words. Not the excess chocolate we ate last night.

I’ve been praying over my mission right now. I am here to walk beside and support Dan as we endeavor into our new business together. It’s a whole family decision to do this, because it’s going to take all of us. Even the littles being drug to the vet clinic like I was growing up. But I realize that my loss and my heartache has prepared me for these moments.

I spend a lot of time in my writing talking about my loss of Mary Anna. God used that for HIS purpose and plan. And as I keep walking, I realize that we grieve things every day…

our to do lists

our hopes

our perfect life plans

our friendships

and marriages

our houses and cars and sofas

our robberies

We most of all lost our steam yesterday. Our vision. Our goals. And y’all we can’t do that.

We just need to be still. He WILL fight for us.

But the thing about battle is that you either go guns blazing, or you let someone fight for you. I tend to be the guns blazing kind, and then have the regress and put a sock in it, and remember that this isn’t my fight. And frankly I don’t want to be the commander in my battle.

So here it is y’all, as we enter Advent tomorrow. Don’t keep fighting. Let Him fight for you. Sure, I mean some might disagree, but let it out, eat some chocolate, 3 lattes, cuss some, punch a pillow, whatever you need to, but remember that this isn’t our fight to do alone.

Keep Walking.

Nov 16

Advent Wreath

So we just moved into our sixth house in a little over three years. Yes you read that right. We moved back to a town that we love, and that we missed from the day that we left. The little house that we bought needed a lot of love, so we did a total gut, and now it is dreamy. We want to add-on eventually to make it a little more usable for us long-term, but for right now, Mary Kathryn sleeps in a future office or playroom with a little barn door off our dining room, and it works. I found a ship knot to prop the barn door closed tighter, and she thinks it’s perfect for her sassy little squishy 17 month old self, and I do too. Meanwhile, William has the room of his dreams filled with all things ship and beach related.

We’re opening a business for the first time, and we are just launching into unfamiliar territory in a very familiar place. I knew that moving here wouldn’t be the same from when we left, but it’s hit me day by day as we have been here… grief… sadness… missing my Mary Anna.

You see she was born in Birmingham, but basically her whole life in utero was in Auburn. We dreamed of her here, set up her nursery, and planned for her life in this sleepy little football town. So, this place has always had a piece of my heart. As we begin to roam the same familiar streets again, I see her.

everywhere….

in my favorite coffee shop…

in the same publix that I used to weep walking the aisles after we lost her just wanting to buy a paci or baby wipes…

in our favorite pizza place…

and bagel shop…

in the parks that she should have played at…

in the eyes of the people who knew us and walked through life with us during that time…

Mary Anna,

I see you everywhere baby girl. You are always with us. We miss you immensely, and I’ve learned that each new place we acquire as our home, that I realize more and more the hole in our hearts for you. I wish I had your artwork to hang, and your little dresses to iron. I wish I knew your favorite color, and if you liked sweet or salty things. I often wonder if you’d be tall and lean like William or squishy like your baby sister.

You are our motivation. We named daddy’s new clinic after you, and there is no one that drives us more than you do. 

I told your daddy the other night that the one thing that I knew to be true is how strong you were. Your strength is what gives me strength.

Thank you for always teaching us how to Keep Walking, my girl.

-your mommy

So, yeah… I’m weeping. Eating a soggy apple. My head hurts, and I am tired of unpacking.

Life. Right?

A dear friend here asked me to go to a wreath making thing in a few weeks. Those things sound fun and holiday ish, and I love Christmas, and I love friends. And cookies. Amen. But things like that stress me out, because it forces me to enter into a new season of telling my story. Of telling of Mary Anna.

I told her I’d go, and then I wasn’t sure if I could go. She gracefully told me to stop unpacking and write.

So I did.

Here I am….

Christ is in this. I know He is. Sometimes I can’t figure it all out, and I don’t know why this is our story, but it is.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand.

Keep Walking.

Oct 20

Chapel in the Pines

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I surprised Dan with a birthday getaway to this quaint place in the mountains for a long weekend. It is dreamy, and it is exactly what we needed. We’ve been running in a million directions lately trying to renovate a house, start a business, raise two babies, oh and two pups, live with the rents out of suitcase, and the list goes on… Dan’s about to turn the big 3-0, and he’s been working basically 3 jobs, so our time together is so slim.

We spent our first morning here on a long walk in the woods on the property. We talked about life, laughed some and cried some, and we talked a lot about how big our God is. Sometimes it’s hard for the two of us: D, a workaholic and me, a control-freak of a mom; to really really check out and just be together. When we do this, we tend to grieve a lot and talk a lot about our Mary Anna.

Well, the owners of this farm that we are staying at recently experienced a deep sadness like we with live, and it hit us in a unique way today. The husband passed away suddenly at a young age, and the wife was left to raise their 5 children alone and run this business by herself. As we wandered through the edge of the trailhead, I spotted a white, quaint chapel tucked away on a hill. We were tired from our hike, and were debating if we wanted to take the short walk and see it, and we decided to do it. Unknowingly it was the gravesite of Sam, the owner who passed away.

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Dan with tears in his eyes looked over this sweet little white picket fence, and he said to me:
Karebear, this dirt is fresh. He walked to the grace, and I walked into the chapel. We both wept. We both know the pain of burying someone far too young, and trying to limp your family through grief, while the world keeps spinning.

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It’s caused the rest of our day here to be sweet and full of time together, but also full of memories of our girl. I heard a podcast this past week but a lady who lost her husband, and she made a point along the lines of this…

If we try to move on from the path that God has chosen for us, even if it includes death and sadness, then we aren’t fully living in the path that God chose for us.

As I am walking through loss with my friend, Katie, who lost her baby girl a month ago, I am looking at my own loss and grief so much more clearly. It’s only been 4 years, but the Lord has done a work in the those long, yet so short years. He has taught me that grief isn’t supposed to leave us. That like Lisa Appelo said on the podcast, that we should embrace this as a part of us. This embracing has truly made me a stronger and more caring person. Yes, it brings sadness on my getaways with my husband and bring me to my knees often, but isn’t that exactly where the Creator meets us the most with his humble love for us?

Y’all the Kingdom is waiting for us, and we can’t continue this life in utter blindness to sadness and hurt. IT’s the waves that make the calm sea more beautiful. The waves keep coming, but so doe the calm seas. Keep walking on water through the impossible.

And the only way to walk on water is like Jesus told Peter, to keep our eyes focused on Him.

When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about.
-Haruki Murakami

What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt- it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
-Hal Boyle

As I sit on this amazing little porch crying while writing, D is sitting next to me crying too writing some letters to our two babies here on earth. William and Mary Kathryn get the best of us thank to our dear Mary Anna.

Our life…
It’s really messy…
But it’s really sweet.

Keep Walking.

Oct 01

Adeline

The unthinkable happened a few nights ago. I got a message that said, “Adeline is not doing well. Pray for her.” I was sitting in a friend’s house, and both of my kids were asleep, and when I saw the message I sank into this old yellow chair in the corner with a low light on, and I began to weep. I called Dan and told him what was going on, and we both admitted that when a parent admits those words that it is not looking good. We know that feeling, and it’s not a place you would admit to be at unless it was the inevitable.

Rewind over a decade ago, I met this girl, Katie Waitt, from a dairy farm in Indiana at Auburn as a new college student. We were from different backgrounds and honestly we did not have much in common besides some friends and our faith. We grew in our friendship, and I was quite preppy and girly, and slowly some friends and I convinced Katie that she needed some dresses in her closet, and my love for her grew.

We kept up off and on after college, and we would get together as time allowed. She met her husband and got married in Memphis, and over a year ago they found out they were expecting their first baby. I got a call a few weeks later about a scary ultrasound. I began to walk a road with her that I never knew that I would have to walk again so soon.

Adeline was born very early, but she was a fighter. She had fighters around her, and she faced her short life with strength and dignity, and her big brown eyes would melt any heart of stone. I was able to meet her very soon after she was born, but this past week things got really bleak. Baby Addie Bear faced a lot of procedures and the King of Kings called her home on September 28, 2017 early in the morning. Her life was short yet full.

My friend and I jumped in our cars as soon as we heard to go walk beside our dear dairy farm friend from Indiana. We shopped for an outfit for her daughters funeral, we helped think through logistics for a service, we planned meals, and we wept at plan that is bigger and greater than us, but sometimes does not bring the outcome that we want.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, no pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:3-5

I don’t get why Adeline went to be with Jesus. I don’t get why Mary Anna went to be with Jesus, but I do know one thing to be true right now. I feel grief creeping it’s messy self back in, and I feel like I am watching myself loose my baby all over again through my dear friend, but as I got ready to leave last Thursday, I grabbed William and looked into his big blue eyes and with tears said this:

Buddy no matter what, ALWAYS remember that God is bigger and He is stronger and He loves you. And He will protect you.

W: Like he protected Daniel in the lion’s den mommy?

Yes buddy, just like that. 

I love you and I will be home soon.

W: And I love you mommy

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And that is what carried me. It was that image that although this earth is the lion’s den, and sometimes it feels like there are roaring lions waiting to devour us, God ALWAYS shuts their mouths. I sat there in the lion’s den with my sweet friend, but God was there. We hurt and cried and might have even said a cuss word or two, but God was there. Shutting mouths. Slaying the enemy.

He will redeem.

He did redeem Adeline’s life for Himself.

And he did the same with my Mary Anna too.

Keep Walking. Even when the lions are closing in around you. Remember like my innocent 3-year-old reminded me, God will protect you.

In loving memory of Adeline Grace.
June 21, 2017- September 28- 2017

Aug 24

Rocket ship

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William and Mary Kathryn and I were eating dinner the other night, and lots of “take another bite”, “you have to at least try a few green beans”, “sissy sit on your bottom or you’re going to fall”, and so on were being said. Dinner time is quite the circus, especially, because my husband works long hours, so most nights I have to feed the kids alone. Tired momma + 3 year old wild boy + 1 year old antsy baby girl = extra glass of wine please!

Well, we are currently in the midst of yet another transition {8th house in almost 3 years to be exact}, so we are at my parents for a few weeks, while some things are being done to our new house. My parents happen to live on the lake, which helps the staycation a little for sure! I looked outside at the beautiful water, and decided that I should turn the mood of dinner from weary barking momma to grateful momma. So William and I had the sweetest little conversation that went like this:

M: Buddy, do you see that water out there?

W: yeahhhhh, it’s BB’s lake

M: Did you know that God loves you deeper than the water.

W: He does, and he loves mommy and daddy and sissy and BB and Doc….

M: yes buddy he loves all of us

W: and Mary Anna too…

M: yes of course

W: Is Mary Anna going to come soon?

M: Well, you know how God loves you deeper than the water?

W: yeahhhh {wide blue eyes}

MK: {squeaks}

M: Well He loves you so much that he died for you, and Mary Anna had to die too, so she is in heaven with God. But you know buddy that’s okay, because we will see her soon.

W: Mommy, I want to go in a rocket ship way up in the sky and say 3,2,1 blast-off and see Mary Anna with God.

M: {tears streaming}

W: It’s okay mommy, I love you and I will come back to you.

M: I love you too buddy and that’s why mommy cries sometimes, because she misses Mary Anna and that’s okay

W: I love you mom. I want you to hold you me {wide blue eyes still}

It’s these moments that remind me the redemption in loss. The Lord uses the hard things to strengthen us and draw us to himself and teach us through the eyes of a child how to Keep Walking. I want to 3,2,1 blast- off a lot of days out of this messy life just like my buddy, but God has me here right now in the messy mundane with yet another transition for a reason.

Keep Walking.

And now every time there’s a beautiful pink sunset over the water, William loves to talk about his big sister in heaven. And how we can blast-off to see her. These are the days.

3, 2, 1 blast- off

Jul 27

Defender

I at times picture my life in a music video. Like there have been many times where music is on, and I am doing something that I think to myself dang if a camera was following me right now they’d make a lot of money with no acting. I have a dear friend who gets this part of me, so I text her often of my music video moments. Maybe one day a rock star will capitalize on my life which includes a constant roller coaster of emotions.

On Mary Anna’s birthday it was hot as you know what. I went on a run during the worst part of the day. I listened to this song Defender, and I began to weep uncontrollably while running down a public trail. I yelled a cuss word out loud. Yep. Sure. Did. Insert Video Camera at any point.

This band Kings Kaleidoscope has been played a lot at our house recently. Their music has depth, and we feel like we’re friends with the lead singer, because he lost a baby like us, and we get a lot of what he wrestles with in his music. I’m sure he’ll be calling me soon for that music video.

But the word DEFENDER hit me that day. It has been on my heart a lot lately.

Jesus, our savior, defender, redeemer

As I wrestle with my faith and comprehension of losing my girl these past 4 years that is one word that has never come to mind. In reality, I have felt like I wanted someone to defend me. To defend Mary Anna. To defend my loss.

But in that I lost the reality that my one defender has been patiently waiting on me this whole time. He went to bat for me and for Dan and for Mary Anna and for you thousands of years ago, and He sits at the right hand of the Father still defending us today.

I cried to God for help, he heard my voice

We are famous for transition lately, and we are in the process of it again right now. Transitions are hard when loss is involved. It adds a dimension that’s hard to explain. There’s Mary Anna’s stuff that will be moved again into a new space that hasn’t been touch, and I will yet again wipe the dust off of it, and not set her up a room in another new house.

Jesus, our savior, defender, redeemer

I’ll mourn friends and make new ones, and have to retell the our story of our girl.

Jesus, our savior, defender, redeemer

And I am sure there will be lots more moments where a video producer will lose that epic emotional shot of me running and weeping, or setting up a nursery and weeping, or dusting off the same pictures of my baby and weeping. BUT, it truly is okay. I have a defender. He defended me on the cross, and He still defends me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately telling William who’s a wild 3-year-old boy exploring strength and power and energy and wanting to defend every thought or emotion or action that he has that Jesus is big and strong. And he is our defender. If that is the message that I want my other two babies to take home, then it is time that I take it home, even to my new home, myself.

Jesus, our savior, defender, redeemer

We have a DEFENDER friends. We just have to believe it.

Keep Walking

Jul 14

4

Happy 4th Birthday to my girl,

You made me a mom. You changed me from the day that I knew about you. Your entrance into the world was wild and unexpected and your exit was bold and majestic. I picture you being a little momma to Mary Kathryn and getting onto William for being all boy. I bet that you would have woken up early today and loved having a donut with sprinkles with your daddy and then skipping lunch and dinner for cake with me. I just know your love for sweets would be strong, because it’s just a gene that our family requires.

I have heard 4 is the best age! So that makes this birthday seem to sting a bit more. You are missed and celebrated today angel.

William woke up saying “It’s Mary Anna’s birthday! She is in heaven with God!”. He helped me hang your birthday banner with cute colorful tassels in the kitchen, and he can’t stop peaking at your cake.

I went to a bakery yesterday, and they had 1 cake for sale. It was pink and yellow and orange, and it said HAPPY BIRTHDAY in bright pink letters on it. They added “Mary Anna!” to it, and I cried the whole way home.

Thank you for being a vessel that constantly points us to heaven. We miss you always, but especially today, because it is YOUR day, baby girl.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY ANNA!

love,

mommy and daddy and william and mary kathryn

and i guess marley and fish camp too.

Apr 15

Carry it.

I decided to dedicate myself this year to doing a lenten study. I have never done this before, but I read through the entire book of Isaiah. It was life-changing. A few times I had to sit down and catch up on a few days, but all in all, I did pretty well with this commitment. I had to have a commentary next to me the whole time, or else it would get pretty confusing, but the message of Christ and His heritage and the foretelling of His coming kept bringing me to my knees.

This message kept resonating in my heart…

I am so eager to accept Jesus’ death for me. I know the story. I believe it. I base my entire life on it, yet what am I willing to sacrifice for him.

As I sat in our Good Friday service yesterday, and our pastor was telling a story about his baby girl, and he reminded us of Jesus’ anguish, when He was begging the Father to spare His life….

Take this for a second, Jesus is God, and He could spare His own life, but he did not.

God is God, and He could have spared His only Son’s life, but he did not.

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
Matthew 27:46

I remember holding my daughter in my arms right as she was taking her lasts breaths and begging the Lord to save her. He did not.

And as I read through Isaiah, and sat in church yesterday holding my other baby girl, I kept weeping.

Why am I so reluctant to trust the God who gave His only Son? It’s because He also took my baby girl. BUT if I can accept the salvation that comes through Jesus’ death, then that same power is how I trust even without my girl.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair’ persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This is the truth. We can NOT accept Jesus’ life without his death.

We can’t.

I trust this promise holds true in every aspect of our lives.

For me, carrying around my Mary Anna’s death has been a hardship that I never could have dreamt of, but it has brought me to Jesus. I will always carry her death, but carrying it has brought me life.

And as so many people, want me to move on… be strong… or whatever …

I have realized more this Easter that the gospel calls us never to let go of the death of Christ. We can’t have the resurrection without the death of God’s only Son.

Not everyone carries around the same death that I do, but we all carry some death around with us. The western world runs from death, but Jesus call us to run straight to Him, which means carrying His death.

THANKS BE TO GOD!! HE IS RISEN!!!

Enjoy this Easter friends. I have some sweet lace that my babies will be wearing, and as we look pretty on the outside, our hearts will carry around our Mary Anna. Her death has brought us life.

Keep Walking