Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For the Loss Mama

Six years. I can't quite fathom how it can already be six years since we welcomed our second born and almost in the same breath said goodbye. So much is different. Vastly different from those days of constant sadness and tears. Maddox now has 3 younger siblings. Time allows the bleeding to stop and the tenderness of the wound to lessen... But as with any trauma, the scar is still there. It always will be.

I wonder sometimes if people think we're crazy for "still" saying we have 5 kids. Sometimes I even feel like I'm not being truthful and even have to caveat my description of my family. Sometimes it feels easier just to say 4 kids and move on... But on occasion when it happens, it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like I'm doing Maddox justice. Our journey justice. But most importantly, Our Lord justice. His faithfulness. His grace. His mercy. His people. His healing and restoration and redemption. Our story isn't really ours. It's His.

As I hear Scout pray at night and thank The Lord for Maddox and the rest of his siblings ...oh, be still my heart. He doesn't yet know the big story of God's faithfulness to our family, but he knows his big brother by name. He knows he is in Heaven. He knows his picture and can point him out. It's the legacy of The Lord and what He can do with our hearts when things go exactly opposite of our hopes and dreams and prayers. That He is still God and knows us intimately.

I have felt compelled these last few weeks to write down a few of the most important things I would want to share with someone else walking this road.  My hope is that if you know anyone in a similar situation, or you encounter someone in the future, you might be able to be a source of compassion and understanding and support. Those that surrounded us while we were in the depths were often "God in flesh" as the waves swept over.

For the loss mama...

There is no manual for this. There is no time limit for it either. Your grief is your own and while there are healthy and unhealthy ways to process all that is going on, do not let anyone tell you how it MUST be done.

If you are sad, allow yourself to feel it. If you want to spontaneously laugh, do it without reserve. No one will think you have forgotten your child. I promise.

If you need a good cry, you can do it alone. Or with your spouse. Or best friend. Or do it with your counselor. But like Nike, Just Do It.

Talk about your child. To a journal, to God or to live people.

Remember the joy you felt before the sadness because some days the sadness feels like it might consume you.

Sometimes you will feel like you are drowning. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. It is helpful and necessary.

Tell those around you what you need. No one knows but you.

Accept help. It's okay to need something today and not tomorrow. It's okay to welcome a question one day and despise it the next.

Give people GRACE. They will say and ask stupid things.

Give YOURSELF grace. You will be irrational sometimes. Fears about your other children. Fears about people judging. Fears about inadequacy.

You might feel like you "just want to get it over with." The grieving that is. It's okay. Just remember it's a process. Life is a process.

You might feel like life is unfair. That everywhere you look people are pregnant and have newborns. The truth is... Life IS unfair and it's okay to feel that way. Just don't steal anyone's joy in your time of sadness.

You can be mad at God. He's big enough to deal with it. He did create you and knows it anyway. BUT do.not.live.there. Work through it WITH Him.

Do not allow your loss to define who you are. It is a defining moment in your life, but you are not the loss. You are not your grief.

People will fail you. People will disappoint, disappear, not have words or have too many. Whatever your expectations are, people will not meet them. They will fall drastically short. The only one who will truly be there is the Lord. He's the only one who will ALWAYS be there in the hurt.

Make memories in the grief...

Although you feel like you're dying, you are actually still living. And there are living people around you. Don't forget them. They might be what actually keep you going.

You are needed. You are loved. You are beautiful.

Take care of yourself. Your delivery site, your breasts, your emotions, your spirit.

Allow the physical pain to exist because when that goes away the emotional pain will most likely take over.

Get in a hot shower. They might tell you not to. "It will produce more milk." Let me tell you, the milk will come. Hot shower or not. The milk might be the hardest thing about not having your baby. It was for me. Allow the shower's hot water to mingle with your milk and tears. Let it all out. Let it all wash over you. It's an emotional cleansing. Your body, mind and spirit need it.

Love your husband. Be patient. He might not look like he is grieving. HE IS. He wants to be strong. He wants to protect you. He can't let it consume him because he's afraid the whole ship will go down.

Keep moving forward. It might just be to get out of bed today. That's a step forward. Two forward because tomorrow might be one back. Remember. It's a process.

People will disappoint. They will forget. Not intentionally but they will. They will forget that it's Wednesday and he was born on a Wednesday. They will forget your due date. They will forget the 3 or 6 month mark. Your world has stopped. It's so unfair but theirs hasn't.

Don't feel guilty. Not about what could have been, should have been or what actually was. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

If you feel despaired, cannot seem to manage your grief, anger, sadness, or hurt, be sure to talk to someone. It is crucial to get the help you need, professional or otherwise, to be able to stand on the other side of your loss.

Free yourself to dream... About that next child, about that dream vacation, about where you will be in a year or five. Envision yourself outside of the grief you are living.

Love yourself. The good, bad and ugly. God can use anyone, anywhere. The Bible is overflowing with stories of grief-filled people that are redeemed and restored as they put their trust in Him. "...The author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2




"My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." Job 42:5

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dreams


Ten years ago. On April 23rd, 2003, Dusty and I were in our first year of marriage. There is nothing particularly special about that day except that it was during "that season"... You know those times in life when you remember "oh yeah" and it takes you to a place. We were really struggling in our marriage. It was pretty volatile. Or should I say I was. And always emotional. Nothing was as I had anticipated and things were so much harder than I imagined. How could we date on & off throughout high school, all through college, know each other for as long as we had, and yet have things be so crazy? We fought more than our fair share. Money, traveling, sex, communication, friends, guests, bugs (yes, roaches to be exact!)... We weren't sure about our income. Everything still seemed so new. I remember calling my mom sometime around then and sobbing to her, telling her I wasn't even sure we were going to make it. That marriage was hard. She just chuckled and said "yep." My reflection in the mirror was different then. It showed very little grace. Very little patience. I was a girl who knew it all. Why didn't he get me? My faith was being tested. I was locked into today and couldn't see my tomorrow. Many days it felt like we were just trying to make it.

We did make it through however. We talked. We made plans for how we were going to address issues and continually recommitted to making it work.


Five year ago. On April 23rd, 2008, we were 3 months exactly from having to say goodbye to our precious second son. My heart was absolutely broken over our deep loss and some days I didn't know up from down. In the midst of incredible grief, the Lord gave us a precious new gift. We had just found out, with elation and absolute terror, that we were expecting again. A miracle was growing inside and it took everything within me to just to see the sun shining. I was struggling to keep my mind focused on The Truth. Dusty was struggling to help me keep it together. Fear had a huge grip on me. My reflection in the mirror was different then. It showed very little peace. I was racked with fear and "what if's". And my faith was being tested. I was locked on tomorrow and simply trying to keep focused on the moment I would hold that precious baby in my arms.

I wasn't promised that tomorrow, but my focus was ahead. I knew where I wanted to be. I envisioned how it would feel. What I would do. The relief that would be tangible knowing she was safe.


10 years ago. 5 years ago. I could never have ever imagined all the trials, struggles, fears and pain that I would have encountered over the last decade. Some things felt huge when they really weren't, and others felt like a whole 'nother level, and they absolutely were! But I couldn't have imagined the joy either. That throughout all of our experiences, somehow I wouldn't change any of it because it's made me who I am. My reflection in the mirror is different today. Today I see someone with increased faith. With more grace and compassion. But I also see that the struggles have left their marks. Battle wounds. We all have them. And let's be honest, I still see impatience, pride, judgement... The list could go on and on. Huge imperfections.

But the beauty of it all is that some days in my reflection I simply see Jesus. Not because I think I am Him in word or deed, but because the only way I can even see clearly is because of Him.

Ten years ago could you have forecasted where you would be today? How about 5 years ago? I would say I couldn't have imagined 5 years past, or present today. Our life is beautiful, riddled with scars, and bruises, but it is so different than I planned. I never envisioned being a stay-at-home mom... but then again I never envisioned losing a child. How quickly plans change!?

I began to think about "the next 5 years" almost one year ago. As I looked at my then 20-month-old, I realized how fleeting the time was and in a blink I would be returning to the work force. It only made sense. The income, the benefits, the flexibility of my previous job. And then suddenly, tears. I looked at my kindergartner and couldn't imagine having my youngest hop off the bus into someone else's arms. The thought sent me into some moments of intense sadness on what I figured was the only real possibility.

Enter Rodan + Fields. I can't quite put into words what all of this- this company, this opportunity, this divine appointment- has meant to me. I can say however, that it has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. To look at what I am doing, on very part time hours while home with my babies, and know that I am creating something that will form a legacy not only for us, but for my children... It's incredible! To be building a business to allow me to stay home forever?! No words.

And while I would say that is the BEST thing... I would have to say one thing tops that. This opportunity has given me the ability to dream. YES, dream! What SO MANY PEOPLE have lost the ability to do now days. To be able to look at my life and know that in 5 and 10 years, so much will have changed, but to be confident in what the Lord has brought before me and the path that He is leading us down. We have BIG visions of giving and serving and loving... And to change the life of one child through adoption? Well to me that is the best dream there is. To be a family without a child, it only makes sense to bring a child without a family into our home. That's it. And no, I don't think Rodan + Fields gave me that vision, that is 100% straight from the Lord. But to be able to DREAM far beyond that reality and envision what it will be like to touch more and more lives. Abroad and right here. To see how I can change lives through the income I make, and also share this gift with others to allow them to chase their own dreams and realize their own change. It's all possible and I am so.very.thankful.

5 years ahead?

10 years down the road?

I don't know where exactly I will be, but I can promise I will be praising HIM, through the joy and pain, and confident in the direction HE will be taking me.


To God be the glory for the great things He hath done...

***If you are interested in hearing more about this incredible opportunity for change, whether for incredible skincare or an opportunity that can be bigger than you imagine possible, please go here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scar

I feel very reflective tonight. You probably don't find that too strange if you know our story. Five years ago to this very moment I was in a hospital room, filled with joy that my family had arrived, and filled with anticipation about what the impending hours would bring. My heart leaped knowing that Maddox was alive as I felt him kicking and moving inside of me. I knew there was little that separated me from finally holding my precious boy.

I remember not getting much sleep that night. I clung to my Bible, poured over Scripture and just kept praying for our Father God to fill me with peace. Strangely, I don't remember feeling too much fear... and hindsight I know that was the beginning of a sacred encounter with the Prince of Peace, my Rescuer, my Redeemer.

So many details have faded from my memory so the ones that are here and intact, those memories aren't going anywhere. I remember my friends gathered- waiting. I remember the nurses. I remember our pastoral staff. I remember my family. It felt like a lot of "hurry up and wait" and then suddenly, the time had arrived for Maddox to make his arrival. The room quickly cleared and I prepared myself to meet my second-born. Dusty stood with me, never leaving my side.

At 4:25PM, Maddox entered our world briefly, to remind us how big our God is and how faithful He is to answer all of our prayers. As he was born I remember looking down and his eyes were closed. That is my first memory of any sort of fear. I remember quickly asking our doctor if he was alive... Dusty followed our 3lb. boy to the NICU warmer in the room with the staff prepared to work. That wait felt like an eternity...

Is he alive?

After some dialogue between the staff and our doctor, our amazing, God-send doctor looked at me and said no. It was then that I began to cry. In a moment it felt like everything was snatched up. Like all the air in the room was sucked out and I couldn't breathe. It was only a few hours ago that I felt him moving! How was this possible?

And then my husband.

And then my husband came to my bed. He grabbed my hand and said, "Kenz, he was alive!" I looked at him like he had just missed the last few minutes and said, "No. They said no." He responded with every ounce of confidence and joy and faith, "Yes, he was alive. There was a heartbeat but it was too faint to do anything. But he.was.born.alive! He opened his eyes, looked at me, and then closed them again."

Reading that it almost sounds ludicrous that I wouldn't cry out, yell, question why they didn't try anything. But instead, somehow peace filled my heart. We had prayed very specifically that certain decisions regarding Maddox's care would be removed from our control. And they were. Only moments earlier had it felt like my heart was being torn out of my chest and I felt like I was bleeding out... and then suddenly, there were bandages. Bandages that were drenched in my blood, but bandages of joy, peace, and thankfulness; they were the only things holding me together.

The day was sacred and supernatural. A day that this world would suggest would claim me forever, became the most sacred love-note of my life. He reached out of Heaven and filled me in ways only He could ordain... and I could never put into words.  


Fives years later, as I retell a small portion of the story that has gone undocumented, I still bear the scar of that heart-wrenching, painful time. I still cry from time to time. I occasionally think what it would be like with another boy added to the mix. But I never go very long without smiling. Somehow this is all part of His plan. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9

While I don't have a physical scar to run my hands over, I do have an emotional one. My bleeding heart left an open wound that has taken a significant amount of time to heal. For a while I thought I would never get over the sadness, and crying would be an everyday occurrence. But slowly and surely, He has restored me. And not only that, but He has redeemed my pain. Do I look the same as I did before my heartbreak? Definitely not. And for that I am eternally thankful. I now bear a scar that allows me to grieve with other mothers who have or are walking this road. It's a scar that only those of a shared experience can truly grasp, and while I would have never chosen my journey... I would never trade it.

Thank you Jesus for my beautiful scar. For my beautiful boy. For your Perfect Son. "Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory? Oh church, come stand in the light, our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive!"


"I have told you all of these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Fight or The Fail?

Extended absences. In many cases it's true, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Being honest, I love coming here every now & then just to reflect. I love seeing where we were and how drastically different we are in 5 years since this blog began. In many ways I feel unrecognizable. I LOVE the work the Lord has done in me and in the life of my family.

Now don't get me wrong. I still struggle with the balance of everything: the precious little people that I love and make me crazy all at the same time, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, the shuffling, my "job", supporting my hubby in his endeavors, and even trying to squeeze in a little me time.

As you can see I don't come here to post much anymore... not for a lack of things to say, but more for a lack of time. Which in many ways makes me sad because I know how important documenting these years is... BUT I also know how important LIVING these years is!

I still yearn to be present in each and every day. In every conversation. To be fully engaged with my kids (and I fail). To be fully present for my husband (and I fail). To be a loyal, available friend (and I fail). To be a dependable work partner (and I fail). To be all that the Lord has equipped and enabled me to be (and I still fail).

But what is my focus... the fight or the fail? I am fighting for it. I am fighting for the life I know is possible. I am fighting to make a difference, in my home and outside of it. I am fighting to be bigger IN HIM, to be better IN HIM, to know that with fighting comes failing. And failing keeps me growing. Failing, while it just stinks, is what keeps me fighting. Man... if only everything were easy?! But then I wouldn't be constantly reminded that this is not my home.

I am trying to pass this hard-to-grasp concept on to my children. To show them how to fight for something and someone. To demonstrate that failing is part of this life and part of us becoming more like Jesus. I HATE to see my children fail, to be disappointed, to struggle and fall... But truthfully my fear that they will be entitled, self-righteous, needy and independent of the Lord strikes more fear in my soul. It's in the fighting, not the fail.

God is good and life is good. Keep fighting for your dreams, your inspiration, your family, your cause, for what is close to your heart. He will equip you and in due time He will show you through the failing to reveal the purpose for the fight. He loves you more than anyone could and wants all your dreams to come true... It's in His Word. He promises it.



I'm fighting... and failing... But I'm gonna keep fighting. Success is amazing and gives you a small glimpse of how we know the story ends. But there is joy, peace, purpose & passion in the fight. Only He can stir that in your soul. Fight for it... trust Him... JUMP!

"The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes"- Deuteronomy 1:30

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

And
the winner
 is...

Congratulations Suzanne! Email me and I'll be sure to get your Anti-Age regimen to you this week. Thank you to all who participated in this giveaway. Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend!

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 3:14

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My WHY... (and a Giveaway!!)

Some things have changed around here in the last two weeks and I am very excited about this new journey! And these recent changes have prompted me to some thinking... (something that I feel I probably don't do enough of, at least regarding the long-term). I've been settling in on my why. It's simple really. Why do I do some things and not others? What is it that drives me? What motivates me to be confident in who and where I am right now?

What I've realized is that everyone's why is different and clearly your why is often determined by so many varying factors. Are you married, dating or single? Do you have 1 child, 8 children, or none? Are you comfortable with your daily/weekly workload or would your prefer to cut back? Do you have free time and if so, what do you do with it? What are you saving for? Or do you spend too much? What are you giving to? Or has your "generosity" not been tapped into? What stirs your heart and makes you eager with anticipation? Who is at the foundation of your life? What is it all worth and what are you willing to do to make something happen?

What's new for me is a job. Crazy huh? I'm a working girl again... and I love it! I love it for so many reasons but my #1 reason is because... dah-dah-dah-daaaah... I can still do it at home, while being a mama. Not likely, you are probably thinking... but, I assure you, it is in fact something I can do here. And the best thing is that this job opportunity, this timing, gets at the very heart of MY why.

My why: I am married to an amazing man and we have 3 children here, 1 in heaven. I, for the most part, have been comfortable with my workload (Dusty says it should really be called "overwhelming", but I am good with comfortable!) around here managing the majority of the household responsibilities as well as the kiddos. I haven't noticed a plethora of free-time in the past 6 1/2 years so I can't really speak to what I would do with it. But, being honest, oftentimes I feel like I could do so much more besides "the daily routine" and I have been longing to figure out how I would ever mesh a career and still be able to be home. Plus, in regards to what we are saving for... well, we aren't saving for much of anything. In fact, that area has taken a major hit since we decided for me to be home for the last 5 years. I pray almost every day that the Lord will find us faithful in our decision for me to be home and that He will honor this sacrifice of the "financial abundance." One income is hard for most everyone, impossible for many... And yet we are giving where we can because that is what stirs my heart. And what makes me eager with anticipation? The thought of building something great for my family, and us leaving a legacy of hard work, dedication and perseverance only through strength in the Lord. And because of that, my heart lies in the ability to create that legacy for a child who has none because he has no family. Adoption is at the very foundation of what stirs my heart.

So that's it. It's simple really. My why...

"To be a giver... to my world, my family, and to a child somewhere who needs one. 
To love well... MY world, THE world, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
To treasure life and live it with purpose and meaning! 
To leave all of this as a legacy..."

IMG_5623

And regarding this job? Well, it's amazing. And it's my why that drives me. It can be full-time or part-time as I see fit. It's about growing a market, growing myself, and coaching others to do the same. It's about a belief system in my company and those above me, in my incredible products, and the knowledge that I am right where I am supposed to be at just the right time. The market is untapped, the earning potential is staggering, and the opportunity is unlimited. Yes, indeed, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13)

Think about your life and your why. And as you do that I want you to ponder a few more... think about your when and what is between you and your goal? How will you get there? Could this be for you? What are you pouring in to and are you creating a lasting legacy in and for your family?

I shared my goal and that's where I'm headed.


GIVEAWAY
As a thank-you for all of the incredible support and love over the past 4 1/2 years in this blog world, I want to offer a giveaway for the first time ever!! I have been asked to do giveaways before but have never accepted so I am thrilled to do the first giveaway ever with my own products!

I want to invite you to take a 1-minute skincare assessment on my new website. There is no obligation to do anything except spend one minute answering 8 questions. Once you do that, enter your email address as the last step (I will get an email that you did it- only comes to me) and you will be entered to win up to a $200 skincare regimen that the doctors personally recommend to you. All entered will be assigned a number and next Sunday (5/27) I will draw and announce a winner. Just think, if you win you will end up with the most beautiful skin of your life... for free!

Directions:
1. Go to https://kenzie.myrandf.com/
2. Click on Customize Your Routine, Start Solution Tool, Start Consultation
3. Complete assessment.
4. Enter your email address to receive a copy of your personal recommendation and be entered for the contest.
5. Winner announced Sunday, 5/27/12 

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."- Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming...

Monday was somewhat heavy and I still can't get it off my mind.  I woke up, got ready and dropped the little 2 off with a friend.  I made my way to church where a girl I worked with, someone I would consider a friend, was being celebrated. Normally celebrations are fantastic... but Monday there were tears. Lindsay was being celebrated in this life because she has graduated to her eternal one with the Lord.

This graduation was not of her choosing. She had so much life ahead and a precious young daughter that she did everything for. She couldn't have imagined that it was her time. Her family still can't begin to comprehend the tragedy. And yet, in this crazy, sad, fallen world... somehow the Lord knew. 

The service was emotional, both funny and heart-wrenching. But the message- WOW- the message. It was just amazing and the phrase that was used, borrowed if you will, was from the famous Pastor S.M. Lockridge. His sermon, used one Resurrection morning decades ago, was entitled "It's only Friday, but Sunday's coming..." and it spoke deep into my heart. It encompassed my life, especially 2007 & 2008, but can still be where I live today.  I know in large part it encompasses your life too.

The fundamental message spoke to hopelessness, despair, tragedy and fear. It spoke to disappointment and even to death itself.  We, today, are living in our Friday.  Things aren't ever as we imagine them. Marriages, as desperately as we cling to them, still fail. Jobs, which provide us security and purpose, evaporate. Expectations we have of family or friends or even strangers never seem to hold their weight and people don't come through. Parents die. Spouses die. Even our children die. There are far too many of us that have lived through these things... And then as you begin to think more about it, each of us will encounter a complete undoing ... all because it's only Friday.

Just like the Friday that God gave up His Son. On that awful, sickening, terrifying day when death truly did win.

The redemption for each of us, however, comes on Sunday. And Sunday's coming...

Sunday is where all of my hope lies. That beautiful Sunday when I will see my Savior face to face. I will hold my Maddox again. When I will hug my father-on-law, my grandparents, and sweet Lindsay, whose family is just beginning their Friday.

Sunday is the blessed assurance of what we will inherit.
Sunday is the reason we can survive with hope and joy.
Sunday is why we wake up and put our two feet on the ground.
Sunday gives us everything our hearts desire but our hands can't grasp... because in reality death didn't win. God did.

"It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming..."  Don't despair or give up hope. Tragedy strikes and fear takes over, but remember that today just might be your Friday. This earth is Friday... but Sunday's coming.

Thank you, Lord, for Sunday!


YouTube of Pastor S.M. Lockridge's own words

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130:5

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christ Has Risen...

and we are blessed!

HAPPY EASTER
"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." -Romans 5:20-21

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Strange Things

As January rolls around, strange things start happening in me. I'm fine one minute and not the next. Memories swirl. Moments replay. Worship is like opening a floodgate. It's literal music to my ears and yet, scissors to my heart. The week before. The fear and worry. The granted peace and knowledge of truth. The scrambling. The craziness. The room and nurses and doctors. The clear voices and the muffled silence.

Emotions overcome me at the most unexpected times and quite honestly, as silly as this sounds, each year I forget this happens. I never seem to have my makeup handy when I need it and a puffy-faced, tear-streaked mama pretty much always draws attention, whether people want to say anything or not. I'm not actually surprised it does happen, just caught off guard when I'm not "prepared."

Sunday was that day for me so far and as hard as I tried, I couldn't stop the tears from falling.  I was fine with it in the middle of worship.  I mean, I have that written in my Bible and I couldn't help but laugh later.  worship- coming completely undone in the sight of the Lord.  That was definitely me! But then during the service (which was about lust none-the-less!) the tears were still rolling. (People probably thought I was upset about the message... wonder how that looked!?) I even had to excuse myself before service got out and cried in a bathroom.

So I'll be honest... logically, this doesn't make sense.  Four years ago I was (unknowingly) a week out from meeting and saying goodbye to our son. NO DOUBT that is emotional.  But again, head knowledge and heart truth tell me that everything is just how it was ordained to be.  The Lord saw fit to call Maddox home.  His body was not intended for this place... he is spending eternity with his Lord and Savior, not just mine.  That is mind-blowing to me.  He is not in pain, hurting or truthfully even concerned with what is going on down here.  He is full-time with the Lord. He is good. So are we. So then... what's with being overwhelmed with tears?

Throughout the year, I am usually good.  It's a rare occasion to see me crying about what could-have, should-have, might-have been.  It's not what is and I trust the Lord. FULLY. We talk about Maddox.  He is included in nightly prayers (not praying for him but thanking Jesus for his life). His life, his purpose, his sickness, heaven, prayer, healing, redemption, faith, undying love... it's all part of our family. It's part of our conversation and part of who we are.

And still... four years later I grieve.

And I'm sure you know why.  The thought of losing a child is beyond comprehension. The thing is, it's not about him.  It's completely, selfishly about me... It's about not having the four children that I have birthed with me. It's about not knowing if his eyes would have changed color like my older two or if he could be into Cars like Deacon was or legos like he is now. It's about wondering if that void will ever be fully filled and knowing that this side of heaven, the Lord is going to have to take it because a piece of me is missing. It's about having so little time with him and fearing he will be forgotten. It's about heart and head and worship and prayer.

It's knowing it's okay when it doesn't feel like it at that moment. Knowing it's okay to hurt, to grieve, to miss him and long for heaven... and ultimately, it's okay to know that this is somehow all part of God's revised plan. This world isn't as He designed it so nothing is how it "should" be. But, He is bigger than just a plan A. Mine or His own. And my simple knowledge that my son is rejoicing and spending eternity with Our Creator... well, when you get right down to it, that's all that matters.

So as strange as this sounds... it still feels strange to grieve like this after years have passed. Our family is filled with joy and love and laughter... but for this mama it is still emotional and sad, even having the faith that we do in Christ Jesus.

So if you know someone who has lost a child, at any age or gestation... Please just love on them a little extra hard. Whatever feels right to you is most likely appropriate and if you don't feel comfortable in person, let them know in a card, email or text. It does a grieving parent's heart good to know that their child is treasured by others, both remembered and loved.


"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure."- Isaiah 33:6

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pondering Mary

I've been thinking so much about Mary lately.  Yep, Jesus' mother Mary. And not just because my little 3-year-old played her in the preschool play (which I have to admit was adorable), but because of the story itself.  All the things briefly referenced in the Bible, but none dwelt upon. About her pure faith. About her obedience. About her age, her fears, the responsibility on her shoulders. About her willingness to do what God the Father called her to, without question. About her favor with the Lord to be chosen to raise the Son of Man.

I remember one of the very first posts I did when I began this blog, asking the question "if Mary would have known how everything would go, how it would all turn out and how she would watch her Son die, would she have still done it?" Would she have said to the angel Gabriel "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38)? I'm not clear as to how much she understood the prophesy of the Old Testament and how it would be fulfilled through her Son, the Messiah... but I am pretty sure, even through all of the worry and struggle and fear, she would have still done it. She would have faced the ridicule and slander of a pregnancy that no one could comprehend. She would have traveled days on the back of a donkey, nearly in labor, only to give birth in a stinky stable, surrounded by animals. She would have fled to Egypt to live among strangers, to flee a king who wanted to kill her newborn son, the True King.

She would have done all of that. She did do that and so much more. And yet somehow, none of it is about her.  

She wasn't perfect. She wasn't without sin. She was just chosen, and called to a purpose so much greater than her own. She found favor with God.

At a time of year when I look at my children, my husband, my decorated tree, my home, the food, and friends and family, I can't help but give thanks. ...And then every once in a while I get a little somber thinking about my child that isn't here. The one who doesn't have a Christmas program or a party to attend.  The one I don't get to see open gifts, sing silly carols, or toast with sparkling cider. The one that is remembered only through pictures and ornaments hanging in his memory. I honestly get sad and know that something is missing...

Until once again I hear Jesus whispering, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) 

I remember once again that it's not about me. It's not about my plans, my wants, my struggles. It's only about finding daily favor with God. It's about walking in His ways. It's about my obedience and His love.

I didn't give birth to a king.  I certainly didn't give birth to the Savior of the World. But I did give birth to someone who changed the world... who changed my world. And if Mary would do it all again, as I know she would, who am I to say that I wouldn't too. All the pain, the hurt, the fear, the suffering... I would do it again. For one life saved, I would do it again.

And although I don't get to see my Maddox opening gifts on Christmas morning, I can't imagine the glory and splendor he celebrates in the presence of the one who is being lifted up across the globe. While Mary and I have very little in common, we are both mothers of sons who have gone before us, and just as she treasured all the mysterious happenings in her heart... so do I.


God is faithful. God is true. And God works in ways we will only fully understand when we are in His presence worshiping at His feet.

"'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" ~Luke 2:8-14

Monday, November 21, 2011

ABC Catch-up


After-school neighborhood play

Baptism & Jesus- both here to stay!
 
Chapmans welcome us to London

Deacon's 6th birthday. Oh, what fun!

ER visits, both for Sister

Faith Clare turns three and is still a twister

Grandma Nan is coming to town

Humidity in November... we might really drown!

Ita and Bob stay for a week

Jammies off in the night, I still have to peek :)

Kindergarten~ fun and learning astound

Lego stuck in her nose, "incidents" abound

Mimi and Papa stop for a visit

Nebraska roadtrip, both smile and fit

Ohio State/NE game in the rain

Pool party for all 3 helps mommy stay sane

Quiet isn't found much in this house
 
Room change for baby now he sleeps like a mouse

Scout isn't a infant, he is now ONE!

Thanksgiving with friends- both turkey and bun

Uniqua costume looks so cute

Vala's Pumpkin Patch rocks in tennies or boot

Writing workshop is a favorite subject 'round here

Xrays for a stroller-crushed hand were clear

"Youth bear" loves NFL Flag Football

Zoo time in Omaha is the BEST in the fall!



Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”- Matthew 19:14

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Choices

Last night was a BIG night in our house! With what seemed like a rather mundane day, preparing for Scout's ear surgery this morning and dragging Faith Clare out of harm's way in the Target parking lot, I wasn't expecting such a joyous night.

No one announced a pregnancy. It was much more important than that. No one came home with a perfect report card, more important than that by 100 miles. We didn't celebrate an engagement or a wedding or a birthday... we celebrated a decision.

We celebrated with tears and hugs and laughter... with ice cream and phone calls and a simple bracelet.

Deacon made a decision that will change his life forever. More important than any school, or job, or girlfriend, or financial decision... As a 5-year-old boy, on the cusp of turning 6, Deacon prayed last night for the Lord to forgive him of his sins. He admitted he does wrong, spoke of his belief that Christ died on the cross for him, and invited him to live in his heart and be Lord of his life.


Deacon accepted Christ!!!!

It was with tears that I sat with him and his daddy as he prayed.  I know that he has never believed anything other than that Jesus has always been with him, loving him, carrying him... so it was funny when really all he wanted to know was when he would get baptized.  When he asked that question repeatedly, we kept redirecting him, trying to focus on the importance of Jesus and not just the outward symbol of baptism.  It wasn't until I put him to bed last night that I fully understood.  He simply told me that he's always believed that Jesus is God's Son, sent here to earth to take our place. "It's not really THAT big of a deal. I asked Jesus in my heart a long time ago," he said. *Me, beaming*

A boy beyond his years. Truly embracing the gospel, without all the fluff or minutiae to debate, and taking God at His Word- He loves us enough to send His Son to die for us.  That he understands. A son, a brother... dying. The talk of heaven, of longing, of what it means to have eternal life- none of that needs to be explained because in his short years, he's lived it. And he LOVES THE LORD not in spite of it, but because of it. Doesn't personal experience have so much to do with the choices we each make? Experience dictates our behavior, our thoughts, and ultimately our actions. And I love the choice our oldest child made last night.

Praise you God for using life experience to allow Deacon to know you more intimately.  Despite the questions and fear, the child-like faith You speak of has been displayed right before my eyes. Thank you Jesus, for allowing me to get a up-close glimpse of you through the innocence and belief of a child. We praise you and celebrate like there is no tomorrow!... And we know there was a big celebration in Heaven last night... Maddox was one of the happiest of all.


"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."- Romans 5:20-21

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My 2 Boys

This sweet boy of mine is officially 11 months old today!! I can't believe that in one month we will be celebrating his FIRST BIRTHDAY! Where has the time gone?


Scout, at 11 months you are a ball of energy. Even your caregivers on Sunday morning say you can't be contained!! You are standing independently and have taken a few small steps... we are waiting with baited breath for the true walking to begin. You LOVE to play and laugh, especially at your biggies who are your greatest source of entertainment. You are an eating machine and rarely will stop before every last piece of food is gone... from the whole table! You love most anything, except the hard-boiled egg yolk I gave you this morning. I couldn't help but laugh at your repeated gagging... I guess one bite was enough! You love playing with anything that is not a toy, but your freedom is more important so we have moved all of Deacon's legos for you to have free-reign of the playroom.  Funny enough, you sleep incredibly well in the pack-&-play in the study so we have let that go for now.  I figure, why does it matter?? You love Scarlet, baths, crawling super fast, your freedom and eating. You despise diaper changes, things being taken away from you, and being "boxed" in (the saucer, swing, etc.)  You are such a JOY and we are so thankful for you and your precious life!!



In other news, Kindergarten was a raging success yesterday... for everyone! D did an awesome job getting ready and being super excited in the morning. After I had snapped a few photos, he came over to the couch and looked at me, his eyes filled with tears. "I'm just gonna miss you too much to be gone all day now," he said. Of course my eyes filled instantly and I hugged him for a moment before I grabbed my camera.  I didn't want him to see how sad I was to have him leave me all day, plus I really am so excited for him so we started taking pictures again instead.

By time we got to the school he was excited, and a little disgusted that there were so many people and we had to walk far :) We got inside and stood in the kinder "holding spot" until it was time to walk to class. When they were dismissed he walked straight back, talking to other kids and parents. *joy* All three of us walked into his room where he immediately found his nametag, cubby and the play blocks sitting in front of him.  We hung around for a few minutes and when other parents started leaving, we kissed him and made our exit.  He ROCKED!!!

When we got to the car, I had a few tears but that was pretty much it.  He was amazing and I am so thankful for his confidence and excitement for school.  When he got off the bus he was all smiles and so were we. FC loved meeting him at the bus stop and he told us about several exciting things about his day- friends, how to earn prizes from the treasure box, eating lunch, working on "homework", and recess.  SUCCESS on day one of my new reality.

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not abandon the works of your hands."- Psalm 138:8

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Guide Him

"Guide me in your truth and teach me, O LORD, 
for you are God my Father, 
and my hope is in you all day long."- Psalm 25:5

Tomorrow is Deacon's first day of Kindergarten.  I have been preparing for this day in one sense or another for 5 1/2 years... How did it sneak up on me so fast??

Deacon is ridiculously excited.  Probably a little bit like his Mama, he seems to be good at school and looks forward to learning, playing and spending social time with others.  Unlike his Mama, he has no reservations, no expectations, just pure excitement.  I LOVE IT and it's going to make it so much easier to leave him tomorrow morning.  Well, somewhat easier...

I remember watching friends get ready to send their kids off to kindergarten.  The kiddos seemed so big at the playgroups as I looked down at my little toddler and yet, watching them walk down the street to and from the bus, they seemed like babies.  That big kid walking away will be my baby tomorrow. 

Tonight we prayed over so many things- over his school, his classroom, his teacher, his classmates, their protection and health and safety.  We prayed for D's confidence and strength and excitement and friends. We asked the Father to keep His hand of love and protection over him. As we finished, I kissed his head as I always do, told him how much I love him and how excited and proud of him I am.  He grabbed my hand as I turned to walk away and pulled me back. Instead of me opening up his hand and kissing him (like in The Kissing Hand and A Pocket Full of Kisses), he opened up my hand and kissed mine right in the middle of my palm.  "I love you, Mama," he said to me. 

*sigh*

... A precious picture of my biggest boy in all his sweet essence.  Yes, he might be silly and crazy and frustrating and a rule-follower-to-a-fault, but I pray that he is all the Lord wants him to be at this exact moment in time.  He has some amazing qualities and although I would love to keep them all to myself, the time has come to share those God-given qualities with others.  I just pray that as he spends so much of his time in school now that he will bless his teachers and the other students like he has blessed us. That is all I can ask...

Thank you Lord Jesus for this amazing time at home with my boy.  Just as I must do everyday, I release Him to your care, comfort, protection and love as he heads off to this new, exciting adventure.
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