Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers today.

It's been a pretty normal day, really. I worked at the hospital this morning and had meetings at church in the afternoon.

It was a beautiful day today, so when I got home the three of us headed over to the cemetery. Just as we were turning in, I caught a whiff of Kaylee. Oh, mercy. It was an impressive blowout to say the least. We laid her down on the changing mat in the grass at the cemetery and then I discovered that I only had 3 wipes and no change of clothes for her in the diaper bag...oops. It was pretty funny. :-)

To be honest, today hurts just as much as any other day. There have been waves of sadness over the past week. Last night I laid Kaylee in her crib to go to sleep, and as I bent down to kiss her, I was suddenly flooded with heartache over all of the kisses I have missed giving Zachary. It just leaves me with a deep longing for heaven...to be together...to be home.

Happy 2nd birthday, baby boy! We love you and miss you SO, SO much.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The past week has been really difficult emotionally.

I can almost picture that blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler running around our house.

I can almost sense the chaos of our lives with two small children.

And, when I close my eyes, I can almost feel the hugs and kisses of a sweet, little, almost-2-year-old boy.

It's so strange to me that two years have gone by...two whole years since he's been gone. And, yet, the hurt is fresh right now, and, once again, it feels like just yesterday that I said goodbye to that precious little baby along with all of my dreams for his life on earth with us.

I don't know what you're supposed to do to mark a 2-year-olds birthday when he isn't here to celebrate with a party hat and a cupcake. I assume it will be another trip to the cemetery...this time with a little sister who will never get to know her brother this side of heaven.

I would covet your prayers this week as we contemplate how to honor Zachary's life as a family and walk through another challenging season.

"He is faithful in all He does." - Psalm 33:4b

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I wonder if the month of May will ever not be painful.

I wonder if Mother's Day will truly feel celebratory this side of heaven.

I wonder if that sick feeling in my stomach will ever go away when someone asks me if Kaylee is my oldest.

I wonder what life would be like if Kaylee really was my oldest.

I wonder how I'm going to appropriately share with Kaylee about her big brother.

I wonder what it will be like when our family is finally together and complete.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Light is always costly and comes at the expense of that which produces it. An unlit candle does not shine, for burning must come before the light. And we can be of little use to others without a cost to ourselves. Burning suggests suffering, and we try to avoid pain...

When we are set aside to suffer...we feel we are no longer of any use and are accomplishing nothing.

Yet if we will be patient and submissive, it is almost certain we will be a greater blessing to the world around us during our time of suffering and pain than we were when we thought we were doing our greatest work. Then we are burning, and shining brightly as a result of the fire.

Many people want the glory without the cross, and the shining light without the burning fire, but crucifixion comes before coronation."

- L.B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert

1 Peter 1:3-9

Monday, March 28, 2011

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way that God pursues us with such a relentless love. I'm amazed that God would care so much about us that He would draw us to Himself. I am the recipient of such incredible mercy.

One of the stories that has given me a fresh perspective lately is the story of King David and a disabled man named Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9.

At the time, David is grieving the loss of his best friend, Jonathan, one day, when he is prompted by the Lord to seek out any of Jonathan’s living relatives with the intent to bless them.

David asks one of his servants and learns that, yes, Jonathan has one relative who is still living. It's one of Jonathan's sons, and his name is Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was crippled after being dropped as a young child. His name means “despised one” or "shame." And, after the death of his father, Jonathan, Mephibosheth is living in a place called Lo Debar. Lo Debar was the most disgusting of slums. The name “Lo Debar” literally means “no pasture.” It was a filthy, barren, and impoverished.

When I was in Haiti last year, I remember driving several times past an area called Cite Soleil, meaning "city of the sun." Sounds kind of tropical...it was anything but. This city is built on top of the dump...literally tons of garbage piled up with shacks built on top. The poorest of the poor live there. There is no running water, no sewer system, crime is rampant, and the people who live there can't even afford the most basic necessities of life. It is Haiti's most notorious slum.

This is what I picture when I think about Lo Debar.

And here, in Lo Debar, with the rejected of society, Mephibosheth resides – with nothing to his name, no family, unable to even care for himself.

David sends for Mephibosheth and when this crippled man stands before the king, he says, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

David goes on to tell Mephibosheth that he will be given all the land that belonged to Saul’s family. Not only that, but David gives him workers to farm the land.

And then David tells Mephibosheth that he will have a place at the kings table to feast every day for the rest of his life, just like a son of the king.

From Lo Debar to the king’s palace.

How much greater is the mercy we have received from the Father! From our Lo Debar – utter need and depravity, spiritual blindness and eternity separated from God - to living in freedom and feasting at the table of the King.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I haven't sat down to write in quite some time, so I should probably take advantage of a quiet moment and catch up a bit. This will probably be random...

Life is....good. I'm learning everyday, but sometimes I feel like I'm doing so many things and none of them to the best of my ability. I'm a wife, a mommy, a homemaker, and I work two part-time jobs. Most of those labels are not optional. Mouths must be fed, laundry must be done, and at this time in our lives, I need to bring in some income. I just don't want to miss out on the incredible blessings of each day with Shaun and Kaylee. This weekend our pastor was teaching on what it means to be a godly woman, and one of the things he said is, "Your home needs to be your headquarters." That's what I want more than anything, so I'm just learning to re-focus and structure my life in a way that that is true. And, more than anything, I want what God wants for my life. I tacked up a piece of paper in my office at church yesterday that says, "Live Faithfully, Live Intentionally, Live Missionally, Live Expectantly." That is my heart's desire as I walk in faith and follow the Lord's leading.

Last week I went to SPU where I did my nursing education to share with the OB class our story of losing Zachary at the invitation of one of my former professors. Everything in me wanted to decline...it just seemed a little bit to difficult to relive that pain, and I hate...and I mean hate...talking in front of groups. But, God reminded me very clearly that it's really HIS story to tell, and that He can share it in whatever way He wants to. My job is to steward our testimony well and make the most of every opportunity to proclaim His faithfulness. And, it went so well. I really feel like the Lord directed my thoughts. I actually had an awesome sense of peace knowing that all I had to do was say yes, and God took it from there.

What else has gone on in the past several weeks...

Well, over a month ago now we had the privilege of dedicating Kaylee with our church family. What a day! While I grieved that her big brother was not on the stage with us, it was really such a special opportunity to commit ourselves as parents to raise her to know and love Jesus.

And, just in the past couple of weeks Kaylee has discovered her feet (and has quite the affection for them), laughed for the first time, rolled over, copied us making kissy faces at her, reached out to grab toys, and more. At times I just wish I could push the pause button...I can't even believe that four months have gone by. I just want to soak in every day with my sweet family.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm sitting on the couch in our living room right now. I just folded a mountain of laundry. Kaylee's sleeping peacefully in her crib with her hands above her head. The dishwasher just finished its last cycle. Dinner's almost ready.

And I am overwhelmed with the goodness that God has poured out in my life...to the point of tears.

Psalm 30:5b - "...weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

Sometimes I simply can't believe that this is the sound that fills our home:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalm 126:5

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We have been battling fear for the past week. From Shaun waking up five times a night just to make sure that Kaylee is still breathing, to me imagining up every worst case scenario for her cold symptoms, I know Satan is just loving watching us suffer within anxiety's grip. It is a minute-by-minute battle to trust the Lord and place Kaylee's life in His sovereign hands once again.


You'd think I would have it down by now.

It frustrates me that I don't.

I'm so thankful that God is patient with me. I've been learning lately that when we're following Him by faith, He usually only illuminates the path a few steps in front of us. Just enough to know where to take the next step. Kind of like a flashlight, not a floodlight. And, really, I don't think we would want to be able to see everything that lies ahead of us. One step at a time is okay.

"Those who know Your name trust in You,
for You, Lord, have never forsaken
those who seek You."
- Psalm 9:10

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In the past couple of weeks I have received some of the most deeply meaningful gifts of my life. It has been truly humbling.

The first gift was given to me by an awesome girl named Sarah. Her sweet baby boy, Holden, was stillborn last August. In his honor, Sarah and her husband started a foundation called Holden Uganda with the goal of funding nine wells in areas of Uganda without access to clean water. They started with a goal of nine wells because they enjoyed nine wonderful months of life with Holden while Sarah carried him. Sarah shared with me a couple of weeks ago that she had been touched by our testimony of Zachary’s life and death, and then she asked if she could name well #9 in honor of our son. I read and re-read her email several times. I was just so humbled that Zachary’s impact would extend beyond his life with us here to help those in need in an entirely different part of the world! Thank you, Sarah, for choosing to allow the Lord to use Holden’s life to display His glory. And, thank you for honoring our son’s short life in such an amazing way.

Just a few days after that, I received a package in the mail from another dear friend whose daughter, Emily, was stillborn just a couple of months after Zachary died. Tristen, Emily's mom, had submitted Zachary’s name to an organization called “To Write Their Names In The Sand” (namesinthesand.blogspot.com). It was started by a couple whose child was stillborn in 2008. As names of children who have died are submitted, this couple writes their names in the sand on the beach and takes a picture at sunset. The pictures are incredible! And, Zachary’s name "just happened" to be written in the sand and captured in a beautiful photo on November 27th, the same day that Kaylee was born. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the date that the picture was taken!

Also included in the package from Tristen was an adorable pink and white outfit. She explained to me in her card that the outfit was the only thing she had purchased for Emily before she was born. She said that as soon as she found out that we were expecting a girl, she knew she wanted to give that outfit to me for Kaylee to wear. Thank you, Tristen, for entrusting me with such a special and important gift. That outfit has been hanging on the side of Kaylee’s crib as a reminder that life is a precious gift.

In the past couple of weeks I have been reminded very poignantly that God is faithful…that we will never fully understand the innumerable ways that God wants to bring beauty from the ashes in our lives…that He wants to continue to use Zachary’s short life to accomplish great things. I feel so blessed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One of the greatest joys of the past seven (yikes, seven!) weeks has been to watch Shaun love Kaylee. I know that it fulfills a deep longing in his heart to be a dad..a hole that had been left painfully empty after Zachary died...and he is awesome. Really awesome.

Kaylee is a really easy baby (I guess I don't know what a difficult baby is, but she seems easy...), but after 10pm she doesn't do quite as well. She's a bit of a terror, actually. But, Shaun discovered before we had even left the hospital that if he held Kaylee up close to his face when she was upset and whispered right in her ear that she would calm down. The same is true if he walks around and sings to her (only hymns for some reason, though...she starts screaming again if we try to sing a chorus...I've discovered how limited repertoire of hymns is!).

There have been many nights as I have watched Shaun walk circles around the living room while whispering to Kaylee or singing over her that I have thought to myself, 'Do I recognize the sound of my heavenly Father's voice like that? Is my life quiet enough to hear His whisper? And do I trust the love and comfort of a Father who delights in me enough to sing over me?'

I love Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV):
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."

I feel so blessed that my daughter has a daddy who loves her so, so much. But I feel even more blessed that we have a heavenly Father who, not only holds our lives in His strong hands, but loves us enough to hold us close and whisper words of comfort and peace when we need it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I read this verse this morning:

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." Psalm 3:5

As I walk through this year, I want to live with a complete dependence on my Sustainer. I want the truth that I am nothing without Him, and that everything belongs to Him to be in the forefront of my mind and affect every decision I make...the words that I choose...and my trust in His power and grace.

Although, reading that verse again just now gave me the giggles because I don't really lie down and sleep very much these days. :-)