Ready or Not…

November has arrived… due date month.

It’s strange, if you walked into our house today you’d never guess that we’re only a week and a half away from our official due date. It doesn’t look much like we’re preparing for a baby.

The infant car seat is still stashed away in the laundry room closet; the pack-n-play folded on it’s shelf in the basement. The “nursery” is home to Natalie’s dress up clothes and a crib that remains in toddler bed mode as a place for her to sit when she plays there.

No newborn clothes fill the dresser, washed and ready to go. They remain packed away in storage crates. No tiny diapers, no wipes, no baby shampoo stocked up in the bathroom.

And while my suitcase for the hospital is packed, there’s no diaper bag with a sweet little “going home” outfit inside. Instead my extra bag is full of things to stash in the NICU… things I hope might keep me busy (mentally and physically) for the weeks we’ll likely spend there.

Yes, things look different this time around. In some ways I feel ready, in many ways I do not.

As the day of our baby girl’s arrival draws near I prepare what I can and continue to “pray without ceasing”. I’ve taken the stance of the persistent widow in one of the parables Jesus told (Luke 18:1-8). I continue to ask for a miracle, knowing He is able but also knowing that He may have a different answer. And while I’ll admit that I’d prefer the miracle, I will trust Him and lean on Him no matter what.

We so appreciate the support we’ve received on this journey. Please continue to pray for us as we await our little one’s birth. If it helps, here are some specific things we’d covet your prayers for…

  • Healing. I told God I’m going to keep asking, while still trusting Him whatever the outcome may be. A complete miracle would be beyond amazing, but even a partial healing – with an outcome less complex than the doctors are predicting – would be wonderful. Especially for her heart to be more balanced so that a biventricular repair would be an option (as opposed to single ventricle) and that the medical unknowns (things that just can’t be seen yet) turn out to be all good news.
  • Wisdom. For the medical teams that will be working with her and for us, as parents, to take in all the information we’re given and make the best decisions we can as needed.
  • Protection. Over this baby and over me as we prepare for labor and delivery. Thankfully the doctors do not anticipate any complications related to the heart defect.
  • Natalie. She has been sweetly praying for her baby sister for so long and understands well, for what her age allows, what is going on. That being said, it will be an adjustment for her and I hope to make it as smooth and supported as possible.
  • Peace, rest, strength, and comfort. There are a lot of unknowns ahead. Please pray that we continue to find strength in God in every step of the journey.

Thank you again for all the kind encouragement, prayers, and loving support. We appreciate it more than words can say!

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Dear Faith

Dear Faith,

Happy 5th birthday my sweet daughter! I can’t believe it has been five years since I held you in my arms.

It’s funny, but ever since you were born I’ve pictured you in Heaven about the age you would be now. I don’t know why but that’s how I’ve often imagined you… a young girl with long brown hair, smiling and giggling as you run through Heaven. A girl big enough to run into my arms, but small enough to still nestle onto my lap.

The words of an old Jars of Clay song make me think of you…

In open fields of wild flowers, she breathes the air and flies away, she thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses in no simple language, someday she’ll understand the meaning of it all

When I think of you running through Heaven I think of Heaven like that – not just the golden streets but also a huge field full of tall grass and flowers that tickle your legs and never make you sneeze! I picture you, never getting tired, never getting hurt, never feeling sad. I imagine your pure joy as you revel in a place that knows no sorrow or pain or sickness or death.

And I think of how incredible it is that you already understand the meaning of it all.

The song goes on to say…

Someday she’ll trust Him, and learn how to see Him, someday He’ll call her, and she will come running

I rejoice in knowing that you already live that, in a purer and deeper way than you ever could here on earth. You trust Him. You’ve seen Him with your own eyes. He called you Home on the day you were born and you came running.

Maybe that’s why I picture you running today. Running to His arms with the joy of a little girl who has never known anything but love. From my womb where you were treasured and so deeply loved, to His arms where you are fully known and loved beyond comprehension.

I miss you, but I am so thankful to know where you are and Who is holding you until I can hold you again.

With love always my sweet girl,

Mommy

Faith foot

 

Behind the Blue Swing

There’s a worn patch of grass behind the blue swing.

I stand there, pushing and pushing, until my arms ache. Sometimes she giggles or sings or chats with me. Sometimes she calls “higher, higher!” and I do my best to oblige, despite the fact that she is much bigger than she was last year, and the year before that. Sometimes she sits quietly, lulled by the peaceful rhythm, soaking in the sun that filters through the branches above us.

I watch her.

The way her little hands grasp the rope. The soft wisps of hair blowing against her cheeks. Long eyelashes behind oversized sunglasses that rest on that sweet nose I love to kiss.

My eyes wander to the woods and brush behind our yard.

Green tips the ends of the branches, spring is finally coming. A tiny woodpecker circles the wide trunk of a tree, searching for the perfect spot to find a snack. A white butterfly flutters here, a bumble bee zips there. Deer, barely visible unless they move, tip toe along trampled paths, just beyond the dog’s reach. A hawk glides and lands in a tall tree, folding his wings and peering out regally from his high perch.

I want to capture the moment… the squeak of the swing, the sway of the branch, the song of the birds our only accompaniment. It’s peaceful, my thoughts are quiet, and I can enjoy just being together.

In a world full of busyness, distractions, to do lists, and noise, I hope I never forget to stop and savor the precious time I share with my little girl.

I am so thankful for her, and for the simple joy I find… behind the blue swing.

 

PS It’s been a long time! Hoping to be back with some updates soon and wishing everyone a very wonderful Easter weekend. If you’re interested, here are a few of my Easter posts from last year: While We Were, Bought with the Precious Blood, and Empty.

A Woman Who Fears the Lord

Oh the Proverbs 31 woman…

How many times have we read this passage? How many times have we wondered if we could ever measure up?

I know, for me at least, she seems like an intimidating figure. Elizabeth Bennet’s words in Pride and Prejudice come to mind, “she would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold”.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be able to say that I have all the qualities that the “worthy woman” possesses. And I do believe it’s right to use her as an example to follow. As wives and moms we should strive to care for our homes and families in the way she does.

But…

I also think that the most important quality she possesses is summed up in one single verse, and without that quality she could not be praised as she is.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

charm is deceptive, woman who fears the Lord

Of all the things we should strive for, this is the most important by far. To fear the Lord. As Christian women we sometimes get caught up in the rest of the list, but even if we matched every other description given, without this fear of the Lord, what would it matter?

Know that the things this world sees and evaluates – appearances, accomplishments, abilities – are nothing when compared to the lasting impact of a life focused on the Lord. And know too that the more we keep our hearts and eyes focused on Him, the more we’ll find His strength in our weakness.

Instead of putting the “Proverbs 31 woman” on a pedestal and feeling like we can never measure up, let’s put God in His rightful place above all else and know that with Him we can live a praiseworthy life.

Let’s be women who fear the Lord.

 

Weekly Word: Encouragement for Moms

Read: Proverbs 31:10-31

Remember: Proverbs 31:30

Reflect: As a mom of a little girl, I want to model the qualities of a woman who is to be praised in a way that will mold and shape her as she grows. I want her to see me as being devoted to our family, our home and, most importantly, our Lord. Consider this week the traits that you model in front of your children. Are you modeling what it looks like to fear the Lord? 

 

 

 

Worth Much More

Merriam-Webster defines worry in this way: “to think about problems or fears, to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen”.

Oh yes. Worry. It’s a tough one.

Motherhood is full of things to worry about isn’t it?

We’d been home with Natalie for only a few days. It was late, she’d just finished nursing and fallen asleep all swaddled in my arms. I lay her down in the pack-n-play next to our bed. I was exhausted and happy to settle down to sleep myself.

And then she spit up. Everything she had just eaten. Everywhere. She started crying… and so did I.

What if she was sick? Was it something I’d eaten that made it happen? Now she would be hungry again and would I be able to feed her after I’d just finished nursing?

Looking back those worries seem kind of silly. She was perfectly fine. She nursed again and fell asleep and all was well. But in the moment… 

She’s older now but there’s still plenty to worry about, as there always will be. And while the specific things I worry over change as she grows, I’ve found that my worries consistently fall into two main categories: worries about myself as a mother, and worries about something bad happening to her.

Sometimes I think, well that’s just part of being a mom isn’t it? And yes, in my humanness and in the nature of this life it probably is. 

But at the same time I know that Jesus taught us not to worry – and that includes my motherhood worries.

Think about this… will I become a better mom by worrying? Does it change me in a positive way to spend time worrying about the decisions I make or the job I do as a mom? No.

And can I protect my daughter from the troubles and dangers of this world by worrying? Again the answer is no. My act of worrying won’t keep her from getting a skinned knee or a broken heart.

So as moms let’s remember today the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:26,

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

birds of the air, worth much more, do not worry

Our heavenly Father holds us in His hands, and He holds our children too. He knows our needs, He sees our struggles, and He will care for us all along the way. He provides for the birds and He will provide for us.

We all – moms and children alike – are worth much more.

So when worries come, let’s bring them to the Lord in prayer instead of dwelling on them in our hearts and minds. Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Let’s remember our worth in His eyes and know that He wants us to lay down our worries to focus our hearts on Him. 

 

 

Weekly Word: Encouragement for Moms

Read: Matthew 6:25-34

Remember: Matthew 6:26

Reflect: Challenge yourself this week – take every worry that enters your mind and turn it into a prayer. Know that you, and your children, are worth much more in His eyes and He will take care of you.

 

 

The Moments that Matter

We should have been upstairs getting ready for bed. Instead we were spinning and falling down dizzy and giggling uncontrollably.

It was one of the best moments of my day, definitely worth delaying the bedtime routine a bit.

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Yesterday my Mom brought a stack of cassettes over. She also brought the little Playskool tape player we had when I was a kid so we could listen to them.

Some were full of songs and stories I listened to all the time growing up. Others had a collection of random recordings, including my early French Horn playing days and sound effects from a presentation I did in 5th grade (what?!).

I put on KidsSongs 2 while I cooked dinner. That tape was practically the soundtrack of my childhood. I found myself singing along, remembering the words of songs I haven’t heard in years.

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Natalie looked at me funny and giggled when I broke out dancing in the kitchen to “Rockin’ Robin”. And when “La Bamba” started to play I couldn’t help but text my sister who danced to that song countless times with me.

These are the moments that matter.

Moments to remember a beautiful childhood and the songs that bring it all back.

Moments to reflect on the wonder of life; my own daughter is twirling around the room to the same music I danced to when I was not much older than her.

Moments to laugh and sing and dance and be silly with my little girl, letting go of the day and whatever else it brought.

After dinner, when we should have been getting ready for bed, we put on more music. She pressed the buttons and talked into the microphone and asked for another song and I couldn’t say no.

Then we spun around together, holding hands, falling into a dizzy heap. She laughed that perfect belly laugh that only a little child has, and I laughed along at the pure joy of it all.

The moments that matter.

 

 

Let Me Just…

“Come play with me Mommy!”

“Let me just put these dishes away then I will.”

“Want to read books? Is that a good idea Mommy?”

“Let me just reply to this email real quick first.”

“I need some more milk Mommy.”

“Let me just carry this laundry upstairs then I’ll get it.”

Yesterday I caught myself starting far too many sentences with the same three words.

Let me just…

And although many of the things I needed to do were important, I was suddenly aware of how easily those words slipped out. An almost automatic response.

I’m not saying that I should immediately drop everything to do what Natalie asks or wants.  That wouldn’t be the right approach even if I could! I want her to learn patience and independence as she grows.

But there are times when I can drop everything for her. There are times when I do.

Countless dishes have sat on the counter longer than they should. Emails have gone unwritten and laundry baskets full of folded clothes have been known to sit in our family room for days.

It’s a balance, for her and for me. To learn when she needs to wait and when I need to rearrange my plans for her. To be honest, I much prefer tea parties and books over laundry and dishes anyway!

But those words yesterday got me thinking about something else… Do I ever approach my relationship with God in the same way?

How many times has my to do list come before my time with Him? How many times have much less important things stolen my attention?

“Let me just clean up the toys, make a snack, catch up on this TV show, get to bed a little early tonight…”

All the while I’m missing time with Him. Time to read the Word, pray, or simply be still.

Yes I have responsibilities to my family, my home, my job… but nothing is more important than my relationship with God.

It’s a balance, setting aside time to be alone with God while also taking care of the needs of day to day life. I definitely don’t have it all figured out. But I want to keep working on it. Thankfully, even when my time isn’t solely focused on Him, I know God is with me in everything I do.

So let me just pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17), even if that means while I drive to work or vacuum the living room.

Let me just sing hymns with Natalie before bed so we can share in the truths of His amazing grace together.

Let me just write Bible verses on the chalkboard to memorize so I can meditate on His Word day and night (Psalm 1:2).

And let me just be still in His presence whenever I can.

 

 

 

Motherhood and Being a Child of God

Last night, while we were reading stories before bed, Natalie smiled at me and said, “I’m so happy!”

I smiled back, “Why are you so happy?”

“Because you are here with me,” was her heart-melting reply.

*Sigh* I love that girl!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about motherhood. It is such an incredible privilege and responsibility…one that I am so very thankful to have.

motherhoodMotherhood has also given me a different perspective on being a child of God.

The love I feel for Natalie is unlike any other kind of love. It is a love that accepts her fully as she is, while still nurturing her and teaching her as she grows. My love for her doesn’t depend on circumstances. She can’t earn my love but she can’t lose my love either. I love her simply because she is my daughter.

Isn’t it the same with God’s love for us?

He loves me simply because I am His daughter. I did nothing to earn His love and I can do nothing to lose His love.

His love for me is full and lasting and complete. He loves me so much that He sent Jesus to die for my sins (1 John 3:16), for although His love is freely given, my forgiveness was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

And as much as I love my daughter, His love for me is even greater because I am an imperfect human and He is perfect God. That is an overwhelming thought!

But there’s another part of my identity as a child of God that is sometimes more of a challenge.

Consider this: as a mom I make choices for Natalie based on my perspective and understanding, which is above hers. I make decisions with her best interests in mind, even if she doesn’t like it. She might cry because I won’t let her eat ice cream as her dinner, but part of my responsibility in caring for her is to keep her healthy.

Likewise, I am God’s child and His perspective and understanding is far above mine (Isaiah 55:8-9). I know this is true but, I’ll be honest, it’s tough sometimes! I’ve had my crying child moments before and I’m sure there are more to come.

I am humbled by the reminder, through my role as a mother, of my role as a child as well. I know God is in control and that He has my very best interests in mind.

I am thankful for this gift of motherhood for so many reasons, but today I am especially thankful that it is a daily reminder of God’s love for me as His child.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”

John 1:12

As I think again about the sweet words Natalie said to me last night, it is my prayer that I reflect the same feelings toward my Father.

Oh Lord, I am so happy you are here with me!

 

 

The Answer is Still Yes

Nine years ago, in the midst of a snowstorm bad enough for my college to cancel classes, Steve and I got engaged.

He drove down the day before to beat the storm. We met up in the morning on Valentines Day to go out to breakfast and take a hike.

The hike part might sound a little crazy, but there was a little waterfall we liked to visit so we bundled up and braved the snowy cold. Of course I didn’t know then that it was part of Steve’s plan. I just thought it was a fun adventure.

Six years later I sat down at the computer to write about that day, this time through the lens of the loss of our first daughter, Faith. I shared these words…

We hiked through snow drifting deeper than my knees and followed the frozen stream back.

In front of the waterfall, on one knee on the ice, he asked and I said yes.

Love is not that giddy feeling, when the sparkle of a new ring catches your eye and all of your life together stretches before you full of unending possibility.

Love isn’t just for certain days, to be celebrated with flowers or sweet words in a card.  Love does not come and go with changing emotions and circumstances.

Love, true love, trudges through the snow with you.  Holds your hand when the road is full of trials alongside the triumphs.  Pulls you close when it’s dark and you’re sad and you just need someone to let you cry.

blog-valentine-2The sorrow I felt when I wrote those words has faded. But the love that stands by my side through it all is still here.

Our story continues, with new joys, new challenges, and a future full of unknowns. Whatever the days and years ahead may bring, my answer to the question of sharing them together is the same one I gave at the base of those frozen falls…

The answer  is still yes.

 

 

 

 

The Edge of the Bed

(For those who followed my previous blog this post may look familiar. Last night was another “edge of the bed” type of night that allowed for some 3:30am reflection time on how precious these moments are… wanted to share again in my new blogging space!)

“Mommy! Mommy!”

Her little voice pulled me out of bed sometime around 3am last night. Down the hall to the room with the moon nightlight shining on the ceiling. She was standing in her crib, stuffed animals tucked tight against her, hair covering half of her face.

I picked her up and cuddled her close, “What’s wrong sweetheart?”

She looked at me with wide eyes and pointed back down the hall to our room. I carried her there, settling her in bed between Steve and I. It didn’t take long for her to stretch out, diagonal across the middle, pushing me to the edge of the bed. She drifted back to sleep.

Me on the other hand… I stayed in a hazy half-sleep for a while. Her feet against my back, as well as the knowledge that I’d have to pick her up and carry her back to her crib, kept me partially awake.

I don’t know when I finally did lift her up from our bed, kiss her soft forehead, and lay her down in her crib once more. I do know that my alarm went off too soon afterwards and I hit snooze an extra time.edgebedI used to think I wouldn’t be one to let my kids come in bed with me. I was wrong.

Maybe I bring her in because it’s easier for me to lay back down with her quiet by my side than to listen to her cry. Maybe I just can’t resist those middle of the night cuddles. Or maybe Faith changed the way I parent. I guess I’ll never know that for sure, but I suspect it’s true in some ways.

I’m tired today, but that’s okay. Someday she won’t call my name in the night, won’t need me to lift her from her crib to hug her and kiss her and comfort her. But until then… I don’t mind the edge of the bed.