Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year In Review...

I am not certain that I even know where to start, I just know that it has been awhile since I have written and I've got an itch. I suppose it is pretty typical for people to end the year with a summary of events, happenings and such. 
I came across a neat "worksheet" that had some questions and I felt like it helped me to gather my thoughts and really look back at what happened this year and how it has made me who I am in this moment. 

10 greatest things that happened in the past year:
1. I was the mother of two babies, both living and breathing, snuggly and here with me. 
2. I have been awakened to how amazing the people in my life are.
3. I have become more grateful for the small things, the simple life, and every moment I have with my loved ones.
4. My baby boy was healed of heart complications and was ushered into eternity. Not that it was great, but God's healing was provided. That, is great. 
5. I felt like I got more control over some of my out of control habits I have struggled with for years. Slowly but surely. 
6. Seeing my baby girl turn 2 years old.
7. Celebrating 6 years of marriage
8. The many birthdays, anniversaries and births of the year, of family and friends. All such celebrations.
9. Hearing of the many many people who were touched by Noah and his life. 
10. Being a stay at home mom, despite the sacrifice it is on our family. 

I am most proud of these three accomplishments from last year:
1. Not letting go of my faith after Noah died.
2. Seeing my girl learn her ABC's, counting past 10, have such manners, learn to start making decisions, have friends, play, learn about Jesus. Not that they are MY accomplishments, they are Ava's, but I feel so proud to be a part of her life and be her mommy. 
3. Learning to live life after the death of my baby. 

Three great lessons I’ve learned from last year are:
1. God IS God. He IS good. He SEES me. He Knows.
2. Life can change in the matter of a second.
3. Death isn't bad. 

Three personal developments I have made in the past year are:
1.I have learned to dig deeper into myself, to be more honest with myself and the Lord.
2. journal/prayer journaling, after a dry spell during the initial grieving time when Noah died. 
3. Less soda. this. is. HUGE.

If I could do things again last year, I would do these three things differently:
1. I would seek out more support, earlier in the grieving process
2. I would have tried harder to not expect the worse, even when it felt like that is all that ever happened to us.
3. Prayed about things more than I talked about them.

Three things I need to do less of in the next year are:
1. complain
2. stress
3. assume

Three things I need to do more of in the next year are:
1. pray
2. pray
4. dig deeper in the Word
5. simplify 

Three things I need to stop doing completely in the next year are:
1. doubting God's power
2. holding back in my prayers
3. being so judgemental in general

Three reasons I didn’t achieve my goals from this past year are:
1. not sure I had any goals. 
2. my main goals ended up being to just get through each day
3. grieving is a process and each day is a new goal.

Three goals I want to achieve this next year are:
1. simplify my life, our home life and as much as possible. 
2. declutter
3. be purposeful in health

Three reasons why I want to achieve these goals are:
1. to appreciate what really matters
2. to be cleared of clutter so that I can be free to live for the Lord
3. to be healthy for my family

Smartest decision I made last year: This is going to sound odd, but Nick and I had to make the hardest decision of our lives on February 22, 2013. That was to release Noah to the Lord and to allow his body to not be living on machines. This was, the hardest, most gut wrenching and heart breaking decision I have been a part of making, but I know it was the right one. God instilled that in us so deeply. 

Biggest risk I took last year: starting in 2012, we started an adventure we had no idea would turn out the way it did, but we trusted the Lord and set out on the adventure he wanted us on. 

One sentence that sums up this past year:
I will trust God's character, even when I do not understand his ways. 

One year from right now, I want to my ideal day to look like this:
Healthy choices, Christ at the center, family focused, decluttered, less junk, less busy. More creative, ready for another new chapter. The next year is definitely a season of preparation. 

Maybe this next year will be one of even more healing, joy and light heartedness. I know it will also come with its hardships and trials. I do pray that it is a year of redemption, reward and refreshment. I know that I desire simplicity, cleaning out of heart and home, changes in my daily routine and more time for what really matters, not what I think matters or what I think I should be doing for my image or how people perceive me. God is calling me to be focused on the most important things, still, and go even deeper in that calling. 
Have a blessed 2014. 

Thank you is not enough to express my gratitude for all the support and love over this past year. It has FLOWN by. Some days it feels like Noah died yesterday, other days it feels like a lifetime ago. Thank you all for the support and prayers. They are felt. 

be blessed, 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pondering Mary

I always wanted to be Mary. Well, on Christmas I did. Mimi always had us all gather around for the reading of the Christmas story from Luke and as the story was read, we each would take our figurine from the nativity and place it in the scene. I always wanted to be Mary, but I ended up being a cow or a sheep. Sometimes I would get Mary and I would feel so special. Mary's figurine is feminine, gentle, peaceful and lovely. I felt like I had arrived, if I got handed Mary. I think deep down I have always wanted to be a mother. Mom would have to tell me to stop mothering my sister when we were little. I remember day dreaming about kids, a family, babies, etc. I have, for as long as I can remember, wanted to be a mom. Oddly enough, because kids tend to drive me crazy. haha. Mary tends to get a little too much attention in my book, as far as some denominations and religions go, but the older I have gotten I tend to lean on Mary's testimony and her example of faith and courage more and more.

Mary knew, from day one, that her son would die. When the angel came to her, a sweet teenage girl, and revealed to her God's plan for her, (don't we all wish, sometimes, that we could be told so plainly what God is going to do in the next season of our life) she was told she would give birth to the son of God and that he would be the Messiah. The savior of all the world.
I remember laying in the Dr's office and getting the news that Noah had half a heart, that he would need surgery immediately after birth and that it was a very serious heart defect that some babies don't survive. Absolute fear, trembling, anger and questioning came over my spirit, my entire person was overwhelmed with emotion and fear. The Dr didn't start with "do not be afraid" like Gabriel did. I wish I had that to cushion the blow, but I didn't. I like to think that being told, at 15 or 16, that God was going to make me pregnant, with his divine offspring, that I would react as Mary did, but I know for a fact, that I would not have had such faith, poise and grace as the scripture portrays. (I also like to think that she had at least a mild freak out at some point in the journey. In Luke 1:29 it does say she was troubled. So, I do feel a little encouraged. haha)

I wonder what it was like to raise her boy, knowing he would die the most cruel of deaths, for people who wouldn't deserve to stand where her son would walk, much less have him take their place in punishment of their sin. When Jesus took his first baby steps, did she cry with joy, but at the same time pain? When Jesus began his ministry did she want to hold him back and keep him home, just because she knew what was coming? I suppose she was like any mother, with each milestone she celebrated, but she also cried a little inside. I think about all the hype and craziness of Christmas and for her, "Christmas" was not a party, it wasn't glitz and glam, it wasn't even a holiday or an event. She lived what most of us could never even imagine, she gave birth on a pile of straw, as the livestock watched, ate and pooped a few feet away. She did not have the luxury of pain management. She endured the pains of child birth in every sense and as she "pondered these things in her heart" I do not think she was pondering all the details of the day, the baby shower gifts the Magi brought or the woolly visitors of that day. I think as she pondered, she was thinking of her son who was born to die. What a heavy burden to bear as a mother. That night was filled with a bitter sweetness that only she could understand or explain.  She didn't plan her elf on the shelf or go to 5 different stores for stocking stuffers. She didn't decide between the play carpentry set or the wagon for Jesus. She didn't max out a credit card to be the best mom ever. She simply held her baby and I believe, she soaked up every moment she could, knowing he would live to die.

Christmas is so much more than the hype. We all know that, but what if we responded to the Lord's plans and callings on our life as Mary did? What if we told him, "may it be to me as you have said". What if we gently questioned the Lord, as she did, but when He gives us an answer, we don't argue back or become hardened, but submit our spirit and heart to the Lord for his purpose, knowing it is higher and far better than our own.

Christmas Eve is magical, it is lovely, and there are things about it that make my heart skip a beat. This day has had its ups and downs for me. I think back to last year and remember that I was so torn between spending time with my girl and my baby boy. We were 6 hours from home, most of the family, our church and everything comfortable. I remembered, as I sat in our Christmas Eve service this evening, that Mary was hundreds of miles from home, with no family, (besides her fiance) was a new mom, trying to make a stable comfortable and trusting that God had a plan for them. Mary was so humbled, surrendered and submitted. I pray that I can always strive to be just that. I pray that I can continue to trust that God's plan for my children is perfect and that the hole I have in my heart is not an eternal hole. Because of Mary's baby boy, my baby boy was able to be received into heaven, whole and perfect. Because of Mary's boy, I get to see my baby boy again someday. Because of Mary's faith and trust in the Lord, ALL OF THIS BEGAN. If she hadn't of surrendered herself, her needs, her wants, fears and worries, we perhaps could have never had a reason to celebrate anything.

Thank you Mary for being the example of gentleness, trust, faith and surrender. I am thankful for your story, your mothering, your testimony of faith. I'm inspired to continue to trust the Lord with ALL things. May I never forget that God chooses his faithful for the hardest tasks. He walks alongside, he never leaves and he always comes through.

Merry Christmas to each of you and your families. May the Lord richly bless you and yours. Do not forget that we have a Savior who longs for us, desires us and is jealous for us. Give him yourself, your whole self, this season. Trust him. Love him. Share him.

All for Him,
Noah's momma

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making Headway Painfully

And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about bthe fourth watch of the night1 he came to them, walking on the sea. cHe meant to pass by them...
Mark 6:48

Our small group discussed Mark 6:45-52 this evening and this verse stood out to me so much. Grief is a journey, we all know that and hear it so often. Life is full of moments where we are going along and things are going wonderfully and there are times in our life where we feel like we are dragging our feet through the mud getting nowhere fast. The disciples had just gotten in the boat after the feeding of the 5,000+, they were worn, moody, tired, weary, hungry(because they were busy serving, not eating) and a little done for. They were frustrated with the fact that Jesus wanted them to get in the boat and get across the sea in the wind and storm. It says, "and he say that they were making headway painfully. I do no think I have ever read that verse and it stick out to me so much, like it did tonight. Since May of 2012 I have felt like it is a constant battle to seek the good in our situation, it is a constant battle to not be jealous of others, a constant battle to keep trusting the Lord, a constant struggle and tiring journey of enduring all God has asked us to go through. I see now that we have been making headway painfully. The storm was rough, the winds were  and yet they were making headway. They weren't stuck in one spot, they weren't drowning, they weren't capsized or washed ashore, they didn't die out in the storm or get lost. They were making headway painfully. I suppose there have been times over the last year or so that I completely felt like throwing in the towel, giving up on Christ and just forget about trust, faith, his goodness. I know that each day, each hard moment, each weeping night, it is painful, but it is progress. I continue to make headway painfully. Jesus was watching them from afar and it says He meant to pass by them. At first that seems insensitive and rude. It makes you wonder if Christ was being super selfish and didn't want to deal with the disciples because of their crappy attitude or if he just needed some alone time or what, but I realized this evening as we all discussed that just like when we as parents, let our children learn through their hardship, their experience, we make them keep trying even when they don't want to, so they will LEARN. It seems like Jesus was doing just that. Making the disciples push through and make headway painfully, for a purpose. Always for a purpose. 

So, maybe you are in the middle of some raging storm, you're wondering what the point of it all is, where is the life preserver, is Jesus even there? He is. Maybe He is passing you by, for the moment, because if you read further you will see that he didn't abandon them when they called out to him. He was there, he calmed the storm, he got them to the other side. He always knows what he is doing and he purposes every part of the journey. The storm you are in, well, if you are trusting him, even when it doesn't make sense, if you are still rowing, not giving up, if you are holding on tight and just can't seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, keep holding on. You are making headway painfully. You are. Remember, it is in the painful headway that gets us to the place where we SEE Christ. It is coming. (As I type this, I am reminding myself that I have to believe this word, I have to actually take in the promise that I am making headway, I am still wondering where the shore is, the light at the end of the tunnel, the reason we are still in the tunnel...) 

Painful headway leads to Christ's storm calming, shore arriving, fear eliminating presence. 

and isn't that all we really need? Is him?

Be blessed, 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Isaiah 9:6

Driving to St. Louis last week... It was dark outside, nick was driving, Ava was watching a movie and I was crying quietly as I scrolled through pictures of my precious boy and the journey we were on this time last year. All I wanted was to be home and now all I want is to be wherever Noah is. C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote in A Grief Observed,
To kiss those cheeks again, what I wouldn't give.
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is  uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me."

It's an odd thing to grieve. It comes and goes. At times I have founds myself speechless and quiet, trying to hold back sobs, while everyone just admires their littles ones and goes on and on about how amazing they are and how blessed they are to watch them grow up. There are days, like recently, where I have had to apologize after for being so blunt as to use the words, "dead kid card" while describing how a certain person in our life never charges us when we use her for her services. I said it as if noah was our ticket to getting "special privledges". Which is totally untrue. We are simply loved and blessed by this particular person and she chooses to love on us by letting us have a price break. I realized it sounded so tacky and I had to apologize and thankfully that person knows I just say things like they are and wasn't meaning to be rude. I just call it like I see it and I have a dead kid. I didn't choose it, I certainly never wanted to be someone who has to go on this journey of child loss, grief and turmoil. I just have to take things a day at a time and try my best to be thankful and praise Him for everything in every situation I find myself in. Sometimes finding the humor is part of that process.

 I've been seeing all these blogs being reposted with titles like, "10 things to do while on the toilet" "18 things I wish I knew when I was 5" "44 things your mom never told you about boiling perfect eggs" it's been driving me crazy. I read a few and some I enjoyed, others not so much. There was one on grief and I agreed with it. I do feel like the more I learn about grief the more I feel like everyone knows what I don't know and is waiting for me to join the grief club and get on with life. Sometimes I feel like people are wondering when I am going to get over it and not talk about it anymore or be ok finally.  I am thankful that Christ doesn't deal with us in lists. Although, I have a slight obsession with them. I just know that The Lord lets me deal with all of this as I need to. He is patient and kind. He doesn't push me or try to make me feel things I don't want. He lets me not want another baby on Monday and by Thursday change my mind. He knows that part of my motherhood feels black and empty. He knows that nothing will ever fill that place that my boy should tangibly be. I kind of wonder some days, if the further we get from Noah's death if I will have anything left to write, but I know God is always teaching me something.

Death is such a hard thing. It effects each person left here on earth, differently. May God comfort and hold each one hurting, today and always.

So, my list for today?

Be intentional
Hug your children
Love them well
Tell your spouse you love them and mean it
Do something for someone just because
Take a minute and slow down.
TPaw & The Mighty Noah
Do what you say you will do
Mean what you say
Start a tradition
Keep a tradition
Give thanks
Let it go
Lay it down
Don't turn back

Isaiah 9:6 is a typical Christmas time verse and I felt it has been so over used, but recently I have realized that it is an absolutely incredible verse for everyone, but especially those hurting and grieving deeply.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

When I think about the journey we have been on since may of 2012, I think of the depth of pain I have endured on so many levels, the lonely feeling nights, the long days, the months that dragged on and on, the times when I was more than helpless and somehow each of these names of Christ have found me in the place I'm in at the time.

Wonderful Counselor
It was sometime in May of 2012 and we had found out we were pregnant, that we were 20 weeks along and that our son had half a heart and there was no chance of it growing or developing. Surgery was his only hope to live and that would have to be done in another town, closest being 6 hours away from home. I came home from that appointment and wept. and wept and wept and wept. I curled up in the fetal position and wept some more. I could not attend to my daughter, I could not even try to put a smile on my face or pretend it was going to be ok. I just mourned and mourned. Deeply. Imagine your son dying. That was what I was crying about. Even though there was a 80% chance of him living I still cried like he was going to die. It hurt. It cut me deeply, in places of my heart I didn't know were there. I finally fell asleep that night and woke up the next morning determined to get in the Word and find some solace. He led me to two scriptures and there He was my personal Counselor. He counseled me on how to find strength, look ahead, wipe my tears and be strong, in Him for my son on the way and my family. He reminded me that He is in control and that He had a plan. He was and continues to be my Wonderful Counselor. When Noah actually did die, and obviously through all of the ups and downs of his little (really huge) life, he was my daily counselor, encouraging me, listening to me and finding me in my hole, pulling me out and helping me move forward. Still, he helps me get up, helps me be thankful, hears me when I weep, congratulates me when I succeed, rejoices over me with singing when I come to new realizations and holds me when I'm shaking with grief. He will always and forever be my Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God
There have been moments since May of 2012 that I have felt as if I were the smallest living thing on the face of the earth and certainly God didn't have the time or desire to answer me or to hear my cries. There were 3 times when I watched them take my Noah to the OR for open heart surgery. Three times I sat for hours on end helpless, completely spent by praying continually as they opened his chest, worked on his heart, and stabalized him and close him back up. There were 5 months of constant concern, waiting, hoping, praying, crying. Nights when I wouldn't go to sleep until 3 am only to wake up at 7 am calling and checking on him. There were moments when I wondered how we would ever go on. Afternoons when I wondered how much longer we had with him and if it was the last time I would hold him. There were days when I felt as if my son was the last boy on the list for answered prayers. I felt tiny. I felt unseen. I felt unheard. Mighty God, what a name. Dad coined Noah as "The Mighty Noah". It stuck. Many people called him that. including the staff. When I felt like we were lonely and nothing else could go wrong, Mighty God would come in and make it better. We would have a good day with peace and no crazy. We would have a blessing in a clear echo or a day with no O2 problems, etc. I will even say, the night Noah died, Mighty God came to the rescue. He knew my Noah was  hurting, suffering and not truly living here on earth and he scooped him up and rescued him by taking him home. Mighty God. Truly. He continues to be Mighty God is many ways. He was Mighty God when over 200 people showed up to Noah's celebration fellowship. He was Mighty God when we had blizzard that postponed Noah's service so that I would have no choice but to be snowed in with my husband, daughter, sister and best friend for 2 days. :) :) Mighty God indeed, when I was able to lead my church family in Noah and I's favorite worship song. He is Mighty God when from the back seat I hear Ava talking about her bubby, about Jesus, watching her close her eyes and worship. He truly is a Mighty God, even in our lowest moments.

Everlasting Father
Peaceful as ever
This is kind of a hard one. It is obviously the name which is the most intimate I suppose. Counselor, God, and then Father. When I think of Father I have a very wonderful image and am thankful for my wonderful Father here on earth. He has painted the best picture of Father for me, besides Christ and I can never fully thank him enough. He is human though and so he cannot be an everlasting father. For me, Everlasting Father means that as I couldn't and can't be Noah's tangible and real mommy and take care of him, make it better or fix it, He can and He does. For eternity He will continue to be not only Noah's father, but mine. Nick was the best daddy to Noah he possibly could be, but Christ fathers Noah in only ways that he can. For that I am peaceful and hopeful that through the Everlasting part of Christ, made possible by his death, I will be reunited, perfectly, with Noah. Thank you Everlasting Father, for never giving up, giving in or letting go of us. You are everlasting in all ways and  you never change. Thankful for that hope, strength and peace.

Prince of Peace
Prince of Peace. Well, this one is an interesting one for me. Prince. Not King of Peace. I suppose part of how I imagine this one is that since it is talking about Christ, that the King of Peace sent the son of peace to earth, making him the Prince of Peace. This shows his submissive and obedient heart as the son of God. This proves his willingness to obey the Father, follow the Father, and worship the Father. What does this mean for us? It means for us to experience peace, we must know the prince. We must also follow his example and we will find peace in our obedience, our worship and our knowing the King. What more could we ask for but for peace? We all long for peace, ask for peace, desire peace on earth, in our home, with our kids, our spouse our job. Maybe following the Prince of Peace's example would cause us to have peace in ways we can't even imagine. Part of learning this was during the days that I could not function, when I didn't want to be strong, when I couldn't stand my baby girl and husband being far away, when I can't stand the thought of never holding my baby boy again, I submit to the King and He always always brings me peace. It might not be instant, but if I continue to seek him and ask, he always provides peace. Peace that is not explainable, peace that runs deep. Peace that makes it ok that Noah died. Peace that allows me to trust him with future children. Peace that reminds me that Ava will grow up and it will feel too fast, but to take it a day at a time and soak it all up, not to stress and freak out about it all. The Prince of Peace is Wonderful, Mighty and Everlasting.

Christmas photoshoot with Mimi, Tpaw and nurse Emily
I hope that you had a lovely Thanksgiving and that as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, we will all realize that without the birth of Christ and more importantly the death and ressurection of Christ, we would be completely hopeless and lost. May we continually thank Him for His goodness to us all.

Love and Christmas blessings,
Noah's mommy