Monday, December 28, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - Prepared for the Lord?

“Just as Our Lord came into human history from outside,
so He must come into me from outside.
Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God?”

by ~ Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
I find this quote very.. intriguing (for lack of a better word)... And I suspect God is trying to get my attention. I, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, rarely give thought to Bethlehem. Oh, sure, I sing the song, I know that's where Jesus was born, as prophesied, but I don't usually think on it much more than that.. and here's this quote, following on the heels of a sermon our Pastor did this Advent. This year Glenn did an Advent series titled "Once Upon A Christmas". The first week was "Once Upon A Christmas, Far away in Bethlehem" (and you can listen to that sermon at the Timberview website, Dec. 3, 2009)
I find myself wishing I'd paid more attention to that sermon! :::chuckle::: One of the points I do remember though: Bethlehem was a little town, a mere six miles out of Jerusalem, three blocks long, blink and you miss it. It was a small little place. BUT it was the birthplace of Jesus. As a town, it didn't seem very significant, but it was certainly significant to God.
I can relate with THAT! I often don't feel significant. It's hard for me to remember that I matter to God. But I do, even, ESPECIALLY when I don't "feel" it.
Also, Bethlehem was a town that MADE ROOM for the birth of Christ. Oh, granted, it wasn't the most luxurious of settings. But at the end of the day (or the beginning of it) Mary and Joseph wrapped the "babe in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger." Bethlehem DID make room.
Do I make room? Do I open up my heart to Jesus? When I'm too busy and full, as Bethlehem's population had swollen due to the census, do I still find a place for Christ?
I'd love to just say Yes. But I'm very convicted by the fact that I haven't done a good job of that lately. I have neglected to open up my life, to prepare a place for the Lord lately. I'm grateful that we have a forgiving, graceful God who is always willing to give us second (and second million) chances.
Head on over to Miriam Pauline's Monologues to see what she and others had to say about this quote!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday - Post-Christmas

Another Christmas with Seth in Heaven

Christmas was bittersweet and beautiful this year. You can read about our Christmas Highlights here.

CHRISTmas highlights 2009

Well, so much for doing better blogging.. I got a bit bogged down by the holiday preparations, and I worked a few more days in December than usual. I want to share, though, some highlights of our CHRISTmas season.

Sean & Cary were both in the kids' Christmas musical put on by our church. Sean was "Wise man #2" and Cary was an angel - no typecasting there! Sean had a few lines and did great. Cary had a line said in unison with all the angels. They did GREAT. I was/am quite proud of them. Our church had a real baby Jesus and during the second service performance, he smiled at the wise men! Sean was completely tickled by that..

Sean is part of a special Sunday School class at our church for 5th and 6th graders. They did a "sand art" presentation for our Christmas eve service. Sean "drew" the star. They did an amazing job with that!

During our Christmas Eve service, I got to hold a 4 or 5 month old baby boy. It was magical. And bittersweet. I always miss Seth but am so grateful that we have the gift of our Lord from God and do not grieve without hope. So I got to hold this sweet, easygoing, smiley baby boy. Kayleigh took turns "holding" him (with help) on her lap. Sean took a turn or two. Afterwards, I gave the baby back to his mommy and Kayleigh said "OUR baby is in Heaven."

Also, during Christmas Eve service, Cary and Kayleigh were GOOD. REALLY good. They were quiet, aided by the fact that our children's pastor was handing out candy! But I was very pleased and impressed by their behaviour. At one point in the service, our pastor asked "Who needs forgiveness? Raise your hand" and everyone in the church raised their hand. Except Kayleigh. Who raised BOTH of her hands as high above her head as she could! Totally made me smile!

Christmas morning I didn't even have to open my eyes until 6:30am! I missed Kayleigh's first glance at the tree but NOT the "AHHH" gasp that came out of her when she did see it. The first things the kids got to do was open their stockings. Kayleigh was so cute, she pulled all the contents out of hers. "CANDY!" "A princess toothbrush" "A present" and she set the wrapped present aside. "Honey, you can open that." "Not right now" she said. Very cute. She saved up all the wrapped presents and had to be persuaded to open them! The kids had a great Christmas. We were very blessed this year and were able to provide and helped to provide a very nice Christmas for the kids. Cary got a skateboard that he's SLEPT with two nights in a row! Sean got a few books and he's been a reading maniac.

MY favorite gift was one my sister sent me. She took a jewelry making class and made us a lovely set of ornaments.

See the ornament on the lower right? It's for Seth. I was VERY touched that my sister included our Seth.

My mom and step-dad and grandma came over for Christmas dinner and we had a lovely evening.

But the BEST part of the day? Christmas morning, after the kids had opened their stockings, but before presents, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. It warmed my heart to hear my kids singing with such enthusiasm and sweet voices!

We had a lovely holiday. It had it's bittersweet moments of course. I continue to miss Seth. He is always in my heart and my mind. I did at one point find myself thinking "I have a son celebrating Christmas with Jesus in Heaven!" When I'm doing well, I can count it as a blessing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Improving bloggy communication

First another prayer request. This mom linked up to the Walking with you Christmas post I talked about here. Kim at Happily Henninger is 10 weeks pregnant and baby had been diagnosed with cystic hygroma. Right now, it's a waiting period and and I know how hard that is. Complicating that for Kim is the fact that her first born son was still-born at 30 weeks. Please pray for their family!

I stumbled across a way to improve communication between me and you! (Thanks to Cate at Show My Face who host Six-Word Saturdays). When you leave a comment on my blog, I receive it in an email. I do try and visit blogs as I can. Sometimes though I want to respond to the comment. I know some bloggers respond IN the comments but that feels awkward to me. But there IS a way we can make it work! Simply, you set your blogger profile so that when I get the comment in my email, I can hit return email and email to YOU! (As opposed to "No reply blogger" or whoever that other email is).. I'm not very tech savvy and I switched my settings in about two seconds. Cate linked to a GREAT tutorial and you can find that here.

Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to being able to more efficiently respond to your comments!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prayer Requests for my friends

I would like to put a couple of prayer requests out there... I know that a couple of my "four faithful followers" (since I'm sure I've been deserted by everyone else) believe in the power of prayer.

I don't know the pain and anguish of dealing with rebellious teenagers. I DO know the pain of losing a child and I have two friends who feel like their children are slipping away from them. I would prefer not to give their names since I haven't asked permission (yet).

My friend A's daughter, C, is suffering from some severe depression and has been suicidal. They are seeking out counseling but I know that her mom is worried. Please hold them up in your prayers. C is a younger teenager, still living at home.

In the other case, my friend M has a grown adult daughter. The daughter is pursuing her dreams, several states away from her parents, with the support of her parents. She has made some choices that her parents are fearful about and not been honest with her parents.

In both cases, I know the moms would appreciate prayers for peace, guidance and discernment. In "C's" case, prayers for the healing of her heart and mind, that she would see herself for who she is in Christ... I think actually, that same prayer could be said for both daughters.

Thank you friends for joining me in these intentions.

Walking with You - through Christmas...

Kelly at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace is hosting a Christmas edition of "Walking with You", encouraging us to share how we remember our lost loved ones at Christmas time. This will be our 2nd Christmas without Seth and I'm still figuring out what I want to do, how best to honor and remember our sweet boy.

Last year, our first Christmas without Seth, would have also been Seth's first Christmas with us. I buy each of my kids a Hallmark ornament for Christmas. For their first 5 years, I buy the "my (1st, 2nd, etc) ornaments" and for the years after that, I buy the ornaments designed to have the school pictures in them. So I think I will get the first 5 years for Seth, as I have for the boys and am procuring for Kayleigh..

Last year's is already hanging on the tree. It looks like this: In addition to that, the boys and I picked out a Christmas stocking last year to hang and remember Seth. It's a Winnie the Pooh Baby's 1st Christmas and will hang on our "stocking tree" (we don't have a mantel) with all our other stockings each year.

Additionally, I received last year, and already this year, a couple of "memorial" ornaments from friends. I SO appreciate others remembering Seth and our loss and those are also hanging on our tree.

The boys and I both last year and this picked out Toys for Tots. I let each boy choose a toy they would have bought for Seth if he was with us for Christmas. Last year, we picked "baby toys". This year, Sean picked a "See N Say".. Cary picked an "Etch a Sketch".. Yeah, Seth might not have been ready for that one THIS Christmas, but I'm sure he would have been by next Christmas and I appreciate the effort!

It's become a tradition in our family to take the cousins to see Santa, when my sister is here for Thanksgiving with my nephew Jack. This is last years picture (when we were still numb and I hadn't yet started reading blogs and seeing what others do to remember their cherished lost babies):

And this years:

Did you see the difference? I mean, beside the fact that the kids are all bigger (and can you believe they're all THAT much bigger in YEAR? Where does time go?) We decided to take a stuffed animal or Seth's "magic blankie" to "represent" him. The boys chose to take a "surgery bear". This bear was given to us a the hospital, we got one before each of Seth's surgeries. They use them as educational tools and the boys, Cary especially, have shown a particular attachment to the surgery bear.. At any rate, that's something I'd like to add to our traditions..

I don't have any plans to do anything special at the cemetery but the boys usually like to pick out a "gift" at the dollar store and we take those "for" Seth.

So far, those are the things we're doing to honor and remember Seth. I suspect it'll change over the years and evolve but we're still early in this journey. Head on over to Kelly's to see what others are doing to remember the loved ones no longer with them.

I just want to add a couple of things... Christmas last year was SO painfully awful. I Really LOVE the poem ("I"m spending Christmas with Jesus this Year") that Kelly shared on her blog, and I find it/found it quite comfortiing. But it didn't/doesn't erase the fact that we don't get to have Seth with us for Christmas. I am comforted that he is in Heaven but Christmas, being all about a baby boy, was not an easy time. I am hoping/praying that this year is better.. God has begun healing my heart. I am calmer about Christmas but I don't expect to necessarily sail through. If you know someone who's missing a loved one this Christmas, even if it's not the first year, REMEMBER them. Let your friend or family member know that you care, that they aren't entirely alone in their hurt and sadness.

I do have GREAT hope. I KNOW that Seth is in Heaven and we will see him again. We couldn't have that hope without Christmas! Christ had to be born in order to save me and I am grateful. I don't know that I focused on THAT part of Christmas as much before Seth as I do now. Than you, God, for the gift of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - Too Busy?

“Martha was too busy for Jesus,
and that left her too busy to be with Jesus

by ~ Jon Walker
Growing with Purpose: Connecting with God Every Day
Well, I picked a fine Tuesday to come back. This week, Debbie at Heart Choices is hosting In Other Words Tuesday. And she picked a doozy!
I am very convicted by the above quote. I'm sure you know the story found in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 38-40. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

Did you catch that? Martha was DISTRACTED by all the preparations that had to be made. Okay, I admit, she was making preparations for the Lord Jesus. But how is that any different from the preparations I make this time of year? Let alone all the other not-anywhere-near-as-important-things I let distract me now and all the other days of the year. The things I busy myself with? Internet, bill paying, laundry, dusting. The things I can claim I do FOR Jesus? Church activities, volunteer work, running my kids back & forth to Bible quizzing practice & Christmas pageant rehearsal. Well, you get the idea. How often do I hit the floor running without taking the time to start my day with Jesus? More often than I care to admit!

And what does Jesus think of that business? Well, let's look at what he said to Martha when she complained: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things." (Luke 10:41) Worried & upset. Hmm, Jesus doesn't seem too worried about the "preparations."

What does He say about Mary? "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42) Mary has chosen THAT GOOD PART, the ONE THING NEEDED. As far as Jesus is concerned, the important thing was to be WITH Him and that was what Mary chose.

I WANT to be a Mary, I want to choose the ONE GOOD THING. I choose to make Jesus a priority. What about you?

Lord, help me to seek you first. If necessary, help me to push aside the "preparations" and choose the ONE GOOD THING, YOU. Amen.

Join Debbie at Heart Choices and see what others have had to say this week!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Six word Saturday

Finding Joy again, but tired lately.

I really feel like I"m doing much better in the last month or so. I want to get back to blogging and see how it goes.. I just realized, I've not blogged from a point of "doing well" so that will be a challenge. I just recently saw a challenge to blog every day in November - I don't know if I"ll be able to find it again, and I"m already a week off but I might try that.

I haven't been around much lately because I"ve been super tired. I don't know if it's the weather change or what. But I did want to say that I am feeling better, finding my way back to the joyful self God created me to be! Thank God for that, the healing work He does in hearts!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A year ago - last time

We have finally come a full year... A year ago today, we said goodbye for the last time to Seth's physical body and had our memorial service at church (the next day). I haven't shared this yet, but I wanted to. Some of the pictures will be familiar.. The extra people for the first two minutes are all us. The last half include friends, family, people who took the time to come and show their love to us and Seth.

I"m headed out of town for the weekend, Silent Retreat. I'm excited to spend this time with God and hope to come back refreshed and renewed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - October 13, 2009

Before I jump into "In Other Words Tuesday", late but with both feet, I need to take care of a family matter. TODAY is my "Little" (as in 13 months younger than me and several inches taller) sister's birthday!! And it's a big one but I won't embarrass her by saying which one here.

Happy Birthday, Kari!!!! I love you. May the next years be as blessed as these first were!

And now onto our quote of the day:

“It has been well said that ‘earthly cares are a heavenly discipline.’ But they are even something better than discipline- they are God’s chariots, sent to take the soul to its high places of triumph. They do not look like chariots. They look instead like enemies, sufferings, trials, defeats, misunderstandings, disappointments, unkindness.” Hannah Whitall Smith

I chose this quote several months ago for TODAY. Yesterday was one year since we kissed our youngest son goodbye and he was ushered into Heaven. It hasn't been an easy year. I stumbled across that quote reading a book, I'm disappointed that I can't remember which book it was, but it may have been Heaven by Randy Alcorn. When I found it and reserved today, I was hoping that I would SEE more evidence of it in my life. You see, I KNOW the above to be true, I believe it, even when I don't feel it.

Several years ago, when my husband and I were just starting our parenting journey, our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I was crushed. Disappointment doesn't even begin to describe what I went through at the time. While my husband and I were not walking with the Lord, I had been raised in a household that believed in God and I knew that God was a God of miracles and hope. I couldn't understand why we would be given this glimpse of joy and have it snatched out of our lives. I began seeking in earnest.

Ultimately, I wound up at the office of a Christian counselor and reading many christian authors. The one year "anniversary" of that date found me at a local cemetery that has a "memorial to the unborn", reading a letter I had written, pouring my heart out, and giving my life back to God. But it took a year. And a big disappointment. At the end of that year, I realized that God was simply waiting for me to open my heart to Him. If THAT wasn't one of "God's chariots", I don't know what would be!

Not having Seth here with us has been a suffering, a trial, a defeat, a misunderstanding. I stop short of calling it an "unkindness" because I believe strongly in the benevolence of God. However, unkindness have been endured because of the situation incurred by being a bereaved parent. And still, God shows up. The comfort that I have received, from the Lord, and from people who love the Lord, has been nothing short of amazing (especially yesterday). I'm learning the "heavenly discipline" of seeking comfort from the Lord as it's pretty difficult to find it in earthly ways.

I wanted to be able to write this post and share the many LARGE victories and triumphs I have experienced since "losing" Seth. By worldly standards, my triumphs likely seem small. Sometimes by MY standards I am disappointed that the Lord hasn't brought me further along (by now, etc). (Still learning that "heavenly discipline" of patience!). But triumphs HAVE been experienced. I grieve with hope! I more readily than before Seth, turn first to the Lord for comfort. In seeking answers, I am learning to wait on the Lord.

But here's the biggest thing. A friend took me to lunch yesterday. We shared some memories of Seth. I cried a little. And then I laughed a little. I still laugh. My family still laughs. That we still find joy is a testimony to the Lord's reigning in our lives, and a triumph of the soul!

Please link up below and visit others to see what THEY have to say about this quote!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Me Monday - finally back?

Welcome to another Not Me Monday, sponsored by MckMama. Head on over to her place by clicking on the button above and see what others have "not" been up to this week.

I have not, for all practical purposes, recently abandon my blog. (I know, a few of you actually noticed. Thanks for the checking in, you know who you are).

This did not happen because earlier this summer I did not hit a wall, emotionally wise. I have not, during this time, slowly isolated myself from some friends and the people who love me. I am not, currently, working to re-build some connections and fix that little problem.

I have not spent the last month reliving every moment of this time frame a year ago, when we said goodbye to Seth.

I have not, during this last month, continued to fall behind on what-feels like EVERYTHING. I do not continue to be behind on the laundry, etc. I have not given up hope of ever catching up!

I'm hosting IOW Tuesday tomorrow and I have not been procrastinating writing my post (although I HAVE got it all written in my head). I'll get that up in the morning.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Quick Commercial Break

(Because, you know, I've been blogging SO much lately, we need a commercial break).

A day's worth of popcorn & pop refills: $3.96
Ice cream (for him), caramel apple (for me): $6.98
An "I survived Tremors" sweathirt, adult small: $15.47
Lunch for two: $22.56

A WHOLE day devoted to putting a smile on the face of my oldest son?


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Words, Part 2

I hadn't intended to do a Part 2 to Wounding Words, Healing Words (as indicated by the fact that it's not labeled Part 1!). But I had a "revelation" of sorts earlier today and I wanted to share it.

Kayleigh and I play this little "game" where she says "I love you" and I say "I love you too" and she says "I love you more." Sometimes I follow THAT up with "Uh UH." and sometimes I just let it go.

But here's the crux of that conversational game. Of course she doesn't love me more. I've been a daughter and a mom and as much as I love my parents, I SO love my children "more." Kayleigh, at 3 years old, does NOT understand that. Of course she doesn't. She has no context for it. Just like someone who has NOT lost a child has NO context for some of the things they say. If I can not hold Kayleigh responsible for her assumption that she loves me "more", how can I hold these well-intentioned people who love me accountable for their ignorance?

When Seth died, Cary said he wanted to pick out flowers for the grave. On the day of the visitation at the funeral home, Cary, Sean & I showed up first at a local florist with a set amount of money to spend, looking for flowers for Seth's casket. I was so awkward and I remember telling the florist "I don't know, I've never done this before." She said "Thank God for THAT." Seriously, if my friends, loved ones, don't know what to say because they have never done this before, thank God for THAT!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Walking With You - Wounding Words, Healing Words

Kelly at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace is hosting Walking With You and this week, she suggested talking about the things other people said. (Last week was sibling grief and I'm totally annoyed with myself that I missed it).

People say hurtful things. Not intentionally (usually) but because they just don't know what to say. The hardest one for me (and I"m still working on letting go and forgiving) was when someone compared our losing Seth at 6 1/2 months of age to be less painful than someone losing an older child (and in this case, the other child was 18 months old).. (Clarification, this was NOT the other bereaved parents but a third party). I was crushed. From the day we found out we were HAVING him, Seth was no less a member of our family than any of his older siblings. THAT was the motivating factor in all the decisions we made for Seth's care. (If we had taken our then 2 year old to the doctor and they said some thing's wrong with her heart, she needs 3 open heart surgeries; we would have unquestioningly got her the best care possible. We were going to do the same for Seth from the beginning!) Unfortunately, this wasn't the only example of that. People often implied that it must have been "easier" to lose Seth than one of our "big kids". I find that offensive.

I KNOW that people just don't know what to say. I know they struggle for things that are comforting and not offensive. I get that. I'm pretty sure I've done that. I was blessed to have people come alongside Leland and I who had walked this path. A good friend who knew that just sitting with me on Leland's first night back at work was enough. And I had good friends who were aware of their shortcomings and inadequacy to offer comfort. A couple of people quite simply said "I don't know what to say so I'm not saying anything, but know that I love you." I was very grateful for that. I think it takes a lot of courage to admit that you don't know how to help someone you care about.

I struggle as much though, not with what OTHER people say, but what I say. I don't know how to share how I feel. That some days I still hurt so much I can hardly breathe. That yes, we've HAD a fun summer.. and I still miss Seth every single moment; even if I don't look like I do because of all the fun I'm trying to make sure my "big kids" have. I don't have an answer for that. In some cases, I do believe that it helps the best for me to be honest. And in other times, I just want to will myself to feel better. I occasionally still think that I can "fake it until I make it."

Mostly though, I am grateful for the people who quite simply let me know they are keeping our family in their prayers. I know that the fact that we find any joy at all is because we have hope in the Lord and seeing Seth again. I am blessed to have people in our lives willing to help carry us through the dark times!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh, OH....

I've had a weird couple of weeks.. I've been cranky, crabby and tired. I've been weepy (which I'm partially attributing to being tired). Yesterday was August 12th, which means it's been 10 months since we kissed our sweet baby Seth goodbye. I didn't even notice the date until 9:30 last night! I'm not claiming that as good or bad, it just is.

But today, we got exciting news!

(this is my kids looking happily surprised.. sort of)

I won the Memory Blanket from Mapleberry Designs off MckMama's last Not Me! Monday giveaway! I am stunned. I'm going to have to re-think that "I never win anything" default attitude, since it's so obviously NOT true and be VERY grateful for all the blessings God brings into my life!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Me Monday - Out of the Mouths of Moms

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I haven't done Not Me! Monday for awhile but I really want a chance to win the quilt. I do NOT want a quilt made out of Seth's baby clothes...

We spent yesterday at the lake. I did NOT walk down to the little resort store with my husband leaving my kids alone with our hosts. While we were gone, Kayleigh did NOT get stung by a bee on her left foot. She also did NOT get a HUGE splinter in the big toe of her right foot.

I am not the type of mom to just leave a splinter in my daughter's toe because I don't want to pin her down and dig it out with tweezers and a needle. I did not recently leave a splinter in her hand for that very reason (If I had, I should let you know that said hand looks perfect with no splinters! And no infection, yay!)

And because I think it's almost as much fun as "Out of the Mouths of Babes" stories, I would like to leave you with a short list of things I have NOT said to my children so far this summer:

No, you can not have a pop before 7am.

No, you can not have candy before 7am.

Please don't lick your lifejacket.

Honey, your stomach makes a great canvas but if you can't use the markers on PAPER only, you won't be allowed to have markers.. or a pen.. or crayons.

And having NOT said all the above things this summer, I have most definitely NOT said:

"Please do not chew on the car." And the neighbor did NOT overhear me.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - Relying on God

My first time actually HOSTING in Other Words Tuesday.. Gotta get up a MckLinky, etc. I hope I don't mess this up.. Can I confess; I kind of feel like the hostess who's been running around stuffing papers, and laundry into boxes and closets, throwing dirty dishes into the oven. I started to hyperventilate a little and remember that THIS is "virtual reality". You're not REALLY coming into my home (Thank goodness!). So, pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable.... and don't look in the oven!

Relying on God has to begin
all over again every day
as if nothing had yet been done.
C.S. Lewis

I don't remember when I found this quote exactly. Sometime between finding out something was wrong with Seth (in utero, when he was still the unexpected baby, and not yet Seth!) and actually giving birth to Seth. It has been on my email signature since then. Initially, it was impactful and I read it often. And then it reached that point where I barely saw it there.. Oh, I acknowledged it if I happened to stumble across it but mostly it blended into the scenery (Yes, I'm talking about the ACTUAL quote, those 18 words). Recently, I've gone back to reading it often and pondering it and finding myself what it means.. Wondering if it was actually true.

My initial response? But we DON'T rely on God as if we never had. We remember. I remember. And that helps me. Wondering why I haven't heard from God lately? I remember having heard from God in the past. Wondering if God can provide, pull me out of the muddle I'm currently in? I remember a time he's done EXACTLY that. My history with God AIDS me in my relationship with God.

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face
always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and
the judgments he pronounced
1 Chronicles 16: 11-12
So remembering helps me to rely on God, as it did the Israelites in the days of old.

But I think of something else. Very little in this world that is good and worthwhile comes easily. Having children requires 9 months of pregnancy and labor (and that's AFTER the conception which is easier for some than others in and of itself). Being successful in a chosen profession requires effort and continuing education. Effective parenting doesn't come without a fair amount of struggle and difficulty.

I am embarrassed to admit how many, MANY years it took me to realize that my marriage wasn't going to be good if we didn't WORK at it. There does NOT come a day (or at least hasn't for us and we're over 16 years anyway) when I can admire how well we're doing. I have yet to be able to say "We've arrived!" and sit back and rest on my laurels. (Oh, believe me, I've tried a time or two. Probably don't have to elaborate how disastrous that's been!). Relying on God is like THAT.

I'm not going to "arrive" (not in THIS lifetime anyway!). To continue relying on God, I do NOT get to sit back on my laurels and admire how far we've come. As enticing as that may be (and I may succumb to that trap a time or two), it does NOT build a relationship with the Lord. EVERY day I must consciously CHOOSE and ACT towards relying on God. Sometimes EVERY MOMENT of every day. I MUST choose to rely on God, lest I begin relying on other things (which is a complete blog post in and of itself!).

Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not
choose to fear the LORD Proverbs 1: 28-29

Relying on God is aided by remembering what God has done for me. And it is a DAILY choice that I make, continuing to trust and rely on God, stepping out in faith EVERY day.. as if it had never been done before.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rambling through an "acceptance" speech.

I want to come here and say things that are profound and meaningful. I want my posts to resonate with meaning and insight. It's hard for me to post when I don't think I can live up to those expectations (which I'm totally aware I put on myself).

My last couple of posts fell into a provided category.. I just don't feel that creative lately, left to my own devices. Oh, speaking of my last couple of posts -

I was so honored to be Lynnette's latest "Getting to Know You" featured blogger. Lynnette was one of the first bloggers I found and followed after losing Seth. I appreciate her friendship a lot. Mind you, she featured me with GRANOLA! I hope that wasn't supposed to be a statement about me. Ha ha. I appreciated all the lovely visits from Lynnette's readers.

And with that "acceptance speech", one of my kidlets has just asked for the "bathroom bucket". I should go make sure he/she is okay.
Updated to add: Above mentioned child (nameless to protect the innocent ill) writhed and moaned on the bathroom floor for awhile, ulitmately throwing up. This morning un-named child is feeling MUCH better. Yay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walking With You - The Power in a Name

Today, in Walking With You, Kelly has suggested we share how and why we picked the names of our babies. I feel like in order to share the real story, I need to give some background.

Sean was going to be Sean for as long as I can remember. The middle name was tweaked over time but wound up being Monte, Leland's middle name and the name of Leland's father. Sean means "God's gracious gift" and having had a miscarriage and some minor fertility issues, I DID appreciate the gift that Sean was.

Cary was named Cary Donald in honor of my maternal uncle and grandfather who both passed away between our having Sean & Cary, as sort of mentioned here. Cary means "from the marsh" which is a little random but with Cary it was more important to honor our extended family than worry about what his name meant.

Kayleigh was our first (only) "gender-surprise" baby. If she had been a boy, she would have been Kyle Steven. (Kyle means handsome, near the chapel). Kayleigh is the girl name I'd had picked out forever and her middle name is Ruth, my mother's middle name and after my maternal grandmother. Kayleigh means pure.

Originally we were not going to find out Seth's gender. And for some reason, I had it in my head he was a girl. My first choice for name was Ruby Grace. But with Seth, there were so many unknowns, we did decide to find out gender. A BOY? I don't have a boy name! I did not want to use Kyle because at this point we have Sean, beginning with a sh sound, and Cary - /k/ and Kayleigh - /k/. I did NOT want another /k/ name. I know that sounds a little silly but it was a factor. I said it didn't HAVE to be an "S" name but definitely NOT a /k/.

Sean made it his mission to find us an S name. He first suggested Sam, not a favorite and then Seth. Hmmmmmm, I like Seth. Seth means "Appointed one" and it's biblical. So we chose Seth for his first name and Douglas for a middle, as Leland and I both have Uncle Dougs in our families.

I feel like, especially since this post is about SETH's name, that I want to emphasize how important the biblical meaning of Seth's name was to us. We clung to the fact that being "appointed by God" must mean SOMETHING. Regardless of what Seth's life looked like to us, he was appointed for a purpose. We were blessed in being able to get Seth dedicated at our church between his surgeries. Our pastor shared a verse at Seth's dedication, from 1 Timothy 1:12, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." (Previously shared here)

We were and are so grateful for the opportunity to have Seth enter our lives! I still am trying to figure out a way to help his name "live on". To that end,I don't have much to offer in the way of resources today. Please visit Kelly's post at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace to share the joy of other baby names.

I leave you with a picture of the print that my brother and his wife gave us after Seth's service.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Walkin' down Memory lane.. on foot, of course.

I realized something today. I am having a harder time remembering the happy moments with Seth. Not an IMPOSSIBLE time, just harder. So I've decided I'm going to try and get back to Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane with Lynnette and see if I can capture some of those, and other memories. I also want to remember some of the good memories our "big kids" have of Seth..

Today I had a moment memory with Kayleigh. We were cuddling in the rocking chair and she said something about Seth's feet. "Seth's feet were little." Yes, Kayleigh, Seth had little feet. "Not like MY feet." Not like your feet? Are your feet big? "Yes." "Mama, when Seth's feet get bigger, he wear MY shoes."

Tee hee, "He wear MY shoes." As if Seth would want to wear her little girl shoes! We DID talk about the fact that Seth was in Heaven and so he won't be wearing Kayleigh's shoes anytime soon. It was a sweet moment. I really treasure the times that my "big kids" and especially Kayleigh share Seth memories!

Kayleigh fell asleep in a weird position and I couldn't resist getting some pictures.

In Other Words Tuesday - July 14, 2009

“If all you ever attempt is that which
you know you can do,
or have the resources for
how will you ever discover
what He can do? ”
by Anne Graham Lotz

I'm having a bit of trouble with today's quote. Honestly, I am having a difficult time remembering voluntarily attempting something in which I had to trust God for the outcome. Well, there is this past Mother's Day when I shared a bit of my story during our church service (details here). But at the time, that didn't FEEL voluntary. Oh, it was and my pastor gave me LOTS of opportunities to say "No" (Thanks, Glenn). But because I knew that it was something God was calling me to do, I felt compelled to do it, making it not about "sharing MY story" so much as speaking to God's glory.
I guess that's the crux of it though. Even in the things I don't experience voluntarily, I have learned how MUCH God can do. I'm doing a Tuesday morning Bible study at our church currently. Today we watched a video in which Priscilla Shirer talked about the fact that we have a "supernatural God". One of the things that crossed my mind is that for a mom to survive the loss of a child and be able to still experience joy is supernatural. While I may not have gone out on a limb on my own, I have certainly experienced some of what God can do!
Some of those experiences have come even in the small steps of faith I make. In taking a deep breath and reaching out to others, even through this blog, I am privileged to see God work in amazing ways, showing His Glory and Love. I am waiting, sometimes patiently and sometimes not so much, for God to reveal what He would have me do as a result of Seth's time with us. I have been longing for some kind of ministry to serve others or share compassion upon others going through similar losses. I don't know what that looks like. I would not be surprised if, when the opportunities begin to present themselves, I feel woefully inadequate. I hope that I take a deep breath and am reminded by the Spirit within me to rely on the supernatural powers of God!
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
See what others have had to say about this quote by visiting Nina at Mama's Little Treasures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog hop - 3 Random things

So I was kind of stressing about this.. how am I going to come up with THREE Random things you don't know about me? (One of the unforseen flaws of blogging transparently!) But then it hit me, depending on who "you"are, there could be LOTS you don't know about me!

  1. The church I currently attend, I attended regularly for a year and a half before I truly felt comfortable there. Prior to ever attending a Sunday service, I attended a Ladies Bible study for a full year!
  2. Before we had Sean, I wanted one, maybe two kids. (Leland claimed he wanted ELEVEN). After Sean was born, I would have been thrilled if God blessed us with five. I still would be (but I doubt that's going to happen at this point.)
  3. My "career" desires have changed a LOT in my lifetime. Not necessarily in order: nurse, actor, lawyer, mom, teacher. The only one of those things I've done (as an "out of school" adult) is be a mom. Now I think about maybe going back to school and becoming some kind of counselor/social worker.

Oh, there. That wasn't so bad. I think I actually listed way more than three. Play along! It's fun.

Enter your link here

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not Me Monday - July 13, 2009

Are you feeling guilty for leaving the windows open to catch a breeze when you know the air is on? Feel like a bag lady for wearing the same shirt for days on end? Get tricked by a fake news story and feel foolish? We'll don't! Not Me! Monday was born out of my desire to admit some of my imperfections and reveal a few moments I'd rather forget. You may find it therapeutic to join in and do the same thing! (As hosted by MckMama at "My Charming Kids")

I have not gotten so far behind on the laundry that a few days a week or two ago, I went bra-less. If that HAD happened, I would certainly have NOT left the house in that condition. I would most definitely NOT have gone to Target in search of a last minute birthday party gift, NOT wearing a bra.

I have not (recently) let all 3 of my kids eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast. In spite of what you may think after reading this post, ice cream sandwiches are NOT a breakfast staple at our house!

I did NOT, just tonight, take Kayleigh half-way across town to visit a friend, knowing that Kayleigh is fighting a nasty cold. I'm certainly NOT the type of mom to compromise her child's rest & well-being just because a friend has traveled two days out of her way to see us.

I did NOT rush through this Not Me! Monday post just so I could get my link up and join the other's at MckMama's blog!

Nine months, Sixteen Cities

No, this is not a travelogue.

Today it's been nine months since we kissed our sweet boy goodbye and he left us for his permanent home in Heaven. Honestly, I was NOT going to do a "9 months" post. Contrary to what you may think from reading this post, this post, this post and maybe even from taking a gander at these pictures, I am not obsessed with doing a "monthly countdown." But a couple of things happened today that I wanted to share.

First, let me say; I think we're doing quite well. Nine months ago, if you could have showed me what this journey would look and feel like today, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Or I would have naively thought we should be FARTHER along. Don't get me wrong. We still feel a hole in our family. I still miss Seth every single minute but it doesn't HURT as much as it did earlier. (It still hurts but it's not an all capital HURT anymore!) What I marvel at every day is how confident I am in God's love for me, for our whole family. It amazes me that we could walk through such a dark storm and feel so much closer to God. I know in my head that's how it works in God's economy but it still surprises me.

This morning at church, worship was led by Sixteen Cities. They've led worship at our church before and I enjoyed them then almost as much as today. But at one point today, I could almost see how much God was enjoying the worship of our church and it brought me to tears. In additon to that, we were singing a song that has been a big part of this journey.

The chorus: Saviour, He can move the mountains
Our God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave.

This is difficult for me to share but early on, when we sang that song, I couldn't. And I would cry. Because it didn't feel like God saved Seth. Or that the grave had been conquered. But as I have been reassured that God loves me and wants my best, I have been able to see the Truth more clearly. Seth was saved from SO much. He no longer has to endure pain or heartache. He's free in Heaven, and he's there because Jesus conquered the grave. It did take me awhile to get to that point. Time. And the Grace of God.

Earlier this morning (like 4:30 am earlier), Sean crawled into bed because he'd had a nightmare. When we were awake later (like 6:00am) and hanging out in the livng room, I asked him if he remembered his nightmare and wanted to talk about it. He had dreamt that Kayleigh and then I, and his dad, and Cary all "floated into Heaven" and left him here alone. It was heartbreaking to say, "Sean, I can't tell you that will never happen. But I CAN tell you it's not very likely." What I wish I had thought to say (and this is my chance because Sean reads my blog!) was this:

Buddy, even if that DID happen and we all went to Heaven leaving you here on earth, feeling alone. You would NOT be alone. God would be with you. God WILL be with you. He will walk every step with you. All you have to do is ask Him too, press in and acknowledge His Grace.

If that's where we've come to, nine months into our journey since losing Seth, I think we're doing okay. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Friday, July 10, 2009

TSMSS - Seth's song

I have been participating in Then Sings My Soul Saturday over at Amy's Signs, Miracles & Wonders blog for a couple of months now. A few weeks ago I decided to share about my kids' songs. Each child in our family receives a "special" song from mommy, just for them! You can read about Sean's song, Cary's song, Kayleigh's song and the lullaby they all share. And that brings us to Seth's song.

Honestly, I've been almost dreading getting to sharing Seth's song, for a few reasons. I fear it will be misunderstood. But truthfully, that doesn't bother me as much as this next thing. And this is going to sound silly but I almost fear reaching the end of being able to share things about Seth. I feel like I only have so many tales to tell and stories to share before I will have shared it all. In my head, I know that's not exactly true. I will ALWAYS be Seth's mom and as long as that is true, I'm sure there will be things to share. But since I'm new enough on this journey that I'm still re-capping events that occurred, I don't know what being able to share Seth in the future is going to look like. So, currently, everything I share is one more thing I give away, and I feel like I'm eventually going to run out. Seth was a huge part of our lives though, and still is. I love him so much and I want the world, or at least my small corner of it to know him, so share I must! And with all that spewed out said, here it is:

The video is not great, the audio is okay, the song actually starts about 2 minutes in, and the bit at the end doesn't apply! :)

When I was in high school, we did the musical Snoopy!. (I did props. Yes, I was a theater geek in high school.) All the days we spent in the PICU sitting by Seth's bedside, I would rub his little head and whisper quietly "Poor, sweet baby." That got me thinking about this song. I actually came home, looked up the song online, printed out the lyrics and memorized them! (This was all during Seth's first hospital stay). I would then sing it to him, while sitting by his bed, eventually when rocking him. To this day, I can't sing it without crying..

Poor Sweet Baby from Snoopy! The Musical
Lyrics by Hal Hackady
Poor, sweet baby
Poor, poor, sweet, sweet baby
Show me where it hurts, I'll tell you how to make it well
I've won lots of loving cups for playing show and tell
My poor, sweet baby
Poor, poor, sweet, sweet baby
When you need a shoulder come and try mine on for size
I'm real good at holding hands and Really great at drying eyes
Just try me Cry me all your tears
Why deny me The pleasure of dryin'em Stoppin' you cryin'em
Don't despair for Smiles are what I'm there for
You won't have to look for me, I'll always be right near
Near to kiss and cuddle you and Whisper in your little ear
Don't fear
There, there, Baby Poor, sweet baby
Poor, sweet baby Mama's near.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Walking with You - Our Earthly Goodbyes

Warning: this post includes our final picture of Seth, taken at the funeral home during visitation.

I'm trying to participate in "Walking with You" at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace. I missed the last two as they were about experiencing a difficult pregnancy and meeting our babies. While my pregnancy with Seth was high-risk and stressful for me in the amount of appointments and the uncertainty of his medical issues, once we knew he had HLHS, I felt assured that he would live. When he was born, our meeting was brief due to his being rushed off to NICU, but we had lots of time with him before he went to Heaven, months, and I thought we'd have longer. I did join in on the first one and you can read about our First Steps on our journey with Seth here.

So today Kelly suggested we share about saying goodbye and the memorial service. (How long do you have?). We said goodbye in stages and I've shared about some of it here on my blog as we journeyed through it. I've just spent way too much time reading through those posts trying to find one to link back to. Let's just leave it at read anything in October 2008, okay?

So, we asked for a DNR and put Seth on comfort care on October 2, 2008. I spent much time that afternoon tearfully calling family and friends telling them Seth was dying. My mom, sister, and dad who all live out of town, rushed to our sides. We didn't know how long we would have and I asked my mom & sister to make some preliminary phone calls, telling them I would like to have Seth buried in "BabyLand" at the cemetery closest to our home.

Leland and I basically moved into the hospital during that time. I was so grateful and Seth's last night with us, he spent in my arms. That was extremely special for me because, while I had slept at night with ALL my babies in my arms at some point or another, I didn't often get to with Seth. He was on a g-tube and a continuous feed at night and that made it difficult to cuddle him at home as the tube would pop out and leak, etc. So I got to hold and cuddle Seth the entire night, from midnight (when the nurses and Leland called and had me rush back to his room) until 5:30am, when Seth went from my arms to the arms of Jesus. That was Sunday morning, October 12, 2008. After phone calls to family and close friends, Leland and I packed up our hotel hospital room and went home without our baby.

We told our big boys that their brother was now in Heaven. Our pastor and his lovely wife came to our house that afternoon. I was and am so grateful for the gentleness and kindness of our pastor as he guided us through planning a memorial service. We offered some suggestions for scripture we would like to have used, Leland and I picked the worship songs we wanted to sing. My mom and dad ordered the casket from Trappist caskets. It was hand carved and prayed over by monks.

As I look back on it, I wish we had thought to do a balloon release. Other than that, I have no regrets. I remember actually being shocked at the number of people who were there and SO thankful. Several of the hospital staff attended, a few of Seth's doctors were there. Mostly though, I remember being numb. There was an element of "I can't believe we're doing this". At times, it just felt like going through the motions.

I remember the day of the visitation & burial and the memorial service almost in "snapshot" moments. The boys and I picked out items for them to give Seth. Cary picked a small stuffed animal. Sean wrote Seth a letter. Together the boys and I went to the florist and bought flowers for the burial, because Cary had specifically asked if he could pick out the flowers. (Cary had also asked if Seth could be buried in our backyard!) At the cemetery, our pastor did a short graveside service. I remember that Leland walked off for a bit, overcome with emotion. My friend, Cathey moved up to sit with me.

At the memorial service, I remember Cary crying through the slide show. I don't remember much of the actual service, which makes me sad. I do remember walking out to the parking lot at the end of the service. We were almost last as I remember not wanting to leave the church. As I think about it now, I didn't want it to be over. It felt like our last chance to publicly remember Seth and I didn't want it to end.

I don't have much to recommend in the way of resources. Kelly offered quite a few suggestions at the bottom of her post. We did receive quite a few books and I can recommend some of them. My FAVORITE book was Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan (and given to us by our pastor). Also read From Grief To Glory by James Bruce. I also signed up for the daily emails from GriefShare, and I still receive those and find them helpful.

I only have one real prayer request. Well, beside the "usual" which is for fully restored joy. I long to find a ministry to honor Seth. I don't know what it looks like but I almost envy Kelly for Sufficient Grace Ministries. I yearn to do something like Micah House. But mostly I want to do what God wants us to do to honor our boy and our journey. Prayerfully, we'll find it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday

This is such a terrific quote. I found myself thinking a lot over the last few days about these words and wondering what IS passionate wholehearted love for God? I don't really have the words to answer that question. I feel like I KNOW that wholehearted type of love when I see it, I am blessed to know many people who have that type of love for God. So I got to thinking about the flip side of this; what does it look like to NOT have "passionate whole hearted love" for God?

I DO know what that looks like. I started to type "Unfortunately" at the beginning of the sentence and quit because truthfully, it's all been part of my growth. I've always KNOWN about God but it's only been the last 12 or so years that I sought out and found my relationship with my Lord. And that relationship has evolved significantly over that time. There was a pretty significant amount of time when I did "read the Bible, attend church, and avoid 'big sins" and I most absolutely was NOT passionately whole heartedly in love with God. A lot of that time, I was plumb miserable. And I knew it. I KNEW that there had to be more to my relationship with the Lord than what I was experiencing. I didn't know how to get it. And believe me, I TRIED. And there's the crux of the matter, I tried.

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19 Did you catch that? HE gives us love. Our love comes from Him. I don't MAKE it happen, it doesn't matter how hard I TRY. Love comes from God. When I finally completely surrendered my life to Christ, when I admitted that I couldn't do it, God infused me with love.

I know I'm not doing my experience justice with words. What it basically boils down to is, I can't MAKE myself love God. (And you can't either!). God provides that whole-hearted passionate love. In my case, reading the Bible, attending church, and avoiding the "big sins" laid the groundwork but they were certainly NOT passionate whole-hearted love for Christ. In opening my heart fully to the Lord, not only did I begin to love God whole-heartedly but I truly began to realize and feel God's love for me.

One last part of the quote I want to address. The phrase "big sins". In the eyes of God, sin is sin is sin. 21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment (Matthew 5:21, 22). Anger and murder are the same in God's eyes. Sin is sin is sin.

Debbie at Heart Choices is hosting In Other Words Tuesday today. Check out what she and others had to share about these great quotes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

TSMSS - Songs for my kids

Happy Fourth of July! I see that some of the TSMSS participants are doing Fourth of July themed. I could have done that.. but the song that I had already decided to do does speak about the true freedom we have, in God, so I'm proceeding as planned! (And I don't have time to figure out a second option this am anyway).

So, I've been sharing the songs that I sing for my kids. Each kid has gotten their own song that I've sung to them, mostly when they were babies but we still visit them on occasion. So far I've shared the songs of my 3 "big kids". Sean's is here, Cary's here and Kayleigh's here.

There is one song all four of my kids shared though. When Sean was born, I didn't know many lullabies. But I DID know Amazing Grace so that was what I sang to him. I remember being at a hotel in Southern California with a friend and her 16 month old daughter when Sean was 16 months. Sean woke in the middle of the night, distraught, screaming. I spent a LONG time singing this song to him, carrying him and pacing around our small hotel room. But it was nice to have something I could DO for him, and eventually, with the help of Amazing Grace, Sean did calm down and we were all able to get (some) sleep!

Head over to Amy's at Signs, Miracles and Wonders to see what other songs are making other's souls sing on this Fourth of July!

(Come back next Saturday for Seth's song!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IOW Tuesday - June 23, 2009

“There was a time when [you fill in] defined my life and left me physically void, cocooned in a prison of fear. It stole my every hope and dream. But God’s love and His Word set my heart free. I learned that within the confines of God’s story, nothing had been stolen from me, rather everything was given to me. My life, which felt so out of control, was in reality in complete control – God’s control.”
~ Wendy Blight Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story

“There was a time when depression and guilt over bad choices defined my life and left me physically void, cocooned in a prison of fear. It stole my every hope and dream."

I've known about God my whole life but coming into relationship and walking with the Lord were steps I made in my more adult life. Prior to that I was a reckless college kid making the bad choices reckless college kids sometimes make, finding myself in situations that were not healthy or appropriate. And I regretted a lot of those choices for a long time, thinking that surely they had somehow marked me for life. I was often bringing the same situation to God and asking for forgiveness. The first time I ever heard God speak to me was related to this very situation! I was, once again, asking God "How often do I need to seek forgiveness before I feel this burden lifted?" and God spoke into my heart, VERY clearly "How often do you want to keep bringing this up?". I WAS forgiven. The FIRST time I went to God with a repentant heart, He forgave me. “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” Acts 13:38

Depression was another story. I’ve struggled with depression off and on my entire adult life. The summer that Kayleigh was born, I remember being so discouraged I had our two boys, and this beautiful baby girl, and I was overwhelmed. One day, I just laid on my face before the Lord and said “I can NOT do this on my own. Help me!” And God picked me up, set me back on my feet and said “I’ve been waiting for you to admit you needed help.” “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Don’t get me wrong. Things have not been perfect since then. I still occasionally struggle with feeling depressed. I still have to remind myself that God forgives my repentant heart. But one of the things I found VERY encouraging as I pondered this quote; my life is not defined by the loss of Seth. Oh, I miss him greatly. However, I look forward to seeing him in Heaven and as long as I have that hope, he is NOT lost to us. That’s my point. I have hope in something greater. My life is not defined by me, my shortcomings, my failures, my weak areas. My life is defined by the One who created me. For one thing, the examples I mentioned above (and other incidences in my life I have yet to mention) ultimately served to bring me closer to God. It can be said that I am deeper in relationship with the Lord BECAUSE of the very same negative things I used to believe defined me.

“But God’s love and His Word set my heart free. I learned that within the confines of God’s story, nothing had been stolen from me, rather everything was given to me. My life, which felt so out of control, was in reality in complete control – God’s control.”

I am so grateful.

Loni did an AMAZING write up and review of this book. Head on over to Writing Canvas to see what she and others had to say about this quote.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TSMSS - Kayleigh's song

So I'm taking a "light hearted" approach to Then Sings My Soul Saturdays. I've been sharing each kid's "song". Yes, my children get their own songs and I know from some of the comments I am NOT the only person who does that! I do not make up their songs. Well, in moments of desperation I might make up a song about "please go to sleep right now before mommy has a breakdown" but for the most part I relied on other people's songs and just changed up the words a bit for us. You can read about Sean's song (a popular choice among mothers apparently!) here and Cary's song here.

And now, Kayleigh's song:

Of course, in the interest in making it KAYLEIGH's song, we had to change up the lyrics a bit. I used to sing:

In the household, the Bonnett household, Kayleigh sleep tonight,
In the household, our quiet household, Kayleigh sleep tonight,
Weeeeeee eeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeee, weeee do bum do way..

I couldn't embed the version of the song I really wanted to use. If you have time, check out this youtube video.

Head on over to Amy's to see what songs others are sharing this week. And come back next week for a "lullaby" I sang to all my kids.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WwMW - Walking with You - First Steps

Another Walk With Me Wednesday that I'm getting up late. Some day I will get ahead of this blogging meme thing. Some day. In the meantime, since this is a memory, I'm going to combine Lynnette's Walk With Me, with Sufficient Grace's Walking With You. Kelly at Sufficient Grace Ministries is starting a place where moms who have lost babies can share the steps of their journeys.

For the first "Walking with You", Kelly suggested that we share the beginning of our journey. The moment, day, when we knew we would be walking this horrendous path. Our moments came in stages, for lack of a better word. Because Seth was born with a congenital heart defect and lived with us for six months, we walked a couple of different journeys.

But it really began on October 2, 2007. It was a Tuesday. We were just sitting down to eat and the phone rang. Leland answered and handed me the phone, it was my ob. The previous week we had done a "nuchal fold" ultrasound; he was calling with the results. I knew immediately that this was not good news and went downstairs with the phone. At that point, the information was limited to "Something is wrong with the baby and we can't say for sure what it is," none of the options were good. The best diagnosis at the time would have been Down Syndrome. Other possibilities were considered "incompatible with life", trisomy 18;13, for example. That was the first steps on the difficult path we would walk with Seth. We had no idea what we were in for but we knew something was coming..

We were pretty clear, from the beginning, that termination would NOT be an option for us, regardless of diagnosis. God had given us this baby and we would accept and love him regardless of his health. Our 18 week ultrasound was done by high-risk perinatologists. We were referred to a genetic counselor. We had some blood work done which had pretty much ruled out the scary trisomies and were led to believe we were most likely looking at Down syndrome. We could deal with that. At the 18 week ultrasound, we were informed that they couldn't get a good view of the baby's heart and we were referred to a pediatric cardiologist. That appointment was set up for about 22-24 weeks. We were not in a rush because we were not going to terminate and the feeliing was that we should wait until the baby's heart was big enough that the echo would be a bit more definitive.

And we prayed. And asked people to pray. And pressed in for a miracle. And believed. I was CONVINCED that we would walk out of that office having been told our baby had a perfect heart. The echo was long and in the middle I had to walk around because baby shifted positions. Finally the cardiologist came in, reviewed the films, and said she would talk to us in her office. She was very kind but as long as I live I will never forget hearing her say "This is probably one of the most serious things we could be looking at." (And I looked heavenward, "What? This is NOT the good news I was expecting to hear"). "Your baby has a defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome." I had done some research when we didn't know what we were dealing with, and I had come across HLHS, and tears IMMEDIATELY sprang to my eyes. And THAT began our journey as "heart parents." (Incidentally, the cardiologists were VERY reassuring and we were quite optimistic most of our pregnancy and Seth's time with us). But being "heart parents" is not what this is about. (And that portion of the road did have it's own bumps & potholes!)

So fast forward... Seth had his 2nd surgery, the Glenn, on Sept. 11, 2008. Almost a week later, Sept. 17 was probably the beginning of our grief journey. We were home,I had even gone to bed early and the phone rang. Leland burst into our bedroom; "Get up, we gotta go, that was the hospital".. I ran down and told my mom and we rushed to the hospital. Seth had coded. We didn't realize though, the road that would put us on. Fast forward a couple more weeks, October 2, 2008. Seth is still intubated, unresponsive, beginning to show posturing. During our care conference, one of the doctors tells us that he believes Seth could "have another code event within the next 24 hours." And prayerfully, Leland and I decide to not continue with any additional invasive procedures. Seth is put on comfort care. We loved that sweet boy for the next ten days and on the morning of October 12, Seth slipped quietly from my arms into the arms of Jesus.

When I look back, I can not believe how much my life has changed. The irony of recieving the intial phone call and the news that our baby was not likely to get better on the same day, a year apart, is not lost on me. As you can see, our journey did not have a definitive beginning to the road we're on now. We were so blessed to have the time we did with Seth.

I know that other HLHS angel moms occasionally find their way to my blog and I belong to a yahoo group that has been a helpful resource in connecting me with other moms - HLHS Angels
I also found comfort in several websites, Lynnette Kraft's blog, book and support website. I found Emily's site, Stepping Stones helpful as well.

In addition, Leland and I attended a support group called GriefShare. I found it helpful enough to attend twice!

Kelly also suggested we close with a prayer request. I just continue to pray for God to turn my mourning into dancing. I am grateful that His mercies are new every morning and I seek restoration of joy! I also would ask for prayers for the hearts of my "big kids" as all of this has been difficult for them as well and I would hate to see it negatively affect their relationship with God.

Writing this out IS cathartic and I obviously enjoyed it enough to get very long-winded. Thanks for reading. I think this "Walking with You" will be an nteresting journey as well.