Monday, August 17, 2015

Chance's due date . . . How we spent August 15, 2015

Chance's due date has come and gone and I am so thankful for all we shared as a family that day. This past Saturday was a day full of love and peace and joy and lots of laughter. A few tears were shed, but even those were mostly stemming from a place of thankfulness. God had his hand all over August 15, 2015. There is just no other explanation.

Saturday we spent the morning making a visit to the hospital where I delivered. We had put together a basket of baby boy goodies, all products and items we enjoy using, and decided to give it away to a family that welcomed a baby boy that day. This is something I felt God nudging us to do for several months, and thought it would make our Chance proud and would be a special way to honor him.

The closer we got to the hospital the more nervous I became. I was so excited to pass on our basket to a new family, but was also a little anxious entering the same halls where we last left empty handed.

The four of us, all decked out in blue, approached the nurses station and I asked if my sweet Reena, the nurse who was with me the day I delivered Chance, was working. She was not, but as a result we spoke to two of the sweetest nurses you will ever meet. I briefed them on our story, that today was my actual due date, and in honor of our son we wanted to pass on a little gift basket to a family welcoming a baby boy. The nurses began to tear up and so (of course) I did as well.

But these tears felt different. These tears were coming from a sadness yes, but also from a deep place of peace and hope and overwhelming love. The two angels disguised as nurses assured us they would pick the perfect family and let us know they would be thinking of us and praying for us as the day continued. We meant to have them take our family picture, but in the midst of the sweet emotion, we forgot. But that is ok. We will always have that moment etched into our memory.

While walking to the car Brandon and I were both smiling from ear to ear. We kept telling each other "That was really, really good. I am so glad we did that." We could both feel our hearts bursting with joy.

After leaving the hospital we drove to the cemetery where Chance is buried. We knew we could not let the day pass without making a visit. As we approached his grave site I noticed a little something laying next to his marker.

"Brandon. What is that? I think someone put something on his grave. Did you do that? Because I didn't."

Once we were out of the car and approaching his spot I continued. . .

"Brandon. . . someone did this for us! Someone knew we would be coming and in their thoughtfulness planned ahead to bless us, by remembering and acknowledging today for what it was supposed to be." 

Sunflowers and a hand written note from our sweet friends. Such a sweet gesture and moment that again, will be forever etched into our memory.

We attempted a few pictures with the girls next to their brother, but that wasn't happening (because toddlers). So I then jumped in to "hold them down" and we got a few good ones of all the girls ( I use the term "good" very loosely).

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing at home and taking naps (Brandon and the girls), visiting a friend who just had a new baby (me . . . of course tearing up because goodness. . . life is just such a precious, amazing miracle), and getting a well deserved manicure/pedicure (me obviously,  although I hear gentlemen's pedicures are a big hit these days?).

The evening was spent enjoying barbecue, peach cobbler, and fellowship with good friends. So thankful for these people and deep cords of friendship. The perfect way to end the perfect day.

A huge thanks to all of you who emailed, called, or texted on Saturday just to let us know we were on your heart and mind. Knowing other people have not forgotten Chance brings warmth to our hearts. The day could not have been more perfect.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing sunshine after the rain.

You turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11

P.S. The little cuties who were responsible for helping bless us with the flowers and card at the cemetery. Love them and love their hearts.

Friday, August 14, 2015

He Remains

Here we are. August 14, 2015. . . the day before Chance's due date.

In a lot of ways the past four months have creeped by at a snail's pace, and in other ways the past four months have gone by in the blink of an eye. The snail's pace being the days where the pain and grief is just too much, and I feel somewhat zoned out and unable to function. The blink of an eye being the days where joy and happiness and laughter return and I feel like I can take on the world.

I have done much reading on grief and loss the past few months and it is true what they say. . . that grief is like a current. . . waves hitting and crashing hard at first with little relief and with much expectation because you can see them coming a mile away. And then slowly, over time, the waves hit farther apart and come on somewhat suddenly without expectation. You learn to ride the waves and eventually when they do hit you no longer feel like you will drown. You learn how to ride these waves with your head above water, sometimes still with tear filled eyes, but sometimes with dry eyes and a smile.

And the smile is there because He remains. He remains through the sad and happy and laughter and the unable to function moments. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


Chance can attest to that, my friends.

I woke up this morning and asked the Lord "Give me a fresh word today. Please give me something new to hold onto as I go into this weekend of my son's should-have-been birthday. Reveal yourself to me so this weekend will be filled with much celebration, despite the circumstance." 

And He gave me Psalm 102:25-27. . .

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. 

The cradle might be empty, but our hearts are not.

Because He remains.

We have a few special things planned for our family tomorrow. I am so looking forward to sharing the day together and celebrating our son and the faithfulness of our Father. Thank you so much for the love and prayers.

He remains.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Weekend Links 8/7/15

Fully Alive Women Will Change the World

Special Needs
When a pregnant stranger asked me "When did you find out?"

Dear Mark Zuckerberg: What You Just Did Was Huge
In The Deep End (Of Grief)
Grief: You Don't Just Get Over It - "Grief is not unChristlike or self-focused. Jesus Himself grieves. But Jesus also laughs. And one of the most amazing things about this life is how laughter and grief can often co-exist. Grieving is not ungodly; covering up pain and not speaking Truth, on the other hand, is."

And a few pictures from our week. . . 
 This girl was so tired one day that she fell asleep on the ride home and slept on me for a full hour. I was pretty much in heaven to say the least!

 Camille has clearely discovered her love of chewy chocolate chip cookies. 

 One day this week Camille kept asking "Baby? Baby? Baby?" So I said "Would you like to go see the babies, Maddox and Kingsley? (her 4 month old twin cousins) To which she got super excited and said "Yesss yeses!" So a visit was made later that day and she pretty much didn't take her hands off Maddox the entire time. 

Brandon's birthday was this week and instead of asking for personal gifts he just told our extended family to get something fun for the girls. His parents suprised us with this two seater wagon and Camille's year was pretty much made! 

We leave today for a little mission trip with our small group from church. Grandparents are coming to stay with the girls while we are away, so I am sure they won't even notice we are gone. Excited for some adult time to be able to go and serve together in new ways. 

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Moving on up!

Clara's teachers sent me this video last Friday and I about lost my mind. . .


Look at her go!! I knew she had been working on this skill, climbing a ladder, for several months but I had no idea she had mastered it to this extent. Mind = blown. Look at how she owns that thing!

And isn't it amazing how God gives us just what we need, right when we need it? I mean he is God after all, and that is pretty much his speciality, but man . . . talk about timing. After several weeks of struggling greatly with Clara's needs and erring on "the glass is half empty," side of the equation, I needed a boost to flip the glass to full. And then this. . . exactly that . . . a boost to regroup and get back some mental clarity and positivity.

The girl that we didn't know would ever walk, is now climbing ladders.

Can't wait to see what else is in store for her. So, so proud of our hardworking girl.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lessons learned from mismatched storage containers

The other day I was attempting to declutter a bit during nap time. And by declutter I mean I was sitting on the floor in the master closet going through some items, to see what might be in need of purging or donating. The main reason behind this mini project was to free up some storage containers so that I could then use them in the living room to re-organize the girls toys.

Are you following? No? Ok, let me back up.

Clara's oral fixation has increased greatly and she (literally) chews on anything and everything. And by anything and everything I mean toys, clothes, shoes, blankets, pillows, cups, plates, pieces of jewelry, phones, and the list continues. We are working both at school and speech therapy to decrease this behavior but as of now, nothing is really helping. Any toy that she is able to grab on her own is promptly stuck in her mouth. And since all of our toys are in the living room and 50% of them are easily accessible for chewing, we had to think up and incorporate a new system where we are better able to control what goes in her mouth.

So after a morning of total frustration because "Sweet girl, this is a puzzle piece. It goes here. Let's not chew on it" was repeated 100x, I had hit my wits end. And when that happens I reorganize and declutter and donate and sell stuff and try to find a new solution to said problem.

(Side - Brandon knows this about me. He once came home to a missing living room coffee table. "I see there is no coffee table. Bad day?" - Brandon to me.)

So anyways, project toy lock down had officially begun.

So there I sat in the closet rummaging through old pictures and clothes to see what I might be able to part with to clear up some storage space so that puzzle pieces and toys cars and blocks can be more tightly secured from the mouth of my babe.

Something like this might be nice. . . 

But then as I sat around looking at one large blue bin, two small see through bins, one big flat bin with wheels, and several other containers of various shapes and sizes and colors. . . I just lost it. Because how in the world am I supposed to organize and take on this project when none of my storage containers match? They all look different and none are pleasing to the eye. So I immediately started scrambling to all the closets in the house (which isn't many), still crying, in search of bins that go together and that would look all nice and tidy when placed next to each other. And I couldn't find a single match. I wanted my project to look perfect and cute and like everything fit together like a beautiful puzzle with no missing pieces and that just was not happening.

And then I heard God whispering to me. . .

"Life is not perfect. Life is not going to be neat and tidy and always pleasing to the eye. You are struggling because all these little pieces of your life feel out of control and overwhelming and just too much. But a Pottery Barn style project is not what I have in mind for you right now. Don't look to the right or to the left with eyes longing for an easier way or a more beautiful end result. You just need to trust me and embrace all the shapes and colors and sizes of what is in front of you." 

Clara's needs that seem too much? He's working on that.

Healing from the loss of baby that I delivered but never got to take home? He's working on that.

Mental rest for when the ups and downs of life get the best of me over and over and over again? He's working on that.

So I move forward finishing the project in front of me. Embracing the fact that what I am working with might not look like what my neighbor is working with and at the end of the day, it is still hard but it's ok. God doesn't care if my storage bins don't match. He just cares that I take what I have been given and do my best with it. That I am honorable with the story line He writes. That I don't give up on the project that He has so lovingly entrusted me with. Because in time? He makes all things new. And the end result is way better than anything from Pottery Barn.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Currently . . . July 2015 edition

It has been ages since I have done one of these, so I thought I would give it a go today.

Loving: My two cuffs from Farm Girl Paints. Brandon got me the cuff "Choose Joy" for my birthday last year (after a season of feeling overwhelmed with Clara's needs), and I ordered the "It is well with my soul" a month or so after Chance's funeral. Love that I can glance down at any moment and be reminded of these truths. If you are in search of a gift, I highly recommend checking out her shop (although it only opens a few times a year, next opening is in September). I also follow her blog & her account on Instagram. I always feel so inspired after reading her posts.

Reading: Anything by Jennie Allen and Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. Loving both so far, although I am especially challenged by Anything (currently on week 7). If you are looking for a book to shake up and wake up your faith I would encourage you to read this book. I posted my Anything story here.

Watching: I am not watching too much tv right now, so does watching videos of the girls on my phone/computer count? I love re-watching videos from all their different ages/stages. I watch some from their younger days and I think "Goodness they were sooooo tiny!" Absolutely love it.

Listening to: The new (to me) group I Am They. The girls and I blast a few of their songs every night while we wait for Brandon to get home. Camille especially loves dancing to this one. . .

Thinking about: Chance's due date that is nearing faster than I would like. In full disclosure, I would really love to just sail right over the month of August and slip into September so I would not have to deal with the emotions that might come on August 15. I am finding myself irritable, on edge, and somewhat anxious in the day to day, and I know this is in direct relation to this new reality of mine and the inability to escape the day. Someone mentioned that facing his due date brings about new emotions that I have not yet had to face in my grief journey. Truth. That said, there are a few things I would like to do on this day with Brandon and the girls, to honor Chance and to shed some happiness and healing (both for us and others). And the idea of doing these things does bring me excitement and joy, so that is what I am focusing on for now.

Looking forward to: A little family vacation we have planned in the near future. We found a perfect three bedroom house in South Padre (it has a pool too!), and are so excited to take the girls to the beach and just explore and getaway for a few days. Here's to lots of relaxing (well. . .  as much relaxing as you can actually do with two kids on a vacation), reading by the pool, and lazy coffee sipping mornings.

Making me happy: These two curly headed girls & all the memories we are making this summer. I truly feel so blessed to be their mommy.
Enjoy your week!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Weekend Links 7/24/15

It is the weekend and Brandon is back in town and thus needless to say, I am excited!

(P.S. How is it that anytime a spouse leaves home for a few days one child, or two, always get sick and/or is up all night long wanting to party? Always. Without fail. Someone, for the love, please explain this to me!)

What We Need to Know When Life Takes a Detour
How God Takes Our Dark Stories and Turns Them into Light  - "We all have a story that’s unfolding through our lives that won’t be complete until heaven, but it all has purpose if we are willing to go through the dark to get to the light. . . He took a dark part of my story and gave it light so others could see and hear and put their trust in the Lord. Our stories aren’t just for us — they are for those who are hurting and in need of hope. We get to partner with God in being light-bearers for His Kingdom." 

Special Needs
An Open Letter to Moms of "Typical" Kids
The Social and Emotional Aspects of Sensory Processing Challenges 

You Have No Idea
I Will Always Mourn That Baby
What I want you to know about loss and adoption

Hope your weekend (and mine) is filled with lots of rest and no throw up. Which of course is guaranteed true for me since, you know, daddy is back home. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Camille 18 months

This little lady turned 18 months on July 14, 2015. Goodness, before I know it my "baby" will be two years old. What in the world?

Some of Ms. Camille's favorite things at 18 months. . .

Playing in the sun. . .

 Swimming/splashing in the water. . .

Eating. . . especially if it involves cheese of any kind. . . 

Going bonkers over animals. . . Sorry to break it to you little one but no, you will never get a dog, or a duck for that matter. . .

I wish I had a picture of her face the day we saw this mamma duck with her littles. See above smile and arm placement and multiply it by 100 and you will have the general idea. . . 

 Playing with big sister. . .

Throwing tantrums. . . Is there such thing as "the terrible 18 months?" Or maybe we just have an extra spirited child on our hands???

No she isn't sleeping or soaking in some sun. That would be a full blown tantrum at the splash pad. . .

Spirited or not, we sure do love her and cannot imagine our days without her in them! She makes life so fun and always keeps us laughing (seriously, she makes us laugh all the time).

We love you, precious Camille! Happy 18 months!