Monday, July 21, 2014

Gideon Strong

I remember when I first found Maria's blog. I was searching for others out there with the same focus and resolve as myself. Someone who really believed that there are far more important things in life than physical appearance or the size of our jeans.

And thats when I found True Worth.

Maria has the gift of the written word, and has a way of connecting with women and encouraging women of all ages that they are more beautiful than they will ever know. I love to read her work. She is a blessing to many.

Fast forward a few years and she discloses the unthinkable. . .

That her unborn son, Gideon, would not be able to live outside the womb.

I cannot imagine getting this news. I cannot imagine the pain and grief Maria has experienced over the past few months. The pain of knowing that the sweet life inside of you would be born into this world, and then taken from this world a few hours later.

Yet, Maria has been a pillar of faith. Her family has used Gideon's story to touch the lives of many. She has used Gideon to share the message that God can take our deepest wounds and bring peace, joy, and unfathomable love.

Back in June, Maria hosted a "Gideon Blue" give away on her blog. Her family created blue bracelets in honor of their precious son, and her mother painted a beautiful picture in her grandsons honor titled "Shades of Peace."



From her blog. . .  "The star in the upper corner is a button we used on Gideon’s Memory table at his service, surrounded by a little dash of yellow it is there to remind us of the hope of heaven.  That while in this life we embrace God’s peace to get us through the sorrowful and the scary…we are also emboldened by knowing that hope is still to come.  All tears will be wiped away and we will be whole again."

There family is working on a memory book. "One that tracks the journey we have been on and attempts to encapsulate all that God has accomplished," she explained. Maria asked that her readers leave a comment for the book, sharing something God has recently revealed, or maybe an example of Gideon Blue in their own lives. Maria stated she would enter all comments into a drawing to win the above bracelets and painting, and that each and every comment would be included in their memory book. 

I felt God prompting me, and so I wrote. . . 

"Your story has touched many. I have been so blessed by your transparent reflections. It is amazing how God can use such pain and heartache and turn it into good, and dare I say. . . even joy? My oldest daughter, now age 2, has some severe developmental delays. We learned back in November 2013 that she has Cohen Syndrome (confirmed via genetic testing). Your story has reminded me that God is so very GOOD. All the time. No matter what. And that JOY can be found even in the mist of pain. Even in the midst of death (to me this means death of the type of child I envisioned when dreaming of growing our family). Thank you for your encouragement and allowing Gideon to make a difference."

And I won the giveaway. A coincidence? I think not. God was hard at work behind the scenes. And so now the beautiful bracelets and painting sit on the shelf in Clara's room. And I am reminded, daily, of God's goodness and faithfulness, even in the midst of life's ups and downs. 




I am reminded to be strong, like sweet Gideon, and to never let the challenges of life sweep over the hope that we have in heaven.  A reminder that God is close to the brokenhearted. 

Because there is coming a day, friends. A day with no more pain or heartache or tears or sadness. And in that day, that moment, all things will be made anew. 



Love this girl with my whole heart 

Thank you again, Maria, for being brave. For being strong. And for allowing God to do a mighty work within your family. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekend Links 7/18/14

Life 
Anything worth doing is worth doing. . . poorly???
Are you taking my message?

Special Needs
Keep swimming 

Clara checking out the toy closet at speech therapy. . . decisions, decisions. . .


 She chose an oldie but goodie. . . Mr. Potato Head. . . blast from the past. . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Weekend To Remember

Brandon and I attended a Weekend To Remember marriage conference in late June, and it was a huge blessing to us as a couple. Our good friends, Wendi and Wade, asked if we wanted to attend with them, and while I knew Camille would still be a little baby, I thought the weekend away would come at just the right time for us as individuals, and as a married couple. So we said yes and signed up!

The sessions were great . . . lots of good reminders as well as some new insights. . . and the speakers were humorous which is always a plus when sitting in a conference for two days straight. It really was a great time to just be together without the interruption of every day life, and to actually have time to talk about what is working well in our marriage and where we could tweak a few things.

(Side note: It is said that parents of special needs children have an 80% divorce rate. 80%. Why? So. many. factors. Lots of extra physical, emotional, and financial burdens, and a special needs child requires so much more intentionality compared to a typical child. We heard this at the conference, although this was not the first time this statistic was shared with us. We have heard firsthand, from other special needs parents, that we MUST be on our guard & attempt to beat these odds. End of side note.) 

When reflecting on the sessions & words spoken that weekend, there was one thing that really stood out to me above all else.

What type of "climate" am I giving off to my spouse on a daily basis? We all give off a certain "climate" everyday, whether we realize it or not. When we enter a room, or when someone enters a room where we are residing, our climate is displayed in many ways (tone of voice, body language, general attitude etc.).

Ok now. . . If I am being 100% honest, there are many days when Brandon walks through the door from work where my climate is less than ideal. I might not be a total grump, but I am definitely not inviting or showing enthusiasm that he is home for the day.

A cold climate really can set the tone for our evening, and once the tone is set, it is sometimes hard to turn things back around to the positive.




I have been working really hard over the last few weeks to set a different tone, a different climate so to speak, when Brandon walks in the door from work. Eye contact, a smile, a hug, a proper tone of voice that says "I am happy you are here," goes a long way. My climate can be gentle and loving, even if I am explaining to him how our day was a h.a.r.d. one. Because I really can do both. I really can be honest about our day without being a total Debbie downer. I really can flash a smile and show love, even if just seconds earlier Clara was refusing to eat or melting down, or Camille was refusing to nap, or I had to call insurance 100x that day to work out some outstanding therapy bill (That is really not outstanding at all. Story of our life. Thank you UHC.).

I can set the tone for our evenings. 

I am in control of my climate. 

. . . 

Thanks, Wendi and Wade, for inviting us, spurring us on to do better and be better, and making lasting memories! We had a great time!



And apparently, based on the pictures above, I need to go shopping. It appears that most normal human beings wear different types of clothing on different days. My uniform of capri pants and solid pink top could use a little changing up. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Camille 6 months

Yep,  it is true. . . our littlest girl turns 6 months old today. How that is even possible I will never know. I feel like I just gave birth to her yesterday.


She sat up for the first time on July 4th (pic above is from that day)! I love, love this developmental milestone. Feels like they are automatically more interactive and interested in the world around them. So fun to see her truly engaged in play!




We tested out baby food about a week or so ago. She seems to like it! Getting used to the idea for sure, but overall she is doing well. And chewing on the spoon seems to be her fav part. We are just giving once a day, in the evening, and will probably add in another meal at 7 months.


Just playing. . . and no, I don't leave her on the couch when I am not sitting next to her. :)





Weight/Height/HC - 18 pounds 2 oz / 26.5 inches / 17.24 inches

Size 6 months clothes / size 3 daytime diapers & size 4 overnights / size 1 shoe


She officially sleeps un-swaddled (just weaned her off!) which is great because she can now put her paci in during the night if it falls out. She goes to bed about 8pm and sleeps until 7am. Sometimes she will wake to eat about 5am or so, although sometimes not. We do think the baby food is helping her stretch till morning without eating. She naps about three times a day.


She is so full of joy, and smiles all. the. time. Love it! She is a very happy baby and (now at this stage) rarely cries unless she is just way too overtired.


We love you, Camille! Happy 6 months sweetie girl!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crazy rashes & crazy headbands

I mentioned this past Friday that we spent most of last week helping Clara recover from a nasty virus. Poor girl had a rough, rough week. She was struggling to eat (finally got a meal in her Saturday night), sleep, and cried a majority of the day. We had lots of cuddles, which was a bonus, but man, I hate to watch her little body suffer.


Our week looked a lot like this. . .


Sweet girl was NOT having it at the Dr's office. . .

The rash. . . I have no idea what it was but I am guessing Roseola. Who knows!


You can really see it in the pic below. . .



In an effort to offset some sadness, we put Camille in the pigtail headband my mom bought for Clara when she was a baby. . . I think she liked it!


For the 4th of July we were supposed to have dinner with friends & play games, but we canceled on Thursday since Clara was still out of sorts and not fully recovered. Plus, we didn't want to pass on her virus to their kids. So. . . on Friday morning we spent time playing at home and then went to my parents house for dinner. I figured that passing off a virus to family is acceptable, right? Ha!


A huge thanks to Brandon for capturing this pic of me & Camille. I volunteered to hold her during her afternoon nap because I am so selfless like that  really needed an excuse to sleep myself. When Clara is sick nobody sleeps.

Brandon decided it was necessary to spruce up our dinner festivities and ran a quick errand and came home with this. . . the loot. . .

"What exactly did you just put on my head???"

"Seriously, y'all are so not cool."

Sister shot in their matching, crazy festive headbands. . .


I mean. . .

Yesterday was spent relaxing at home after church. I got in another two hour nap (seriously I don't joke. . . when Clara is sick nobody sleeps.) Post Sunday nap fun in mommy & daddy's bed. . . love these two with my whole heart!!!


And a little sister playtime. . .
Make it a great week!