Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CC: Snapshot

We were blessed with an amazing heart surgeon and cardiac team.  Malachi had multiple heart defects. There was a very great chance that he would end up on the heart/lung bypass machine after surgery, but God spared him from that.  And he spared little man's parents from that!

Monday, June 27, 2011

CC: Snapshot: Mommy's Arms

Our time spent actually holding baby Chi was VERY limited (for fear of overstimulation).  I cherished the time I was allowed with my baby in my arms.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CC: Healing

More and more this is continually becoming my favorite picture of Malachi. You gotta love a peaceful, sleeping baby.  Knowing the war his little body was waging against itself, it brings me comfort to know that there were times during his stay on this earth where he was able to escape the pain.  I am thankful for the memory that God has given me of this moment of my first son.  This morning during my bible reading I came across this verse... "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings." (Malachi 4:2).  At different times today God has reminded me of the comfort only He can bring during times of great trial and distress. I am reminded that there is no earthly reason that we were able to love on Malachi in the flesh for as long we were ordained.  We knew from the moment he struggled for his first breath that our time with him would be limited.  Shorter than any mama could ever find adequate.

I am thankful that we received a kind gift while Malachi was in the NICU with this verse written on the back.  I am thankful that can take comfort in a verse from a book of the Bible from where my son received his name.  I am thankful that God has saved me and has promised healing for those who fear His name.  I am thankful that this healing, this love, this forgiveness is available to any and all who call on His name, repent, and follow Him.  That He is able and willing to save even a soul like me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Q & A

Q. Why did mommy marry daddy?
A.  Because he's AWESOME!

Q. Why does mommy make dinner?
A. Because she loves us.
     Q. Why does daddy NOT make dinner?
     A. Because you [daddy] love me... and mommy makes it best.

Q. What's your favorite bedtime story?
A.  Bear snores on.  {John and I like this one too!}

Q. Who is a better driver?
A.  Daddy because he drives all of us.

Q. What kind of college do you want to go to?
A. A real one.

Q. What places do you want to visit?
A.  China...Disney to see the princesses... and heaven!

Q. What kind of food do cows give us?

Q. What's mommy's favorite drink?
A.  Caramel latte. {good answer}
     Q. What's daddy's favorite drink?
     A.  Mt. Dew. {also a good answer}

Q. Where does milk come from?
A.  Black and white cows.
     Q. Where does pink milk come from? {that's what we call strawberry milk}
     A. Daddy!

Q. Where do you punch daddy?
A.  In the booty. {she really does just run by and punch his butt}

Emma: First, I'm going to get married and then have two babies in my belly at the same time!
Q.  Who are you going to marry?
A.  My husband.

Q.  What do you like to do with mommy?
A.  Chill out... and go to the pool... and have a good day.
     Q.  ...and daddy?
     A.  fight and wrassle! {wrestle}

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lookin' Fine... {repost}

Taken in it's entirety from here {Firefighter's Fam}.  Partly related to my father's day breakdown which I posted last night over on our family blog here.

Lookin' Fine : (healing is so complicated)

Have I reached the point where it would be more honoring to not mention Gabe?

I'm mulling this over as I remember a conversation this week. . .

Super relaxing atmosphere

long awaited spa stuff

a stranger

Is this your first pregnancy?

no, it is our fourth

Sarah Machlachlan sings about the arms of the angels and I close my eyes thinking about mine. . .

chatter about dogs and gardens and the South where she's from and Charleston weddings and big front porches and this awful heat and

What are the ages of your kids?

i wondered if you'd ask

I was so so tempted to lie.  "6, 4 and 18 months." 

It's not quite a lie.

I'll never see her again, and I'm okay right now and to say "we lost our third child, our son, our Gabe" and then go on doesn't do justice to his life and the loss and the hole  and I think that healing is a gift but it's such a complicated one.

Gently I acknowledge my Jacob Daniel and my Cambria and my Gabe and then I say that he isn't here anymore and that I miss him so much. . .  and I cringe that my pregnancy and our happy kicking unborn  #4 can easily look like a replacement and how do I explain that we are going to love our little #4 for all of it's number fourness and not because this new little person is filling that Gabe-shaped hole?

The expected words.

I'm so sorry.

That would be awful.

But I don't look awful and my eyes aren't red rimmed and I am healthy and tanned and able to carry on a conversation and my sanity doesn't tell the whole story and there isn't time.

And it isn't the place.

And I wonder if that was betrayal and I wonder if my Gabe would have been more honored if I would have kept my mouth shut.

Should I hold up a sign that says I put makeup on but that doesn't mean my life is okay!

I'm pregnant but I'm not replacing my son!

Gabe died and I can say that without screaming but that doesn't mean it's okay!

I think of the odd experience of stumbling across our story being discussed in a forum on The Bump. . . 
then a link to our blog. . .

then all the comments:

so awful

couldn't imagine

i'm crying

our baby girl is exactly his age

my husband is a firefighter too, oh my


and then

i read her current posts, she is pregnant and they look like they are doing fine.

Everything looks fine.

Isn't that what everyone wants for us? For anyone who suffers?  For the answer to pain?

Oh please, just look fine.

Would your cancer please go into remission and could you please just wear a super cute wig so I can focus on how well you are coping?

Could you please at least pretend you have a job or some leads or a promising interview and can we all just pretend that you are able to make all of those house payments because it's so scary to think that you are unemployed. . .

Can we talk about how great of a guy you are going to find someday even though your dates to black tie weddings are girlfriends or brothers or guy friends who had mercy on you and your nights are lonely and your career  isn't as fulfilling as it looks on the outside?

Your son is in jail? Let me pause while I try and swallow all of my shock! Oh, well, I'm sure you're finding great attorneys and I'm sure your son will never do that again and besides he was always a great kid and I don't want to even think about how ashamed and humiliated and hurt you are so can we please talk about something happier?

Can you please look fine?

For a while you can't and the pain is just too raw and too deep and everyone knows it's not fine and you're not fine.

Your mail carrier is busy and you wear your darkest sunglasses and you see the hushed whispers and your soul needs the hard squeezing hugs.

But at some point. . . you begin to look fine.

So then what?

Sorry, I don't know.

I'm learning.

Begging God for grace.

Reluctant to spill out the story of my son's short little life if the treasure part can't be communicated.

Cringing at the many times in my life when I've been the one with the answers and the God is sovereign spiel and the trite responses and it might have been being the salt of the earth  and a light to the world but a clump of salt tastes pretty bad and no one wants a million candlepower flashlight shining in their eyes when all they can see is darkness.

Knowing I'm not the only one thinking this stuff.

A little afraid of lookin' fine over here.

father's day

so many things i have wanted to sit down and write about or even just document for the sake of documenting.  then days like today happen and everything else just doesn't seem near as important.  days like today happen and the grief just hits all over again.  unfortunately, the negative posts seem to take precedence over the good ones.  really, not all days are like this.  really, we do laugh and play and try to not feel guilty about it.  but really, the loss of Malachi is still a very real thing.  so much so that if Emma sees me crying, her immediate response is "Mama, you miss Malachi?"  I'm thankful, however, that the tears are no longer constant.

i was prepared for mother's day. 
i was prepared for the week of Chi's first homegoing anniversary. 
apparently, i was not prepared for father's day.

we got off to a late start this morning.  i hate being rushed for church.  heading to church in a horrible mood and slightly upset with your husband for doing nothing wrong is clearly not God-honoring.  the stage was not set well.  i was not prepared. 

honestly, i don't really remember what we were learning about in sunday school.  i know the topic was spiritual gifts and i suppose i took away the most important point (all spiritual gifts are given by God)... the details, however, are fuzzy.  my heart hurt.  as i sat in class, it physically ached.  i still attempted to act "fine."

we made our way into the auditorium and found some seats toward the back as the kids choir was singing.  they were singing a song from a CD we listen to with Emma and i was trying to listen to her and see what words she remembered.  the choir shifted places a little bit and another familiar tune from that CD began to play.  A song about peace.  A song about peace that we would frequently listen to when Malachi was in the hospital.  all of a sudden, i am holding back the sobs. don't cry.  don't cry.  "Mama, do you miss Malachi?"

Malachi.  Another father's day spent without Malachi.  one of the pastors begins to pray.  he mentions something about those who have lost loved ones.  he was actually only referring to those who have lost their fathers this year, but i was thinking about our little boy. my heart ached--not just for me, but for john too. it got to be too much and we had to leave. 

then i was reminded of father's day last year. i was also at that moment thankful that our parent/baby dedication had already been postponed until next weekend so i wouldn't feel obligated to stand in front of the church all red-eyed and puffy-lipped pretending to be fine. 

maybe mothers day is easier to handle for me because i had my baby then.  not only was Chi alive, but he was HOME with US.  i distinctly remember being up with him at 4 am (john took the midnight-4a shift so i could sleep) and starting his feeding pump and cleaning/refilling medicine syringes.  i remember feeling JOY at that moment.  just raw thankfulness that malachi was under our roof.  Two-year-old emma had spent the night with john's parents the night before.  when they dropped her off the next morning, she literally did a somersault through the front door and stood up announcing "happy mother's day".  i'm thankful that God gave us a good day that day. 

instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of the day, i think i will end with that happy recollection of mother's day 2010.  i don't think i even blogged about it then, so it's truly a miracle that moments of that day have even stayed with me through the last year.   i am also thankful that i was able to be in a decently good mood after our rough morning while visiting with family and while i called to wish my dad a happy father's day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RN: Rainy Day = Movie Day

Thunderstorms all morning makes it easy to convince mama to pop in a movie.  Then I saw this "Right Now" Challenge by Willette.  At that exact moment, I grabbed my little point and shoot camera and took a pic of Emma playing a game, while coloring, while sitting on her Dora throne at her princess desk, snacking on apples, and zoned out to Toy Story 3 while brother is upstairs napping.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We Shall See God {Review}

We Shall See God
Randy Alcorn

About the Book
No author in history has more material in print than Charles Spurgeon. During his lifetime, Spurgeon and his writings affected the world far and wide. Today, nearly 120 years after his death, countless people continue to have a passion for this London preacher, and more and more discover him every day. Some of Spurgeon’s most powerful sermons were those that he preached on the topic of Heaven. Up until now, however, very few of these sermons have been accessible to a mass audience. In what is sure to become an instant classic, best-selling author Randy Alcorn has compiled the most profound spiritual insights on the topic of eternity from these sermons and arranged them into an easily-accessible, highly inspirational devotional format complete with his own comments and devotional thoughts. Whether you are familiar with the works of Charles Spurgeon or not, you are in for a treat, as Alcorn invites you to sit at the feet of the Prince of Preachers and discover timeless pearls of wisdom from one of the greatest theological minds of all time.

My Thoughts
I have been greatly impressed with Alcorn's writings over the last year, and this devotional-type book does NOT disappoint. I have always been overwhelmed with the vast content you can find regarding Spurgeon and his sermons from long ago, so I absolutely love this "concise" book specifically concerning the topic of heaven--a topic near and dear to my heart from May 25, 2010 onward.  I was almost concerned that this book would be TOO heavy of reading and that I'd have to sift through these lengthy sermons in order to uncover an applicable illustration.  Thankfully, Alcorn has already done the dirty work for us and we can jump right into the "good stuff."  Separated into 50 days or chapters, it's easy to systematically work your way through this book without being overwhelmed.  Day 9 (Seeing Our Loved Ones In The Morning) is especially thought provoking and encouraging for me personally.  A great, great encouragement for those who have had to say goodbye through death to saved loved ones.

About the Authors:
Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to starting EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah University and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century.  He served for thirty years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, and it is estimated that during his lifetime he preached to more than 10 million people.  His collected sermons fill sixty-three volumes and remain one of hte best-selling series of writings in history.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me 
with a complimentary copy of this book or ARC.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gifts # 51-75

51. Warm Spring air.
52. Machines to aid with washing clothes and dishes.
53. That tears tend to help with the pain.
54. That heaven is constantly on my mind.
55. Contagious laughter between a 5-month old and a 3-year old.
56. Hot, HOT showers.
57. *Malachi was delivered at a hospital with a NICU.
58. *Malachi's breathing issues were immediately discovered--and attended to.
59. *My post-delivery complications made for less "bleeding" issues in the ensuing days.
60. *Doc released me from hospital the same day Chi was transferred to the children's hospital across town--just a day after delivery (even though I would have warranted a bit longer of a stay with my complications).
61. *That I was unaware of Chi's issues while he was in utero. I would have just worried.
62. A call from John to share an embarrassing moment he had with me.
63. A simple message from a friend reminding me I am not alone.
64. A "small" group gathering for lunch.
65. A husband's willingness to take over a chore of mine unexpectedly.
66. The chance to fellowship with another young mom while filling vacant nursery slot.
67. An invite from friends for Memorial Day lunch.
68. Looking ahead to a short-time missions trip to China.
69. Free book.s
70. Jackson clicing to me as I carry him.
71. Cool mornings outside with the kids.
72. Air conditioning!
73. Finding a four-leaf clover.
74. Emma putting herself down for a nap.
75. Friends willing to watch kids for a couple hours so we can have a date.


After taking John's keys...followed by taking his money clip... followed by taking things in that weren't even his just in his general vicinity, she declares, "Hey, Dad! We're playing a fun game!  It's called "Try And Get Your Stuff Back".

say what!?!

Running in from the yard... phew! I'm slutty!   uhhh... I'm sweaty.  I mean I'm sweaty.

Jackson 7 months!

As much as I hate to admit it, baby boy is growing up.  In no particular order, these are some of the things I'd like to remember about the more recent events of the last seven months...

First and foremost, he has settled into the most AMAZING sleeping routine.  Emma got to this point when I stopped forcing it, so I kinda tried to not force anything with Jackson to begin with.  I've been hesitant to share this with too many people solely due to the fact that when I say it, it will be no more.  I'm still going back and forth as I type this.... okay, here goes... get this! He's sleeping from like 8:30p-8:00a (I know, right)... AND two  2-3hr naps during the day... TWO!  The past week, for the majority of the day, I've only had to take care of one kid at a time--kinda weird, but kinda nice.  Okay, moving on...

Baby is tipping the scales at 19 pounds, but I don't think he's going to be packing on the pounds anytime soon because he spends quite a bit of his time in his walker running like mad all over the place.  He's definitely intentional about where he wants to go and knows that if he is at a dead end, to go back a few steps before trying to maneuver a different direction.  If he's awake when John gets home from work, he's been the first to greet daddy at the door!

He's found a new and exciting way to use his paci--yep, the whole thing is in his mouth!

And when the paci is unavailable... he's not at a complete loss!

Kind of hard to tell from the picture, but he had TWO TEETH pop through a few weeks ago.  Of note, he is also eating two full jars of baby food (peas/beans/sweet potatoes/carrots/etc. with oatmeal--much cleaner) a day and nursing three to four times a day.  He also REALLY likes that he can eat rice husk treats by himself.

Our latest weekly picture...

Little man has already had his first official haircut (I used John's beard trimmer) and looking pretty spiffy, although he's still pretty much a fuzzball. Seriously, I feel like people pet him it's so soft and fine.  I also wanted to include this picture.  I rescued him from his crying after naptime the other day only to find this suctioned to his cheek. 

I took a couple pics today of him getting SO close to crawling.  He can kinda-sorta scoot himself backwards, but nothing as intentional as moving around in his walker, that's for sure.... Mama's not ready for you to be all growed up, little one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When Sparrows Fall {Review}

When Sparrows Fall
by Meg Moseley

About the Book:
Freedom. Safety. Love. Miranda vows to reclaim them--for herself, and for her children.

A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her past, and Miranda feels trapped, terrified she’ll be unable to protect her children.

College professor Jack Hanford is more than surprised when he gets a call from his estranged sister-in-law’s oldest son, Timothy, informing him that Miranda has taken a serious fall and he has been named legal guardian of her children while she recovers. Quickly charmed by Miranda’s children, Jack brings some much-needed life into the sheltered household. But his constant challenging of the family’s conservative lifestyle makes the recovering mother uneasy and defensive—despite Jack’s unnerving appeal.

As Jack tries to make sense of the mysterious Miranda and the secrets she holds so tightly, Mason’s pressure on her increases. With her emotions stirring and freedom calling, can Miranda find a way to unshackle her family without losing everything?

My thoughts:
A great fiction read.  I had never heard of this author before, so I was pleasantly delighted as I got into the story and began to feel for the characters--especially the main character Miranda.  Empathy has not been one of my strong suits as of late, so it was a welcomed change of pace! The author definitely keeps the story moving and hints continually about some secret in Miranda's past.  I kept trying to "figure it out" before it was completely revealed; I was engaged and she kept me intrigued.  Definitely a book worth recommending!

Read an excerpt here.
Purchase from Waterbrook Multnomah here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

in my absence...

So, it's been a while. Blogging has become an outlet of sorts for me and I miss it.  I have lots I want to share, yet my mind has been jumbled mush as of late to put together enough words to make sense of my thoughts.  Well, that and sometimes it's just been easier to not think about life.  I know, awful, right?  Because I can't formulate my thoughts into coherent strings of sentences, you get pictures.  The fruit of my busy-ness.  My distractions from grief for the last few weeks... enjoy!  (I'd love to hear any feedback... comments make me happy)

the study is somewhat put together... 
no heaping pile to sort through in the middle of the room at least!

view from the study to the entry way
(many a tote has been removed from this area)

the final set of undercabinet lighting installed in the kitchen

things up on the wall in the kitchen
there is also a little "coffee station" in the corner I failed to take a pic of

message board hung (will pretty it up later)

curtains made and installed.

gallery wall begun (frames still need filled and they will be leveled AFTER the filling--not doing that job twice!)

shelving fixed and more curtains made/installed

furniture rearranged for more open layout

tops of bookshelves are STARTING to take shape

area for emma to hang her jacket/swimsuit/etc

still needs filled, but the mirror thing is up

1/2 bath finished painting and new fixtures installed

jackson zips around in his walker now, so i covered up all the pretty colored bottles of cleaner under the sink with a curtain

old futon covered in outdoor fabric and patio tiles laid

john is ripping up horribly laid bricks to start new patio

john prettied up the hole in the middle of our yard with a firepit

stair rail painted and reinstalled

curtains made and installed in the loft

jackson's clothes sorted--new sizes unpacked, outgrown stuff put away

corkboard thing up in emma's room

place to hang bags of groups of toys with lots of pieces

dollhouse we put together for her for christmas, finally up on the wall

there are a few other things around here i think i've taken care of, but failed to take pictures of... i'm also proud to say that all the laundry is clean (not quite folded and put away) and my sink is only 1/2 full of dishes, and both kids are sleeping... not bad, not bad.

a lesson in organizing.

Emma is organizing her puzzles in the loft cabinet. She looked at me, sighed, and said "we should have done this weeks ago..."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

even she cant stand the fussyness

number 1. we have to chill out
number 2. we need to have a little dinner
number 3 we need to stay calm with a good attitude.

That’s what we need to do.  Right, mother?