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Posted on Oct 29, 2013 in Devotional | 8 comments

Perfection

Perfection

Perfect little arms and legs, a sweet little belly button, fingers that can pick up anything, and a fluffy little head – things that delight me every day as I look at my daughter. Her legs and ankles are getting stronger, allowing her to walk around objects as long as she holds on. Her two little teeth flash when her face lights up in a smile. Her eyes have turned brown and she has thick, light brown eyelashes. She kisses me with her mouth wide open, often getting in a little lick. I cherish the grossness of her sloppy kisses.

She has a good appetite and eats just about anything I give her. She stopped eating baby food months ago, preferring whatever we’re eating instead. She eats with gusto, shoving little bits of food in her mouth, somehow chewing it up, and making happy noises when new flavors are experienced. But when she’s full, she turns her little head and holds up her hand. That’s it. No more. No apologies to the chef, no concern that there’s still food on her plate. I’m amazed by how her perfect little body works, letting her know when she’s full and making no allowance for gluttony.

Yes, I’m calling my child perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I make no apologies for it. She is an amazing mystery I will never comprehend – how she grew inside me, gained weight and formed beautifully all while I vomited and vomited and vomited. While I laid on the couch and wanted to die, she grew. And then she was out and an entirely separate person, and I was FREE! It’s all too weird to understand.

A childhood friend of mine was also growing a child in her womb while my Eliana was forming in mine. My friend was also doing all she could to nurture new life, to pray for her unborn daughter, and to stand in amazement at the things that were happening to her.

But while I was planning a nursery, she was planning a funeral.

While I was greedily soaking up the perfect little spine I saw on the ultrasound, she was hearing words like “Truncus Arteriosus, Atrial Septal Defect, Cleft lip/palate, and Cystic Kidneys.” Her precious daughter, Abbie Ann, was not perfect. She had Trisomy 13 Syndrome, a genetic disorder that caused her to never get to see the face of her loving parents. They lost her before she was ready to be born.

My friend posted regular updates on Facebook, asking us all to pray for a miracle as she and her husband gave their child every chance to live. I prayed, begging God to heal her daughter, begging God to give her peace. I felt so selfish and small, clinging to the amazing news that my own miracle was healthy and whole. While she dealt gracefully with horrific news, I sobbed in frustration that I couldn’t stop throwing up, wondering if I’d ever feel normal again.

I made a decision. Abbie Ann would never be forgotten by me. Her short life would not go without meaning.

When I look at my daughter, I often think of Abbie Ann. Eliana has a body that works exactly as it should, a mind that is sharp and alert, and a personality that charms. When she was born, I didn’t hope to see unusual beauty, a particular feature, or a color of hair. I hoped for health and wholeness. I was told she was beautiful. I didn’t see it. She was simply my healthy, whole daughter, free from disease, free from pain.

Some day this perfect girl will look in the mirror, and because she is human she will somehow be disappointed by what she sees. She will tell me she wishes she had a different-looking (fill-in-the-blank). And I will smile and tell her she’s perfect. When she rolls her eyes at me (you know she will), I will tell her the story of Abbie Ann. I will tell her how much Abbie Ann’s mommy wishes she could hear her say something so frivolous as her nose is too big (or whatever). I want her to look in the mirror and see wonder – breath-taking, glorious health. Perfection.

I’m not encouraging vanity. It’s the opposite, really. I’m encouraging her to think beyond the pettiness of concern with having just the right face or body or hair to fit in with today’s ever-changing standards of beauty. I’m encouraging her to live in the skin she was given, to behold the wonder of a body that works exactly as it should, and to give thanks to God for the miracle of life.

If our bodies function normally, shouldn’t we all throw up our arms in thanksgiving to God for the gift of perfection? Shouldn’t we praise and sing in wonder and joy?

It’s one of the greatest gifts I can think to give my daughter. I won’t be the mother who encourages vanity. I’ll be the one who reminds her of the great gift of health and wholeness, perfection, she has received. She’ll be hearing me encourage her to go out and make the most of this precious gift.

Psalm 139:13-16a NKJV

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

My friend, Maribeth Johnson, has been a pillar of godliness and grace through her difficult loss. She has allowed God to minister to others through her personal tragedy, and she is pressing forward into all God has given her to do. Again, we are expecting new babies around the same time. This time she has heard the beautiful, priceless words – healthy and whole – from the doctors regarding this new life. I rejoice with her and thank God for second chances. She is an extremely talented singer and is about to release a new album. I encourage you to like her page on Facebook and support her when the new album is released. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/maribethjohnsonmusic.

Photo Credit: Bliss Photography, https://www.facebook.com/BlissfulPhoto

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Posted on Oct 3, 2013 in Devotional, Love, Marriage | 6 comments

How I Feel Right Now

How I Feel Right Now

I know some of you read my blog posts and Facebook updates and think,

“Oh just SHUT UP with your peace and love and babies and husband-who-cleans-the-house!”

I know.

I was just listening to my iPod on shuffle and a song I used to really enjoy came on. It’s by Kelly Clarkson, called “How I Feel.” Check it out. I used to sing this verse at the top of my lungs:

It seems every time I find a good man
He’s got a good little wife
I’m not jealous but I won’t lie
I don’t want to hear about your wonderful life
And babies! Everywhere I look…
Trophy wives with their little black books
At this rate I’m gonna end up alone

How many great guys did I meet and wonder about, only to find out they were already married?  And seriously, was EVERYONE having babies but me?  Sometimes I struggle with what I write. I think about how it makes you feel. Will this post be hurtful? Cause someone to feel annoyed by how peachy everything is for me? If you’ve spent any time with me, you know I’m no Pollyanna. I’m a realist.

When I was screaming that bitter song at the top of my lungs, giving myself a few minutes of unguarded self-pity and anger toward those who had the things I wanted so much, I still held out hope for myself. For a few minutes I might’ve forgotten, but soon I was back to the version of myself I like better.

I needed to know there was hope for me. I needed to know SOMEONE who had made it through the desert and was living in The Promised Land. On earth. Alive. Was there really anyone out there who had waited for the Lord beyond what seemed reasonable and natural and actually received the promises?  And not a movie character???

I try to convey through what I write that my life is real, not a fairy tale. I look in the mirror and wonder what my husband sees in me. Sometimes it’s hard to live with someone who’s obsessively clean. There are challenges that come along with marrying later in life, set in our ways and trying to merge into a family. Sometimes I hear the baby cry and I get frustrated because I need to get a few more things done. Why won’t she settle into a schedule? The bed isn’t made, the tax records need to be updated, and I fear my body can’t handle another pregnancy.

But there are tons of women out there who write about that stuff. You can find young mothers griping about their children on any number of blogs. You can easily find wives tearing down their husbands and dragging all their dirty laundry out on the internet.

I could probably make it pretty funny too. But why?

My story is unique and I don’t write merely for your entertainment. (Although it makes me happy when you’re entertained.)  I waited a long time for this precious husband, for the daughter who brightens up my days. I had a glimmer of hope for more than one child. I begged God for a home of my own. I didn’t ask for a mansion; just a home to call my own. I wanted stacks of dishes, dirty floors, and laundry piled up – because the mess indicated life and love and full arms. So will I now complain about it all?

Go ahead and feel frustrated and angry because you’re still waiting for God’s promises to you. At times, stop reading my blog and find one of those gripy blogs. I understand. But come back when you’re feeling better, read again, and let the words encourage you.

God is faithful.

His timing is perfect.

Even when it’s painful and hard to understand and you think your suffering will never end – there is hope.

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Posted on Jun 22, 2013 in Fertility, Parenting | 10 comments

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

DSC_0019 CROPPregnancy.  Ugh.  I’ve decided that the women who say they feel great and actually like being pregnant are lying.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t exactly lying, but they aren’t actually telling the truth.  Could they be?  Nah.  Pregnancy, as beautiful as the outcome may be, is not what I would ever call “fun.”

No, I’m not trying to announce that I’m pregnant. I just had a little trip down memory lane and thought that in my non-preggo, non-sicko state, I’d make a list to help you out when you encounter other women with that glow. And for the record, “morning sickness” is the most under-descriptive name for the all-encompassing, 24-hour, flu-like state of many pregnancies.

1. You should try ________ (fill in the blank – saltines, ginger, peppermint, etc.).
Do you want to know how bad those things taste coming back up?
Get me a trash can!

2. You just need a little fresh air. Go for a walk!
I puke when I walk to the bathroom and you expect me to make it outside and down the road?
Get me a trash can!

3. Everyone gets it. Suck it up.
Oh, that makes it so much better…
Get me a trash can!

4. I can’t believe you’re sleeping again.
I just grew a pinky finger in my womb. What did you do today?
Get me a trash can!

5. You think you’re sick now, just wait until labor and delivery! (Snort.) Let me tell you my horror story…
Thanks. Now I’m not just sick, I’m terrified.
Get me a trash can!

6. If you were busy enough, you wouldn’t have time to be sick.
Are you freaking kidding me?
Get me a trash can!

7. Do you want to have sex tonight?
Do you want to clean puke up off your face?
Get me a trash can!

8. I don’t smell anything. You’re imagining it.
How can you not smell that? It’s awful.
Oops! The trash can wasn’t close by enough. Sorry about the floor.

9. Why do you need a trash can? Just puke in the toilet.
Yes, because in my extremely nauseous, motion-sick, hyper-sensitive to smell state, I want to stick my face in the pot where we poo.
GET ME A TRASH CAN!

10. I don’t feel like going out to get the food you’re craving right now. You’ll just puke it up anyway.
If I can’t have [pickled bananas] right now, I’m going to claw your eyes out.
And yes, after eating the crazy food I requested, get me a trash can, please…

And now, for some encouragement on what you could say to a pregnant woman with “morning sickness” to help her through it.

• Tell me about what you’re looking forward to most when your baby is born. (Then remind her of that when she’s feeling the sickest.)

• Is there anything I can do for you? Clean? Cook? Get your groceries? Get you a cool cloth? Turn the heat/AC up or down?

• Your shoulders are probably aching from the constant strain of vomiting. Can I rub them for you?

• I see that it must be difficult to reach your feet these days. Would you like me to paint your toenails?

• How do you feel about epidurals? Isn’t it nice to think that after all this sickness, you won’t have to feel a thing when you deliver this baby?

• Here are some boxes of baking soda to absorb odors. Where all should I put them in your house?

To all of you who are going through this difficulty right now, my heart goes out to you.  Remember, there will come a day when you have a sweet reward.  What got me through some of the worst of it was imagining little baby toes, little baby fingers, a little baby nose, and the joy of it all sometimes helped me to smile through the nausea and exhaustion and discomfort.  It won’t last forever.  One day soon(ish), you’ll be rewarded with big smiles, adoring eyes, and chubby little arms wrapped around you tight.  Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder how quickly you can do it all again.

What dumb things did people say to you when you were pregnant?  And what brilliant things did they do to help?

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Posted on May 29, 2012 in Fertility | 6 comments

The Test

The Test

Written April 18th, two days after I found out I was pregnant.

I spent this morning looking around on the internet at information on pregnancy.  Can I continue to take Zyrtec, the wonder-drug that I start to twitch without?  Is the feeling that there’s a small knot in my lower abdomen normal?  Is it related to pregnancy or is there something else going on?  When will I start to feel sick?  How big is a baby when it’s only 2 weeks old?  And I find myself tearing up, overwhelmed by emotion.  Is it possible that it’s really my turn?  Has this really happened?

I took a third pregnancy test yesterday morning.  The first one I’d taken this month – I should invest money in pregnancy test companies – was one of those plus/minus ones.  My sister warned me not to mess with those, to get the kind that say pregnant/not pregnant because the plus/minus ones always have some kind of issue.  But I’d already bought a 3-pack of plus/minus, and really how hard can they be to read?  So I stuck with what I had.  This was the last test in the pack and it immediately came up negative.  I sat there for a few minutes, allowing the disappointing news to sink in, accepting it, and trying to swallow down my fear that it would never happen.  Then I looked back at the test one more time.  While I was looking at it, the faintest blue line imaginable slowly began to appear, making the test look slightly like a plus sign.

I began to tremble and my hands and feet went numb.  I stared and stared at it, trying to decide if that was really a positive or not.  Depending on what angle you looked at it, you couldn’t even see the second line.  I called Rick in from the garage to examine it with me.  He was very reluctant to call it a positive test, even when I told him the second line appeared later as I was watching it.  We agreed that we needed to get one of those pregnant/not pregnant tests to know for sure.

The second test I took was one that leaves no question about the results.  Pregnant!  Rick and I said a prayer together, thanking God for answering our prayers and asking for a safe pregnancy.  I can’t even describe how I felt.  I thought I’d be jumping for joy, screaming and crying.  Instead, I felt this strange calmness inside.

The third test I took was the next morning, just to be sure, and to see that beautiful word flashing on the screen again.  It worked.  And alone in the house, staring at that stick, I had my moment.  Tears and joy and gratitude and overwhelming emotion…  Yes, I will be a mother.  I will finally be a mother.

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Posted on May 26, 2012 in Fertility | 54 comments

Big Announcement

Big Announcement

To my subscribers: you’re getting this post a day before it will be advertised on Facebook.  You’re the first to know.  Thank you for subscribing! 

During our wedding, I chose Psalm 40:1-5 as one of the verses we wanted to be shared with the congregation.  To me, it is a song of praise to God who has worked out marvelous things in our lives.  Today, as I get ready to share even more exciting news with you, I want to quote it again.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
      You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
              your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

God has truly multiplied His wondrous deeds toward us. I am more aware of this fact than ever before in my life. Today Rick and I are ready to share with the world that God has granted us the desire of both of our hearts – a baby!
Our baby is due to be born right around Christmas.  I have had every pregnancy symptom the books mention, right on schedule.  Rick is as excited as I am, matching my own desire for children with his own.  We had to laugh when we realized our plans to celebrate our one year anniversary with a return trip to our honeymoon cabin in Gatlinburg will have to be scrapped – unless we want to bring a newborn with us!

I was afraid because it took us so long to find one another.  I feared pregnancy would be as elusive as marriage had been for us.  My heart swells with joy at the relief I experienced when we discovered in our fourth month of marriage that the miraculous had happened!

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

Psalm 103:1-5, 8-10

Here’s the first picture of our little peanut – at 8 weeks and 2 days old…

                       

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