Beauty from Ashes

Yesterday was one of the most difficult days that I have had as a mother. Not because of the situations necessarily, but because of the condition of my heart. For several days I have felt very “blue.” Maybe a culmination of things…vehicle breakdowns, gluten contamination (which leaves me feeling yucky and edgy), the lonliness of being a stay at home mom (Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful, everyday, that I get to stay home with my daughters, but sometimes I long for adult conversation.), a 2 year old that is into EVERYTHING, extra driving with the older boys starting school, etc. The frustration built and resulted in me losing my temper with Chloe. If you have read the rest of the posts on this blog, you know how hard it was for us to have children. The thoughts that haunted me, over and over again were, “Why did God give this precious little girl to me, knowing I would lose my temper with her? Who am I to yell like I did at this beautiful gift that I longed for, prayed for, and finally received?” Feeling very discouraged, I made a comment to my, ever so patient, husband that I wasn’t good for the girls. His reply was, “Without Christ, neither of us are good for any of our children. Find your strength in Him.” What does that look like on a practical level? I stewed over this for the rest of the evening. I went to bed defeated and in tears.

This morning I had new perspective. My precious Amelia smiles from ear to ear at the first sight of me in the morning and Chloe throws her arms around me and declares, I love you Mom! I was determined not to do this mom gig alone. “Today it’s all You, Jesus! Please remind me constantly to give this to You.” When I would start to feel stressed or frustrated, He would put a simple praise song in my head, that I would sing aloud. It brightened my spirits and both girls enjoyed it as well. “Thank you God, that I’m not in this alone. Thank you that you are faithful!”

Here’s a fun little summary of my morning story book style. Enjoy!

“If you sit down to feed Amelia…”

If you sit down to feed Amelia, Chloe will decide that she needs to take care of her baby too, so she’ll pull out the diapers and baby powder. She’ll get baby powder all over the couch. Watching her do this will remind you that you haven’t given Amelia a bath in 3 days. Giving her a bath will make Chloe think of lotion. She’ll get into the lotion and spread it all over herself, the carpet and the bathroom door. While you’re getting Amelia’s diaper on and cleaning up the lotion mess, this will remind Chloe that she was changing her baby’s diaper. She’ll head to the living room to finish the job. When you search the house, looking for Chloe because she has been quiet for more than 2 seconds, you’ll find the living room COVERED in baby powder. You’ll get out the vacuum to clean it up. After you’ve cleaned the living room, you’ll go to the kitchen to clean the vacuum filters (because baby powder clogs them up). You realize that before you clean the filters, you to have to wash the dishes. When you’re done washing dishes, you will remember that you haven’t taken Chloe potty for awhile. While Chloe is going to the bathroom, you will notice that she needs her fingernails clipped. You’ll get the nail clippers and start the manicure. While you’re clipping her nails, you are thinking, “now I need to vacuum again”, which in turn reminds you that you haven’t cleaned the vacuum filters yet. When you go back to the kitchen, to wash the filters, you happen to notice the clock on the stove reads “lunch time.” You’ll fix Chloe lunch which will make you think that it is time to feed Amelia again. When you sit down to feed Amelia, chances are, Chloe will want to take care of her baby too!

I WILL find joy in raising my beautiful little terrors!

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

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Peace

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. These simple lyrics to a children’s song have profoundly touched my heart over the last month.

February is the month we celebrate those we love.  I think of my loved ones; AJ, the love of my life, the man who has walked with me through joy and through pain, Brayden and Tanner, my feisty, full of life, step sons, Chloe, my sweet, beautiful daughter, and many, many more!  Despite all of the loved ones that I am so blessed to be surrounded by, February is a month of heartbreak, dread and loss. I lost Alec on February 26, 1997.  We found out that Hailey was an ectopic pregnancy, on February 20, 2012.  On February 28, 2013, I went into early term labor and gave birth to Caleb and Phillip.  They each only lived minutes. Although, we lost Emma in June, her due date would have been in February, 2014.  This February, I miscarried Levi, on Valentine’s Day.

The day I lost Levi, I was singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to Chloe, as I always do when I put her down for a nap.  I couldn’t sing the song through the tears.  Chloe snuggled in, with her cheek pressed to mine.  Through the tears, the song lyrics and my precious daughter, Jesus, comforted my heart in an absolutely beautiful way that day.  We gave Chloe the middle name Grace because she is God’s gift of grace to our broken hearts.  She is an undeserved gift.  I didn’t fully understand at the time that we named her (and maybe still don’t), how much God would to use her to speak His love into my life.  Yes, the tears that flowed were tears of grief, but they were tears of grief cried on the chest of a Father holding and comforting His hurting daughter.  A Father, who can give true peace in the midst of heartache.

When I lost Alec, Hailey, Caleb and Phillip, my reaction was anger!  I wanted to scream and throw things and blame God, who could have prevented my hurt!  When I lost Emma, I think I was too numb to feel anything.  God has done so much work on my heart over the last 3 years!  I know that I can’t see the big picture, or even begin to understand what it is, that He is working out in my life.  I do, however, choose to believe that He knows, and that is what matters.  I know that Jesus loves me.  I trust Him.  I know that He was willing to suffer for my sake and the sake of my babies. This time around, with Levi, instead of anger, all I want to do is lay my head on His chest and allow Him to comfort me.  I wish I could tell you how sweet that is.

I read a quote from Lecrae that I want to close with, because I have found it to be so true.  He said, “Peace doesn’t mean you won’t have problems.  It means problems won’t have you.”

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Bitter Sweet

How can one heart be so full of conflicting emotions?

My heart overflows with JOY and AWE, as today we celebrate 22 weeks that I have been carrying our precious Chloe Grace!  She is so healthy and full of LIFE that I can barely contain myself at times!  I am continually amazed at the ways she shows us her little personality and we haven’t even held her yet!  She is our abundant gift of Grace!

This same heart ACHES, because today is also the birthday of our precious Caleb and Phillip, our beautiful twin sons that left us all too soon.  My arms long to HOLD them.  My lips long to KISS their faces.  Their absence has left 2 bleeding holes in the hearts of myself, my husband and our two young sons.  Over the last year, the pain has eased, as I am sure it will continue to do as the years pass.  I do however, know enough of loss to know that the wounds will never fully heal.  How then, do I live life with open wounds?

There is so much that I have learned over the past year.

I have learned the true meaning of Philippians 4:7 that says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I have learned what it means to offer up a sacrifice of praise.  I, to this day can’t sing the Matt Redman song, “Blessed Be Your Name.”  Every time I hear these lyrics, all I can do is raise my hands to Him and weep.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I have learned that the more healing I receive, the heavier my burden is.  With every measure of grace that I am given, also comes the knowledge that someone else shares my pain.  That somewhere, some family is broken because they have lost their child.  That some mother’s heart aches because she can’t conceive, carry to full term, or has chosen to end the life of her unborn child.  That some man’s heart is broken because he can’t be the father that he was made to be.  The hurt that the world suffers has become my own.  I have spent countless hours in tears over others heartache.

Now we return to the JOY!  I have the answer!  One simple name, that when cried out, begins the healing.  When called upon, offers forgiveness!  That name is JESUS!  So many times through the last year, that is the only name I could utter.  I beg you, if you are hurting, turn to Him!  He holds you in His loving arms and weeps with you.  God sent His Son to DIE for this world, so that my sons, can LIVE with Him for eternity!!  That is where my JOY lies.

July 16, 2013…Caleb and Phillip’s due date.

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Psalm 119:28

As I sit in remembrance, of the beautiful boys I carried, my heart aches.  Today should be a day of joy, excitement, even fear of how to keep up with twin boys!  Instead I have a shattered heart and empty arms.  Although the hurt is not near what it was 5 months ago, it is still ever present and I know that it will be for the rest  of my life on earth.  I long for Heaven.  I long to be reunited with the pieces of my heart that left all too soon.  The day will come. Until then, I will hide these Words in my heart:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.  I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach.”

Zephaniah 3:17-18

From My Heart to Yours – Caleb and Phillip’s Story

February 28,2013…the day my world came crashing down.  Let me back up a little.

On December 11, 2011, I married the man of my dreams, my best friend, and love of my life!  This was the beginning of my “Happily Ever After.”  He had 2 beautiful boys, who took me in and continue to allow me to learn how to be a mom.  We knew from the beginning that we wanted to expand our family but decided to wait a short while.  That ‘while’ turned out to be shorter than we expected.  In February 2012, we found out that we were expecting.  While this was sooner than planned, we were overjoyed!  The next day however, complications landed me in the emergency room for the beginning of the journey we would have never chosen or expected.  Over the timespan of about a month we learned that my pregnancy was ectopic, and we would not yet be having the baby we dreamed of.  Nothing in life compares to losing a baby.  The emptiness inside is heartbreaking.  This however, was not my first experience with loss.  After some poor decisions, when I was younger, I found myself pregnant in high school.  Although timing was not good, I have always believed that children are a blessing and embraced this pregnancy to the best of my ability under the circumstances.  At about 11 weeks, I was told that there was no heartbeat and that I would soon have a miscarriage.  Time eventually does allow for some healing, although not a day passes, that I don’t miss what might have been.

Skip forward again and we are in October, 2012.  It was time to try again and right away, we found ourselves pregnant again!  This time the joy and elation came with a little fear.  After losing two babies, I was cautious.  I had an appointment scheduled and everything was progressing as expected.  I was getting very big, very quickly, and we kept joking that there had to be two babies in there, with my size.  At about 12 weeks (one week before my appointment) I started having some complications.  I called my doctor and she had me come in immediately.  We walked into the ultra sound room expecting the worst.  We walked out with the best news we could have asked for.  We were expecting twins!  They were growing quickly and each appointment encouraged us.  Everything was great.  Both babies were growing at the expected growth rate.  They were both very active in momma’s tummy.  One of them loved to hear me sing.  He would start dancing every time!  Two days after the 20 week mark, I woke up having contractions.  A quick trip to see my doctor, revealed the earth shattering news.  I was in labor and there was very little they could do to stop the progression.  They admitted me into the hospital for labor and delivery.  I lay, for close to 10 hours, upside down in a hospital bed hoping for the amniotic sac to recede so they could stop the progression.  Finally there was nothing left to do and at 7:51 pm, Caleb Daniel was born.  12.1 ounces, 10 inches long and perfect in every way, except that his little lungs were not big enough to take in air.  He was with us just a short time.  An hour and a half later, at 9:23 pm, Phillip Sawyer was born.  11.4 ounces, 9 ¾ inches long and again perfect.  My beautiful boys, so distinct, proof of an amazing Creator.  Caleb had my facial features and Phillip had A.J.’s.  Their feet were just the opposite.  To be able to tell infants apart solely by looking at their feet is a miracle in itself.

In the days ahead, we found that the only comfort that we had, was knowing that ours boys would never experience pain and suffering.  They would never know the effects of sin, in a broken world.  Their first sight was the face of our Savior, Jesus!

Our journey does not end here and I wish I could say that this was the end of our heartbreak.  In June, we again found out that we were expecting.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  My doctor decided to see me weekly and we began all the preventative measures we could.  Weekly ultra sounds showed a healthy growing baby up until week 8.  Again, the worst words you can hear “I’m so sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.”

How does one recover from losing 5 babies?  I don’t have the answer and probably never will.  All I know, is that I have to make my story known.  With my first miscarriage, I blamed myself for so many years, because I was scared to tell anyone.  If only I had seen a doctor sooner, my baby would have lived.  That was the lie that I believed for so long!  Miscarriage is more common than people know.  I can’t even tell you the number of mothers and fathers that have shared their stories of loss with my husband and me.  If you are one of them, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you have experienced loss from miscarriage, or even abortion, please hear this.  Jesus is waiting with open arms to forgive, comfort and give you peace.  All you have to do is ask.  He is already Father to your babies and just waits for you.  Please let Him heal.

I don’t have a “Happily Ever After” for you, but refuse to let the loss of my babies to be in vain.  So this is for you, Alec, Hailey, Caleb, Phillip, and Emma.  Mommy and Daddy love you and can’t wait to meet you!  We will have an amazing family reunion one day in Glory!Image

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