Merry Christmas

I made it until the blessing before the meal (which only amounted to fifteen minutes) before I burst into tears. I cried silently through the prayer and dried my eyes enough to seem presentable through the mad rush to the dinner table while I was ducking into the back bedroom. My husband came and found me after a few minutes, but I told him to go away or I would cry harder. I got it together enough to make it through the rest of Christmas Eve dinner.

That should have been MY daughter that my dad held during the prayer. There should have been an eleven month old toddling around with the other kids. I should have filled my memory card with pictures of my own child, not someone elses kids.

I miss you, Raelyn, and I love you more than you will ever know.


I am not okay.

I will go and I will smile and I will pretend, but I am not okay.

I keep thinking about all of the things that should have been. This should have been our first Christmas and instead, it is our second Christmas without her.

I honestly do not remember last Christmas. I don't remember what we gave or what we got. I don't remember who was where, what order we did things in, what we had for lunch. I remember crying as Maddy (my then 1 yr old step-niece) sat in my Dad's lap while her older brother opened presents. I remember thinking that Dad would never get to hold Raelyn like that. He didn't want to see her when she was born so he didn't get to hold her then either.

I told my step-mom at Thanksgiving that I would have to get her the pictures that I took from last Christmas and when I went to look at them, I realized that they were from 2 Christmases ago. I don't think I took any last Christmas even though I always take pictures.

My heart is so heavy with missing Raelyn that I didn't think there would be room for any more sadness, and yet... there is. Last year, I bought Christmas gifts for the grandparents that were baby-themed. Yes, I know Raelyn died in September and no, the gifts hadn't already been purchased. I bought them in November knowing that I would be pregnant again by last Christmas. Raelyn was conceived in the very first month of trying, so I just knew that I would be able to give these baby-themed gifts at Christmas.

Christmas came and went and they turned into Valentine's Day gifts, then St. Patrick's Day gifts, then Easter gifts, then Mother's Day gifts, then Father's Day gifts, then Independence Day gifts, then Labor Day gifts, then Halloween gifts, then Thanksgiving gifts, and finally Christmas gifts again. Now four days before Christmas #2, I am already removing them from their Christmas bags and digging out the bags with the hearts and cupids on them.

How long can you wait? How much money was wasted on birth control for the first 5 years of my marriage? How long can you keep moving forward without falling? The thought of potentially facing an unfavorable diagnosis again petrifies me, but somehow, I am more scared at the thought of never facing any diagnosis, healthy or otherwise. I am terrified that I have missed my chance for motherhood, that I already had my shot, that Raelyn was the only daughter we will ever have, and I let her go home without a fight. How long is long enough? I'm not ready to give up on the dream yet, but I am tired of the struggle and the strain on our marriage. I asked my husband what he wanted for Christmas and his only response was, "a baby". How long will my body continue to fail us?

Sorry for my ramblings--they just run through my heart constantly. The tears come more easily now than 6 months ago--as I pass Santa in the mall, as we prepare for our vacation-just the two of us, when I hear Steven Curtis Chapman's new song (Heaven is the Face). That last verse gets me every time... "Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss and a thousand other little things I miss with her gone... Heaven is the face of a little girl..."

I may never know how much I have missed, and that breaks my heart all over again.

I'll smile and laugh and I'll swear I that I am, but I'm lying.

I'm not okay.

Two Christmases


I cannot believe that two Christmases have come and almost gone since you went home. Even though we are not putting up the tree and your ornaments this year, you will still be a part of our Christmas. I try to imagine what life would look like if everything had been different. All kinds of Christmas decorations in my clean house. Its not clean now because my 10 month old reason to keep it clean it is gone. We would dress you in Baby's First Christmas clothes and pass you around the dinner table with the rolls. I feel like I am slipping backwards and I pray that you don't take the time to watch your mama cry, but I need you to know how much I love you. I need you to know that you haven't been forgotten. Even though I don't have a place to visit you or a way to talk to you, I pray that Jesus whispers of my love into your ear every day.

I love you my daughter,

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always,
And as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.


I work at the hospital where I delivered Raelyn and I frequently have to go into the Labor and Delivery unit to deliver medications. Every time I have been in there in the past year, 'my' room has been open and empty... until last week. I walked into the unit and mustered up the courage as I always do to peek at the room where I last held her and instead of the open room with the dimmed lights, I was confronted with that terrible little picture of a leaf with a teardrop. That same picture that caused my family to burst into tears before even entering my room. That same picture that caused friends to turn and leave before ever knocking. That little purple and green post card signifying that yet another set of parents will be leaving with empty arms and broken hearts.

Something snapped inside my head and I saw red. In that instant I became so angry that someone else lost a child. I cannot understand (and at the same time, somewhere deep inside, I know that I am not meant to). I have had so many (well-meaning) people tell me not to be angry with God that Raelyn is not here with me or that I am to be content in all things and consider it all joy. I'm sorry but how can I possibly worship the God of the Universe and call Him Almighty if He can't handle my anger? He created that emotion within me along with jealousy and intense grief and all of the other things that 'good Christians' aren't supposed to feel. I refuse to give credit for the creation of those emotions to satan. How can I put my trust in Him to work all things together for my good if He is small enough that He gets hurt and turns His back on me when I exhibit anger and sadness? I believe that He is bigger than that.

I know it pains Him to see me angry and broken, but He loves me unconditionally. I have not turned my back on God, nor have I removed my trust in Him, but I know that my lapses into anger are covered by the blood of Christ and even though I daily fall short, I am still a child of the Most High God. He wants to hear my worship and my rants, my love and my anger, because all of those emotions are born out of a deep passion for life and those are the qualities that He placed within me before I was born. As long as I bring it to Him, he has promised to help me bear the load.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~~Matthew 11:28-30

Happy Birthday

That's right... two posts in a row entitled 'Happy Birthday'.

One for my daughter and now one for me.

I got up this morning and just stared into the mirror in disbelief. Who is that 25 year old who is blankly gazing back at me? There are parts of her that seem to jog my memory, but I just don't recognize her fully. That red hair is unmistakeably familiar, but it has grown so long over the last year. The eyes hold some recollection, but between the dark rings underneath and the overwhelming sadness they hold, I can't quite place them either. She is much pudgier around the middle than she used to be. Suddenly, she smiles and I search her face desperately to see some left over remnant, but the forced grin seems so painful that whatever memory I had of her during happier days disappeared and was replaced by deep sorrow.

I look closer and I see the contrived smile of a people-pleaser who never wants to let on that she is still broken because she doesn't want the people she loves to stop and try to fix her after they have all moved on. I see that her hair and her waistline have grown because the arduous task of simply trying to live her everyday life has preempted basic things like haircuts and workouts. I see in her eyes not just the past 25 years that have been lived, but also the future life that she has lived in her mind a million times over--the one that includes her daughter's first steps, prom hairdos, and wedding dresses. I see in her eyes the hopelessness that comes with secondary infertility and the sheer terror that her future will never hold any of those things.

I see all these things in the mirror and am powerless to do anything about it.

Happy Birthday Girl in the Mirror.
Maybe in your 26th year you'll get it right.

Happy Birthday


Happy 1st Birthday! I can only hope that you know how much your Daddy and I love you. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and what you might be doing now. Eat a big piece of chocolate cake today and be sure to make a mess!

I love you so much,

Frozen in Time

A year ago today, the world stopped turning.

My first (and last) ultrasound.

Suddenly I am "incompatible with life."

Dreams were shattered as a tornado ripped through my heart.

I have no idea where October has gone.

Oh yeah... I forgot that it was a year ago, not just a few days.

I have no idea where the last year has gone.

I still talk to people like September 2008 was only a few weeks ago.

Because it is for me.

The fog that I live in blurs time and space.

No one knows that the world has stopped, frozen in time.

The worst part... today is my Husband's birthday.

How do I make this up to him... ever?


Sometimes I hear a song that pierces my heart and causes me to stop what I'm doing and just listen in silent agreement...

You're Not Shaken~~Phil Stacey

I am sinking in a river that is raging
I am drowning
Will I ever, rise to breathe again

I wanna know why
I just wanna understand
Will I ever know why?
How could this be from Your hand?

When every little thing that I had dreamed would be
Just slips away like water through my hands
And when it seems the walls of my belief come crashing down
Like they’re all made of sand
I won’t, let go of You now
because I know, oh,
You’re not shaken

I am trembling in the darkness of my own fear
All the questions with no answers
Still grip me while I’m here

And I may never know why
Oh I may not understand
But I will lift up my eyes,
and trust this is Your plan

When I am in the valley of the shadow of death
You’re not shaken You’re not shaken
You're right here beside me and you will never leave

And sometimes a song reaches down into the deepest, hidden part of my personal darkness and becomes a tiny, flickering flame of hope...


The cruelest world
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache
The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years
Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every lie that gave up hope
We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see
It will not be
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed


My husband and I joined the choir at our new church a couple of weeks ago. We arrived early to the first practice and there was only one other lady in the room. As I helped her unload her snacks for the evening, she started a conversation which included "the question" about children. She asked "Do you have any kids?" and I responded, "Not at home with us." not really wanting to get so personal with an almost complete stranger. She looked at me funny and asked what that meant and I explained that we had our first daughter in September but that she died the day she was born. Her next question floored me... "What is her name?" No one I have ever told about Raelyn ever thought to ask her name. She told me that she liked the name and then others started coming in and the subject was changed.

Fast forward two weeks to this past Wednesday night. The whole choir is seated and getting ready for rehearsal. This same lady is seated next to me and she turns and asks, "So what day in September is your Raelyn's birthday?" I told her and when she repeated it aloud the woman sitting on the other side of her said "That's my birthday!" The one who was talking to me turned to her and said "Her daughter's birthday is that day." The second woman leaned around her and asked me how old she was going to be and the first woman intercepted the question, saying "Her baby lives in Heaven. She was here for one day." The second woman looked at me with chagrin, mumbling her apologies and I tried to smooth it over by saying something like "She shared her birthday with someone great and I didn't even know it!" Then rehearsal started.

I couldn't believe a) she remembered everything I told her about Raelyn in that initial two minute conversation and b) she had the courage to bring it up again. She has not mentioned a loss of her own, but I think that for her to internalize that information and know how much it matters to me, she has to have been deeply affected by a loss. I cried that night when I got home because it touched my heart that just when I was feeling alone, she came along and was able to tear down the wall with a single question... "What is her name?"

Things I needed to hear today...

Things I needed to hear today...

Excerpt from EPSN article on Tony Dungy entitled “Amazing Grace”

“In the early-morning hours of Dec. 22, 2005, Tony and Lauren Dungy lived a parent's worst nightmare when they learned their eldest son and second of five children, 18-year-old James, had been found dead in his suburban Tampa, Fla., apartment. In February, James' death was ruled a suicide.”

Quotes of Tony Dungy from various interviews and speeches concerning the death of his son:

“Why do bad things happen? I don’t know. Why did [James] die? I don’t know. But I do know that God has the answers, I know he loves me, and I know he has a plan – whether it makes sense to me or not. Rather than asking why, I’m asking what. What can I learn from this? What can I do for God’s glory and to help others?”

“The Lord has a plan. We always think the plans are A, B, C and D, and everything is going to be perfect for us and it may not be that way, but it's still his plan. A lot of tremendous things are going to happen, it just may not be the way you see them. You may not win the Super Bowl. Your kids may not go on to be doctors and lawyers and everything may not go perfectly. That doesn't mean it was a bad plan or the wrong thing. It's just like a football season. Everything's not going to go perfect. You're going to have some losses that you're going to have to bounce back from and some things that are a little unforeseen that you're going to have to deal with. It's how you work your way through things.”

“If God had talked to me before James’ death and said his death would have helped all these people, it would have saved them and healed their sins, but I would have to take your son, I would have said no, I can’t do that. But God had the same choice 2,000 years ago with His Son, Jesus Christ, and it paved the way for you and me to have eternal life. That’s the benefit I got, that’s the benefit James got and that’s the benefit you can get if you accept Jesus into your heart today as your Savior.”

I am trying to be more postive in my outlook on life. I am trying to not be so negative in my thoughts, actions, and words. In turn, this leaves me with not much to say.

Psalm 39:2-5

2 But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.
3 My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

Psalm 43:2-5

2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Rhetorical Questions I Could Never Ask Aloud

I haven't had much to say here lately.

Some days I feel like my knee is raised, foot poised to plant down that next step toward something else, and then suddenly I am flat on my back again.

Yesterday, as I showed my worn out shoe to my coworker, I said "I just got these before Christmas!" To which she replied, "Honey, Christmas was over eight months ago! You said that like it was just yesterday!" It was all I could do to blush profusely, avert my eyes, and mumble some incoherent response before walking away. How has it been eight months since Christmas? How am I just over a month away from starting "a year ago's"? What has happened to my life?

Flat on my back again.

The day before that, I hear that my brother-in-law is "for sure" going to enter into marriage again. The problem is that my spirit is so disturbed by her that I cannot look either of them in the eye. I hear things about grandbabies and first grandbaby and how excited everyone is for them and how we better get pregnant soon so that they don't have the oldest grandchild. I was pregnant and carried the first grandbaby. Raelyn made us grandparents and uncles and parents. The oldest grandchild will live her life in Heaven, praising Jesus every day.

Flat on my back again.

Last night, my husband asks me "Have you ever felt like you were supposed to do something great? I feel like I'm on the edge of doing something great, I just don't know what." The only time I have ever felt like that was the day I found out I was pregnant and somehow I even failed my "something great." He told me about three months ago that he had moved on, but this made it real for me. Am I wallowing? Now I really am the only one who is still bleeding. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? We have joined a new church, started in the choir/praise team, started coming out of the darkness and suddenly all I want to do is retreat to the fetal position.

Flat on my back again.

I have read all about the stages of grief. I have read more blogs than I can remember about mamas at all different points on the timeline of grief and very few of them truly resonate with me anymore. Most everyone seems to have moved on, whether in the form of a ministry, new job, or rainbow baby. I am stuck. Left behind. Even in real life, I haven't talked to my friend who was pregnant with me or seen her baby since he came home from the hospital 6 months ago. She doesn't return my e-mails. She has moved on. My other friend who suffered through an ectopic pregnancy early in her marriage and was so supportive in the early days after my own loss also has not returned my e-mails. We used to get together once or twice a month with our families and I would get to play with her baby girl (who is now 15 months old). I'm sure they got tired of talking about "it" or were uncomfortable with my excessive staring and marvelling at their healthy beautiful daughter. They have moved on. My mom wants to have a garage sale and get rid of most of the baby stuff that we bought last year in preparation for Raelyn so that she will have more room at her house. I have offered to bring it all to my house so it won't be in her way, but she thinks her idea is a better option. She has moved on.

How do I reclaim some small part of my life?
Shouldn't I be better by now (not completely healed, but at least a little better)?
Would a rainbow baby truly make me smile again?
How do I reconcile my life and my faith?
Everybody's doin' it--How do I move on?

Just a small rant...

When birthdays or anniversaries pass, it is good to not feel like another (insert preferred period of time here) has gone by. No one wants to feel like another year has passed. No one expects to feel any different from yesterday to today's special event.

I, however, am waiting for that anniversary when I can truly say that I feel different than I did yesterday. Today, it has been ten months since I last saw my daughter and I don't feel any different than I did yesterday... or six months ago for that matter. This gaping hole in my heart seems to have teeth some days and the emptiness gnaws on my spirit. She has been gone for twice as long as she was here. She has been gone long enough for me to have given her a sibling (and Heaven knows we've been trying to do so).

I like to fix things. I like to have a solution to a problem. I like to be able to make a difference. I can't fix this. I can only keep putting one foot in front of the other. We can only keep trying, keep praying, keep hoping, keep walking...

Walking With You

Walking With You--The Sea of Grief

I don't even know where to begin this post. My grief started the day we found out that we might not get to keep her, two weeks before Raelyn went home. I first grieved for the loss of the dreams. I didn't know whether the nursery would be pink or blue. I didn't know whether I would be trick-or-treating with a superhero or a princess. I didn't know whether we would be buying a gown or renting a tux for senior prom. I am a planner--any interaction I have has been meticulously planned out in my head (complete with expected responses) before it comes out of my mouth. To find out in the same breath that you are having a daughter AND that she will not live is absolutely horrifying. This is not what I had planned. Those first days were about the intangibles. It wasn't that she wasn't real to me--I was the only one she was real to--but I had never felt a kick or real movement before. I had talked to her but I was just talking to my belly. It took a few days for it all to hit me and it wasn't until she was born that I was truly consumed.

I naively thought that since I knew that she would be going to Heaven to live happy and healed that it wouldn't hurt so badly. I thought that since I knew she was going to be gone, the actual death wouldn't affect me that much. I thought I had already cried all my tears. It was like watching an instructional video of a surgery and subsequent recovery. All of the action, all of the suspense, all of the blood, all of the technicalities and skill, all of the pain, all of the rehab, and then finally a few weeks later the guy on the table is walking and smiling again. There were very clear definitions of what I was going to experience, what I was going to do, and how long it was all going to take. However, when I got in there to perform my first surgery nothing happened like that video told me it would. Turns out I was not the surgeon, I was the guy on the table and I'm pretty sure the surgeon used a rusty hacksaw instead of a scalpel.

I found out very quickly after I got home from the hospital that I couldn't stay at home with my own thoughts bouncing around in my head. I went back to work two days after I was discharged and then I considered myself lucky that my desk faces a wall because I could sit there and cry and no one would know. A few people expressed sympathy, a few said nothing, and a few gave me harsh looks. (I work in the pharmacy in the same hospital where I delivered Raelyn and every time I received medication, the people in my department knew about it.) It was there at work that I discovered this world, that I was not alone in this grief. One day the following week, I looked up and realized that life had moved on without me and there was no way I was ever going to catch up. We had no memorial service because at the time, we thought that it would only cause more pain and prolong the process of grief. Little did we know...

I felt forsaken by God and then slowly I began to belive that it was my fault that I was forsaken. There are so many things that I have done and not done, said and not said and I felt like I had hit my quota of forgiveness. I had used it all up. I struggled with guilt and regrets on top of the grief. There were a few people in my life who cried with me--my husband, someone who has been there, someone who has no children by choice but who has the tenderest heart--but there were so many others who I thought would be there for me but were conspicuously absent. Pillars of leadership in my church who had lead public battles through infertility and miscarriage said nothing to me--not even a word of sympathy. My husband and I were very involved in the Praise and Worship team and our worship pastor told us during that first week, "Never let the congregation see you broken." Looking back, I realize that I should have just stepped down, but I came and I was there every service trying in vain to lead people to worship the God that I felt had left me in the pit. I cried through every service--sometimes with the tears rolling down my face, sometimes locked away in the depths of my soul--but I cried, and no one said a word.

This only added to my grief and confusion because now not only was I living (barely) through the loss of my only child and the destruction of the dreams I had for our future, but I was also trying to deal with my own salvation and faith with absolutely no support from the ones who should have been lifting me up. I know now that there was a bigger issue (an abuse of trust) behind the silence and I have forgiven those to whom I felt so much anger, but I don't think I can face them again without asking why. I cannot fathom how anyone who has walked this road can remain silent when another couple, one so close that they can touch them, is thrown into this valley.

For a very long time, I struggled alone under the weight of anger and bitterness and the sheer exhaustion of pretending that I was okay. I am only now beginning to release some of it and it surprises people when I mention Raelyn or my pregnancy. I am starting to bring her out of the deep place in my heart where I had hidden her away for safekeeping and integrate her back into my everyday life. The God of Grace still waits for me as I claw my way back to the surface and I have learned that He can handle my anger. He can handle any bitterness I can fling at Him. He gave me the ability to experience a full range of emotions and for me to fully trust in Him, I have to believe that He can handle the worst of them along with the best. I have to believe that He would rather have me honest than not at all.

Psalm 22
A psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

Walking With You

Walking With You--Naming Our Babies

Like most women (I think), I had names picked out for my children by the time I graduated high school. However, my step-sister-in-law got to my girl's name first so when we found out we were pregnant, we started thinking. We had three boys names picked out but we couldn't agree on a girl's name. I don't like names that can arbitrarily be shortened by anyone you meet--it really bugs me when someone introduces themselves as Christopher or Jonathan and the other person immediately says "Hey Chris" or "Hey John" just because they assume it doesn't matter. Anyway, my husband just decided to quit worrying about it until the time came when we knew what we were having. I have always felt that I would have a daughter first so I kept suggesting names anyway.

I work in a hospital so I see names all the time--fun names, traditional names, names with entirely too many vowels or consonants or 'z's' or apostrophes. I wanted something that the baby wouldn't have trouble pronouncing or spelling since our last name is frequently mispronounced and misspelled. I have always loved the name Elise for a middle name because it flows so well and sounds very elegant to me. We just couldn't come up with a first name that we both liked.

One day, I was going through charge slips at the hospital and I saw two patients back to back whose names together gave me Raelyn. I liked the sound and I had never heard it before (although if you google it, it is fairly popular). My husband liked it instantly, but I still had my reservations because of the spelling. I told him we would just wait until we knew which gender we needed a name for.

On the day of the ultrasound, we were very excited and deep down we both thought that we would see a girl. The moment I saw her face on the screen, I knew that was her name. She was Raelyn. I knew her name before I knew she was a girl! I didn't say anything though because the tech still had not found out the gender yet and we all know what happened for the rest of that visit. When we got to the car after my amniocentesis and talking with the genetic counselor, I told my husband through my tears, "Can we still name her Raelyn? I think her name is Raelyn." He agreed and it was settled.

I looked it up later and discovered that Raelyn means "beautiful lamb" which I thought was very fitting. I can't think of a more precious and yet vulnerable reference than a lamb, and we are all called to follow the Shepherd. Even more interesting is her middle name Elise, which means "Promise of God". That really touched me and I took it two ways. I believe that a "Promise of God" is that she will have brothers and sisters here on Earth. Also, Raelyn was a promise to me--she was the firstborn and left behind a promise in that brief glimpse of the love that I have for my children. I have never been around children much and I have always had a very deep, hidden fear that I would not be able to love my children enough. She showed me a love that I never thought I could possess.

My husband and I use her name when we talk about her, but no one on my side of the family has ever spoken her name. I know no one wants to dredge up old feelings or grief, but it's not old to me. I smile everytime someone spells out her name in the comments. It still makes me so happy to hear her name spoken out loud--to know that someone remembers.


I met my boss's less-than-24 hours-old baby boy today. I apparently have a kind of love-hate relationship to all things baby right now. I wanted to go and see him. I wanted to know how he and the family were doing. It isn't a totally terrible thing for me to see newborn babies, but when I got up there, my heart started pounding out of my chest like I had just been asked to give a nationwide speech on the differences between Nascar and drag racing (or something else equally irrelevant to my life).

The baby was beautiful and perfect, but I couldn't speak, much less hold him and talk to him. One of my coworkers who went with me said "Oooh! I've never held anyone as small as you" and the first thought that came to my mind was "Oooh! I've never held anyone as small as you... that was alive." Then, my fight or flight reaction intensified as my boss began to talk rather flippantly about the fact that his baby (who was almost a day old and didn't have a name yet) had a true knot in his cord that was also wrapped around his neck when he was born. I really wanted to tell him to Google "true knot in cord" the next time he wanted to feel thankful for life. I really wanted to tell him about the countless babies whose mommies only have blogs with newborn pictures because there aren't any more opportunities for pictures. I really wanted to pull out my own newborn pictures of Raelyn and proudly boast that at 23 weeks, my Raelyn was a 1/2 inch longer than their unnamed son! I really wanted to bust their bubble of naivete and happiness with my own tragedy... but I didn't. I stood there silently nodding as they complained about taking this new life home to live with their other (four under the age of ten) children and how hard it was going to be.

It really shouldn't bother me this much. I should be happy for them that their son made it out alive and I truly am, but that happiness is tempered by thoughts of "Why them?" or "Why not me" or "Why not so many other countless mamas who don't have a child to hold at home?" This is the same boss that told me after Raelyn died that he believed things like that happened to people for one of two reasons. Either God is trying to make you strong enough to endure something else or you are already strong enough to handle it. Then, he actually said "Thank God I'm not strong enough!" as though any of us just woke up on whatever fateful day our losses became real and said "Well, at least I am strong enough to handle this!"

I'm really not bitter... I just think that people should be a little more sensitive. But then again, who am I to destroy someone else's innocence? Why shouldn't he be blindly happy? I would have been had things been different. There is that love-hate thing again. I want to be a part of this happiness, but my vision has forever been colored and the things that should excite my heart only pierce me to the core.

What would life be like?

What does a five month old baby look like?

What would she be doing now?

Would she be sitting up and smiling at me?

Would we be looking for her first tooth?

Would she have enough hair to put a little bow in?

Would she be trying to crawl?

Would she already love Grandma and Nana and PawPaw and Pops and Grams?

Would she have slept through her first fireworks like her mama did?

All I know is that the hole she left is huge and the love I have for her is even bigger than that.
Some days the hardest part is not even knowing what I am missing.

Walking With You

Sharing the Journey--Meeting Raelyn

Being at the hospital was a surreal experience. I hated walking into L&D still feeling her weight in my abdomen and knowing that when I walked out, I would be leaving her behind forever. The first nurse was very snippy to me and seemed to have a problem with the reason I was there until the doctor (Dr. Y was amazingly compassionate and competent!) spoke with her outside. When they came back in, she was a completely different person. I don't think she understood the gravity of the situation.

I didn’t even really comprehend what was happening enough to even cry until late that night. I knew enough from working in the hospital to understand the options that were presented, but I never knew there were so many forms and decisions and questions and choices. I chose to be induced by a continuous Pitocin infusion because it sounded easier than the tablets, but I didn't know that the Pitocin would cause it to feel like one long contraction. There were no waves once it got started. It felt like someone had twisted the lower half of my body around backwards and left me there. I had terrible back labor and I remember thinking that I couldn't believe that I was going through all of this pain and would have no crying baby to help dull the memory. I had a blood pressure cuff, and IV, and a contraction monitor, but because we were inducing, the nurses would not bring in a Doppler or ultrasound to let me hear her heartbeat or to even know if she was still alive. Looking back, I believe that God answered our prayers to take her home before the labor because I never felt her swishing around after the amnio and her appearance after birth indicated that she had been gone for more than a few hours.

Sometime after 11:00pm, we were finally able to convince my in-laws to go home because nothing was going to happen before morning and minutes after they left, my mom came back to the hospital, intent on staying in my room over night. After many tears and an utterly defeated argument, I made my mom leave my husband and me alone. I just knew there was no way I could sleep with her there and honestly, I needed time to process what was about to happen. All day there had been someone in the room with us and my husband and I needed time alone. After she left I just sat on the edge of the bed and wept. My husband asked what was wrong and when I responded with “I don’t know” he just held me, stroked my hair, and said “I know.”

I don’t really remember much of the following morning because sometime in the middle of the night, I had been given Phenergan for nausea and it knocked me completely senseless. Apparently I had entire conversations that I have no memories of. I remember flashes of faces and at one point I fell asleep while sitting up in bed. My mom thought I was going to fall over and hit the floor. I remember waking up in pain as Dr. Y broke my water and I was so angry. After he left I cried to my husband, saying, "He should have told me he was going to do that. I didn't know. He should have woken me up." to which he replied, "He did, honey. He talked to you about it, and you agreed that it was time." I had absolutely no idea. He said he stayed in there with me alone for most of the day and cried while I slept. People don’t seem to understand that, as a father, his dreams were dead too. He is such an amazing and supportive man. I never could have made it without him.

Later that afternoon, my doctor came to my room in a suit and tie. He was going to have to leave to be inducted into some kind of OBGYN Hall of Fame but he was bringing another doctor to watch over me until he returned. He had this new doctor examine me to see how much I was dilated and I remember him saying "The baby is two fingers in the vault" meaning I had been delivering and didn't even know it. My husband said that in my sleep I had been sitting up in bed and pushing my hands on my stomach but he didn't realize that I was actually pushing. The nurses had been telling him all morning that when it was time to push, I would wake up. The new doctor immediately laid me back and told me to push. With two doctors and two nurses in there, my husband couldn't even get to the bed to hold my hand.

When Raelyn was born, I was instantly awake! I had no more grogginess at all. I knew I needed to be awake in case she was alive. She was not. I have never heard a silence so deafening than a silent labor room with the stillness broken only by a father’s sobs as he told his father on the phone “she had the baby”. I don’t know why—maybe it was the drugs—but I couldn’t even cry. I had cried so hard the night before as well as the two weeks prior, it was almost like I had run out of tears.

We held her and she was beautiful. Her tiny body showed signs of death and was badly bruised from the delivery since I had labored for over 24 hours but she looked perfect! I knew, however; that 23 week old babies should weigh a little more than a pound, but she was only eleven ounces. Her smaller size and her clenched fists were the only outward manifestations of the Trisomy 18, but I know that her organs were not all there. She was nineteen inches long and had big feet! She would have been a tall baby. She looked just like I did as an infant. My husband jokingly called it another Immaculate Conception because her eyes, nose and mouth are all mine! September 29, 2008 was one of the lowest points in my life to date. Bringing my baby’s body into the world while her spirit was dancing with Jesus was absolutely heartbreaking.

There are so many things that I wish we had done, that I wish I had known about. We took a few pictures on our own camera, but I wish I had known about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I also wish we had taken some time with her by ourselves before our families came in. Everyone was waiting outside and as soon as I was decent (I hope) they all came in and everyone stayed the rest of the day. We didn't have any time to just be alone and love on Raelyn. I wish we had taken hand and foot imprints. I wish we had taken a special outfit or blanket or something for her. Sometimes I wish we had been financially able to have her cremated or buried where we could go visit. Some days I really struggle with regrets and guilt, but I know that she is healthy and happy and whole in the arms of our Father. Most of all, I wish I had kissed her. I don't know why I didn't. I think I was afraid of what my family would think or say. I wish I had held her close and kissed her and sung over her... I wish I had had more time with her...


Disclaimer: Please know that all comparisons made in this post are only valid in my twisted, grieving brain. I know that they are completely irrational and I know (believe me, I know) that the two situations are not the same, but I need to get this out.

Three weeks ago, I got a phone call from my dad saying that two puppies had been dropped off out by the warehouse where he works, and he wanted to know if we knew anyone who wanted a puppy. My husband went and picked them up because his parents wanted one and they wouldn't let him only take one (because they didn't want one left at the warehouse).

Long story short, my in-laws decided they wanted the little one (the one on the left), but they wanted to give him to us to train him and then we would give him back. They were going to take the bigger one to the Haven, a shelter that uses dogs as therapy for kids. The night we took the puppy home, we decided that something was wrong and we took him to the vet the next morning. Turns out, he had parvo (a virus that is mostly fatal in puppies) and he was hospitalized for a week. Walking out those hospital doors without him brought back a tidal wave of emotions. I cried on the way home because I had just left another baby (irrational, I know) and he might not make it out.

Fast forward a week (and $650), we brought him home to stay. My in-laws were on the fence now about whether they still wanted him, so I figured that he was ours. We named him Bones because all he wanted when we first met him was Milk-bones. The first night he was home, I sat with him in my lap the entire evening and coaxed him to eat. I walked around outside with him for long periods of time, trying to get him to go. He began perking up after the second day and started playing with Selah (my other dog).

So it went for another week as we all learned how to read each other's needs. I got up with him many times in the night to take him outside and calm him down enough to go back to sleep afterwards. Now, he sleeps through the night, but I still lie awake at night to make sure he is alive in his crate. (I'm sure by now anyone reading this can see where this is going, and yes, I know that it is all crazy.)

My husband was less than pleased with all aspects of training Bones. He had a few rough days trying to get up and get out of the house with both of them there. Meanwhile, my mom has been talking to my aunt, who is a dog lover, and trying to find a home for this puppy because she doesn't think we need another dog in our small house. Saturday my aunt called and said that she had someone at work who was very excited to have the dog. She wanted some more information and pictures if he was still available. I called and asked my husband again and he said that we should go ahead and give him away

Now I am just waiting for the day when my aunt will show up and take him away and all my heart knows is that another baby will be gone from my house and my care. I know that he will be loved and well taken care of, but that doesn't make it hurt any less that he is leaving. I can't not be attached to him or not love him for the time that he is here and of course no one that I know can understand this. I just keep finding parallels between Bones and Raelyn (not the same, I know) and the emotions keep flooding back when I least expect them to. I don't know if there is anyone who will not think I am crazy after reading this (heck, I don't even believe in my own sanity right now, why should I expect others to), but this is what is on my heart right now.

Under the Tree


A fun Under the Tree/Get to Know You for June:

Hair Color: red--not carrot top, but more burnished copper

Eye color: green/brown

Profession: pharmacy technician

Relationship status: Married

Favorite color: anything bright

Favorite movie: The Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid (always has been and always will be)

Favorite animal: I've always wanted to hug a panda...

Favorite store: Target

Favorite childhood memory: making homemade Blizzards at Grandma's house

Favorite hobby: sleeping, music, movies, reading

Favorite song/singer: "Broken Hallelujah" by Mandisa, "Revelation Song" by Christ for the Nations, "I'm Singing" by Kari Jobe, "Arise" by Chris Sligh... just to name a few.

Favorite book/author: right now... The Shack. Ask me again tomorrow and it will be different!

Favorite school subject: science

Favorite vacation destination: My husband and I have always wanted to go to Australia!

Favorite food: chicken fried rice

Favorite restaurant: Depends on my mood, but I could eat at Chick-fil-A just about any time!

Coke or pepsi : Coke, all the way

Beer or wine: nope

Coffee or tea: I like a little coffee with my cream and sugar.

Apple Juice or O.J.: apple juice

Summer or Winter: Winter! I hate being hot. There are only so many articles of clothing you can remove before someone starts to stare...

Cats or dogs: Dogs

Salty or sweet: Sweet... or salty... or sweet and salty...

Plane or boat: plane--I love to fly!

Morning or night: neither!

Money or love: Love

Breakfast or dinner: all of the above

Forgiveness or revenge: Forgiveness

House or apartment: house (although sometimes I wish it was an apartment because then someone else would be responsible for repairs.)

Like to cook: nope, just like to eat!

Have You Ever:

Got a speeding ticket: Yes (60 in a 45 in a construction zone!!!)

Wished you were someone else: At times, but when I see the things in my life that couldn't exist if I wasn't me, I wise up and learn to be content with myself.

Cried during a movie: yup!

Describe yourself in one word: Loved

Biggest fear: I can't bear to write this one down.

Biggest mistake: running away from my purpose

Your proudest accomplishment: walking in grace, although I didn't accomplish anything to get here!

Dream job: I always wanted to sing, but I am afraid of speaking in public!

Special talents: I love to sing.

Where would you rather be at the moment: home, asleep in my bed

Famous person you want to meet: at the moment... either Mandisa or Steven Curtis Chapman

Song to be played at your funeral: "You Wouldn't Cry for Me Today" by Mandisa--I hope every word of it is true!

Walking With You

Sharing the Journey: Waiting

The day of the amniocentesis, we came home and made phone calls to all of the waiting grandparents. Some asked questions, some sat in shocked silence, no one cried. I couldn't understand that. It is a difficult feeling to go from praying that it's not Down's Syndrome to praying that it's only Down's Syndrome. The doctor had told us that the amnio results would take ten days, but that they might have some preliminary results after two days. That night, we talked about all of it--the diagnosis, our options, our daughter. That was the day that I named her. We had discussed names before and we both liked Raelyn Elise, but I had reservations because of the spelling. Our last name is frequently mispronounced and even more frequently misspelled so I kind of wanted her to have an easier first name. However, the moment I saw her on that ultrasound screen, that was her name. She was my Raelyn.

We prayed that night and felt at peace with the day. We had some theories as to why we saw some of the markers that they were worried about. Our quad screen test had come back with all negatives and we knew (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that my dates were correct so that wouldn't have affected the test. My husband had a hole in his heart when he was born that resolved after birth, so we weren't too worried about the Ventricular Septal Defect. We reasoned that since she was moving around so much during the ultrasound, her head might have been tilted back some so that her eye sockets made it look like a lemon head. I spent the next two days happy and at peace. I had printed out a normal karyotype, placed it next to my computer at work, and every time I looked at it, I said to myself "Two and only two." When I got the call to come back to the doctor's office for the preliminary, I went by myself. I was so sure that they were going to tell me that everything was normal. I had such peace walking into that horrible genetic counselor's office and I think that is why the bad report sent me reeling so far downward.

After that, we waited ten days for the final results of the test. We had decided at this point that for us to carry her to term would be worse than letting her go. This was by far the hardest decision I have ever had to make. For my husband and me, we thought it would have been harder to hold her and let her die in our arms. It was like being told that my daughter had been in an accident and she would never regain consciousness, never breathe on her own, and be resigned to a lifetime of tubes and needles and medicine. To be completely honest, my prayer at that time was not "God, please heal my daughter" or "God, please let the test be wrong." My prayer was "God, if you have not willed for my daughter to live past birth, please take her before I get these test results." I naively thought that if I knew she was in Heaven, healed and whole, that I wouldn't hurt so much. I was wrong.

I never felt her little 'swishies' after the amnio and I have an ultrasound picture (from where they were guiding the needle) that shows her lying still at the bottom of my womb--a strange sight since she had been bouncing off the walls minutes earlier. I had a scare that landed me in the hospital the following weekend (before we had the final results) and we heard her heartbeat there, but it was slower than normal. After we received the final diagnosis of Trisomy 18, and the doctor had time to process all of the pictures and estimate the extent of the defects, we scheduled an induction for the following Sunday after church. It seems so wrong to write that because we are Christians and we are pro-life, but I couldn't see the good in forcing my daughter to go through a painful birth, only to live her entire life on earth under bright hospital lights, with tubes and needles and poking and prodding. The doctor outlined the problems that he could see on the ultrasound and told us that there would likely be many more that he couldn't see right now. To allow her to go straight from the love and comfort of my womb to the waiting arms of Jesus was the better option for our family.

This was easily the most heart wrenching decision of our lives and I still feel guilt and doubt about it. I wonder if things might have been different if we had continued the pregnancy. I just couldn’t bear the thought of waking up every morning wondering if today was going to be the day that I miscarried and lost my daughter or trying to explain to people why I wouldn’t need a baby shower. I know God is sovereign and I know that He knew my decision before the beginning of time, but I still wonder if he is disappointed in me. We prayed and we offered her back to the Lord. He gave her to us as an idea and later as a broken body, but we were never meant to keep her. We felt peace about it then and I know that most of my feelings now, three months later, are thoughts from my flesh sneaking in but I still wonder…


He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. –Isaiah 61:1-3

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. – Psalm 119:49-50


Please continue to pray for my husband and me. I have felt your prayers and I thank you for them. He did get a positive medical report yesterday that we are thankful for. I am dealing with some emotional and spiritual issues of my own

Father's Day

With Father's Day coming up tomorrow, I want to take a minute to honor Raelyn's Daddy. I will never forget the look on his face when I told him that the test was positive. He was so excited to be a Daddy! He hugged me tight and we went out to buy some digital tests just to be safe. That night, he was supposed to preach at church and he told me that I couldn't look at him while he was in the pulpit or he would start smiling so big that everyone there would know our new little secret! All through my pregnancy we would fall asleep with his hand on my belly, protecting the life inside the only way that he could.

I will also never forget the heartbreak on his face as I explained what the doctor had just said to us or the anguish when he called his parents in from the waiting room, saying "She's here... she's gone." He tenderly cared for me during those early days of shock and numbness while dealing with it himself. He gave me the space I needed while simultaneously holding me close.

We have been through some rough times, but our relationship is stronger than ever. I eagerly await the day when he can really show me what the Daddy in him can do!

I love you, Sweetheart!!

Walking With You

Sharing the Journey: Our First Steps

September 15, 2008--my husband's 24th birthday--was to be the day that we got to meet our first baby via ultrasound. We had no idea that it would also be the day that our world was shaken to the core.

I was 21 weeks pregnant and very excited. The night before, while we were laying in bed, I told my husband that I was nervous. He asked why and I told him, "Because it is always the ones who don't want children or who have 5 other kids and can't afford to feed another mouth who have healthy, perfect babies. It's the ones who did everything right who have problems." He brushed my fears off and reminded me that we had already passed all of the screening tests with flying colors. We went to sleep content, but I still had this nagging anxiety.

We requested a friend of a friend to be our ultrasound tech, so we had to wait a little while for her, but it was worth it. She was so sweet to us. It was amazing to hear that heartbeat and see our baby moving around in there. She was using me to practice her kickboxing but I was shocked to realize that I couldn't feel it yet. We sat there and marvelled at this life inside of me while the sonographer took her measurements. After a long search and some belly wiggling to get the baby to turn over, she finally moved and the sonographer said "It's a girl!" We were so thrilled and all negative thoughts were gone from my mind. She took a few more measurements and pictures before beginning to type in all of her findings. While my husband watched the baby, I watched the sonographer's screen. My mind began to crumble as I watched her skip important measurements like head and heart and she chose "poor" for stomach. My thoughts raced through all of the possibilities and as my eyes filled with tears and I couldn't read anymore, she got up and said, "Let me go get Dr. Welt and see if he can get some better pictures so I can fill in these measurements." She left and I tried to compose myself enough to talk to my husband. His face was positively glowing as the thought of having a daughter began to dawn on him. He asked me what was wrong and as I told him about the "poor" notation and the skipped entries, I began to pray.

The doctor came in and began looking at the pictures. He started listing off abnormalities like "ventricular septal defect", "rocker bottom feet" "clenched fists" and "the lemon sign" and the tears started to flow down my cheeks and into my hair as my biology background kicked in and I realized what was going on. My husband looked on in confusion until the doctor said those terrible words--"incompatible with life". At this point we were both crying and the teary-eyed sonographer passed out tissues. Dr. Welt started talking options and further diagnosis and then left the room so that we could decide what we wanted to do. I sat up on the table and sobbed into my husband's chest as he whispered prayers into my hair. They escorted us to a waiting area to talk to a genetic counselor. She seemed very uncomfortable and almost uncaring as she grilled us about the preliminary diagnosis and what the doctor had said to us. (I wanted to tell her to leave and come back after she had read the chart.) We opted for an amniocentesis so that we would know for sure and once again we were left in the room alone to contemplate our fate. During this short time, we called our closest pastor/mentor and he prayed with us on speakerphone in that little conference room. We were ushered down the hall, prepped, and punctured within 15 minutes. One of the most difficult things about that day was having to walk back out through that waiting room filled with swollen bellies and smiles. I felt it was my duty to hide my splotchy, tear-stained face from them in order to protect that innocence that I had only hours before. Sometimes, I still feel that obligation to be silent, to protect those who are still innocent...


What helped me through was the fact that my husband stood and cried with me. If he had shied away or not been willing to talk through things openly, I don't know what I would have done. Some time later, I discovered Bring the Rain which became a huge source of encouragement for me.

2 Chronicles 20:17 (NIV)
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "


I have a prayer request for my husband and I as we walk this road. We seem to be walking further apart than we were in the beginning, but not dangerously so. We have been under attack in every area--jobs, finances, health, family--in the last 8 months, so we covet your prayers.


Love: A feeling of strong attachment induced by that which delights or commands admiration; preeminent kindness or devotion to another; affection; tenderness; as, the love of brothers and sisters.

How do you know you are loved?

Because someone tells you so?

Because of something someone does for you?

Because of something someone gives you?

A feeling?

A touch?

The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
~1 Corinthians 13~
~The Message~

How do you know God loves you?

Because He tells you so in His Word.

Because He took your sins upon Himself and He died on the cross for you.

Because of the grace He extends to you in your need.

A feeling of humility before His throne.

A touch of sunshine.

I know that I know, but how do I explain it to myself so that I can remember it when I don't feel it.

Wild Olive Tees

I just discovered this website with these awesome inspirational tee shirts! This is an amazing icebreaker to be able to share your faith with others in your life. Here are some of my favorites:
Front: such things...
Back: Philippians 4:8
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.
Front: beloved

Back: Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Front: unfolding

Back: Philippians 1:6
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts
That hope always triumphs over experience
That laughter is the only cure for grief
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
~~Robert Fulghum. Storyteller's Creed.~~

I have mentioned before that somehow, however contradictory it may sound, I have hope for the future, but sometimes I just don't have hope for the present.

Hope - believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary.

Everyday there is mounting "evidence to the contrary" everywhere I look. The news is full of terrible things--proof that this world does not and should not make sense to us. If the happenings of the earth make sense to me, then I have a serious problem. Even the things that are not controlled by humans (like this) do not make sense to me. They can't make sense because I cannot see the Master's plan. However, seeing all of these things only makes it more clear that without a hope in God, I am forever going to be stuck trying to make sense of this life.

Whatever happiness or expectancy hope engenders within a person, the feelings that must come first are anger and courage--anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain that way.

For someone to experience the happiness of hope, I think that they have to get through the anger and courage first. Sometimes that journey is instantaneous. The very first time you see those two pink lines you have no firsthand knowledge of the anger at the way things are. The first thought that crosses your mind is not about all of the babies in Heaven who have left grieving mamas behind. Since there is no anger, courage to see the world differently is not needed and you can jump straight to hope. Trying to rekindle hope after a tragedy is completely different. That journey is long and the obstacles change on a daily (or sometimes hourly) basis depending on where you are in your grief.

I'm somewhere in between anger and courage. I am still angry every time I see a new blog that is dedicated to a child's memory. I am outraged when I hear about women like this when there are so many who would do almost anything to have one. But, I don't yet have the courage to truly believe that things will not always be this way. Don't get me wrong. I know that a day is coming when all will be made right and we will walk the New Earth with Jesus. I know that His grace is sufficient for all of my needs. I know that this world is broken. I know all of these things, but this is that hope for the future that I mentioned. Everything will be okay, but everything is not okay now.

For now, I am struggling with this lack of hope. Tomorrow will be eight long months since I last held Raelyn in my arms, but this is not the source of my pain right now. I rejoice in the fact that she is living in Heaven, free and whole, even though I miss her dearly and I wonder what she would be doing now if she were still here. My lack of hope comes from trying to give her a sibling. Every month that passes brings another torrential wave of intense hope in the beginning which turns to a crushing blackness by the end. Obviously, the gift of another child is not a decision that is left up to me. My head knows that it will happen (or not) in accordance with His plan and I trust in the fact that His plan truly is in my best interest. I just don't have the courage to let myself believe that things will change while I am still here on earth. Without that, I cannot have hope for the present, but I will keep pressing forward, leaning on Him.

Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusion. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it in his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it.


I feel totally, utterly defeated today.

I have worked, prayed, hoped for so long and still have nothing to show for it all.

My legs feel as heavy as my heart and my arms literally ache.

It's as if someone is standing on my shoulders as I walk through my life and sometimes, he covers my eyes so that I cannot see the path ahead.

Today is one of those times when my eyes are covered and I cannot respond to anything except through the darkness.

I don't know how to break out of this funk, but I can't keep walking in darkness or I'll alienate even the ones who have stuck by me.

Lord, move in a way that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away. Waves are crashing on the shore.
So, Lord move or move me.

***Sorry this post is so cryptic and vague. Just trying to work through my own thoughts...


Mother's Day 2009 is over.  

I did get a phone call from my friend who 'gets it' and a card from a friend from work who has no children, but is incredibly sweet.  My husband gave me a handmade mother/child heart pendant and wished me a Happy Mother's Day as soon as I woke up so I thought I was going to have an okay day.

I was most worried about church and if I was going to be upset by the message or the recognition of all the mothers.  I wondered if I was going to stand with them or not.  I have the marks of a mother, just not the marks of a Mom.  I have the stretch marks, the dark circles under my eyes, the saggy places that didn't use to sag.  What I don't have is the diaper bag instead of the purse, the carseat in the back of the car, or, most importantly, my beautiful 3 month old daughter.  I had decided that I would stand proudly, even if I had tears falling, in honor of Raelyn, but there was no recognition at church.  There was little recognition with my family either.  I overlooked the cards that didn't come.  I sat at meals with two different sets of family as people passed "Happy Mother's Day" across me, but inside I was crying out.  I was dying to pull my pictures out of my purse and pass them around the tables to prove that I am a mother because no one seems to remember.  Even the ones who were present at her birth gave no indication that they had ever set foot in my delivery room.  

But I didn't rain on anyone else's day.  I put on my 'face' and smiled and laughed while I cried inside.  It's days like this that make me wish I was more outspoken for myself.  Now, I feel guilty that I never stood and took my place as Raelyn's mom--like I was ashamed or something.  I wonder if everyone thinks that since I didn't push it, since I didn't make an issue out of everything, that I'm 'over it' or that I don't think about her anymore or that I don't consider myself a mother.  

I didn't choose this.  I was chosen to be Raelyn's mom.  God chose this path for me before the beginning of time.  I don't know why.  I don't know how to walk this road except by the grace of God.  I have to lean on Him to be able to move forward every day.  I read a quote today that really made sense to me at this time.  "Who God uses, He bruises.  What He makes, He first breaks."  I don't know that I am completely broken because I grieve with hope, but I am severely bruised.  I am not even sure how I am being used at this point, but someday, maybe never on this earth, I will understand the Master's plan and how Raelyn and I fit into it.

Mother's Day

Technically, this is not my first Mother's Day.

Last year, I was pregnant with Raelyn but I just didn't know it yet.

I didn't know that just two weeks later, a pregnancy test would give me the best day of my life.

I didn't know that my husband was about to have his first Father's Day and our dads were going to be Grandfathers on Father's Day.

I didn't know about this mother's love that transcends all time, space, and logic.

I didn't know that we would share this pregnancy with our friends who would become pregnant a month later.

I didn't know about nausea and onesies and stretch marks and OB visits and bouncy seats and tiny dresses and so many other tiny beautiful scary things.

I didn't know that five months later, my world would come crashing down around me.

I didn't know about soft markers or the lemon sign or rocker-bottom feet or clenched fists or Trisomy 18.

I didn't know that we would lose those pregnant friends because we were too uncomfortable to be around.

I didn't know about grief.

I didn't truly know about God's grace to carry me when I cannot stand.

I didn't truly know about His peace that passes all (and I do mean all) understanding.

I didn't truly know how He could love us as His own children because I had never held one of my own.

I didn't know...

I know now.

Something to think about...

I found this post on this heart-wrenching blog I just discovered today. All of this is something I know to be true, but somehow, I have to make myself believe and submit to this idea of radical trust. This post gives me something to think about. I needed this today...

By: John Piper

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions.

God says things like:
These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people?

The problem is, we would have to be God to grasp all that God is doing in our problems. In fact, pushing too hard for more detailed explanations from God is a kind of demand that we be God.

Think of this, you are a blacksmith making horseshoes. You are hammering on a white hot shoe and it ricochets off and hits you in the leg and burns you. In your haste to tend to your leg you let the shoe alone unfinished. You wonder why God let this happen. You were singing a hymn and doing his will.

Your helper, not knowing the horseshoe was unfinished gathered it up and put it with the others.Later there was an invasion of your country by a hostile army with a powerful cavalry. They came through your town and demanded that you supply them with food and with shoes for their horses. You comply.

Their commander has his horse shoed by his own smith using the stolen horseshoes, and the unfinished shoe with the thin weak spot is put on the commander’s horse.

In the decisive battle against the loyal troops defending your homeland the enemy commander is leading the final charge. The weak shoe snaps and catches on a root and causes his horse to fall. He crashes to the ground and his own soldiers, galloping at full speed, trample him to death. This causes such a confusion that the defenders are able to rout the enemy and the country is saved.

Now you might say, well, it would sure help me trust God if he informed me of these events so that I would know why the horseshoe ricocheted and burned my leg. Well maybe it would help you. Maybe not.

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people.

Let’s trust him and not ask for what our brains cannot contain.