Friday, April 28, 2017

Psalm 118:24

41 weeks today. Not sure what this day holds, but I know this is true:

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

For Today

From my Bible reading this morning...the words of Jesus:

John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter (and David's due date)

Today is David's due date, but he doesn't seem interested in making his arrival yet. We'll keep you posted...

Here are some pictures from our Easter celebrations. First, our Sunday School class Easter egg hunt:
Annie
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Jacob
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Sophie
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Nora
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The Easter Bunny comes to our house Saturday morning so we can focus on the real meaning of Easter on Sunday. The kids got a book they needed for school next year (which thankfully they were really excited about), some candy, and an art set.
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All of us on Easter Sunday! We went to church together and then to lunch at my parents'.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We Bought the "Farm"

The Gent has had this dream of owning some land and building a house and having lots of room for the kids to run around and explore, and someday come back to when they are grown with grandkids in tow and still have space for everyone. I was on board but didn't want to have to drive more than 15 minutes to all the things the kids and I do. We currently live in the city and we love our old, historic house and being in the middle of everything. But outside space is limited and our inside space has become limited as our family has grown. We use every square inch of our home every day. So when this 5 acre lot popped up for sale and it was 15 minutes from all the places we usually go, we knew it was the land for us. Now we own the house in the city and the land in the "country." It will be a slow process to move out to our new place (which needs a name! suggestions?). We plan to renovate the kitchen in our current house this summer. Everything else in the house has been redone and I want to finish it, plus it will help it sell faster. Then when we are ready we will put the house on the market, move to a rental house when it sells, and then start building the new house. Adventures await!


pictures of Mama, Daddy, and David on closing day
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Friday, April 14, 2017

More Honesty

People keep telling me they appreciate the honesty of my posts, so I suppose I’ll keep on in that same vein. I get the sense that everyone thinks I should be angry with God, judging by how many people have told me it’s okay to be angry. And I totally agree with that—God can certainly handle all of our emotions—yours and mine. He gave them to us and He sent His own Son to be fully human and have all of our same human emotions and struggles. But I’m really not angry. I have struggled with why God seems to have chosen not to heal our son, when I know He has the power to. While I do believe miracles still happen, I’ve never seen one as dramatic as it would be for David’s head to suddenly be made whole. I’ve been studying the Gospel of John this year through Bible Study Fellowship, and the earlier lessons on miracles were difficult for me. Why did Jesus heal some but not others? Why did Jesus send His disciples into the storm on the Sea of Galilee? When we studied the resurrection of Lazarus, and everyone talked about how Jesus wept, even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, I wanted to cry that no one is going to raise my baby from the dead! We will weep and mourn and death will sting.

As always, wiser Christians than me have dealt with these issues. The truth that Jesus is more concerned for our eternal life than our temporal life has hit home with me. The promises of healing that we try to apply to these earthly lives ring hollow—but our eternal healing is promised through the blood of Jesus. Is it hard to understand? Yes. But it is what I believe to be true…even if it is not the way I feel.

On Palm Sunday, the crowd rejoiced because their King was coming. But as it turns out, He wasn’t the King they wanted. They wanted the victor, the champion, the warrior king who would rescue them from oppression and provide for all their earthly needs.

Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted, because He knew what we really needed. I’ve often heard that phrase, “Jesus doesn’t give us what we want; He gives us what we need.” I’ve never really liked it much. I’d rather have what I want, wouldn’t you? But if Jesus had given in to the crowd and given them what they wanted, we would never have been able to come home to our Father and escape our rebellion. So instead of what we wanted, He gave us what we needed: the Suffering Servant. Who at the end of time will return as the Victor, riding a white horse, the Lamb who was slain.

P.S. I read this essay by Michael Gerson last night:
The Hope of Pardon and Peace
I found the closing paragraphs especially poignant: "For believers, the complete story of Good Friday and Easter legitimizes both despair and faith. Nearly every life features less-than-good Fridays. We grow tired of our own company and travel a descending path of depression. We experience lonely pain, unearned suffering or stinging injustice. We are rejected or betrayed by a friend. And then there are the unspeakable things — the death of a child, the diagnosis of an aggressive cancer, the steady advance of a disease that will take our minds and dignity. We look into the abyss of self-murder. And given the example of Christ, we are permitted to feel God-forsaken.

And yet . . . eventually . . . or so we trust . . . or so we try to trust: God is forever on the side of those who suffer. God is forever on the side of life. God is forever on the side of hope.

If the resurrection is real, death’s hold is broken. There is a truth and human existence that cannot be contained in a tomb. It is possible to live lightly, even in the face of death — not by becoming hard and strong, but through a confident perseverance. Because cynicism is the failure of patience. Because Good Friday does not have the final word."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Last Day of School 2016-2017

We wrapped up our school year last Friday. We took very, very few breaks this year (2 days at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas) because I wanted to finish before David's birth. And we made it! Kindergarten was a fun year. Annie and Jacob have come a long way in their reading, math skills, and handwriting. We started learning piano and did lots of art projects and science "experiments." We went on lots of field trips throughout the year, and made many trips to the zoo, science center, botanical gardens, and our favorite parks. Our first grade books came in the mail on our last day of kindergarten, and they wanted to start them right away! Mama isn't quite ready for first grade to begin yet, but I'm glad they're still excited and not burned out on school!

Annie, completed kindergarten
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Jacob, completed kindergarten
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Sophie, completed three-year-old preschool
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Nora, completed toddler playtime
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Friday, April 7, 2017

What Helps

We’ve had so many kind and thoughtful responses to David’s story. And thankfully, very, very few hurtful ones. While each situation is different, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped the most.

When we first announced our pregnancy and David’s diagnosis, one of my neighbors responded perfectly. He gave me a huge hug and said very few words: “This is a hug of congratulations and condolence. I’m happy for you all, and I’m so sorry.” Acknowledging the joy and the sorrow simultaneously felt exactly right.

Sweet friends and family have helped us celebrate the joyful moments—finding out David was a boy, throwing a prayer party, oohing and aahing over ultrasound pictures, making a beautiful quilt with each family member’s prayers and wishes for David sewn into it. Hardly a day goes by that we don't receive an encouraging card, text, phone call, or email.

And you have covered us in prayer when we don’t know how to pray ourselves, and reminded us over and over again of God’s promises and His faithfulness. God is our rock and our ever present help in times of trouble. Jesus Himself weeps with us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in prayer. This broken, sorrow-filled life is not what God intended for us. And He sent His only Son to make a way for us to be unified to Him. And in the fullness of time, Jesus will return in triumph and banish death forever and wipe away all our tears. Just last week, I was reminded that David’s death is only a slipping behind the veil into glory. We live in the shadows, but he will be in the light of the glory of God. And someday we will slip behind the veil ourselves, and see fully the beautiful nature of our Lord.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Nick: A Good Dog

Nick died last week. His cancer progressed very quickly, as we had expected it would. His last month was full of extra love and snuggles and treats. His pain medicine did its job and he was happy and pain-free to the end. We miss our fur baby very much. Nick was a perfect blend of goofball and guard dog. He made us laugh--a lot--and we always felt safe with him around. He was the dog who always knew just what we needed, whether we knew it or not.

My favorite Nick story is from the morning of my first ultrasound with tiny baby Annie. After our miscarriage, we were of course very, very nervous about this ultrasound and whether or not we would see a heartbeat. Nick chose that morning to escape from the dog park in our neighborhood. The Gent went traipsing through the woods after him. I had to go to the doctor's office by myself and I was now anxious about Nick instead of the baby. The Gent called me while I was in the waiting room and said "I found Nick and we're on our way." The Gent walked into the doctor's office in mismatched work boots (samples from his Dad's work) and dirty jeans and I was just so glad he was there. Our ultrasound showed us one tiny, growing baby with a strong heartbeat! We walked out to the parking deck where that rascal of a Nick had been hanging out in the cab of the pickup truck, covered in burrs (see pictures below), tongue hanging out, and happy as he could be!

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Shalom, and To Be Loved

Since we heard David’s diagnosis, I’ve often wondered why God gave me this baby to carry for nine months. I am grateful for his little life, and most days I have carried him gladly. I love to feel his little movements and hear his heart beating and know that I have chosen to give him life. But it is hard because this is his life—perhaps in the womb only; if the Lord gives us time after David’s birth I know it will be brief.

David’s grandma has a word the Lord has given her to pray over each of our children. When she was praying about what David’s word should be, God impressed the word “peace” on her heart, before we had chosen his name. At first she thought that couldn’t be right. But as time has passed we’ve seen that this baby has brought peace to us, and a release from any fear of death or questions without answers. Through David, God has filled our family with His true peace.

A friend wrote me a couple of weeks ago that David’s vocation is to be loved. And, oh, how I have seen his vocation lived out, even in the womb! David is so loved. Our family, our church, our friends, acquaintances, and even strangers love our son. He is a precious gift. His siblings in particular love him wholeheartedly. They can’t walk by me without touching my belly and talking to David and giving him a kiss. They sing to him and read him stories because they want him to know their voices when he is born. The love they have for him cannot be returned and David can’t do anything for them—but they love him unreservedly anyway, expecting nothing in return. It’s a small picture of the love our God has for us, and it is beautiful. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Man of Sorrows, by Philip Paul Bliss

Reflecting on this hymn often these days, as we enter the Easter season and look ahead to David's birth and death.

1
“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
2
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
3
Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full redemption—can it be?
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
4
Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
5
When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Friday, March 24, 2017

9 months

Here's the last of these monthly photos...

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And look at the pretty new header! My thanks to the talented Suzanne Williams who took these lovely photos for us--how she manages to get my kids to cooperate I do not know, but my pictures are always fabulous!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Nick Update

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Three weeks ago Nick was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer. There aren't any good treatment options for his type of cancer, so we are treating his pain and loving him well. And he is getting lots of treats from the kids. Nick is a loyal and protective dog and he is a treasured member of our family.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

34 week ultrasound


I had another 4d ultrasound last week and the munchkins all tagged along. They are fascinated by the ultrasounds and it is so sweet to see! We have them on dvd and their favorite screen time request is "to watch the David movie!" Love seeing the joy they have for their baby brother. The first picture is looking down at his face--you can see his mouth and nose. The second is a partial side profile. And the third is obviously his hand. :) David has not let us see his face since the 20 week ultrasound. He had one hand over his face most of the time (so we could see his cheeks, lips, nose, chin, and sometimes one eye) and then towards the end he put both hands over his face, hands facing out toward the ultrasound transducer as if to say "quit poking me!" He is definitely my baby who wants his own space. When I rest my hands on my belly he always starts kicking them off. I know some would say with his reduced brain function all the movement I feel is just reflexes...but we know his personality is shining through, even in the womb. At this ultrasound we learned David has hair! It looks like he'll have sweet baby hair sticking out the edges of his little hat. Wonder if it will be black like Nora's was?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celebrating

Sweet friends hosted a celebration for David and me a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to do it but I was worried it would be sad. But it was perfect. I enjoyed my favorite foods and beautiful flowers and precious time with my mama and my friends. They prayed over David and all of our family and shared promises from God's Word for us to hold on to in the coming weeks and months. It was a hopeful and encouraging time and I'm so glad we chose to celebrate together. They also filled a basket of gifts for us. I let the kids open them when I got home, because I knew they would find it fun and happy to do and I would think it was happy instead of sad when I could share in their joy. We have gift cards for everything you could think of, a beautiful handmade blanket for David, and a couple of precious tiny gowns for him to wear in the hospital. Thankful for friends who are helping us hold on to the joy in these moments.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

David's Birth Plan

Some things are so similar to my previous birth plans, and some are so very, very different.

Our son’s name is David Shalom. David has anencephaly. We have chosen to carry him to term and we have looked forward to this day with joy and grief. We realize that David will look different physically, but we hope everyone can see him for what he is: our precious son who we love. We know our time with David will be short, and we want to cherish each moment we have with him in a loving and caring environment.
• We ask that our son be referred to as David.
• If possible, we would like a nurse experienced in bereavement.
• We are hoping for an unmedicated birth, with as little intervention as possible.
• Please do not offer pain medication; I will ask for it if I want it. I prefer a heparin lock to an iv.
• We do not want any heartbeat monitoring. We may choose to listen for a heartbeat when we first arrive at the hospital.
• I would like to be able to change positions and labor outside of the bed, even if my water has broken. Also, I may want to push and deliver in alternative positions such as squatting or side lying. I prefer to use people for leg support.
• I do not want to have my water broken; I prefer it to break on its own.
• (If a cesarean delivery becomes necessary, please follow as many of our wishes below as possible. Please give David to his father as soon as possible after delivery.)
• After delivery, please place David on his mother’s abdomen to care for him. Please apply a non-adhering bandage to his head, and then put on the hat we have provided for him to wear. We would like skin to skin contact.
• Please do suction David’s airway as soon as he is born to help him breathe. We would like mechanical assistance to be used only temporarily to initiate breathing.
• We do not want any extraordinary measures taken to maintain David’s breathing or heartbeat. We do want him to be as comfortable as possible. Please keep us informed of our options (use of oxygen, pain medication, etc). We do not want any routine medications given to David.
• We would like the nursing staff to weigh and measure David when we request it. If we forget to ask, please make sure this is done before he leaves the hospital.
• We want David’s life to be surrounded by love. He has siblings and grandparents who are eager to meet him. If we think it best, other family members, a few close friends, and pastors from our church may come and meet him as well.
• _____________from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep will be taking memorial photographs.
• Please offer us a choice of a postpartum room or a room away from the maternity floors.
• If David is doing better than expected, we would like to take him home under hospice care.
• We do not want David’s body to go to the morgue at any time. We request that the hospital contact ______ Funeral Home when we are ready to say goodbye. We wish for David to be picked up from us and carried from the hospital by the funeral home representative.
• Please save any keepsakes and mementoes for us to take home.
• After David’s death, his mother would like to be able to go home as soon as it is medically safe.
We appreciate your support in this difficult and emotional time, and thank you for helping us make David’s life as meaningful as possible to our family.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Huckleberry

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Huck's birthday was last week. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, him or the kids! They were SO EXCITED to give him his present (doggie nutter butter treats). Happy birthday, Huckleberry, our goofy one and lover of all people!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Annie: Six

Annie turned six a few days ago. SIX. I really can't believe it. What can I say about our six year old? Annie loves dress-up, make-believe, crafts, dolls, her dollhouse, playing outside, Little House books, and being the oldest. She needs her "alone time" each day. She is enthusiastic about life--school, her siblings, ballet class, her friends. She loves to talk and uses big words--correctly--all the time but she doesn't realize other people find that amusing. She is often more comfortable talking with adults than with other children. She has developed quite a sense of empathy this year, something the Gent and I had been praying about. We are so thankful for this precious girl!

Mama took her to the nail salon for her first manicure
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Daddy makes the best birthday biscuits!
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she wanted a real purse for her birthday
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it was received with great joy
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she also got a jewelry box
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and a garden for her dollhouse, and a book about drawing
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After breakfast we went to church and her class sang Happy Birthday to her, which she loved.

pizza and chocolate chip cookies for dinner rounded out her day!
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

8 Months

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I am feeling good and strong and keeping up with walking and yoga. David is an active little guy and we love feeling his kicks. Either my babies have gotten more active through each pregnancy or my ab muscles have gotten weaker. ;) I've made my birth plan and am getting the final draft together, made plans for the other kiddos while we are at the hospital, and just generally been getting my ducks in a row. The Gent and I are making some hard decisions about burial and memorial plans this week. We just want to get those details over with so we can rest and enjoy this time while David is alive and not have to worry about making a lot of big decisions immediately postpartum. Some sweet friends are hosting a celebration for David this weekend and I am looking forward to that. Each day we get closer to meeting him...I look forward to it and I dread it.

P.S. If one more stranger tells me (after they ask and I tell them baby is a boy) that they just knew it was a boy, they could tell by the way I am carrying him, I may throw something at them. I have carried all my babies exactly the same way, had the same morning sickness with all of them, gained the same amount of weight with all of them, etc, etc. If I hadn't had so many ultrasounds, I would be convinced David was a girl like all the others!

Friday, February 24, 2017

A few more books

Prayer books
A Child's Book of Prayers, Michael Hague
My First Prayers, Bessie Pease Gutmann
A Child’s Book of Prayers, Christine Harder Tangvald

Bibles
Read Aloud Bible Stories, Ella Lindvall
The Rhyme Bible, L.J. Sattgast
In the Beginning (part of the Guidepost series, 52 in all), Penny Frank
Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Big Picture Story Bible, David Helm
Children's Bible in 365 Stories, Mary Batchelor

Christian storybooks
Animal Tales from the Bible, Nick Butterworth
Favorite Parables from the Bible, Nick Butterworth
The Parable Treasury, Liz Curtis Higgs
Halfway Herbert, The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village, Ronnie Wilson’s Gift, Francis Chan
Just In Case You Ever Wonder, Max Lucado
Audrey Bunny, Angie Smith
The Treasure Tree, John Trent
Dangerous Journey (retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress), Oliver Hunkin

Christian devotion books
Big Thoughts for Little People, Kenneth Taylor
Good News for Little People, Kenneth Taylor
Little Visits with God, Allan Hart Jahsmann
The Ology, Marty Machowski

Christian growth books
God's Wisdom for Little Girls, Elizabeth George
God’s Wisdom for Little Boys, Jim and Elizabeth George
Prayer is a Gentle Way of Being with God, Joan Walsh Anglund
My First Book of Questions and Answers, Carine Mackenzie
Hosanna Loud Hosannas (hymnal with great background info), Barbara and David Leeman
3 in 1 (explanation of the Trinity), Joanne Marxhaussen
Love Is, Wendy Halperin
I Believe in Jesus, John MacArthur

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Double Birthday Party

Annie (almost 6) and Nora (just turned 2) had a double birthday party this past weekend. Annie requested a dirt cake so a sort of flower/garden theme emerged from that. Honey made a birthday banner and I arranged some flowers for decorations. The kids made paper flowers, whacked at the pinata, and played pin the ladybug on the flower. We dined on dirt cake and flower cupcakes, carrot sticks and dip arranged like flowers, fruit, pretzels, and sandwiches cut into daisy and tulip shapes. It was a fun and easy and sweet party, and the girls loved it.

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