Saturday, May 23, 2015

Collecting and Clarifying My Thoughts

This blog was so vital to me during my trial with Evie - a place for me to clarify my thought processes and hear feedback and support from others.  Writing did that for me - made things more clear.  So that's what this post is about - putting down in one place all the thoughts I've been having since Thursday, even if just for my own sanity.

The truth is, I didn't feel too surprised with the news from Thursday.  Maybe I was braced for it and expecting it.  I don't know.  I feel like the news of Evie's diagnosis completely rocked my worldview.  I simply couldn't wrap my head around such horrifying news.  This time?  This time I know stuff like this happens.  Really crappy things happen to good, nice people who love Jesus and try really hard to live in a way that pleases Him.  And it doesn't mean they are being punished or made a bad choice or that God is somehow displeased with them.  It just happens in this terribly sin-filled world.  Babies die and beautiful couples can't conceive and romances are broken and hearts along with them.  And people have "things" - broken pieces and hurtful experiences that shape who they are.  I guess this is my "thing".

The first time I wondered how on earth anyone could survive a tragedy like this one.  I couldn't fathom living life with a piece of your heart missing.  But now I know how and that it is possible.  I know how to lean hard on Jesus.  I know we'll make it.  It's just a really yucky thing to endure again.

This time around I also feel like my heart is bursting with so much awesome around me.  Seeing the world through Micah's eyes and listening to his very well articulated thoughts and feelings about life - it's a hundred kinds of awesome.  And Jocelyn - oh my word.  I've never seen a happier or more full-of-life little girl.  And we're building, essentially, our dream house and Josh will soon be starting, essentially, his dream job.  The sad of losing another baby just doesn't seem to fit into my world right now.  I'm not sure what to do with the unbelievably wonderful and downright awful all at the same time.

What I do know ... this baby girl will go to Heaven just like her big sister.  She's not the same as Evie - a little more broken actually.  She has the same lung issues that were Evie's main cause of death.  But she also has heart issues, brain issues, clubbed feet, possibly a cleft palate, and possibly some other things that weren't able to be identified at our first ultrasound (still waiting on the specialist appointment).  There's also the added complication of placenta previa.  So even though we've been down this road before, this particular road has it's own set of unique attributes and unknowns.  Unknowns are scary.

I also know about all the awful things I have to look forward to.  Leaving the hospital with no baby being at the very top of that list.  I know I can survive all of it because of Jesus.  I just wish I didn't have to.

Things to pray for:

A miracle.  We can always hope.

An appointment to be scheduled with the specialist soon.

The placenta previa situation.  These typically end in c-sections, which we'd love to avoid.  They can also add other complications which would further complicate an already delicate situation.

Wisdom with how to answer Micah's questions and address his concerns.

The Lord impressed 1 Peter 4:12,13, and 19 in my heart the morning after we learned this news.  
Beloved, don't be surprised when you face fiery trials ... but do good as unto a faithful Creator.
I'm praying really hard that I can figure out what "good" I'm supposed to accomplish this time around.  Something new?  Something big?  Something seemingly small?  I guess we'll see.

My heart.  Anticipating having another infant daughter die in my arms is a lot more than I even want to think about right now.  I think I'm not really thinking about it, just for coping reasons.  But, if you ever had any doubts, it's kind of the worst.

Strength to live in this weirdness - where my life is full of so much joy and yet anticipating heavy sorrow all at the same time.  Strange is the only word I have for it.

And ... just being really real here ... pray that I won't look to food for comfort or happiness or an escape.  Especially if bedrest is potentially in my future, with the previa and all.

Also, not a prayer request, but saving the best for last ... we've decided on a name for our precious girl.  Baby Kate ... Katherine Zoe ... "pure life".   I love it and I love her and she has my heart.  Considering everything, I still can't wait to kiss her face.

Thank you friends.  You are Jesus to me <3

ps ... I'm sorry I don't have any pictures to share.  I don't have any from the 20 week ultrasound.  When I do get some I will share :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Sweet Baby Girl

Today marked 20 weeks with Baby #4.  We found out that she's pink, just like her two big sisters before her.  Pink girly bundles are always sweet.

But we are sad to announce, like her oldest sister, she will be flying to Jesus much earlier than we'd ever anticipated.  Her collection of anomalies are similar to Evie's and yet different, the end result still being the same.

We've yet to have our official ultrasound with the high risk doctor, which will be much more definitive and hopefully diagnostic.  Until then we know what we know - this sweet baby girl won't be with us for long.

Friends we are in need of prayers once again.  The sustaining kind.  The guiding kind.  The strengthening kind.  We're ok - we know we can survive this.  It just really, really stinks that we have to again.

Please pray for a spot to open at the ever-busy high risk doctor so we can get more info on our sweetie.  Please pray for guidance for our future as this could potentially change the move we had planned.  This pregnancy also might pose some risk to me (placenta previa), so please pray that will stay under control and maybe even resolve itself.  And please pray that we can land on a beautiful, meaningful name for this precious baby girl.

Thank you.  And here we go again ...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Babies and Blogging and Where I've Been

It's surely no secret that this blog has been quiet lately.  Honestly, it's just been hard to fit blogging into my life.  Or maybe I should say, it's been hard to figure out what role blogging should play in my life now.  

Writing on this space was absolutely a lifeline for me during the months leading to Evie's death and in the heavy grieving months after.  And not only was it helpful for me, I think it's what the Lord wanted me to do during that time.  He had given me a platform and people were listening.  It was a privilege, truly, to be used in that way. 

Now when I sit down to write, the words don't flow as easily as they once did.  It feels like a bad thing, especially to me and my very task-driven personality, but I don't think it is anymore.  And I'm trying to be ok with that.

The truth is, my life is full.  I don't like using the word busy, but I can safely say my days are full.  They are full of caring for two amazing children and a hard-working husband and a house that spews laundry and dishes and plush toys.  Not to mention outside activities.  It's a good life for sure, just full.  And I'm not sure where blogging fits into that fulness.

There are also so many changes happening in our very near future.  First change will be Josh's new job.  He accepted a new job which will offer him an amazing opportunity to build his experience and professional skill set.  He is really looking forward to it and I'm excited for him.  But that job requires another big change ...

We will have to move across town.  About 40 minutes away from where we currently live.  It's not a drastic change, we'll still go to the same church and be close to family, but it's still a change.  And we're building that house from the ground up, which is pretty exciting.  Construction will start soon and take about four months.  Projected closing date is the end of September, one week before ...

Baby #4 is expected to arrive :)  Yes another sweet Rieke baby is on the way.  Another big, exciting change.  It'll definitely add to that "fulness" I was mentioning earlier! 

I also anticipate homeschooling Micah's PreK 4 next year.  That is certainly subject to change as well, but with so many new things happening (new baby, new home, long drive to his current school), I am already feeling the need to keep things close to the vest.  So that's a new venture.  But I think I can do it?

So that's where my heart and mind have been lately, in a nutshell.  Feeling like I don't have the same platform as before, coupled with general other life necessities and anticipating new beginnings, have left things quiet around here.  And, as I mentioned before, I'm going to let myself be ok with that.

That being said, I absolutely still feel very strongly about reaching out to mothers who have lost babies.  If you have a friend who has experienced this tragedy please, please don't hesitate to send them my way, via email or facebook.

Thank you friends for still reading and caring about me and my little family.  I am still here, just maybe in a different way than before.  And I think that's ok.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ladies' Speed Friending

Ladies need other ladies.  It's a fact.  We are just social beings in need of connections.  It's how God wired us and it's good.  But sometimes, even in a church full of lovely women, we can feel lonely. 

It was mulling over this feeling of loneliness and non-connectedness that led me and two of my most beloved womenfolk (MIL (mother-in-law) and SIL (sister-in-law), to be exact), to brainstorm how to battle this feeling within the church, specifically, our church.  We wanted an event that could bring women together and allow them to get to know each other individually and feel personally connected to many other women in the church.  It was a tall order.

My SIL basically said we needed an event that would "force" (in a nice way ;) women to talk to each other so they wouldn't just gravitate to their own friend groups per usual.  Something to make people talk to each other one-on-one.

My mind grapes were a'brewing.  And, then it hit me ...

Speed dating!

After the initial laugh from my MIL and SIL they thought a bit more.  It could work!  But it would be called ... Speed Friending.  And then my SIL came up with the best title for this never before done event ... New Year, New Friends: Ladies' Speed Friending.  


Well, I'm happy to say we hosted (hostessded?) this event a couple weekends ago.  And I'm even happier to tell you it went swimmingly (we seriously weren't sure if it would haha!).  So swimmingly, in fact, that many people have inquired how to host this event at their own church.  So here it is, the how-to (I'll just explain what we did and you can adjust according to your group and setting):
On one half of the room, set up chairs in a circle. You need one less chair than people (kind of like musical chairs). So if you have 30 ladies, only setup 29 chairs.
On the other half, setup one on one tables. Number the tables 1 through (?) however many you need. In the center of each table, place a fishbowl (something people can stick their hands into) with slips of paper (conversation questions all cut up). We purchased the fishbowls at the Dollar Store.
We also had a welcome table setup with sticky blank name tags and a sheet for people to write their name and phone number, which we gave out at the end of the night.
We also had a snack table (we asked all who came to bring an hors d'oeuvre to share), and an area for hot and cold drinks. I just asked our ministry team to not bring a snack but a drink instead.
Flow of Events:
We started the event at around 7:15. We played the first game for about 30 min. Then we broke for snacks for another 30 min. Then we did the speed friending, which took about 45. When that was over we invited people to stay and chat or leave if they needed to.
This was the first game, the one with the circle of chairs. Everyone takes a seat with one lady standing in the middle. She makes a statement like ... "Anyone who wears contacts!" If you wear contacts then you must get up and switch chairs. You may not sit in the chair next to you, it has to be at least 2 chairs away. Eventually, after everyone scrambles for a new chair, there will be one woman standing. She's "it" and has to think of a new description.
These descriptions can be thought of randomly but to help people out, we had a white board with several question suggestions on there.
In the event that a person can't think of something, the can shout "Mutiny!" and the whole circle must find a new chair.
Speed Friending:
Everyone sits down at a table, one-on-one. The hostess starts a timer and you get two minutes to talk to the person in front of you. You can use the questions in the fishbowl as startup conversation pieces, but we encouraged women to not try to fly through the questions but to use them as jumping off points. At the end of two minutes, those facing the back wall switched to the next consecutive table and the others stayed seated. This continues until you're back with the person you started with.
There is one slight problem with this that we didn't foresee until that night - since half the group moves and half the group stays put, those within each group never get to talk to one another. No one seemed to mind though and it just made us think we need another event like this!!

So there you have it: Ladies' Speed Friending.  I hope it proves to be a wonderful night of connecting with the women in your sphere of acquaintance.  And please stop back here and let me know how it goes!!  

What do you think?  Does this sound like something you'd enjoy?  What questions might you ask?  Have you ever gone actual speed dating?  

ps ... if you email me I would be happy to send you the questions we used!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year! and 2014 Recap

Oh my goodness I can't believe it's 2015!  Happy New Year, folks!  (it's not too late to say that, right?!).  2014 was such an amazing year, I just wanted to share a bit of what happened, all in one post.  This one is long, but there are lots of pics.  So it should be fun :)

In January Josh passed his state board exam to officially become ... a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  Yay!  Two and a half years in the making, this was such an accomplishment for him and a sigh of relief for all of us.

At the end of the month, we spent about a week down in FL visiting family and Mickey Mouse.

In February we found out our little belly baby was a girl!

And we added another member to the family, of the four-wheeled type.

In March Josh started his new job.  Micah and I took a trip to PA to visit family and celebrate my dad's birthday.

At the end of May we celebrated the upcoming arrival of my first nephew.  Fun times, good memories.

Eli on the left ... Jocelyn on the right.

At the end of June our sweet Jocelyn Evie arrived.  She was 8 lb. 8 oz., just as the midwife predicted!  To say she is a blessing would be a huge understatement.  She is light and sweetness and love personified.

Here we are on July 4th.  Sleep deprived but happy.

On July 22 we celebrated 8 years of marriage.  Crazy.  With a 3 week old though, we decided to forego the traditional PF Chang's celebratory dinner and made fondue at home instead.  Still a good time.

In August Micah started PreK 3 at a local Christian school.  It has been so great for him and I am so thankful the Lord led us to that school.

At the end of August my little sister started her first teaching job - 3rd grade at a local elementary school.  So strange for me to see her all grown up.  Last time I checked she still wasn't allowed to use the oven by herself ...

In mid-September my brother-in-law and sister-in-law welcomed their firstborn, Eli Oliver, into the world.  It's been so fun having two babies in the family!

At the end of October, Josh turned 29.  He requested funfetti cake, as always.

Happy Birthday to his Royal Beardness

November 8th we celebrated Evie's second birthday with cupcakes.  I boxed some up to share with family and close friends.  It was simple, special, and sweet.

Thanksgiving was great as we looked back over to the previous Thanksgiving.  Last November we were right on the edge of an ending (a hard 2013, Josh's schooling being over), and looking forward to what we anticipated would be a really great year (new baby, new job).  We had a lot to be thankful for and our hearts were full.

December wasn't quite as crazy as last year, but still pretty busy.  I think I'll just need to surrender to the fact that Decembers will always be nuts haha.

We took a trip to PA to visit family - sort of a Christmassy trip.  It was so nice to see everyone again and let them meet Joci.

Joci loving on Aunt Ruth

A week later I turned 29 (eek!).  Last lap of my twenties people!   Anyway, we celebrated by going to the graduation dinner for the current graduating class of Josh's alma mater (he's now adjunct faculty there).  It was really nice to sit at the, as one student jokingly called it, the "been there, done that" table.  Haha.  It definitely felt good!  The next night Josh took me to Carrabba's.  If you have never been, go there.  Now.  And order the Pasta Carrabba.  You will not be sad that you did that.

About a week later my brother-in-law (the one who just had a baby), graduated from the Police Academy.  We are so proud of him.

The next day, Micah turned 4.  Oh my goodness my sweet big guy.  I love him so much.

The day after that was my brother-in-law's Police Academy graduation party.  Good food and good celebrating a good man.

Then it was Christmas.

And we always have two days of celebrating because we have two families here in the area.  I don't mind ... two days of feasting, two days of gifting, two days of good times.  Not too shabby.

And 2014 ended with a great night of being with those we love and looking forward to all that 2015 has to offer.  Lord willing, it will be another great year.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two Years and One Rainbow Later

If she were still living and breathing, today would be the day of Evie's second birthday celebration.  Odds are high that her birthday party would be Frozen-themed and that we would all know the lyrics to "Let it Go" instead of just, "let it go, let it go, la da dum dum dee dee doo-ooh ..." (BTW, if you've never heard this version of the song, treat yourself.  Holy singing tweens, Batman).

But she's not here.  She is somewhere different and better, I'm told.  Although some days it still feels like being here with me would be best.  I don't know.  Losing a child is hard.

I went a-pinteresting for Frozen birthday cupcake ideas and it just didn't feel right.  But I found this.  And it seemed perfect.

So I'll be making pink and gold cupcakes to eat for dessert after dinner tonight.  Josh suggested a bigger celebration, almost a birthday party.  But I think cupcakes with my little family after dinner is about all I can handle still. 

Two years and one rainbow later I am happy to say I don't live in grief.  I am happy to say I don't dwell as often as I once did or cry as often as I once did.  The Lord has brought healing in so many ways.

But in so many ways I am still healing.  I watch my living son and daughter interact and play and always think, there should be another.  I wonder how she would have loved her baby sister or played with her big brother.  I imagine a little girl, her hair white-blonde and wispy, toddling after Micah with a babydoll in one hand and a laser gun in the other, yelling for him to wait up!  

And I'm surprised how raw my heart feels sometimes and how quickly the tears comes.  Recently I was dusting my bookshelf and Micah spotted a book, Ladybug Girl and her Mama, a gift from a friend for Evie's first birthday.  

"What's this mommy?"

I explained how it was a gift from my friend for Evie's birthday last year.  And I asked if he remembered baby Evie.

"Uh-huh.  She's with Jesus now.  I wish she were still here."

Tears immediately sprang into my eyes.  You know what I wanted to say - how deeply I wished the same thing.  But no words came.  But he said exactly what I feel always.

Just one little reminder - a date, a smell, a memory - takes me right back.  Immediately back to the news, the waiting rooms, the doctors visits, the hospital, the room, the hallway, the car, the grave, all in one instant.  These are hard things to carry.  Painful things.

Two years and one rainbow later I am thankful.  Thankful for memories of my first daughter, thankful for the beautiful pictures we have, thankful that her soul is forever linked to mine, thankful for the promise of Heaven and hugs forever.  Thankful for my spunky almost four-year-old boy and the smiliest baby girl I ever did see.  Thankful.

Two years and one rainbow later I still grieve.  Over the things I will never know about my sweet girl.  Over the flashbacks.  Over the void of her presence.  Grief.

Two years and one rainbow later I am still a mix of emotions.  I am still healing.  I am still crying.  I am still remembering.  I am still laughing and living and loving.  

I am here, she is there.  The Lord loves us and has purpose for us both.  And one sweet day we will celebrate an eternity of birthdays together, sparkly cupcakes and all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 22}: A Secure Woman

This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the book thus far.  Goals and lists are my greatest loves and these two paragraphs are filled to the brim with both.  The practicality of the words below make me feel empowered to live my life free of insecurity, just as the Lord intended.  

from page 107:

Secure women know their strengths and aren't afraid to own them.  They also know their weaknesses and aren't scared by them.  Secure women can easily admit when they are wrong but don't beat themselves up about it.  Secure women take risks.  Secure women fail but try again.  Secure women can be vulnerable with their friends.  Secure women don't have to know all the answers.  Secure women can say no.  Secure women believe that love multiplies and that they can give lavish love and affection away because there will always be an abundance for them.

Truly secure women find their worth and their strength in Christ.  They give up on the empty promise of worldly security, and in doing so, they find the deep love of true life that Jesus offers.  Secure women are beautiful, powerful women because of their deep ability to love - not because they do it perfectly, but because they are loved by a perfect God, who will, "equip you with all you need for doing His will" (Hebrews 13:21).