Monday, May 31, 2010

Part II - The Husband

Today Jamie and I celebrate 13 years of wedded bliss.

This is us May 31, 1997.
Boy have we changed! There are quite a few more gray hairs. We looked young in this picture. We looked cautiously happy in this picture. Kind of happy with a little (or a lot) of scared mixed in. I was 23 and Jamie had just turned 21. Yes, I wrangled a younger man! Until that day I had never lived anywhere other than my parents home. Want to talk about culture shock? Jamie had been on his own for maybe a little less than two years.
Jamie and I had been dating for one year when we tied the preverbial knot! I remember the first time I ever saw him. It was in Pine Level, Alabama in the parking lot of Sike's and Kohn's Country Mall.  I thought he was the best looking snob I had ever seen. He did not even speak to me this day. So I just brushed it off as another good looking fellow who was full of himself. About a month later we met again. This time we had the opportunity to sit down and talk for at least a couple of hours. He came to Troy twice that week after that. Then the next weekend we went on our first "official" date.  He took me to Olive Garden then we watched a movie. I remember that dinner was really awkward. We struggled for conversation.  Looking back I realize that we were so nervous neither of us could really think.  Six months later he put a ring on my finger and had completely swept me off of my feet.
He proposed to me two nights before Christmas at the Pines restaurant here in Troy. We ate dinner and then he actually got down on his knee right there. It was the sweetest thing ever. We were married 6 months later on the rainiest day ever. It rained so hard that I had a few people tell me they could not even get out of their cars to come in to the church. I guess I have a history with rain huh?
We have had 13 years filled with so much. Our first year was definitely an adjustment for me. We lived in a townhouse apartment in Montgomery. I was homesick to say the least. Not that I did not love my husband and being married.  I had just lived with my parents for 23 years and I think I have mentioned before change is something I have to get used to. Jamie was so patient during that time. I remember a couple of times him bringing flowers home to cheer me up. About five or six months into our first year of marriage, we bought a house. It was an exciting time. Jamie and I both have grown so much over the last 13 years. Our love has grown and deepened. During this time Jamie has graduated with a degree in accounting and received his CPA certificate. So, he is a bean counter, but not the boring kind people often think of. He is a wonderful husband and provider for this family.
Six months ago our relationship really was put to the test and I think we stood up to the test...are standing up to the test. When Jamie and I were first married we had differing ideas about how many children we wanted. Jamie wanted two.  I wanted 4...5...6 or whatever God blessed us with. We decided just to have them one at a time and see where that took us. (As long as there were no more than two). Then we began having problems sustaining a pregnancy and wondered if God's plan even included any children for us. Jamie was so wonderful and supportive during this time. My body was it seemed going crazy, and that is hard as a woman to think that you can not give your husband a child. It was a very emotional time. Jamie stood strong and held my hand the entire way. He never waivered. We eventually had Jay, then Cooper, then Lucie Rose (yes, that is three). God seemed to open Jamie's mind and heart up to a third child. Then we began talking about possibly having a fourth child.  Jamie was not opposed, he was even excited about the idea. When we found out we were pregnant  we were beside ourselves with excitement. That excitement was put on hold November 30, 2009. We found out that the baby we were so excited to have was incompatible with life. 
Let me preface what I am about to say by also saying that I have always loved Jamie and always had such respect  for him. the last six months, I have come to have a deeper, greater love and respect for him. He has been a rock to me and taken such amazing care of this family all the while grieving and missing his boy. Not to mention that Eli's death occured right in the middle of tax season, one of the busiest times of year for Jamie's job. My husband has taken so much of the burden of Eli's death off of me. He has made decisions that I could not have made alone. He has made phone calls that I just couldn't deal with. He has held me and let me snort, snot and snivel by the way of crying. (I am not a graceful or pretty crier.) He has given me time to myself, when he knew I was overwhelmed. I can honestly say that this list could go on and on and on. He is a man to be respected.
Everyday is interesting with Jamie. Even when we just relax on the couch and watch House Hunter's it is interesting. I love every minute I spend with him and I miss him every minute we are apart. After 13 years, I still can not get enough of him. I love him more today than I ever thought possible 13 years ago.  My heart just continues to grow and make room for him.

Ephesians 5:25-33
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband

Thank you Jamie for the most amazing 13 years of my life! I love you! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Part I - The Man

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday! I want to share a little about this incredible man with you.
James Matthew Hill Sr. was born May 28, 1976 to Jim and Cyndi Hill. I feel like I have known him my entire life. He is the most amazing man I have ever known. Jamie is smart, oh so handsome, kind, selfless, funny, and just all around wonderful. He is everything to me. I used to pray for the impossible growing up...A perfect man. God answered my impossible prayer when he introduced me to Jamie. I know that no one is perfect...but he is perfect for me. I know I do not share my family often in this blog, simply because I write about feelings and it is hard to write about how others feel. I do know that as hard as the last six months have been for me, in some ways it has been more difficult for Jamie. He has picked up more than his share of the load around here. He has been a rock for me. When I say that he is selfless, that is honestly what I mean.  It is difficult to put into words just how much he has had to shoulder lately. He has carried a heavy load and done so without one single complaint. I love this man more than life itself!
So, to my handsome, smart, adorable husband I say
Happy Birthday! I love you!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am feeling reflective today. I have been thinking back to the many seasons in my life. There have been sweet times, joyous times, hard times, bittersweet times...times when I wanted to shout for joy and scream from utter frusteration. Sometimes these seasons intermingle.
The bible tells us we will have these seasons.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

We are fast approaching the end of this school year, and for me it is the end of one era and beginning of a new one. It is no secret that this school year has been the toughest year of my life. This is my eleventh year of teaching.  I love my job.  Really it is not just a job.  It is touching lives and reaching children...growing them...teaching them...loving them all of the time...liking them some of the time. It is a multifaceted life, the life of a teacher.
We received the most crushing news of our lives November 30, 2009. The news that we would lose a child. Honestly, I do not know how I even got out of bed those days. The strength that God gives is beyond any other. But, I did and I went to my "job" and tried to do my best for the students while dealing with a broken heart.  I worked until the day that my sweet little man was born.  Then I just couldn't go back to the classroom right away. It would have been a injustice to the children I teach.  I was out for ten weeks.  I strongly felt that I wanted to finish the year out with this group of children but was so torn. I struggled not knowing how I was going to walk back into that classroom. I am not the same person I was before February 21. At least I do not feel the same.  I feel completely changed. But I did go back for the last four weeks. 
Here we are at the end of the four weeks...the school year. It is hard to believe that this is where we are. It seems like that fateful day, November 30 was just yesterday.
When Jamie and I found out we were pregnant with Eli, we decided then (well truly I knew in my heart and Jamie agreed) that I would not, could not leave another baby to go back to work. I would stay home with our new little one and homeschool our other children.  Then our world fell apart.  All of our plans were changed. We were not sure what we would do now. So through much prayer we have decided to stay the course originally set.
Thus ending one era...
A season that has spanned eleven years. A season in which I have learned as much as I have taught. A season that began in a fifth grade classroom (more like a closet) at an elementary school in Montgomery, Alabama.
I will never forget my first year teaching.  It was a nightmare.  It was a time where I question myself daily, hourly even. What was I doing? Why was I doing it? Was I delirious, crazy? Was it alright to be called bad names to your face? Was it alright to have a twelve year old, on probabtion for stabbing someone, sitting in a fifth grade classroom. This was an insanely crazy year. To digress for a second, I did start school three weeks into the school year.  The classes were too large and they took five from each class to make my class. The teachers got to choose what five they wanted to put in my class. Seriously, I am not making that up. What five from each class do you think I got? Bingo! The class straight from the pits of where Satan himself resides! Guess what?  I learned A LOT from this group of students. They made me a better teacher...person.
God did not make a mistake putting me in that classroom.
The next year I moved to another school in the same district. I thought I was in heaven! I spent six really good years teaching fifth and sixth grade at that school. I made some really good friends there. Some who have been wonderful to me through our journey with Eli. Little did I know that God was preparing me even then for right now. I left that school four years ago because I needed to move closer to home. I traveled fifty miles each way everyday. With small children, that was just too much. Those of you who know me, know how much I do not like change, but that was what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do. I listened.
Four years ago, I started teaching in my hometown at the middle school. I was nervous to say the least. (Remember, I just love change, insert tongue in cheek.) I quickly learned to love it. Again, I have made some really good friends. I have been blessed enough to teach some amazing children. So, here I am about to complete the most difficult year of teaching I could have ever imagined.  My last year at least for a while.  I will not say I'll never return to teaching in a school...just not for a while.  I will be in a classroom doing what I love...with MY children. This was not a decision we made lightly. It was difficult. I have blogged about how absolutely wonderful the people I work with have been to us this year. They have smoothed my way as much as humanly possible. So yes, for many reasons, I hate to walk away from this school.  But...I know that it is what God wants me to do. I have complete peace about this decision.

...and beginning a new era.

Much love,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two milestones tomorrow

I used to love to go to Six Flags in the summers.  My favorite ride is a classic, the Scream Machine. It is probably the first roller coaster I ever rode on. I can remember getting on that ride for the first time. I remember thinking that it would be nothing. Then we hit the first valley. Needless to say I understood why it was called the Scream Machine. Well, I have not been to Six Flags in a few years, but I have certainly been on a roller coaster. The roller coaster I am on right now is not the fun kind, but I can relate the two. These last six months have been full of ups and downs, and like a roller coaster the downs come much more quickly than the ups. It just takes longer to come to the top of the coaster...then you just plumet to the bottom. Once at the bottom you oh so slowly creep back to the top the whole while anticipating...Well you get my drift. Tonight I feel myself in that valley.  I miss my boy so very much right now. Tomorrow will be three months since he came and went. I just am at one of those points that I do not know what to do with myself. He would be smiling and laughing right now. He would be getting used to a routine. I wonder if he would love to be swaddled like his sister did...maybe sang to and patted on his little rump like Cooper. Or would he be belly laughing like Jay at this point. I had a talk with God today and all I could say was " I want my baby" over and over. But God told me I couldn't have him and it hurts...He told me he had a greater purpose than to fill my arms but that he would always fill my heart.
So tomorrow will be three months of remembering, loving, longing...
Also tomorrow is twenty-two years that my brother went home to Jesus. Ray Wilkes was two years older than me. He was sixteen when he died. He drowned on a church youth trip while canoeing on a river. Several of us teens had gotten ahead of the adults in our group and decided to stop and wait for them to catch up. While waiting we were horse playing in the water and Ray Wilkes drowned. Those were dark days at my house and those memories are still pretty fresh in my mind. Ray Wilkes was your typical older brother who gave me a hard time but I sure loved him. I often wonder what he would be today were he still here. He loved the outdoors and farming. He was a hard worker. I miss him. I think about how he had twenty-two years in heaven before welcoming Eli. I am comforted to know that they are there together.

It seemeth such a little way to me,
Across to that strange country, the Beyond;
And yet, not strange, for it has grown to be
The home of those of whom I am so fond;
They make it seem familiar and most dear,
As journeying friends bring distant countries near.

And so for me there is no sting to death,
And so the grave has lost its victory;
It is but crossing with abated breath
And white, set face, a little strip of sea,
To find the loved ones waiting on the shore,
More beautiful, more precious than before.
--Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Much love with a heavy heart tonight,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Running on Empty

I John 4:18-19
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.

How can we be broken and spilled out if we are not filled up?
What are we going to be filled up with?
What do we want to spill out?

If there is one thing that I do not want from this journey, it is to be bitter. God gives and he takes away. Bitterness is ugly and it can destroy. If we accept God's perfect love and allow it to fill our lives, no matter what circumstances befall us, we will spill out love. I know that God gave us Eli, I know that God's love is perfect, and I know that is what He wants people to see from us. That does not mean that we will not grieve, ask why, or have bad days. I do all three of those, but I also know that He has promised me eternity in heaven, where I will hold my baby again. I long for the day when my Lord calls me home.  I long for the day when I will understand without fear, His perfect love. I love the God that gave us a baby and then took him home before I was ready to give him up. I do not always understand Him, but I still love him without reservation. I trust him when he says "I know the thoughts I think toward you". There is a plan in place for my life...Eli's life. I am diligently searching for that plan. Whatever that plan is, I want it to be filled with God's perfect love. I am sure He wants to use that love to cast out fear and make me a vessel to spill out His light. If I allow bitterness to enter it will ultimately snuff out the light He so lovingly wants to share through me. I have seen what bitterness can do if left to fester. It would be so easy to play the blame game.  It would be so easy to say there is no glory in the death of my son. It would be easy to allow bitterness to take root in my life and overcome. But then Satan would have become the victor here. Eli's life on earth would have no purpose if I allowed that to happen. And guess what? I am not willing to allow that.  I will fight the bitterness...Satan. God will not make me fight it alone, He will fight with me. One of the hardest things in life is to have patience and wait on God to reveal himself...His will for us.
I remember when Jamie and I were ready to begin our family.  We were so excited about becoming pregnant and having a little one.  I got pregnant a month after we started trying. I miscarried that baby shortly after that. Eight months later we were pregnant again.  I lost that baby also.  Seven months later we were pregnant again and once again, I miscarried that little one. This was a difficult time in my life.  A time where I wondered if God was trying to tell me that he just did not want us to have children. It was during my second miscarriage that I started using Dr. Kouri, the doctor that has delivered all of my children. Turns out, I had a septated uterus that would not allow my body to sustain a pregnancy.  Dr. K corrected the problem in my uterus with a simple outpatient surgery. It was hard to be patient during this time and wait on God. Waiting on His timing has turned into a great blessing. His love is perfect and it casteth out fear. I am again waiting on God to reveal his plans in my life. Waiting to see how He plans to use this journey for His purpose. I feel like he is working on something here, I just do not know what. I do know that I have to stay focused on Him and not let fear and bitterness overcome.
He has broken me for a purpose...I pray that I allow His perfect love to continuously spill and not allow fear and bitterness to empty His vessel.

Much love,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Broken and Spilled Out

Broken...It is a word that I use often here lately. 
Purpose...Another word I have used over and over.
Friends...Old and new alike...Wow, just wow.
Why...A word that is never far from my thoughts.

This list could go on and on and all of these words have taken on new meanings these last few months. Especially friends...I have so many wonderful friends, ones that I have always had and ones that I have made because of Eli...some that I have never met in person, some that I have only met a time or two, some that I see on a daily basis. God has so wonderfully used these people to encourage and uplift me during this season in my life. I could sit and write to you all day long about how God has worked through these people.  I am so very thankful for them.
I'll be honest with you, I have really been dreading Mother's Day this year. I know that I have to put on a happy face and deal because of J, C, and LR. I wouldn't dare think of making this day bad for them or spoiling there fun.  I just feel that if I can not celebrate surrounded by all of my children then I do not want to celebrate at all. I feel so selfish and guilty thinking this way. I have prayed for peace and God has been working.
He has been working through my friends. I got an email from a friend that I have made on this journey and she told me of God strongly urging her to pray for me. So she did. Two other friends that I have met on this journey came by my house today and brought the sweetest gifts by. I want to share one of these with you tonight.  My friend Kim brought me the most beautiful hand painted wooden egg.

She has a friend that hand paints these. Along with the EGG, Kim's friend Leanne sent a letter.  I was touched to the core by the EGG and the letter. I know God used these women to speak to me today. EGG stand for Experiencing God's Goodness. I have experienced God's goodness in countless ways on this journey...because He sent Eli. I want to share bits of Leanne's letter with you.  I hope she doesn't mind.  I want to share because I truly feel like she and Kim made a difference for me today.
Leanne shared with me that since and early age art has been a passion for her, as well it should. She is so very talented. She dreamed of being an artist but for "life" reasons her dream got put on a shelf.  She also wrote to me this:
There is something for us to learn through a cracked and broken egg, because in the brokeness of the egg, a baby bird is hatched and there is NEW LIFE.  May the Lord use this EGG as a reminder that through brokeness, He is the Almighty and He can use the broken places of life. I am living proof of this! Your are EGG-stra special! Seek to be BROKEN AND SPILLED OUT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!
Leanne shared a song that I had to find and listen to immediately after reading her note.  The name of the song guessed it Broken and Spilled Out by Steve Green. It is so beautiful. 

In Judges chapter 7 Gideon and his 300 soldiers are going to battle against the Midianites. God had reduced Gideons forces to just 300, but they were 300 faithful soldiers. God spoke to Gideon through a man and a dream and told him that we would defeat the Midianites. Gideon and his soldiers went into battle with God, trumpets, empty pitchers, and lamps. The lamps were placed inside the clay pitcher to hide their light. Once the soldiers blew their trumpets the clay vessels broke and the light that was hidden inside spilled out. It was in this way that a battle ensued and Gideon defeated his enemies.  Can't you just imagine the looks on Gideon's soldier's faces when he gave them clay pitchers with lights inside? I am sure they wondered why they needed to carry trumpets into battle. But they were faithful and did as instructed. Perhaps we are like those clay pots with lights inside. Perhaps for some of us our lights only shine when our vessels have been shattered. It is my fervent prayer that God's light would shine through my broken vessel. I want to be used of Him, and if this is how he chooses to use me then...through my brokeness may His light spill out.   

Thank you my sweet friends!
Happy Mother's Day to ALL of my friends who are celebrating. To all of my babyloss friends, May God's light spill out of your brokeness!
Much love,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Signs from a loving God

I absolutely believe that God gives us signs of his presence in our lives.  I have blogged about the night Eli was born and the thunderstorm that came up after he passed away. I also blogged about tulips and their meaning. them what you will.  I think they are from God.

Weather is one of those things that is not always predictable, but the weather people do a pretty good job of letting us know what to expect. This time last week, I believe, the forecast was calling for a 30 % chance of rain Sunday and Monday.  As the weekend drew nearer the chances of thunderstorms increased significantly. Until there was a 100 % chance on Sunday night into Monday. You might ask, "why on earth is she talking about rain chances in the past?"  Well, you probably know that I went back to work this week and I was really stressed about it. As the week went on I became more and more worried about it.  Sunday night was very tense around my house and guess what? The thunderstorms rolled in about 4:00 Monday morning. It rained all day Monday.  My sweet sister sent and email to me at work.  She said that while she was driving in to work amidst all the rain she imagined that Eli was smiling down at me and letting me know that he was with me. That is how I felt also. I felt God's presence with me yesterday and Eli's also. The rain was such a sweet reminder. 

The rain ended late yesterday afternoon and the sun actually peeked out from the clouds around the time it was to set. My little Lucie Rose drew our attention to the amazing sunset.  It was absolutely stunning.
These are some pictures I snapped from my back porch. Really they do not do it the justice it deserves because, by the time I got out the camera and got on the porch the intensity of the sunset was gone. It literally looked as if the sky was on fire. The wonder of such a sunset after an all day rain is amazing! So yeah, I believe in signs from God. I think he winked at me again yesterday.

Much love,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Welcome Back

Well, I did it.  I went back to work today.  It was just one of many difficult things that I have had to do lately.  Not the most difficult...but difficult still. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who prayed for this day to be as easy as possible. Yet again God provided. I could not have asked for more well behaved students than the ones that graced my classroom doors today. I was really nervous about what questions they might ask, but they really did not ask any.  Thank you so much to my coworkers that spoke with them last week.  The teacher that has been in my room the last ten weeks left everything so wonderfully tidy. I really work with some of the most amazing teachers!  You know there has not been a day to go by that someone from my school did not call, send a card or message, or stop by.  I truly love those people. When we first found out about Eli the staff and faculty at my school stepped into action and took such amazing care of my family.  There was such love and encouragement. Everyone supported us in our decision to carry him to term and went out of their way to help. The prayers that were offered up and continue to be offered up by that group of people is something I will never forget. This wonderful family of teachers will always have a special place in my life.  I am going to keep is short tonight because I am pretty worn out.  I just wanted to thank everyone for their prayers.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

I would also like to ask you to pray for a teacher at my school. My principal and his wife are expecting their third little one and she has been on bed rest for the last few weeks.  Please pray for God's hand on her and the little fella that she is carrying.

Much love,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hodge Podge

The last few days have been a mix of everything. Just a hodge podge of emotions. I will return to teaching Monday and I am really sweating it for a lot of reasons. I will have to leave my security blanket (home) and face my giants. Home has been a place of solace and rest for me these weeks since Eli died. When the moments are too tough to share, I have been able to retreat. I know that by being in a classroom full of students I will not be able to retreat. I love my job, the children I teach, and the people I work with. I have always looked forward to being able to reach children. Even after Eli's diagnosis, the classroom was a place to keep my mind busy. Now, I don't is hard to explain. I have been told that it will be good for me to get back. I guess the hardest part is that if Eli were here, I wouldn't be going back But then again, I would be doing lots of things differently. The last couple of days sleep and rest have eluded me and my tummy has been in knots. I have prayed that God would just take this fear and offer peace in its place.

These days have not been all bad.  Yesterday, I got in some much needed girl time with some of my friends. It was a good time of working, resting and talking. These are all friends that I have made because of Eli, but I feel like I have known them forever. One of these friends I have spent the better part of these last couple of months with. Christi is walking this journey as well.  Her sweet baby boy died just three days before Eli and we have been able to share so much. I know that God's hand was in bringing us to the same place in order to walk this journey together. Today Lucie Rose and I went for some "us" time and did a little shopping before having lunch with my wonderful husband. Every moment has not been consumed with stress and worry.

As much as this season in our lives is wearing on Jamie and me, I also fear it is wearing on my children as well. Jay is my oldest and bless his heart, he wears his feelings so transparently on his sleeve. He has been acting, lets just say, not himself the last week or two. He has been in trouble at school twice in the last week. I guess that is another reason going back to work seems so hard, because I want to be there for these moments when I am needed. Then my sweet Lucie Rose, she just took my breath today. She talks about Eli a lot for a two and half year old. She loves to look at his pictures and associates songs she hears with him as well.  We were riding in the car today and passed an office building that she was convinced was the hospital.  When she saw the building she began talking about Eli and how he was all better now. She then said that she wanted me to go to that hospital and get Eli so he could come home.  What do you say to a two year old when they say that?  All I could get out at the moment was I sure wished that I could.  We have told her that Eli is in heaven with Jesus now.  She will tell us that he is in heaven, so for her to say that just knocked the wind out of me.  I do not want her thinking that we just left him at the hospital. So all we can do is just reenforce that he is in heaven with Jesus.  I also can pray that God would give her two year old mind peace and understanding. Cooper, well he is a closed book.  I rarely know what he is feeling or thinking. I have told him over and over that if he wants to talk, I am here to listen.
Please pray with me tonight.
Much love,