Tuesday, September 4, 2012

She just knew

It was so real she could see it, smell it, taste it, feel it and it burned itself in her mind.  A permanent tattoo that perhaps would fade with time. 
She went in to deliver her baby.  In an instant like none other she was holding a lifeless body...willing it to breath.  Begging the doctors...nurses to check just one more time.  It was a mothers instinct that kept propelling her to get them to check just once more.  I know he will breath if you just listen.  Just once more, please... and they would only to shake their heads in tragic sorrow.  He was her second to be lost or was he?  Somewhere she remembers those people saying, "But you knew it could happen."  It has before, don't you remember?   Were there really six or was it five?  The questions began swirling until it made its own sense. It was a way to reconcile keeping her beautiful rainbow and having her beautiful boy too. I think.  I guess. It only made sense in her mind.
All of the sudden there was a loud gasp for air in the quietness of that tiny room.  Then screams...the screams of a newborn.  "Hurry", she screamed to him.  "Run, get the nurse."  I knew he was alive.  I just knew it, but they would not listen.  They didn't believe me but they will now. They came running in hurriedly and whisked him away.  They took him to the NICU to be kept alive.  He was kept that way for days, weeks on end.  Finally, they went home to shower and retrieve some things they would need, only to be called right back.  He needed them now.  It was a race to make it back.  She frantically tried to call her mother to beg her to go ahead so he would have someone.  She couldn't get her.  "Why was she not answering her phone?"  Finally,  her mom answered and she said she would go.  When they got there family had gathered. They all waited with bated breath.  He just needed his mommy and daddy.  That was all.  He was going to be fine and so was the baby of her friend whom she had walked through this journey with.  Her friend's baby was being put in a regular bed because she was doing so well. Her baby, her Eli would get there she just knew it. 

And then it was over before it really began.  I wanted to go back to dreamland just for a little while longer.  It is so rare for me to dream of him.  It has happened two or three times now.  This is the most I remember from any of them.  It was the best of both worlds because my mind worked it out for me to have Eli and Amelia along with my other sweetlings. 

Much love,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pete and Repeat were sitting on a log

...Pete fell off and who was left?

Pete and Repeat were sitting on a wall.  Pete fell off and who was left?


It has been one of those days.  I hate to go on and on about things that trigger bad days or having bad days because frankly, sometimes it sounds like a broken record even to me...kinda like Pete and Repeat...a never ending saga. Then I think well this is my place.  It is where I pour it out and it has been so long since I have felt compelled to pour it out. I guess that is a good thing...right?

I have been stung four different times while working in the garden this summer.  Twice by bumble bees, once by a wasp, and once by a yellow jacket.  Each sting hurt but I got over it pretty quickly except for the last one.  A stinking bumble bee got me on my rear end.  I think it hitched a ride on my fanny and when I sat in the car it got ticked and did a number on me.  It swelled, burned, developed a fever on that side and turned red and angry.  After Benadryl and consultation with my hubbs and mom, I decided the next day to let a doctor look at it.  Her response was confirmation that I had done the right thing by coming in. So, after steriods and antibiotics, my rear is on the mend.

Funny how sometimes a sting has minimal pain and other times it can really throw you for a loop.  It's a lot like grief. It has almost been two and a half years.  Everyday does not sting but sometimes it just randomly happens and it is beyond my control.  Sometimes it can be just as raw as it was in the very beginning.

I started this post on Friday and today as I sit here and write, the rawness has gotten better.  I think of him everyday.  I long for him everyday. Some days are just really bad.  They are fewer and farther between than they used to be, but when it hits, I can count on a rough few days.  I really hate that about grief, the fact that you never know when it will get you.  As I was really struggling those few days, I can recall at least five times that God put these verses in front of me.
Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I love that about God, how He walks with us and He talks with us.  Even when we do not listen the first time...or second...or third, He does not give up on us.  He is patient and kind.

Even when I question Him, he loves.  When I begged and begged him to just let us keep Eli, He answered and told us that, while we would see a miracle, Eli was His and He was going to take him Home. I'm left questioning... If I had just had a little more faith would it have been different?  Did I just not ask in the right way? Did I step wrong in the valley?
Those things really haunt me sometimes. But He answers...
He says,"Lean not into thine own understanding.  Trust me and I will show you the way. "

What an amazingly loving Abba Father we serve!

Much love,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tis the Season...falalalala...lalalala

Close your eyes with me for a moment.
Imagine would you........... butter popcorn...
 hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill...
 yells and cheers, the scent of bug spray...
 dust from a slide into 3rd...
the ping of a ball on a bat...leather...red dirt...grass stains...
small children running around playing...squealing with delight...
daddy's alternating between the daddy huddle and gripping the fence while giving some tough encouragement...Mama's, well just being mamas...
boys milling around in a dugout, waiting their turn.
Metal bleachers...canvas chairs lining the fence...
loud calls for the ump to "get it right"...
ground scattered with sunflower seed hulls...spitting...

Okay, you can open your eyes because you know where I am.  There is only one place on earth like it.  It is the little league baseball field.  You probably already had that one figured about at about yells and a cheers. 

As I sat at the ball field the other night, I just took it all in.  The smells, the sights, the sounds...all of it.  It was our next to last game.  One of  sixteen...I am glad it is over but a little bit sad too! The boys have so much fun playing little league. They enjoy the interaction and the action.

Lucie Rose also enjoyed her T-ball games and being one of those children running around squealing with delight at "her boys" games.

Amelia started walking during ball season and she became increasingly more active with each passing game.  She wanted to walk and was super cute hanging on to the fence mimicking others cheering.  She said even said Cooper's (CooCoo) name for the first time at one of his at bats. 

Then, there is that ever present what if  in here.  How much more busy would I have been with a two year old running around?  It wouldn't have been easy, at all.  I sure wish that I could have given it a shot though.  I sure wish that I could sit here and blog about ball season with a two year old and a one year old.  I'm pretty sure there would be stories to tell.  I miss him more and more every single day!


I have got a few pictures of this season to share with you.

Right before catching his first pop fly!

Both of my fellers on the field at the same time!

I am also so excited to see that I now have 100 followers!  Wooo Hoooo! Thank you to all of you who take the time to read about our journey! I promise you this journey is never dull, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes sweet...but ALWAYS a blessing to this mama! 

Much love,

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Today my honey bunches of oats and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss!

Fifteen years ago, I couldn't even begin to think of where we would be in fifteen years.   I never dreamed we would have five children, Jamie would be a bean counter, and I would be a stay at home, homeschooling mom.  Boy, how the times have changed. 

I was a complete and utter bundle of nerves this time fifteen years ago.  I was 23 and had always lived at home with my parents.  I was finishing up my college education and about to embark on an entirely new life.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted nothing more than to marry this man of my dreams, but I had a lump the size of Texas planted firmly in my throat.  It was new and I was scared.

Oh how true the saying, "Hind sight is 20/20" really is.  I had no need to be a scaredy cat.  God made this man for me and He would work it out.  That certainly has been my story for the last fifteen years and I am sticking to it!  

Happy Anniversary Jamie!  I sure love you ole boy! You make my heart smile anew everyday!

Much love,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In The Garden

Guest post written and typed by Cooper Hill

 A lot of things go in to planting a garden.  First you have to disk it twice to tear up all the grass and weeds. Then, you have to bottom plow it to turn over the soil and to get the good soil on top.  Next, you have to disk it again to make neat straight rows. It is now time to spray the garden to kill all the weeds and make sure they do not come back. Finally, you have to do the most fun and most pain in the rear end job! Planting it!

 Planting the garden is fun because it is hard work. It is a pain in the rear because you have to sit on the back of a solid steel planter and make sure the seeds stay where they will plant evenly.  You do not want any skips.  A skip is when there is not a seed where you want a seed.  To keep it from skipping you have to rake the seeds with your hand so the seeds will plant evenly.  Oh yeah, you do not want to get your finger caught doing this.  The planter looks like a small disk with seed buckets and a dirt packing wheel.  The dirt packing wheel packs dirt to bury the seeds.  It is important to bury the seeds in order keep them from washing away.

 It sounds like a lot of work and it is. You might want to keep this in mind before you try to do this yourself.  I am a country boy, so I like doing it.

I hope you enjoyed Cooper's take on planting the garden.  We are going to leave you with a few pictures of the garden and the farm.  The corn is not something that we planted as part of our garden.  It is just pretty and I wanted to include it.

Happy planting,
Cooper Hill

Thursday, May 10, 2012

So Much To Do...

...so little time to do it all.

Instead of wishing all of my time away, I'd actually like an extra hour or two or twenty in a day! It has been Key-razy around the Hill homestead.  It always is this time of year. I just forget from one year to the next how nuts it can get. It is so easy to get discouraged this time of year.  I sometimes feel like I am doing lots of things partially and not giving any one thing the time that it deserves.  Take laundry for instance.  I am just barely hanging on people.  I am washing what needs to be washed for the moment and hoping no one has to go commando in their clean ball uniform.  You think I jest..

I have lots and lots to share in this blog post.  So, buckle your seat belt or hang on one.

Our science project for homeschool is in full swing now.  The boys have planted our garden and it is growing quickly.  Cooper is working on a blog post about the "getting ready" process. Look for it soon.

Sweet baby Amelia is walking now.  How can that be, right?? Okay, not full on walking but she took about seven steps on her own last night. (Correction:  As I am working on this, she just walked from the living room into the kitchen to greet my mom!) She is so very sweet and curious.  She is standing beside me right now carrying on the most adorable conversation. I might not know what she is saying but she thinks it is a very serious topic judging by the look on her face. I love to hear her say yes (ess), dance and outside (side, side). She had tubes in here ears a couple of weeks ago, immediately followed by a fever virus that completely wiped her out.  She is on the mend now and is back to her old self.
Mother's day is on the horizon, this Sunday in fact.  I know that it is a Hallmark holiday, but it is a tough one for me.  I know that I am not alone in that.  It is that way for many women for many different reasons.  It is tough for those who long to be mothers, those who only have babies in heaven, and those who have children to celebrate with but have children to miss on that day also. Sometimes I wish that it would just go away.  There would be a great deal less hurt for so many if it did.  Then I think about how much my children love to pamper me that day and I am just torn.  I honestly don't miss Eli any more that day than every other one.  I just think more about him being on earth and being a part of his brothers and sister's scheming for the day.  They will all descend on me while I am "sleeping" and his spot will be empty...As it is with any other family activity.  On another note entirely, someone asked me last week how many children I had now, and without even thinking about it I answered four.  I was then left with an intense feeling of having cheated Eli.  He makes five.  I could have gone back and explained, but then it would have been just awkward and uncomfortable for the others involved.  Will the awkwardness ever end this side of  Heaven?  Will I ever not care that I make others uncomfortable when I include Eli.

I Pray all of my lady friends have a gentle and blessed Mother's Day! 
Sending much love your way,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Garden

I am so excited, for all of my homeschooling peeps out there, to tell about our Garden project this year.  I have been wanting a garden for a while now.  We tried to plant one in our back yard last year and well...it didn't quite work out.  We fed and watered and babied it but it never produced anything.  So, this year I decided to get my daddy involved.  He told me he would help if I made it a project for the kiddos.  I quickly jumped on that.  What an excellent way to end our school year and extend it also.  The garden will grow long past our last official day of school.  It will keep our minds from going to mush with a few weeks officially off. I can not wait to share our project with you guys. 

Here are a few of my ideas for integrating the garden into school curriculum.
1.) The boys are going to keep and illustration journal all along the way. 
2.) The boys have already helped to prepare the ground for planting.
3.) We have all planted tomato, pepper, and herb plants. There is much more planting to be done.
4.) We are going to create an Excel worksheet to document our expenses and earnings.
5.)The boys and I will be blogging about our incredible project.
6.)We plan of selling the fruits of our labors by possibly setting up a produce stand and taking advanced orders as well.
7.)Weed eradication skills will be perfected.
The list just keeps on growing as I type.  The possibilities are limitless.

We are all a little excited about digging in and growing a garden.

I took the boys down to the farm Saturday to help Papa spray and disk a little and I took some pictures while the boys were hard at work.  We also planted the first few things in our garden. 

Here are some pictures from Saturday.

Entering the gate to our garden

Disking the soil getting ready to plant

Coop getting a little driver's ed lesson!

The disk attached to the tractor
Papa and the boys

 Jamie and I lived down at the farm for almost four years before moving to town. I love the farm with a few exceptions.  The snakes are bigger, the mosquitoes are bigger, and the dad-blasted dirt road just about did me in. The serenity of the farm is just amazing and on a clear night the heavens are the most amazing sight. We had a garden way back when.  Of course, the boys were just babies and have no recollection of it.  The boys absolutely love the farm.  They look forward to going to help Papa on Saturdays. Not to mention they are learning to drive, shoot, and Lord knows what else, that might cause my heart to palpitate uncontrollably.  This garden will be a wonderful learning experience for us all.  Of that I am sure!

Much love,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Patience is not my virtue...

...but He is the Potter and I am the clay.  He is still molding me and making me!

Today is Tax Day eve around my house!  Yipee, Yay, Yo!!!

I am not a very patient person when I am tired of something and I.AM.TIRED of Tax season this year.  I had to pray and ask God to forgive me for my attitude these last few days because quite frankly, it has been rotten. I have been on edge with everyone, especially my kiddos.  I am so ready to have my husband back and the father to my children back, my help meet back!  I didn't sign up to be a single parent of four, even if it is for a couple of months a year.  Yep, those were my rotten thoughts yesterday. God was quick to remind me that there are many others out there that didn't sign up to be single parents either and they have to do it year round.  Alright Lord, I get your point! Things can always be worse and I am sufficiently humbled to that fact!

We are going to start spring break around here Wednesday.  The kiddos are excited and bummed that we didn't start today! Spring break plans consist of re-doing our flower beds, working on our vegetable garden that my dad is helping me with, and just spending some time together as a family! I am excited and so thankful that we will get almost an entire week together.  I plan on taking lots of pictures of my little family at work and play this week!  I'll post some later, with a blog post on our homeschool venture of a vegetable garden.  I am thinking of making the entire project part of our school day and even getting my boys to do a couple of guest posts about our experience and the entire process!

I am going to leave you today with a huge prayer request.  I have a BLM friend who needs so many prayers.  My friend Melissa C. lost a son to Potter's in November.  Then she lost her husband unexpectedly in January.  Now my sweet friend is in the fight of her life against an ugly disease eating away at her body.  She has stomach and live cancer that is only treatable through a transplant, not just a liver transplant but several organs in her stomach area would need to be transplanted. If the transplant does not work or for some reason her body will not allow the doctors to perform the transplant, she has been given up to six months by her doctors.  Now, I know that the God we serve is also the Great Physician and He determines her time here on earth, not doctors.  He can rid her body of this ugly disease and make her whole again. I pray that He does!  My friend has two very small daughters that need their mommy right now and she is very sick.  Her situation humbles me to my knees. Please join me in praying for her and asking, no begging God for a miracle! My friend is young and these things just aren't supposed to happen to young people, especially all three at once. We know that our plans are not His plans and while that is sometimes so hard to fathom, my friend is living it.  Please lift her up without ceasing. My heart is heavy for her.

Much Love,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just beautiful!

Jamie's grandmother went home to be with the Lord this past week. She was truly a beautiful woman, inside and out! The very first time I met her she made me a part of her family.  She was a true southern belle and she never met a stanger. I have to say, I'm a little jealous that she is now holding my sweet Eli.  I am so happy for her that she has met Jesus and been reunited with those gone on before her. Grandma's mother died giving birth to her in 1932 and never got to hold her baby girl.  I can only imagine that amazing reunion in Heaven.  Imagine a mother putting her arms around a daughter that she carried but never kissed. I am sure there were lots of hugs and kisses exchanged when they first met each other. Heaven is so very sweet tonight and every night for that matter.

Much love,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is the first day of spring.
It is absolutely gorgeous outside today.  It is 80 degrees with sunshine and a little breeze.  I am not an outdoor-sey kind of person, but today, I want to be outside. The grass is greening up...Trees are beginning to bloom.  All of nature seems to be coming alive after a long winter's nap. I got out yesterday and pruned all of the dead foliage off of the Oleander, Hydrangeas, Roses, and Crepe Myrtles. I am excited to watch them "spring" to new life.

Spring is a time of renewal, which is why I guess, it is very fitting that my sweet, precious, little Amelia Claire is one year old today.  She was born on the first day of spring.  Her birthday will always be after a long cold winter.

I remember this day last year.  I remember the first time she filled my arms. It was such a beautiful fulfilling feeling after a long cold winter. Little Miss Amelia is one of the sweetest babies. She is so even tempered.  She rarely cries and is quick to give a kiss or hug.  She has the cutest, toothie little smile. She loves to eat and has not yet met a food the didn't like. The little stinker can crawl faster than most people can run.  She is pulling up and cruising around but just will not turn loose yet.  I think it is more of a confidence thing at this point.  I'm not rushing her because I know that walking will eventually turn into running. I think you know where I'm going with this.  This sweet little girl is just a blessing.  I have loved every single minute with her this last year and look forward to a lifetime more.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of sweet Amelia's first year.

Happy Birthday Amelia Claire!

Much love,

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Picture of Heaven

Long time no see my friends.  I have missed you.  I always miss you when I am away from you.  My impromptu blog vacation lasted longer that I expected but I think I needed to spend some time away for a few weeks. The thought of blogging seemed too difficult these last few weeks.  I joined up with Walking With You for the first in a series of documenting our journeys, and to be honest, it kinda put me in a tail spin.  It was right before Eli's second birthday and I just got myself in sort of a funk. I've not necessarily been wandering around in a constant state of doom and gloom, just feeling a little off I guess (or more off than normal, maybe).

We celebrated Eli's birthday as a family.  The kiddos and I made and decorated cakes to remember him by and we each bought a trinket to take to the cemetery. We went out and visited his place, went out to dinner, and came home to sing happy birthday and have cake.  My sister and her hubbie joined us.  All in all it was a sweet time after a very difficult morning. 

My aunt Cindy came up yesterday and she brought with her this beautiful picture in a frame. 

She handed it to me and explained that she took this picture the day Eli died.  She was on vacation with her family. Shortly after she got the call that Eli had been born, she went outside to see the most incredible sunset. She got her camera and snapped this photo.  She told me that in her mind's eye, this is what entering Heaven must look like.  Perhaps, she went on to say, that this must be what Eli beheld as he entered the gates of Heaven. 

How ironic is it that while she was witnessing this incredible setting of the sun, I was handing my baby into the arms of His risen Son.

Have you ever just thought about the sun.  Think about it, it provides warmth, light, and food. If you get too close you would burn up, if you are too far away you will freeze. 

Think about this:
Exodus 33: 18 -23
18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Exodus 34:29-35

29And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
30And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
31And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.
32And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
33And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
35And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Okay, I know, I know...a lot of verses.  Moses, sweet Moses.  He got to see God's glory, but only from behind while he was hidden in the cleft of a rock.  And boy oh boy, did he ever get a suntan. He was glowing the bible says. He was glowing so much that he had to wear a vail so as not to frighten the Children of Israel. That just makes me think that God's brightness is pretty awesome, especially considering He warns Moses that no man can look on Him and live.

I do not know about you, but it kind of gives me an entirely different perspective on the picture that Cindy gave me.

Much love, 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Trichotomy of Time

Where have two years gone? As I look back into the past, I remember that two years ago tonight, I was spending my last night with my baby boy tucked safely away in my belly. I had a picture in my mind then of how his birth and brief life would be.  I had a picture of how our time would be spent loving on him.  For twelve weeks we tried our best to figure out how we would meet Eli and hand him back into the Lords arms. That is something no parent should ever have to contemplate, but it was what we were left doing. We spent the better part of twelve weeks with a starving hunger to get to know Eli. I had a picture in my mind of what he looked like, what color his eyes were, what his tiny little cry would sound like. I would day dream about how beautiful and perfect he was going to be. We had no idea what to expect but I had my pictures...my dreams.

Today, I wonder what it would be like to have a two year old in the mix.  I have a picture in my mind of what he would look like as a toddler...dark curly hair, dimpled face, his daddy's eyes...I have a picture in my mind of what he would be getting in to. A picture of him walking or running around...a picture of him throwing his arms around his mama or daddy in a bear hug...a picture of him playing with his brothers and sisters...a picture of him terrorizing his brothers and sisters...a picture of him sitting around the table with his family for dinner...a picture of his adorable first words...a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture in my mind...

I have a picture in my mind of a dark curly haired, dimpled face little boy running around on streets of gold...sitting at the feet of Jesus...I often wonder what he is doing. I can not even fathom how amazing Heaven is and just how perfect his life is now. My mind can only conjure pictures of earthy beauty and I know that can not even compare to the beauty my baby boy beholds daily.  I'm pretty sure he is not going to be having a party in Heaven tomorrow to celebrate his second birthday because time is not measured by days, weeks, months, or years there.  Perhaps every moment is a celebration in heaven. I just do not know...but I do have a picture in my mind.  It gives me comfort and peace to dream.

I have a picture in my mind of a day when I will meet my Lord and Savior...of a day that I fall at His feet and praise Him in person.  I have a picture in my mind of the day that I will get to hold Eli again...of the day that I kiss his sweet face again. Maybe he will show me the streets of gold that day. Maybe he will take my hand and say, "Come on Mama.  Let's go meet Jesus."  Until that day, I'll hold on to the pictures in my mind.

I am so thankful that I serve a God who will one day redeem my past, holds my present, and promises my future.

Happy Second Birthday, my sweet Eli.  Mama misses you more than words.  I love you baby boy!

Much love,  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Xs and Os

Ooh la la, it is the month of love!  The month that we think of hearts...hugs...kisses...and all things sweet.

How often have you found yourself just needing a hug?

I can remember times in my life when I craved a hug.  My parents were not particularly "huggy" people, either of them.  Don't get me wrong, I knew they loved us.  They just didn't show it by way of hugs and such.  I can vividly remember the feeling, when I was young and growing up, that I just needed someone to hug me.  I needed to feel the cocoon of arms around me and the safety that that cocoon offered.  I hope my kiddos never know a shortage of good old fashioned hugs...the warmth of being encompassed about with loving arms.
Children need to know physical love.  They need to be hugged and patted on the back.  They need to be held and rocked.  What better way is there to soothe a hurt than to pick your child up in your lap and rock them or just hold them.  Even Jay who is ten still gets held sometimes.  His legs will get crampy from time to time as was the case just the other night.  Bless his heart, he got up out of bed in tears because his legs hurt so bad.  We had given him Motrin already but it just was not working.  So what else could a mama do but pick her baby up and hold him.  Sure enough, he crawled up in my lap, I put my arms around him and just held him.  He needed that.  He felt better in a few minutes and went on back to bed. 

I truly love for Jamie to sneak up behind me and wrap his arms around my shoulders.  It just feels good to be hugged. I love to lay my head back on his chest, close my eyes, and relish in the love that one little act spreads.  Those hugs are especially sweet on tough days, when I'm just not feeling the love. 

I think back specifically to the time that Eli was born as I lay in a cold, lonely hospital bed.... I felt so bereft...I needed a cocoon...I needed physical contact for my raw emotional state. I needed the warmth of a hug...his hug.  I will  never forget Jamie asking would it be alright if he lay with me on that tiny little bed. Never had I heard a better question in all my life.  I remember as he lay down and put his arms around me, I snuggled in and was able to relax some. 
There have been times during the night that the only place I could get a good cry out was in Jamie's arms.  His arms always offer a safe place to let go of all of those tears and raw emotions.  

I do not know about you but when I see someone crying or upset, be it child or adult, I just want to give them a hug. Why? Well because a hug offers comfort.  Why do we hug people when a loved one dies?  Comfort.  What do we do when a baby is crying and we pick them up?  We swaddle them in our arms.  Offer comfort.
Hugs are good people...

Best of ALL

Much love,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out of the comfort zone

It never ceases to amaze me how much God can use you when He takes you out of your comfort zone.  We are at our best when we just surrender to Him and let him speak and move through us.  This past Sunday was Sanctity of Life Sunday and Jamie gave our testimony at church that night.  When I first approached him about doing it, he looked at me like I had grown two green heads with unsightly hair sprouting out on both noses.  Then he answered with and emphatic "No way!!!...!!!" I asked again and he said no again and so on and on we went until I wielded my womanly wiles on him and gave him the best puppy dog look I could muster. He couldn't resist my "Please baby, your the best baby, I love you baby...You can do this!"

I must say, God truly spoke through him so wonderfully Sunday night.  I'm so proud of him.  I asked him if he would clean up his notes and send them to me so I could post them on my blog.  So, my sweet hubbie sent it to me this morning (Yes, it is tax season and he is working :( )

So, in the words of the world's best daddy:

In observation of Sanctity of Life today, I have been asked to share our story of Eli. Many of you know who Eli is, but not all of you know all of his story and how our little man changed us forever.

I'll start from Eli's beginning. My wife, Jennifer, and I had been married for a little over 12 years and had three beautiful children at the time. We both wanted number 4 to top everything off and to "complete" our family. We found out that we were pregnant and were overjoyed. This was in August 2009. Jay, Cooper, and Lucie were just as excited as us - for the most part. Ironically, his due date was April 16th. Everybody who knows what I do for a living should get a kick out of that.

Well, for the three months following, the pregnancy seemed to be progressing just fine. We all had images of what our life would be like with our new little "peanut". Everybody had suggestions for girl names and boy names and we could not wait to find out if our little baby was indeed a boy or a girl. For the record, I thought our baby was a boy, but then again, I thought ALL our children would be boys. Even to the point of getting the ultrasound technician to check multiple times with Lucie and Amelia because I was sure that she had missed something.

The day finally came for our 20-week ultrasound and we could find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We decided to bring the kids with us and let them be part of this too. So Jennifer loaded the kiddos in the car and drove them up to our doctor's office in Montgomery. I was already at work and just met them there. They finally called us back to the ultrasound room and we all crammed in there with much anticipation…..

I know that most people have, or will be, at a point in their life where all you can think of is I wish I could go back to the way things were just one minute ago. Just minute ago, when I didn't know what I now know. Well, that time was upon all of us. Almost immediately into the ultrasound examination it was clear that something was very wrong. At that time, I wasn't sure what it was, but judging from the ultrasound technician's and Jennifer's reaction, I knew that our lives had just changed forever.

You see, Eli didn't have any amniotic fluid. Our doctor told us that it was most likely due to a problem with his kidneys. He was very caring, but he laid it on the line. He let us know that if the lack of amniotic fluid was because of the kidneys, then Eli had a condition that made him "not compatible with life". So there it was.

Jennifer and I had been through a lot with this doctor even before this. He knew Jennifer and me and he knew our faith. He never once brought up the option of terminating the pregnancy. We were told to go home, for Jennifer to put her feet up for a couple of days and drink plenty of fluids. In the mean time, we were scheduled to go up to UAB for a level 2 ultrasound so the doctors would try to diagnose what was going on.

We did what we were told. We went home and we waited. To be honest with you, we were pretty numb. We were holding out hope that there could be another explanation for the lack of amniotic fluid, but the more research we did, the more the reality set in that we were not going to have Eli with us for very long. That night after we found out about Eli's condition, we made a decision right then and there. Although we may not have Eli with us for very long, we do have him right now. As long as that was case, we were going to love him and enjoy being with him and just cherish the time that God DID give us.

We went up the UAB a couple days later and found out that Eli did indeed have issues with the development of his kidneys. He had poly cystic kidneys which basically made them non-functioning. The UAB doctor, was not quite as ''caring" as our doctor in Montgomery. He gave us the dreaded "not compatible with life" diagnosis and then asked us when we wanted to be scheduled to terminate this pregnancy. We were both pretty taken back by the casual nature of this request. We let him know that termination was not an option for us. He honestly seemed dumbfounded and couldn't understand why we would continue with a pregnancy that would result in death. We told him that our baby was very much alive at this moment and that we believe in a God that is fully capable of healing our child if it is in his will. Who are we to take that option out of God's hands? And even though we did say it, and it probably did not come through as a concrete thought at that time, we both knew that we had plans for our baby while he was with us!

However, I feel like I need to add that the doctor warned us that going through this pregnancy without amniotic fluid would be very painful for Jennifer and possibly for Eli. We had discussions about if we were being selfish and just putting off the inevitable. We prayed about it and did some more research and it did not take long at all before we were both at peace and knew that we absolutely made the right decision. And for the record there is no indication that Eli was EVER in pain or agony.

The next couple of months were really like a blur and full of mixed emotions for our family. I'm not going to sit up here and say that everything was great from that day on. It was toughest time in our lives. We were scared, we were sad, we were even mad. There were times when tears flowed freely and often. There were times when anticipation of what was to come felt like it was too much. But it wasn't like that the whole time. There were good times too. In fact, looking back, and I know it sounds crazy, I see a lot of joy in that time and Eli was part of us every step of the way. Eli took a trip to beach, enjoyed many, many Ben & Jerry's ice cream cups - chocolate fudge brownie was his favorite - so I've been told. He also enjoyed many avocado turkey burgers. I guess there is no accounting for some baby's tastes. He was talked to all the time, received good-night and good-morning kisses and hugs from his brothers and sister. And even got into a snowball fight. Selfishly, some of my favorite times were at night when the other kids were in bed, I would get a chance to talk to him and tickle him through Jennifer's tummy. When there is not any amniotic fluid, it is easy to tell how the baby is positioned. Anyway, I would tickle his little hiney and he would just squirm all around. Once every three weeks or so, we also were able to have an ultrasound. Now I know that the ultrasound was not necessary, but I think it was Jennifer's doctor's way of helping us how ever he could. This was kind of like our face-to-face time with Eli. The ultrasound tech was so unbelievably sweet. She had a way of stretching most ultrasounds so that they lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Even though we told her how much what she did meant to us, I don't think she could possibly realize what a blessing she was to us. And through all of this, I would just think to myself, "How in the world could we terminate a baby who was so much part of our lives?"

On Sunday, February 21, 2010.we had to rush Jennifer to the hospital. It was what is referred to as a cord prolapse. This is basically when the cord comes out before the baby. Normally, Jennifer's water would have broken and we would have had some kind of sign that she was in labor. But with no amniotic fluid, there was no water to "break". They diagnosed the problem in Troy and rushed her by Ambulance to Montgomery. The time had come to meet Eli face to face and, we knew, to say goodbye to him.

Eli was born via c-section in Montgomery at about 4:00. He immediately received a little medical help and looked like he was trying to rally some strength. He had already experienced so much in his short life, I guess he knew that he had a few more things left to do. During most of this time, Jennifer was in recovery and still did not have a chance to see Eli yet. So when she was out of recovery, Eli got to take a walk with just him and Daddy - a walk that I will forever cherish. He got to meet Jay, Cooper and Lucie Rose and feel their touch and hear their voices. And he got rest in his mama's arm and feel her kisses. Eli went to heaven that day, a couple hours after he was born while he was right there in his mama's arms.

Eli lived an extremely eventful life for a very short amount of time and he knew nothing of hurt or pain. He only knew love. And we found room in our hearts for even more love because of him.

Going back to that day at UAB I cannot fathom the possibility of choosing any other way that we did. I sincerely thank God for the time that we got to spend with Eli. What a blessing my family could have missed had we chosen another way.

Jamie read this to me before he shared in church Sunday night.  I was reduced to a puddle by his precious words.  My favorite part was when he talked about taking a walk with Eli.  The one and only walk he would ever get with him.  Jamie, I love you so much and I am so glad God made us for one another.
Much love,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Steps

Today, I am linking up with Kelly at Walking With You. Kelly is hosting a series for mothers who are on the journey of infant loss.

Part 1 ~ Baby Steps

D day as I sometimes call it...The day we "found out".  Ignorance was bliss for this family of five.  November 30, 2009 was to be a happy one.  One of naming a baby...finding out the sex of our sweetling...It was a family affair.  I worked half a day and took off to go have our 20 week ultrasound.  I left amidst co-worker's well wishes...some stopping to venture a guess as to whether we were having a boy or a girl.  All smiling telling me that they could not wait to find out.  Students telling me to wear pink tomorrow for a girl...blue for a boy.  I promised to share the wonderful news in some special way.  I was almost giddy with excitement.  I left work and stopped for a bite to eat.  After a quick lunch, I went and picked up the kiddos and we made our way to Montgomery where we would meet up with Jamie.  There was so much excitement in the car on the 50 mile trip to the doctor. We met Jamie in the parking lot and all walked up to the office with lots of chatter among our happy little family.  We sat in the waiting room waiting to be called back.  We read the standard doctors office magazines during our wait.  We tried to tame the wild beast of excitement building in our children.  Our time eventually came.  Michelle came to the door and called for us to come back with a wink and a grin. We went in and Lord have mercy we tried to all get settled in that dark little room.  Then she began and in that moment...that one tiny, little moment the walls came tumbling down. Just as the walls of Jericho tumbled down, so did our ignorant bliss...our lives changed forever.  We learned our baby had no fluid.  Without fluid our baby would not live.  I knew instantaneously that our road would be a difficult one.  I saw it on their faces...Dr. K, the nurses, the staff...They all had that look...If you are walking this journey, you know the look I am talking about.  I'd like to say I remember every single moment of the rest of that day, but truth be told it is all a hazy fog.  I remember bits and pieces of conversation with Dr. K...bits and pieces of others (the amazing ladies in the Dr. office) taking care of my kids while we tried to figure out our next step...Mrs. J putting her arms around me while I shook with racking sobs...Jamie telling me it was going to be alright...bits of conversation with the kids about their disappointment over not finding out if it was a boy or girl (They didn't know what was going on.)...checking out and being told we would go to a specialist for confirmation in the next couple of days...Stay off of your feet...Drink plenty of fluids...It all runs together after time.
I do have vivid recollection of walking to my vehicle and Jamie being concerned that I was unable to drive home.  He made me promise not to call my mama while driving.  Truth is...I was in no condition to drive and I did call my mama. Somehow...by the power of God's hand, I made it home. Jamie had to take the boys to their first Upward basketball practice...so, I came home with Lucie Rose and shortly thereafter my sister came in.  My mama and daddy were not far behind her. We prayed together and I distinctly remember feeling sick to my stomach and feeling the need to vomit. I went to the bathroom but could only sit on the floor in front of the toilet...In a daze. My baby was going to die.  He was so strong and such an active little fella. Yet, he was going to die. Jamie came home as soon as the boys finished with practice.  There was no family dinner this night.  The boys ate chicken fingers that my sister brought over and I just sat in the living room so confused and hurting more than I ever had.  I remember going to bed at some point and dozing off to sleep and waking up.  Jamie was sleeping so I went to the bathroom and just sat and sobbed. Where had this all gone wrong? Jamie woke up to my sobbing and came to me.  He put his arms around me and tried his best to reassure me.  Be positive...We don't know for sure.  I knew...I just did.
Two days later we went to a specialist for a level 2 ultrasound. Our worst nightmare was confirmed.  Our son had Potter's Syndrome.  He had no kidney function and as a result his lungs would never develop.  Where do we go from here?  The doctor suggested we make an appointment for an induction.  There was no way this was even an option for us. We left the office with a box of tissue in hand that a receptionist had placed in my hands and a few pictures of our baby. At this point, I would alternate between tears and numbness. There was a sad fog settling over me like I never had experienced before. Sadness and fear.  I didn't even know what to pray for or how to talk to God right then.
I fully believe that when we do not know how to communicate with God, He finds ways to communicate with us.  He lets us know that He has not forsaken us or left us alone.  On the way home Jamie had turned the radio on for some background noise.  I honestly didn't realize that it was even on until better than halfway home.  Chris Tomlin's song I Will Rise came on and caught my attention.  It was the first time I had heard that particular song and I do not think it was coincidence.
While a great deal of that time is very foggy, I can still vividly remember certain smells and many other little details.
Those days are some of the darkest most bittersweet days of my life.  In the very moment we recieve a fatal diagnosis for our son, I learned to cherish every single second God gave us to spend with him. Those are some of the most precious memories I will ever know.
Much love,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Joy and Thanksgiving

Not the one day a year we stop to give thanks...learning to give thanks daily, moment by moment...in any and all situations. Is it possible?
Can I truly give thanks through everything? We are commanded to you know...
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

How? How do we give thanks in everything? I've been in places in my  life where thanksgiving was the farthest thing from my mind...How do you thank God for a dead child? How do you thank God when you miss him so much it physically aches?

Tina, my sister-in-law, gave me a book for my birthday...yes, I turned 38 last Thursday.  How did I get to 38 already?
The title of the book is One Thousand Gifts written by Ann Voskamp.  I picked it up and couldn't put it down.  I fully intend to turn around and read it again for fear that I missed some important morsel. I soaked up her poetic truths like a dry sponge. Honestly, it was not an easy read...one that you fly through in say a day or two.  I quickly learned that I needed my pen and or highlighter in hand.  In essence, Ann embarked on a journey to find chara or joy...deep joy...the kind only found in a relationship with Jesus. Charis, grace...the beginning of deep joy only complete when followed up with eucharisteo, giving thanks. Ann has had struggles in life.  There are things that she has been unable to come to terms with on her own. Haven't we all? Ann's journey sees her keeping a journal of one thousand gifts.  She finds a gift and writes it down. It becomes a part of her. She gives thanks through the finding of these gifts.  The gifts are everywhere when she looks with the "eyes of her heart". A harvest moon that she chases...mail in the mailbox...long lisped prayers...kisses in the dark...All things she stops and gives thanks for...practices eucharisteo.  The more I read, the more I want to practice too.
As I read, I had one resonating thought...This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I repeated it over and over and over again.  I jotted it in the margins of the book because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Before Eli was born, my uncle David told me about hearing God speak to him after the death of his son. Those were the words God told him.  He told them to me that February day a week or two before Eli came. I was quick to reject.  I couldn't rejoice right then...I just couldn't.  Eli was alive and kicking in my womb then...Thank you Lord for those moments! Eucharisteo! Looking back, I rejoice!  Why didn't I rejoice more then? I was scared, fearful of what was to come. Had I rejoiced and thanked Him more would I have been as scared?  Here I am on the other side and God is stronger today than then.  My "heart's eyes" see now what they couldn't see then. I am thankful for His strength.  Eucharisteo! I rejoice!
The day Eli was born those words repeated in my hollow soul or as Ann calls them "soul holes". This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.  I heard them... I was not in a place to rejoice.  In her book, Ann calls this hard eucharisteo... give thanks for grace even when it is too hard. He beckons us to practice this hard eucharisteo. I think back...
   I wanted to give to that sweet baby boy.  I wanted to give him a lifetime of love.  God allowed that in the short two hours of his little life. He was in his mama's arms when he slipped from earth. He knew only love.  Thank you Lord for those moments of love. We were able to prepare his sweet, beautiful little body just as Joseph of Arimathaea so tenderly and lovingly did with Jesus'.
     Thank you Abba Father for those moments. The moment his brothers and sister so gingerly touched and held him. The moments as Eli's daddy unwrapped his fragile little body and so gently bathed him...all the while speaking to him...calling him buddy.  The moments Jamie spent making sure he smelled just like a newborn...baby soap...baby lotion...fresh diaper...swaddling him up...placing him back in my arms.  Those are some of my most precious memories. THIS.IS.HARD.EUCHARISTEO... Thank you Father...I rejoice for this is the day You have made.
I never, ever knew I could give so much thank amidst so much heartache. As I went and took his Christmas tree down today, I was able to practice eucharisteo. I was dreading doing this but knew it needed to be done.  So, I went and knelt to take the ornaments off.  I noticed a new ornament there.  One we didn't put.  Who, I wondered? A lantern was placed on his marker by my mama Christmas eve and lit to burn through Christmas day.  Thank you Lord that his brief life is still remembered by others. Thank you for remembering!
What about giving thanks, practicing eucharisteo brings deep joy and an unfailing relationship with God? It is not only the "hard eucharisteo".  It is the daily, momentary eucharisteo...praising Him through the storm, but praising Him in the calm also! Isn't that when we tend to get lax? As Ann points out, "it must be learned." It is about giving thanks when those precious arrows in my quiver are poking me in the side! It is about giving thanks and trusting when the bank account is drained and dental work on top of broken arms demand more. Dig deep and then dig even deeper to find the Grace in those moments. Then thank Him for His Grace!

This book opened my eyes to wonderful truths.  I must practice this thing called eucharisteo! After reading the other night, I went to bed only to be woken up at 2:30 by the cries of my baby girl.  I made a conscience effort to practice this eucharisteo instead of being ill and grumbling.  I thanked him for full arms...for baby smells in my nose...and dozing sleep in the rocking chair.  It was a sweet time. I didn't feel cheated of sleep. I felt chara.
I encourage you to journal your gifts...one thousand of them.  If you would like to join, take the dareHERE.  Read the book!  I promise you will be blessed!

Much love,