Monday, March 2, 2015

To My Boy on His Sixth Birthday

Dear Matthew,

It seems like I start every letter the same. I can't believe you're... One. Two. Three. Four. Five. But now this. Now six. That's just so old. It's halfway to twelve. A decade to driving. A third of the way to being an adult. Impossible because you were just a tiny little baby. You were just giggling and sucking on your toes. Just learning to toddle on unstable feet.

Now you're running and jumping and kicking the soccer ball into the goal and tackling people and doing headstands. You are so athletic and physically fit. You can easily pick your brother up off the ground which means that you're capable of carrying around your own body weight because, at the moment, you only weigh about six pounds less than him. But you're capable of lifting much more than that because you've been known to wrap your arms around my legs and hoist me up off the ground. It's terribly dangerous because the center of gravity is way off and I usually go pitching straight into a wall, terrified that I'm going to crush you. So while I don't endorse this activity, it's been known to occur which means that you're probably the strongest six-year-old on the planet.

On your fifth birthday, you were the exact same height that your brother was on his fifth birthday. But, now you are over an inch taller than your brother was on his sixth birthday. So, it seems that you have the potential to tower over everyone in this family. If your extremely long tibias and fibulas have anything to say about it, you're going to be tall. You have to grow into those bones at some point, right?

You're reading level F books which is a full year ahead of where you need to be. You're so competitive about it and the fact that there is one other person in your class who is also on level F keeps you motivated. You can memorize like crazy. You know the Apostle's Creed, the books of the Old Testament (and you're on your way to knowing the New Testament books, too!), and entire movie scripts. With your quick mind, stunning good looks and ability to cry crocodile tears at the snap of a finger, I have no earthly idea why Hollywood hasn't picked up the phone and called us already.

We joke all the time that our family is a hilarious reality show just waiting to happen. You, Matthew, would clearly be the star and the rest of us would just be around as supporting characters. You are so hysterical. Some of the things you say leave us cracking up for days. Cameras could just follow you around for an hour or two and easily get enough footage to make for a half hour of solid television.

Another reality show pitch is Matt v. Food. Son, I have no idea how I'm going to keep you fed next year. Forget about the teenage years. Just thinking of them makes me break out in hives. I'm pretty sure we should open a separate savings account so that, in seven years, I have enough cash saved to keep you fed. In December, we went to Hodad's in San Diego. You devoured a gigantic burger and a plate full of onion rings. You demolished it like it was your last meal. You'll eat anything and everything with the exception of avocados and, on occasion, peas. You are always hungry. But, lucky for your health, your first choices are usually apples, bananas and carrots.

You love watching Ninja Turtles and Scooby-Doo. If these aren't on, you'll request things like Tom & Jerry and Garfield. You don't particularly care for newer (far more stupid) cartoons and, for that, I am very grateful. Over the summer, you caught reruns of The A-Team. Currently, you are sporting a frohawk and saying, "I pity the fool," to anyone who will listen. In keeping with this old television theme, you also love Bonanza which means you love to pretend you're part of the wild west. To this end, toy guns are among your most favorite of toys.

You are, hands down, the sweetest brother I've ever met. If Garrett is going to lose a privilege, you beg us on his behalf. If he can't go somewhere or do something, you don't want to either. If he's in trouble and sent to his bed, you'll climb on yours and wait out the punishment. If you earn a prize at school, you pick something your brother will like and you give it to him. For your birthday, you received two dum-dum lollipops from school. Lollipops are your favorite kind of candy and still you asked me if you could eat one and give the other one to Garrett. I told you that they were your suckers and you could do what you wanted to with them. You placed one of them on Garrett's seat in the car so that he would find it at the end of his school day. Usually, if he cries, you cry. It's an incredible thing to watch you love your brother.

It was also incredible to watch you love your sister. Though she was born straight into the arms of Jesus and never got to breathe our air or walk on our dirt, you loved her fierce. You were so excited about being a big brother, so thrilled to be able to pick out clothes for her, so pleased to tear a paper off our countdown chain, and so devastated to lose her. Your loud, mournful sobs were only further proof that you already loved her like you love Garrett. Big, authentic, all in.

You continue to be obsessed with costumes. For your birthday you requested a new Spiderman costume and a new Power Rangers costume. When you get home from school, you immediately hop into a costume. At dinnertime, we have to ask you to take them off so you don't spill and ruin them. Aside from Spidey and the Blue Power Ranger, you like to dress up as a cop and an army man. Often, you wear one of these four costumes while playing with the dog in the backyard and singing (at the top of your lungs), "We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit..." for all the neighbors to hear.

You do believe those things. You've shared Jesus with your friends and you've made a YouTube video telling others about what He did for you. You know that He's gone to prepare a place for you and you talk about meeting Him in Heaven one day. I'm so proud of your faith and that you're unashamed and bold. I hope you never lose that joy.

Matthew, we are so thankful that we get to call you our son. We're so in love with you and so grateful to God and your mama for choosing us. We know that we are just a small portion of the story of what makes you who you are and we are blessed to get to experience life with you. We do not forget the sacrifice that was made that allows us the great privilege of raising you.

I love you so much.

Love,
Mom

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Interview With a Six-Year-Old

1. What is your favorite T.V. show? Ben 10, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles.
2. What did you have for breakfast? Yogurt and a granola bar.
3. What is your middle name? David.
4. Favorite Food? Pizza.
5. What food do you dislike? Actually no food. (I tried to get him to say something and he wouldn't. I don't think he wanted to hurt the feelings of any innocent food. Although, honestly, there is very little that he won't eat.)
6. What is your favorite color? Blue.
7. Favorite lunch? Snack lunch. Explain snack lunch. Lunch I eat while I'm watching a movie.
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to the beach.
9. If you could anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Hawaii.
10. Favorite sport? That's easy. Soccer. I mean football.
11. When is your birthday? July 28. (Um. Kid is really confused. He got the day right but, whoa, he's very confused on his months and, apparently, his seasons as well.)
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning person.Why do you think you're a morning person? You get to play and I don't like nights because you don't get to play. (This kid is NOT a morning person. He's like a mini teenager.)
13. Pets? Yep. Like my dog, my cat. That's all.
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? It's my birthday.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? A cop.
16. What is your favorite candy? Lollipops. (This hasn't changed and continues to be very strange to me.)
17. What is the farthest you've ever been from home? Isre-reel. (He still pronounces Israel with an extra syllable.)
18. What is your favorite book? Green Eggs and Ham
19. What are you most proud of? That I believe in Jesus.
20. What is your favorite movie? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret of the Ooze.
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg. Why do you think that? Because how would it cross the road? (What?)

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Matthew
2. What is your least favorite word? Pop. Why don't you like pop? Because my mom doesn't like it. (I don't like referring to soda as pop. Apparently, because of this, it is now my son's least favorite word.)
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") My whole family.
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") When people say, "Don't believe in the Bible."
5. What sound or noise do you love? The song, "We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ..."
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Screaming.
7. What is your favorite curse word? Dummy.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Be a cop.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Be a doctor.
10 If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part) "Hello. Enjoy your house." Since there will be a house for me in Heaven and whoever believes. (Oh man. Beautiful.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

This Past Year Has Been...Difficult

Stress is like a great weight. A confusion, leaving your brain feeling like it is not quite fully functional. "I don't even remember what I did yesterday." Is what my husband said. "Like I need to start writing down who I see and what I do." Stress affects the mind. I, on the other hand, feel like what I imagine 70 to be like. I wake up and my entire body feels horribly heavy. My joints ache, my muscles seem fatigued. Apparently, my husband is losing his mind and I'm losing my ability to move. Grief will cause the stress that will do this to a person, sure. But it seemed like more than that.

A couple of nights ago, we were driving. Suddenly, my husband said, "It's really no wonder we're seeing the physical effects." He went on to remind me of the things that have happened to our family in the past twelve months.

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Last winter, I alluded (here and here and definitely here) to that fact that our family was going through some stuff. I wanted, so badly, to write about it because I thought that, somehow, the pain would release through my finger tips. I didn't, because it is not my story to tell. But the weight of the ongoing stress, and how it has changed my own family, is my story. Last year, we found out that some people we dearly love and whom we are very close to were the victims of ongoing, horrible abuse. I wouldn't have ever even written that last sentence if, recently, one of them hadn't broken the silence by putting it on social media. (For which I believe that person should be HIGHLY COMMENDED. Seriously. Person, if you ever read this, I want to put you on my shoulders and carry you around and celebrate every incredible thing that makes you who you are. I LOVE YOU.) While absolutely nothing changed regarding my own little immediate family we have experienced a deep loss, betrayal, confusion, anger, grief, and an overwhelming desire to do whatever we can to help.

Our youngest son knows nothing. Our oldest son knows just a very small amount. He was way too perceptive and way too concerned to not give him something. The information we did share with him manifested in ways that involved consultation with a child psychologist and a lot of sensitive love and care and time. My then seven-year-old didn't want to leave my side. He sobbed when it was time for school. He clung to me. Once, he nearly got hit by a car when he sprinted into traffic to try to get back in the van. It was an emotional time for us. It didn't last for very long--praise God--and he is so much better now, but I still see the effects on him, under the surface, behind the eyes. His pain, and ours, is only a small fraction of the pain experienced by the victims and, for a year, we have felt such a devastation, and such a rage, over the entire situation.

This is probably the most stressful, deeply disturbing situation we have ever dealt with. I will not give more details, because, as I said, this is not my story, but living life and being involved in ministry have been particularly challenging because of it.

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Just a couple months later, I took Garrett to the doctor for persistent neck pain. An x-ray revealed that he'd suffered a skull fracture several months earlier. You can read about that experience here and here. We also didn't know if he had damaged a ligament in his neck. While he ended up being completely fine, we had no idea, for several weeks, if he would need major surgery. We knew that, before discovering the fracture/possible ligament damage, we'd taken him to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm and allowed him to ride all manner of roller coasters. We knew he'd wrestled an entire season. Any of these could have caused permanent paralysis had there truly been something wrong with his neck.

For a couple of weeks, we were terrified that our very energetic, athletic, elementary aged son might have his life forever altered by the repercussions of these possible injuries. It was incredibly stressful. In the end, he was given a clean bill of health (and a confirmed fracture of his skull).

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Four months later, I chose not to blog about being all but told that I had breast cancer. One day, just before climbing into the shower, I found a visible lump. It had just, suddenly, appeared. But, weeks before, one of my very best friends had been diagnosed, at age 31, with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and I was being an incredible hypochondriac. After all, it's not every day (thankfully) that women in their early thirties are given cancer diagnoses. So, I'd been stressing out over every itty bitty abnormality on my body for a good three weeks. I stared at this bump in this mirror. I felt it's borders. I tried to move it but it seemed stationary. I called my husband into the bathroom. "I know I'm being a hypochondriac, but you can see this, right?" He nodded. "And you can feel this, right?'

"You should call the doctor tomorrow," he said.

And I did. I went in that day to see a physician's assistant. To make an incredibly long story short, she reprimanded me for taking so long to find it. She told me that they would only order an ultrasound with a mammogram if they suspected it was cancerous. She left the room. Then she came back in and informed me that she'd ordered an ultrasound and a mammogram. Then, while the nurse was scheduling said procedures, the P.A. got on the phone and explained that it was immobile and irregular and she suspected it was attached to the chest wall. IN FRONT OF ME. Naturally, I went home and googled all these things and all of them yelled, "CANCER!" The excellent part was the fact that I couldn't get in for the mammogram and ultrasound for two weeks. So, for days that felt like a lifetime, I waited to find out if my entire life was going to change.

Finally, the day arrived and my husband and I went to the breast care center. I had the mammogram and then I had the ultrasound. I was completely prepared to schedule a biopsy for further testing. The ultrasound technician came in, declared that it was two cysts, side by side, and that I was fine and GO HOME AND LIVE YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU DON"T HAVE BREAST CANCER AT ALL. They were not irregular, they were not attached to the chest wall and I will never see that P.A. again.

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Then, Kate.

We found out, just after we were matched with Kate's mother, that the adoption tax credit no longer benefits those who are self employed and typically only owe self employment taxes. We decided that God was calling us to the adoption despite this information and that He is bigger than our finances. People rallied around us and we raised an incredible amount of money. It was still flowing in at the time of Kate's death and it continued to come in as memorial money after she passed away. However, even with the wonderful partnership of our friends and family, we spent many, many thousands of dollars from our savings account to fund the adoption. It was a financial hardship we were more than willing to take on.

Raising and loving a daughter for life is definitely worth many thousands of dollars.

Burying a daughter you never laid eyes on is still worth it because every conceived human deserves to be loved and honored, even in death. But it makes the financial loss sting in ways it wouldn't have if she was with us now.

And then there is the actual loss. Which is simply indescribable.

The baby who won't be in my arms in two weeks. The tiny footprints in the shadow box at the end of my hallway that will never learn to walk. The lump in my throat when I see babes in arms and long for that little girl to be alive still. The closer the due date gets, the harder it seems to be. Because we should be down to 13 days on the paper chain. We should be getting SO excited. Instead, we are trusting God's plan and praising Him in the storm.

But I'd be flat out lying if I said that this particular part of the plan doesn't hurt like crazy.

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Abuse. Extreme medical concerns for our son. Breast cancer that wasn't but we thought was. Devastating financial loss. A daughter I only held in death. It's not altogether surprising that sometimes we feel like we're going to collapse under the stress of this past year.

But we know that God will see us through it all. We know that this world is not really our home. We know that in all the pain and the death, He is sovereign and He is good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Buying a KIA Van May Leave You Stranded

Please pass this information on to anyone considering buying a minivan. 

It appears that KIA and Hyundai minivans from certain years have an intermittent known start issue.   What this means, in English, is that sometimes the van will not start (the vehicle will do everything except start, which, in my opinion, is rather vital). 

This is a problem because the most common drivers of minivans are mothers of small children.  Here are the details:

Here’s what happens (video):

This particular time, it took four minutes to start. My wife took three separate videos of the same incident.

Problems with the Vehicle:
1)  This issue seems to most normally affect minivans past 80,000 miles (my non-scientific online research).
2) The non-starting (in my experience) lasts from 2-45 minutes.
3) The actual part that causes this to malfunction has to do with the vehicle theft deterrent system (Burglar alarm relay).  Even if you do not have an actual working burglar alarm the electronics are in place and still cause trouble. 
4) Customer service has said the part is non-diagnosable after the fact.  They told me that they cannot positively identify the problem when the vehicle is working. 
5) Customer service encourages that you have the vehicle towed to the dealership during a non-starting episode to verify the problem for a correct diagnosis.  The problem with this is that the non-start issue has never lasted longer than 45 minutes.  Thus, by the time the tow company is called to deliver the vehicle to the dealership the vehicle is back to working (see #4).

Problems with KIA service:
1)  (Off the record) they are willing to admit the part that is causing the problem. On the record there’s nothing they can do without a correct diagnosis.
2) They care more saving $328 (parts AND labor) than the fact that my wife and small children have been stranded.
3) They do not seem to understand that this cannot necessarily be duplicated at the shop.
4) I was actually told that we need to wait for it to get worse and then maybe they'll be able to duplicate it. So KIA customer service seems to be OK with my wife being stranded over and over before they identify the problem.

We’ve already had this part replaced. Last April, after we did a bunch of our own research and presented it to the service writer, he was willing to admit that this was likely the issue. We paid to have it replaced and for nine months the vehicle behaved. Then it started all over again.  While we were within the 1 year warranty, we were over the 12,000 mile limit by 500 miles due to our recent interstate travels to bury the daughter we were adopting (you can read about that here and here).

We’re not alone in this.  Here are some other owners’ comments:
(I did not include the names but found these on repairpal.com.  I have also found similar comments elsewhere on the internet). ***For extra reading regarding some of the technical aspects, there is a service bulletin talking about this issue at the end of the post.

Comment #1
Ok all. Heres a stumper. My wifes Kia minivan was running fine. No issues whatsoever. well maintained...you get the drift. Last week, we came home from grocery shopping. We went back out and wholla, it won’t start. It won’t even try to start. Battery is charged, everything on the inside works, etc. The dash looks like a christmas tree. every light is on

Comment #2
i have the same problem with starting my van at times it will start n run great months at a time but then at times i can run to the store ect n then wont start 

Comment #3
I HAVE A 2006 KIA SEDONNA VAN, SAME PROBLEM. GO TO THE STORE, COM BACK AND WONT START UP AGAIN UNTIL YOU PUSH ON THE FUSE BOX, KIA HAS NO CLUE ON HOW TO FIX THE PROBLEM. IT ONLY OCCURS ONCE IN A WHILE BUT HAS LEFT MY WIFE STRANDED, PLEASE HELP !!! KIA OFFERS A WARRANTY FOR A PIECE OF JUNK, DONT BUY ONE !!!!

Comment #4
Ours does the same thing--and, of course, the dealership can't duplicate the issue. =( If we take out the fuse for the alternator and then replace it, it starts. Royal pain in the arse, but better than the sit-and-wait until it decides to start we were doing.

Comment #5
i have tried everything and its not working i just dont understand why Kia has not recalled this issue.

Comment #6
I dont think bypassing the relay is a viable solution, but it's pretty clear the fault is in the anti-theft system. I found that hitting the "unlock" button prior to opening any doors allowed the vehicle to disarm the theft system. I was then able to start my van. I have an 07 KIA Sedona with the same issue as above.

Comment #7
Had the same problem. Mine was out of warranty. There is a relay in the back of the main junction / fuse box which is defective. It's part of the alarm / immobiliser and cuts power to the starter motor when the vehicle is immobilised. The relay contacts seem to stick, making starting impossible. It generally cleared after a good whack or kick.

To fix it, I took the junction box out, opened it and found the relay. I soldered a piece of wire under the relay to bridge the contacts - worked fine. 10 minute job and no problem since (8 months).

There’s even a youtube work-around.


I UNDERSTAND . .
. . . that we’re out of warranty.  I understand that parts break and wear out.  BUT wouldn’t you think KIA would be dealing with a repeating issue on a vehicle that is designed for the transport of small children?

So to SUM UP,
---if you want a reliable minivan (one that starts) . . .
---if you want a customer service department that will take women and small children being stranded as a serous thing . . .

. . .  Then BUY ANOTHER BRAND.  Buy a Honda or Ford or Toyota.  AVOID KIA LIKE THE PLAGUE.

Also, on a purely personal and subjective note—If you live in the Salt Lake City Area I would not take my vehicle to Jerry Seiner KIA.  The service department is either unwilling or unable to advocate for an issue that they appear to have a handle on.  Off the record they are willing to say that it sounds like the burglar relay. On the record there is nothing they can do because they can't diagnose it without duplicating it (even with video evidence). Additionally, my impression was that they were extremely disinterested in what we had to say which came across as patronizing and condescending (particularly to my wife).

PLEASE CONSIDER passing this information on.  Particularly all of you other mommy-bloggers who may or may not be driving a mini van.  Any light that you help shine on this issue would be incredibly helpful for us. Unfortunately, sometimes big companies only care about "us" little people when the bad press gets to be too much . . .

Like HERE.
Maybe next I'll write a song.

Perhaps it’s my fault for buying a KIA which can be an acronym for Killed in Action.

Service Bulletin:

I believe this is the information relating to the issue. Perhaps only dealers have access to the actual bulletin, but this at least has the reference #'s:

NHTSA Item Number: 10022961
Service Bulletin #: 012
Replacement #:
Vehicle/Equipment Make: KIA
Vehicle/Eqipment Model: SEDONA
Model Year: 2006
Mfg Component Code: 061000 ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING:ENGINE
Date of Bulletin: 2007-09-01
Date Added: 2007-10-09
Summary: SEDONA (VQ) INTERMITTENT NO-CRANK CONDITION. *NJ


Kia Technical Service Bulletin
A bulletin for 2006 and early 2007 Sedonas with Intermittent No Crank exists. It is complex with a dozen pages, with pictures and arrows and lots of detailed text. It does pertain to the Start Relay, but the problem seems to be with the Burglar Alarm Relay (this is not a serviceable item) and is part of the IPM (In Panel Module). That Start Relay plugs into the IPM of which the burglar alarm circuitry is an integral part.

However, there is a procedure outlined in this bulletin to properly diagnose the problem. This is a fairly complicated procedure and the bulletin admonishes that it must be read in its entirety before beginning. Things can be messed up if the bulletin is not adhered to in all its details.

If the testing reveals that the problem is in the burglar alarm then the entire IPM needs to be replaced.

Using this TSB, a good technician, could obtain a proper diagnosis.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Box of Lies

I love Jimmy Fallon.

I really love when he plays games with celebrities. My most favorite game is called Box of Lies. Go ahead and YouTube it if you haven't had the pleasure of watching any.

Here's how the game works. There are a bunch of numbered boxes. Jimmy and his guest are seated, facing each other. There is a divider between them with a window so that they can see each other's faces but not what is in their box. The guest chooses a box. S/He takes the item out of the box and must decide whether to share what the item truthfully is or tell a lie. Then Jimmy has to choose whether the guest told the truth or lied. If he guesses correctly, he gets a point. If he guesses incorrectly, the guest gets a point. Then he has a chance to tell the truth or lie. The first person to two points wins.

Some items I've seen in the game include:

A hammer covered in postage stamps.
A DVD of Frozen frozen in the center of an ice block.
An Uncle Jesse action figure in a box with Hershey's kisses.
A slice of pizza.

It's a hilarious game. Watching the guests and Fallon trying to fake each other out for the win is just hysterical. So, last night, Troy and I concocted the idea that we should play this with our children. Our boys know that the punishment for lying is swift and severe so we thought it would be great fun to play a game that let's them lie, if they so choose. Mixed message? Perhaps. Genius acting lesson? Yes. Healthy outlet for lying? Definitely. Parental observation exercise to see how good our children are at deceiving us? Absolutely. Troy took some time placing random items in boxes. Then, we began.

The first round was between Garrett and myself. He took a box, opened it, attempted to contain his laughter, and quickly declared, "A dinosaur with a paper hat."

What eight-year-old is going to come up with that all on his own, right? I mean, surely, that's what was actually in the box. I was certain that my husband had fashioned a tiny paper sombrero to the head of a toy velociraptor. "You tell the truth!" I exclaimed.

"I lie!" He held up a scraper tool with a single serving of macaroni and cheese tied to it. That little dude is a quick thinker and a darn good liar. I should have known because of the chicken incident of 2012. I have to keep both my eyes on that one. The teenage years are sure to be trouble.

Next it was my turn and I lied the heck out of the key chain that was tied with dental floss to a mostly empty roll of toilet paper. My kid thought I was telling the truth when I said there was a Lego man tied with floss to a toothbrush. BOOM! That's what a four year theatre program at a small liberal arts Christian university will do for you. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for that education. It's paying off in ways none of us could have ever imagined.)

We were tied and I caught my eight-year-old in a lie which meant that I got to move on and face the five-year-old. Did I feel bad about beating my second grader? No. No I did not. I have an $80,000 education and Box of Lies champion may be my only claim to fame.

Matthew first told me that his box possessed pajamas with an army man inside of them. He giggled pretty uncontrollably and I just didn't think he was that good of an actor. Although, the kid can memorize absolutely anything and he's cute to boot so I'm not saying it'll never happen. He also called me a liar when I said that the empty coke bottle was a hammer with a note attached to it. So we were also tied.

Hilariously, Matthew told me his next item was a toothpick with weenie dogs stuck to it. It was so funny but I just didn't think that my husband had opened a package of hot dogs for our little game. I called him a liar and he showed me a Spiderman head toothbrush cover with Q-tip arms and Oscar Mayer weenie whistle feet. By calling him a liar, I secured my place as reigning Box of Lies Lying Champion.

A real accomplishment, no doubt.

My children declared it to be incredible fun and asked when we could play it again. So thanks, Jimmy Fallon, for bringing Box of Lies into our lives. You know what they say. The family that plays together stays together and the family that lies together...has all kinds of issues.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Notes

I'd painted two giants squares of pink in differing shades above the white rail in the boys' playroom and two giants squares of gray beneath. It was ready to turn into a baby's room. For over a month, there have been shapes of gray and pink splattered on top of dark blue and tan.

We threw all the baby stuff into the closet and closed the door.

We couldn't just leave the paint like that, though. So, knowing that my husband was going to get in there and paint over the squares of pink and the squares of gray, I sat in there for awhile. Armed with an ink pen, I wrote all over the walls.

Bible verses. Her name. Notes to the daughter I'd never know.

Today, my husband painted over the pen.

I'm glad they'll always be there, under the new layer of paint.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Month That Has Felt Like A Day

THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTOS OF US HOLDING KATE. SHE IS WRAPPED IN A BLANKET AND THE PICTURES ARE VERY TASTEFUL BUT I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW BEFORE YOU CONTINUE TO READ.

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This morning I unexpectedly had exactly fifteen minutes between the time I got out of bed and the time I walked into the boys' school to start a subbing job. Troy had agreed to take the boys to school this morning. I had plans to clean my house but, really, I assumed that I'd just stay in bed for a good long while wallowing in my own self pity. I was well on my way to doing just that when I found out that the school needed a kindergarten substitute. My absolute favorite grade to sub for is kindergarten. My favorite school to sub at is my boys' school. So I launched myself out of my own sadness and into some leggings and a sweater. Fifteen minutes later, I signed in at the school. (Because I'm a rock star at getting ready really fast.)

It ended up being the perfect distraction.

I don't know why the one month mark of Kate's stillbirth seems so monumental to me. Maybe because it feels like it was yesterday and I just can't understand how so much time has passed. Maybe it's because life is returning to the normal we knew before Kate came into our lives and that seems somehow comforting and entirely devastating all at the same time. Maybe it just doesn't seem fair that for an entire month I've lived without the idea of what she would have been.

I miss her. I want to be rejoicing that my daughter is due in three weeks. Instead, I am mourning that we lost her four and a half weeks ago. I want to talk about her. All the time I want to remind people that she existed and she brought us joy and she was real and alive even though I never felt her heart beat or listened to her breathe. When someone mentions my baby, it doesn't really make me sad. It makes me glad that she touched lives beyond our family. There isn't much time, ever, that I'm not thinking of her.

When we first held her, I didn't post any pictures. In part, it was because I was protective of her and in part, it was because I didn't know if people would have a problem with seeing them. But the picture I took of my husband and our daughter has become--probably--my most favorite picture of him ever. I've looked at it so many times in these past weeks and I want to share it.

When we first got there, we both took pictures. We look miserable. We were miserable. I am not going to share those because they are just too vulnerable. We were so raw and broken. But, after some time had gone by, we were able to settle in to the experience, to embrace it and feel more than just grief. I suppose that, really, we were able to feel some small bit of joy; incredible thankfulness to have those memories and those moments.

This man. He loves his children. And I love him all the more for the way he held the most fragile of them.


My favorite part of the picture of Kate and me is the way the light is shining through the window onto us. It's as though the God of all comfort is hemming us in.


I can still feel the way she fit into my arms. As though she was always meant for them and never meant for them all at once. But for a moment, she was there and we were there. And in all of the sadness, it was good.

Life has a way of marching on, even when you don't want it to. The world continues to spin even when it feels like it's standing still. A month has gone by even though it feels like a day. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Pity the Fool

Once upon a time, my kids started quoting Gary Coleman. And then I was all kinds of terrified that people would judge us and think that I taught it to my black son on purpose. That was back when I cared a little bit more about what people thought about my family. 

It was definitely back before my kids discovered reruns of the A-team.

And so, it was long before my youngest child became obsessed with saying, "I pity the fool!" (Except, he says it fast so it kind of sounds like he's saying, "I pee the fool!")

It was definitely before he asked his daddy if he could have a mohawk like Mr. T.

Matthew hates having his hair combed--regardless of what kind of expensive product I purchase to make the process less traumatic. He likes to keep his hair short so that we can avoid the combing altogether. When we got back from California, Matthew's hair was getting too long to just leave alone. We gave him two choices.

1. We start combing your hair.

2. We cut your hair.

As always, he opted for choice number two. But, apparently, when Troy took him upstairs, Matthew begged for a mohawk like Mr. T. The kids were still off track so Troy obliged. Of course, Matthew loved it and started pitying the fool even more than normal. In fact, at one point, I was making dinner. I made some sort of mess and let out an unhappy groan. 

"What's the matter?" Matthew asked me.

"I spilled this," I replied.

He shook his head back and forth. "Oh man," he said. "I pity the fool."

So apparently, in this scenario, I was the fool in question.

Anyway. School started today. But Matthew loves his Mr. T hair and he wanted to keep it. And you know what we decided? IT'S JUST HAIR. He likes it. He's not wearing gold chains and/or tattooing PITY and FOOL on his knuckles. He's just sporting the frohawk.


(His head is totally crooked in this next picture. His hair is actually quite straight.)

He wants to grow it BIG and TALL. We'll see. But there are hills to die on and, at this point in the parenting game, my son's hair isn't going to be one of them. I'm just so happy that both of my sons are alive and well and happy and I couldn't care less what their hair looks like.

And if people have any kind of problem with it well, you know what???

I pity the fool.



Really, no one has said they don't like it. I just wanted to say, "I pity the fool."

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Have a Reason...

I know my writing hasn't been the feel good, laugh out loud kind of experience that I'm usually going for. I haven't recently regaled you with the antics of my boys. There's been pain and sadness and stories of tiny caskets and itty bitty footprints. The entrances of each of my children into this world have marked me in indescribable ways. All three have brought with them a certain amount of drama that has changed me, tremendously.

None, perhaps, quite so fiercely as Kate.

Kate has changed my own relationship with my Father and my Savior. I understand that grief makes people turn away, makes them angry, makes them want to shake a fist at the sky and scream, "How could you? Why? Are you not just?"

Somehow, though, that just hasn't been my experience. Oh, I have grieved this baby much like I imagine I would have grieved her had she been carried in my own body. Perhaps that is the blessed miracle afforded to me as a result of raising a child I birthed and a child I didn't. I love them both with shocking intensity--neither less or more than the other. Kate didn't have to be wrapped inside my body to matter. She needed only to be woven in my heart. When we lost her, I didn't want to yell at God.

"Are you not just?"

No. Not really. Because justice is giving me what I deserve. Justice is not blessing me with an incredible husband and two gorgeous boys. It certainly isn't everlasting life. Justice is eternal damnation. When we shake our fists at God, are we not screaming, "How dare you take my child from me?" Who are you to do such a thing? And then, I suppose, He would gently say to us, "I know what it is like to lose a child."

I think that is why, instead of feeling angry, I longed only to climb into His mighty grip, to instantly turn to worship. There was tremendous comfort in knowing that God watched as His son took the weight of the world's sin to the cross. He felt the searing anguish of a heart squeezed too tight. He understood the tears flowing freely down. There was peace in knowing that He sees the entirety of eternity from forever to never ending and I only see the thirty seconds that are right in front of my face.

I'll be honest. I didn't pray much in those first few days. In numbness I couldn't think of anything to say. When I tried to pray, I became overcome with devastation. My words became confused sobbing. But I craved music. I longed for melodic worship. When I couldn't find the words to praise His name, I turned to ones that had already been written. I sang.

On our drive to California, we listened to praise and worship albums over and over again. Songs that declared His goodness, His worthiness, His love for us. There was a time when Desert Song began to play. Through tears and tormented heart, I sang. It was ugly singing--off key and full of choking sobs--but I wonder if, perhaps, my raw, shattered praise sounded better to Him than anything I've ever sang before.

The bridge repeats. Over and over again. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.

Ever. Always. We worship.

It wasn't until much later that I even remembered the story behind its original recording. I'd shown the video several years ago at our annual women's retreat. Jill McCloghry, one of the two lead singers, had given birth to her baby boy at 23 weeks. He'd lived for a very short time before departing for eternity. A week and a half later, she was scheduled to record Desert Song.

I just watched the video again. In it, Jill says, "I know that my circumstance, in this season, doesn't change that God is still God. It doesn't change what God's called me to be or what He's called me to do. And He's still on the throne in Heaven, you know? And He still rules and He's still bigger than everything that I'm facing."

In our sadness, in our grief and our anger, it is easy to blame God. We blame Him because we understand His strength. It is because we believe He is powerful enough to have changed the outcome that we feel tempted to yell because He didn't. Instead, though, we need to walk through that sadness with holy reverence. He sees how the pieces all fit together and we do not. He knows the future and we do not. He loves with a perfect love and we do not. He does not change. He rules over our every circumstance.

I had to sing. We exhausted every worship album we had in the car. We got up the next Sunday and went to church in California and worshiped--through tears. Thirteen days after I first heard that my daughter had died, I was scheduled to be on the worship team. I told my husband that I was going to sing. He told me that everyone would understand if I took some more time. I appreciate his support and the fact that he didn't put that expectation on me just as I appreciate the fact that our worship leader told me the same thing. But what would I have been waiting for?

Whether in joy or suffering, hope or despair, prosperity or adversity, He is always worthy. When I worship Him, I am drawn near. When I worship Him, I feel His radiant light. When I worship Him, I get a small taste of His glory.

I have needed to sing--whether on key or off--to bring Him just a small offering. Here's my heart, Lord, broken into a million little pieces. Can you put it back together for me?

"I think that you look at God and you say, 'I know this is who you are.' And He does get bigger in your life and it takes over the things in you that feel so, you know, shattered, and it makes Him the focus and it begins to put those things back together." Jill McCloghry

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our Boys' Message

The following post was guest written by my husband, Troy. I stand behind what he says and I love him so very much for the way in which he leads our family.

*******************************************************

Ever since we got the news about Kate, our lives have been all sorts of turned upside down. Profound sorrow and feelings of loss have been combined with the incredible support and generosity of family, friends, and even strangers.  We have been forced to cling to God’s mercy and promises.  When we forget, our children are there to remind us.

The other day Matthew drew a picture of Jesus rocking Kate.  He told us that she was in Heaven with Jesus and he was taking care of her.  That’s typical of how our boys have been responding.  In between their own sorrow they respond with great statements of faith.


The other day, all on his own, Matthew decided we needed to tell all of our neighbors about Jesus so that they could be in heaven too.  He asked if we should wear suits.  Suits.  That part makes me think, maybe, that we have been in Utah too long.  Still, we were impressed how his sorrow had set aflame his little evangelistic spirit.  With his older brother in tow (Garrett, the original street-corner preacher) they knocked on several doors attempting to invite their friends over to hear about Jesus. No one was home or available.  Not to be dissuaded they came up with their next plan.  They could make a video like the Just One Dollar video.

This is their video. 


It took a little adult help, but the idea is all theirs.  While this is blog is certainly meant to be a witness to our family’s faith (as well as a record of all the other crazy things we do) we do not usually try and force-feed our beliefs to anyone.  Sometimes, though, it is these boys that remind us that the greatness of God and the importance of His salvation needs to be shared.  We cannot be silent.  We certainly cannot make them be silent (believe me we've tried).  And if we somehow, wrongly, succeeded in quieting them in this matter, I'm pretty certain that the rocks themselves would cry out. 


I hope you take the time to watch their video.

If you are interested in learning more about Jesus and what He has done for you, you can click over to the additional websites:




If you aren't interested, please know that we share this message because it is what we believe. It is because we believe and because we care for you that we share.  

We believe there is eternal hope in Jesus.

It is this hope which gives us peace as we process our sorrow.

It is a hope we want to share with you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Discerning God's Will

I was recently gifted a new journal. It's not really a typical journal. It's called a Daily Devotional Journal. Each page--365 of them--begins with a Bible verse. There is then a short devotional by Darlene Sala that takes up about half the page. The other half of the page is blank. I thought, given what we've been through, there's really no better time to start a once a day journal. I have a lot to say right now. But I know myself and I know that while I want to try to write just a little bit every day, I will start off with great enthusiasm and, approximately six days from now, I will forget to journal and then I might as well just give up forever. So I am dating my entries. That way, when it takes me 2,750 days to complete a 365 day journal, I'll at least know what days I said what.

Yesterday's entry was pretty personal and, though I generally bare my naked soul to the world on this blog, I'm keeping that one to myself. Today's, though, was all about the will of God. The verse referenced was "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Colossians 3:20. The devotion was about seeking the will of our Father. Just as we expect our children to obey us, so we should choose God's way. The journal section is open-ended. I assume I'm supposed to meditate on the verse and think about what the author said and then respond.

Here's what I came up with for today.

Discerning the will of God is not easy. Sometimes it's as clear as crystal and other times it seems as murky as the River Jordan. So we pray and we search His word. We search our own heart and our own motivation. We find ourselves, leaning. Feeling swayed a certain way. Perhaps we already know what we're going to do. We just need to give ourselves the permission to do it. Then, we pray again. "Lord, I think this is what you would have me do. If it is not the choice you want me to make, show me clearly and swiftly." We should always desire to be walking in the will of the Lord, always discerning what that might be, and always hoping He will reveal His plan to us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Do You Remember When I Was In a Movie Musical?

It's been awhile since I've done an installment of Lori's Crazy Dreams. I mean, really, it's been awhile since I've written much about anything aside from my broken heart. But last night I dreamed a totally bizarre little fantasy. Before I start off with my actual dream, let me explain something to you.

Long before the entire world knew the name Idina Menzel/Adele Dazeem, I knew it. Don't get me wrong, there were still a lot of people who knew who she was, but she was a theatre person name, not a household name. I heard her voice ring out of my speakers on a Broadway original cast album and I fell head over heels in love.

At that point, in the fall of 1999, you could find a small amount of information about her on the Internet. She hadn't been Elsa yet. She hadn't even been Elphaba. She was just a Broadway actress. This was long before she won a Tony. Long before I flew to New York City to see her in an off-Broadway show. Long before my husband and I saw her in concert. Still, all of those things happened long before she Let It Go and became a name that everyone except John Travolta knows.

On the one hand, I'm happy for her and obviously it shows what good taste I have in artists. But, on the other hand, I want to be like, "WHERE WERE ALL OF YOU "FANS" IN 1999? GET OFF MY THEATRE BANDWAGON YOU MAINSTREAM DISNEY HACKS!" But, well, mostly I'm super thrilled because I'VE LOVED HER FOR SO LONG.

Okay. I'm climbing down off my soap box now. So, the dream.

You guys, I was in a movie musical with Idina Menzel! This is absolutely and utterly ridiculous. I mean, I woke up and for the first time I didn't think, "I'm a sad mess because my daughter died." I thought, "That was gut-busting hilarious. How ridiculous." So what we've learned here is that Idina Menzel has magical dream powers that move me a fraction of a step in the right direction on the grief timeline. But, also...gut-busting.

Listen. Idina Menzel has an incredible set of golden pipes. Her tone is often so gorgeous that it sends chills straight down my spine. Oh to be able to sing like that. (And I am hardly referring to Frozen here but to her body of work as a whole.) My pipes are like rusty sewer pipes that, when I'm not being self-deprecating, are passable at best. They allowed me to be cast in exactly one musical in college. In this dream, I did not suddenly sing well enough to be cast opposite Idina Menzel. Nope. She had her voice and I had mine and somehow we were in a musical together.

That's not really even the dream though. The dream took place at the very end of the very last day of filming and even though I had spent weeks filming with my Broadway girl-crush, I suddenly felt very much like I needed to have my picture taken with her. But I did not want it to come across like I was the weird fan girl that I am and so I tried to be all nonchalant about it. "Idina, why don't we take a picture together to commemorate this last day of filming..." so that I can hang it on my wall and pretend that we are best friends forever and also show it to my friends and family and great-grandchildren for always and FOREVER! And Idina was like, "Yeah, sure." Because, while I'm quite positive she was also wondering how I'd managed to be cast in this movie musical, she was, at least, being a professional and we had spent the last many weeks as coworkers.

Here's the weird thing, though. (Because nothing else about this dream has been so far at all.) We were in the middle of the desert. The entire film crew was gone. There was one dude left and I think he was from craft service. All I had was my phone and at first we were trying to do a selfie together. Which, was cool because I HAD MY ARM AROUND IDINA MENZEL AND MY FACE PUSHED UP AGAINST HERS AND EVEN THOUGH IT WAS A DREAM I MIGHT NEVER WASH MY FACE AGAIN. But it was simultaneously not cool because part of my face was missing or one of our heads looked enormous while the other one looked tiny or every other selfie problem. I could sense she really wanted to go and so we snapped another one but it somehow only had her hair in it and I said to myself, "No one will believe I made a movie with Idina Menzel if only her hair is in my phone selfie." So. Never mind the fact that WE MADE A MOVIE TOGETHER ON ACTUAL FILM THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO BE SEEN IN THEATERS.

Then Idina Menzel said, "I should go get Walker." (Walker is her son, for those of you who haven't Internet stalked her in the ways that I have during these past 16 years.) And then I was like, "Oh. Yeah. Me too. I mean, not Walker. I don't have a kid named Walker. But I do have my own sons to get back to. I have sons." She laughed, "I know." And she kind of pushed me a little bit like we were actually friends because, well, we'd been filming together for weeks. So it would seem, in this dream, that Idina Menzel somehow thought of me as a coworker and/or friend while I somehow thought of myself as an awkward stalker. So she started to walk away and I shrieked, "Hey...Guy...come take our picture!" (You guys, I was SO painful.)

So then, this poor craft services guy comes over and tries to take our picture and for whatever reason, he could not figure out how to use my phone. He was bumbling around with it and accidentally calling people and I kept trying to show him how to make it work and then Idina started laughing and then I was laughing and suddenly I wasn't SUPER FAN GIRL PRETENDING NOT TO BE SUPER FAN GIRL anymore. I was Idina Menzel's friend. Albeit, her much less talented friend.

From now on I'm going to say things like, "Remember when I was in a movie musical with Idina Menzel?" And you are all going to reply with, "Yes we do!" Because it has dramatically improved my mood today and I'm going to go ahead and take what I can get. After three weeks of waking up every day and thinking about how Kate is gone, I woke up and thought about what a geek I am and also how cool it would be to make a movie musical with my most favorite Broadway star.

So, do you guys all remember when I was in a movie musical with Idina Menzel?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thank You For Your Support

I want to thank those of you who have financially supported our adoption and Kate's burial. Your donations have been an incredible blessing to us. I'd like to take just a moment to break down our costs for you so that you can know where we stand financially and where your money went.

$13,750-- Went to our facilitator. This money is non-refundable. However, if we pursue another adoption in the future, it will be applied to that adoption. We would not have to come up with this money again. If we do not adopt in the future, we know that this money will go toward helping other Christian families bring their children home. Additionally, we could not be more proud of our facilitating ministry and the care that they have shown to us and to Kate's birth parents. They have been truly amazing and have become dear friends to us.

$6,000-- Was paid in legal fees. One of our attorneys already refunded us a large part of our retainer and the other one is in the process of refunding us. This is a HUGE blessing as we had taken out a substantial loan to be able to make appropriate adoption related payments in a timely manner. It will help tremendously in our ability to pay our loan off as fast as possible.

$6,000-- Was paid in birth mother living expenses. This is obviously non-refundable.

$1,000-- Home study costs. 

$3,000-- (Approximate) Death and burial costs. This is incredibly low and was kept so low by the generosity of the mortuary and the cemetery where Kate was buried.

Total: (Approximately) $29,750

WHAT WAS DONATED/RETURNED:

$16,500-- (Approximate) For adoption expenses

$2700-- For burial expenses.

$4000-- (rough guess) That will be returned to us from our retainers.

Total: $23,200

Please pray that we receive the full amount in our Adopt Together fund. It is a grant program so there are no guarantees but so far we have received everything we've asked for. It would be incredibly helpful, obviously, for us to get everything that was donated in our name.

To those who donated, I want you to know that almost all of your money was used to pay our facilitator. That money will absolutely be used to put children into their forever families. A small amount of it was used to pay birth mother expenses to the woman who held Kate inside of her body for 32 and a half weeks. If you donated after Kate's death, your money went directly to her burial costs. 

I want everyone to understand that we are still paying off our loan and some of the burial expenses. We had used most of our savings account to pay for the initial costs. I feel that I owe it to you to show you where your money went and for you to know that we did not keep any of it. Our fees were nearly $30,000 for a child that we never brought home but I want you to know that Kate is worth every single penny. I hope that those of you who donated, whether it was $1,000 or $1, feel like your contribution was worth while. 

I do not think I will ever know the far-reaching, long lasting effects that Kate's life will have. I know that our family will never be the same. I know that I am absolutely the mother of three children--though I only have the pleasure of raising two of them. Kate brought a community of our friends, family and total strangers together. She showed people what JUST ONE DOLLAR, when added to a lot of other dollars, can do. She impacted people who never knew that an unborn baby in Riverside, CA could come to mean so much to them. She has made people question eternity. And that is the very best contribution she ever could have made. If I didn't believe in the existence of heaven and the necessity of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would have no hope for where Kate is now. More than anything, I believe passionately in those things and I believe that my sweet girl is there.

The question is not why God would allow such a thing to happen. The question is why He continues to bless us, every day. The Bible says that, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17. I look around me and all I see are good gifts. When I look upon Kate in her ultrasound picture, I think of what a blessing and joy she is to me. Coming down from the Father...and returning just a little sooner than I'd expected.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Letter to My Boys

Dear Sons,

I'm really very sorry that you've seen me cry more tears than I ever knew could exist inside a person's eyes at one time. I want you to see those tears, though, and take from them the intense love I have for you. I'd never met your sister, never carried her inside my body or in my arms, and still, I mourn. I grieve the loss of her, the loss of life, the loss of dreams. I cannot comprehend the ache of missing a child who has laughed and cried, triumphed and failed, wrapped lanky limbs around me, and whispered, "I love you." This flood you have seen is because I love.

You, my sons, are warriors. Watching me cry and telling me that it will be alright--someday. Listening as I apologize for breaking down once more and quietly saying that you understand. Being wiser than your young years and looking at me through windows that have somehow grown and changed in these weeks. You've grown in ways I wish you hadn't but, still, I am fiercely proud of what I see you becoming.

People have told me how strong I am. Many people. Garrett and Matthew, I want you to know that there is no strength here. I promise you that I have never been weaker or more broken. Any strength that is seen is because our Lord has completely taken over. He is carrying me. The strength in me is nothing but His glorious mercy shining through. Any peace I have is His perfect holiness calming our storm. Any solace I take is because I know that Kate has met our Savior face to face, has been made new, and is singing over and over again, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty."

I've heard that there are some who don't understand why we're so sad about losing a child who wasn't ours. I want you to know that none of you belong to me. You are God's. His alone. He has graciously and miraculously allowed you to be in my care for just a little while. How arrogant for one to believe that a child belongs to her anymore than the stars belong to the night. But you have been entrusted to me by God Almighty for as long as He so chooses. Dear boys, I need you to know that Kate's mother and father chose us for her. They wanted us to give her a name and a home and a life. In death, they gave us the right to care for her and call her our daughter. And so, as much as a child ever really can be, she was ours.

I love you. I love your tender hearts and your beautiful smiles. I love that God has made both of uniquely, well, you. I am so thankful that God has placed you both into my life. I wouldn't trade you for anything in this wide, wide world.

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Here She Comes

I've always been the kind of person who agonizes over things in the dark. Life seems huge. Whatever detail I need to take care of may as well be Mt. Everest at night. But, when I wake up and light shines on the thing, it's a manageable pebble. Or maybe it's still Mt. Everest but I've suddenly been training my entire life to climb it. The world looks different when the sun shines on it.

Until now.

At night, I've made it though an entire day. In the morning, there are things to be done and beds to get out of and clothes to put on and all I really want to be able to do is rewind time and figure a way to change the outcome.

I know that God is in control. I know that He is sovereign. I know that there are reasons, well beyond my own understanding, for His calling Kate home before she ever took a breath. I know it like I know that the sun will come out in the morning. I trust Him.

Still, even in all of that, I long to hold my daughter. And, for whatever reason, the mornings are hard. The mornings are when I remember the joy and anticipation our family experienced, together, as we waited for her arrival. The mornings are when I think about how we had to tell the boys that their sister was gone and how Matthew kept saying that we were lying. The mornings are when I want to pull the covers up over my head and create an alternate universe where Kate is still due in five weeks.

At night I feel hope.

In the morning I feel grief.

Kiah, who reads my blog, sent this to us in the mail. It's just beautiful and I love it so much.

Psalm 56:8 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." I am so incredibly thankful that I have a personal relationship with my Savior. To know that the God of the universe loves me enough to record my sorrows in His book brings such peace in the sadness.

My friend, Sabrina, sent us the cross with Kate's name on it and Troy put together this shadow box.

An ultrasound photo. Flowers from her casket. Tiny footprints. A stuffed giraffe. The details of one, tiny life, contained in a frame. 

But that one, tiny life has changed so many. Like a rock thrown into the water. The rock disappears, down to the deep, but the ripples it leaves move on and on, impacting everything.



My friend, Lori, sent me the words to this poem by Luther Beecher. It's beautiful and, when I find myself in the place of aching for Kate to be screaming at me and keeping me up at night, I read it and remember that she is not gone. She's just not here with me.

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
"There she goes!"
Gone where?
Gone from my sight...that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says, 
"There she goes!"
there are other eyes watching her coming...
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout...
"Here she comes!"