day 5 // what a day + where our hope is.

So technically this post is going up at 1 am on the 6th; however, I am backdating this post to the 5th because I’m still operating in the 5th mode and today has been crazy so I’m just getting this to post.  Also, I have had computer problems for the last hour and a half and just got my computer turned on.  I’m new to the MacBook Pro world — have always had PCs before.  I’ve had a lot of issues with my Macbook not turning on.  Does anyone know if this is a common problem?  I don’t know much about computers.  And on another note, I want to wish my friend Deanna a very happy birthday today!  She is one of my oldest, best, lifelong friends — and I think we’ve been friends for 25 years now!  Happy birthday, Dee!

Today was a really fun day!  We woke up and decided to do something fun.  So we gave Jack a few options, and he chose to go to Dollywood.  In a random occurrence, both of my siblings were able to come with us!  So Aunt Z, Uncle Baggee, and Becca piled in the van and we all went to Dollywood.  It was the perfect day for it!  Not too crowded and a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The weather was perfect.  Jack rode his first roller coaster.  I couldn’t believe he was tall enough.  If I could put emoticons in here I would load it up with them.  Ones that express how terrified I was and that I couldn’t believe it.  I even asked a woman working it if it was “really ok [with a little wink]” for him to ride it.  Apparently the standard heights they set up aren’t good enough for me.  But he rode it and had a blast on it!  Such a fun day.  He also requested the water ride, which means the River Rampage.  A classic that Linds, Bud, and I haven’t ridden together in probably close to 15 years.  You know what kind of rides you don’t have to wait in line for in the fall?  Water rides.  I debated the whole way to the ride and I was super nervous because I thought it might be a bad decision to ride it when it’s cooler out.  But Z assured me that it was nearly 70 degrees, the sun was shining, and the water would be warm from the end of summer.  So we rode it.  And Jack loved it and got totally soaked.  Then Tommy paid $5 for a “dryer”, which I put in quotes because I’m pretty sure the only thing it dried was his wallet out of money.  Thankfully I had a change of clothes for Jack so we were able to get him dried off.  The rest of us walked around in soaking wet jeans for the rest of the day.  But it really wasn’t cold in the sun.

We were planning to leave there around 5 because Tommy and I wanted to go see our friends’ new baby — their rainbow baby — this evening.  But we got caught up at Dollywood, and apparently behind the mad rush of everyone leaving when they closed at 6, so it took awhile to get out.  On the way home I checked my phone and saw that our friends’ new baby was being admitted to the hospital.  And my heart sank.  So fast.  I couldn’t believe it.  They had finally gotten their sweet baby and had just brought him home and been able to introduce him to his brother.  And just like that he’s sick and put in the hospital.  I knew it would be especially hard for my friend because last time she had a baby in that hospital, her baby died.  So I went to see her but had some issues getting in there.  Because it was later in the day the front doors were locked.  So I went through the ER and had to check in with a security guard who informed me I could not visit.  Once I told him the name he checked his role but didn’t have their names on there.  So I stood there with big ol’ 32 oz. Cokes in hand telling him to look again and that I had stuff to bring my friend.  He said “nope, I can’t let you up.  and this isn’t exactly a lot of fun for me.”  I was desperate because I had a phone charger for her and her phone was dead.  Very important things.  So when he made another comment about this not being his idea of a good time, I said something along the lines of yes, I understand that.  It’s not my idea of a good time either.  My son is at home and cried because he didn’t want me to leave the house, and the Good Wife is on and I’d rather be sitting on my couch watching it and eating ice cream.  But I’m here because my friend’s 3 day old baby was admitted, and last year she had a baby in this hospital who died.  And last year my baby died.  So this is a big deal.  And I have her phone charger.

At that point the tears started coming, and he either felt bad for me, thought I was crazy, or just wanted me to stop talking because his demeanor changed and he said he would see what he could do if I would wait.  So I stepped outside because that ER was insane with people and I have a little bit of a compromised immune system.  And I sat down on the pavement outside the ER, and I just cried.  The tears just flowed.  I’m so sad for Ray and Julie.  My heart is heavy for them as they endure this hardship, and I know the uncertainty of their sweet baby’s health is so scary.  Why some people endure so much and others don’t is something I don’t think I will understand.  Julie and I talked about this on Friday.  But I think in those moments outside the ER I just grieved for their Nora and for our Gabriel.  With tears filling my eyes and running down my cheeks I just wept for our babies.  To have to fight my way in to see my friend who I’m so bonded to because both of our babies died was one of those things that caught up with me in the moment.  One of those things that made me overwhelmingly sad.  So I sat on the sidewalk and cried.  And then I knocked over one of the Cokes and it poured out all over the concrete in an instance, and I cried some more.  Then I pulled myself up — like I’ve done so many times in the past year and a half — wiped the running mascara off my face as much as possible, and walked back in.  The security guard let me in, and I gave Julie her phone charger.

As I drove home tonight I cried some more just thinking about things.  Thinking about life.  One of the things I was afraid of after Gabriel died was that I would forget.  Not him — I knew I would never forget him — but that I would forget my desperation at that time.  Because as broken and awful and miserable as losing a loved one is, there’s something beautiful about being so low that every breath you breathe is a desperate need for God.  I knew that as time went on that would go away, and it did.  Tonight reminded me of our desperate need for God every day.  If our hope is in anywhere but Him, we will be crushed.  While things move smoothly in life I tend to forget my state of desperation, where as a little over a year ago I walked in it every day.  Seeing a little tiny, new person laying there completely helpless — totally in the hands of God, reminded me of how He holds us and how we need him every day.

*Please pray for our friends and their sweet baby boy.

2. hope endures.

Earlier this year I realized that I was believing a lie about suffering.  Before Gabriel was born I would think about how we would have him and either lose him or have a likely short span of time of life with our baby, a highly special needs baby.  And that would have been awesome and that was what we hoped for and what we prayed for.  That didn’t happen.  But in my mind, the way I would think about it was that we would lose him sooner or later and then we move on and grieve and our suffering would be over.

 

Lessons I’ve learned:

  • Grieving is suffering.
  • And that my view on having had our big suffering and not having to suffer anymore was wrong.

 

One day I was talking to Tommy about it, and he gave me a great picture of what I was doing.  He said that we tend to treat suffering like an insurance policy.  We get to a point that we think is “catastrophic” and we don’t have to suffer any more.  Just like 2 years ago when Jack was born and in the NICU, and we got to the catastrophic level on our health insurance and didn’t have to pay any more.  Just like this year when we met and exceeded our insurance deductible on January 8th and then before too long maxed out on what we were paying.

 

I was thinking of suffering in a similar fashion.  I figured that our son dying for sure counted as catastrophic, so after that happened we would be suffering free.  The rest of our life should be smooth sailing since we were getting our big-ticket event now.

 

But it doesn’t work that way.  You could probably see right off the bat why that thinking was wrong.  But the thing is that it took me awhile to figure out that I was way off base.  It took some more suffering and me asking questions like “how can more happen to us?” and “when will life just be slow and normal?”  for me to realize that’s not the deal.  Apparently I was operating under the impression that life is mostly smooth and easy with a few bumps in the road and occasionally some of us have horrible things happen.  We weren’t called to that and we were never promised that.  In fact, there are a lot of places in the Bible that talk about suffering.  There are many people who suffered greatly.  Jesus himself suffered tremendously.  So looking back on it now, I wonder why I thought I wouldn’t suffer.

 

 

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After losing our second son, I thought I would have a summer to recover.  A summer of some normalcy after the year of uncertainty and chaos we had dealt with.  That was what I wanted.  But what I got was a summer of deep grief and poor health.  I struggled with what was going on with my body.  I sought answers which didn’t come until very recently.  My family and I walked through the deepest valleys of grief.  My husband worked a lot.  At a time where rest was desperately needed, he was stretched thin, pushed to the max, and spent a lot of time at work.  I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and on top of that learned that I will need surgery soon to remove my gallbladder.  None of it made sense to me.  I couldn’t understand why those things were happening after the hardest thing we’d ever been through.

 

 

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And I still don’t understand it.  But what I can say is that we got through the summer.  Just like we got through January to May with Gabriel.  Now it’s fall, which will bring its own set of struggles and challenges.  But sometimes hope isn’t about feeling better or life getting easier.  It’s not about expectations being met or life being fair.  It isn’t about my ideas and mindsets.  It isn’t about what would make the most sense to me and Tommy.  Sometimes hope is just clinging on when you are certain you can’t anymore.  Sometimes it is trusting that this season will pass.  Maybe not quickly and maybe not without knocking you down really hard in the process.  But having the hope that God is here always and he loves us beyond anything.  We aren’t in it alone.

 

If you feel overwhelmed by the challenges, the suffering in your life, may you know that there is hope.  It will not last forever.  And you are not alone.  He is love.

 

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31 days of hope: day 1.

Day 1 of writing about hope for 31 days feels pretty daunting to me.  I’ve never set a goal like this for the blog before.  Well except for the time I first started a blog and set the goal of having a ton of readers right away.  I think I had about 5.  So that obviously went well.  Here’s to hoping this goes better.

 

I’m not sure where all of this writing will land me.  Not sure how much I can talk about hope, but that’s all part of the adventure, right?

 

 

To start off, I feel like I need to recap a little as to why I chose to focus on hope.  It just seemed so obvious to me.  I’ve learned a lot this year – so much – so I could have picked a lot of different topics.  But I have never experienced hope like I have this year.  It has been so real to me, I have been so desperate for it, that I could almost taste it.  There were times where it felt like I was holding it in my hands, grasping for a tighter grip of the hope that I so desperately needed.

 

 

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If you are new here you may be wondering why I’m so passionate about this now.  The quick run down is this:

 

We had our second baby in May, and he died.

 

 

On January 7th, we went to our 20 week ultrasound appointment where we learned that we were having another boy!  A baby brother for our Jack.  We also learned that our baby wasn’t okay.  He was very sick.  We came to learn that our son had Trisomy 18, a fatal chromosomal syndrome, and that he would not live.  Our sweet Gabriel survived the pregnancy and was born alive – a true miracle!  He lived for about 2 hours [and 37 weeks in the womb!] before he went to be with our Father in Heaven.

 

Our whole year has been about Gabriel.  About life and death and living without knowing.   About trusting and faith and hope and trust.  About letting go and hanging on.  About smiling and crying.  About joy and sorrow and highs and lows.  About doctors appointments and ultrasounds and desperate prayers for healing and growth.  About researching and planning and stepping back and watching.  About waiting.  So much waiting.  About appreciating every moment and every day.  Every smile and every tear.  About asking hard questions and learning hard answers or not getting answers.  About knowing that there’s more to life than just us.  About God using a baby to impact and change a lot of people.

 

And it’s beautiful and it’s hard, and when I think back on this year that we’ve had, the tenth month of this incredibly long but also fast-moving year, I see an underlying current.  I see through the ups and downs and the thick and the thin – hope.

 

 

 

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So now this is where I sit.  I am stalled, or maybe it’s that I’m stilled, in hope.  It’s so often on my mind and written on my heart.  And I’ve felt it, and I’ve known it’s there.  But there’s more to learn.  More about hope, more about myself, more about God.  Thank you for walking through it with me.  For coming back to this place and reading these words.  I trust that this season of hope is not just mine, but that it will seep in to all those around me as well.

 

 

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31 days of hope.

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This has been a year of hope for us.

 

A year that started with us expecting to add another child to our family.  A year that quickly turned to us hoping for the best and getting the worst.

 

A year where we hoped for life, for survival, for a heartbeat, for minutes, hours, and days together.

 

A year of hope that God is who He says He is and that He’s got this – all of this life.  A year of hope that He will bring healing.

 

A year of learning what hope is and what it is to have hope.

 

 

Will you join me for 31 days as I continue to learn about hope?  As my eyes are opened, my mind is slowed, and my heart is secured in the hope that comes from the Lord.

 

 

Day 1:  why hope?  because our second son died 

Day 2:  hope endures 

Day 3:  the sun coming out and a 2 year old

Day 4:  celebrity talking hope 

Day 5:  5 months since Gabriel’s birth 

Day 6:  …for we put our hope in You

Day 7:  hope and joy

Day 8:  waves part 2. more about grief and hope 

Day 9:  show you remember.  light a candle

Day 10:  in every season.  surgery day

Day 11:  small hopes + an update 

Day 12:  short definitions

Day 13:  the stars in the sky

Day 14:  hard to see hope 

Day 15:  waves of light

Day 16:  squeaking by

Day 17:  for the weak

Day 18:  still here

Day 19:  student of hope

Day 20:  a hope and a future

Day 21:  remembered

Day 22:  a day late + a dollar short

Day 23:  a star

Day 24:  a hopeful tribute

Day 25:  a thankful heart is a hopeful heart 

Day 26:  sports 

Day 27:  sunday encouragement

Day 28:  waves of light celebration, love, + support

Day 29:  links to hope

Day 30:  memorials of hope

Day 31:  a recap of all of this 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining up with the Nester for 31 Days of writing through the month of October.  My first post will go up on the 1st – tomorrow morning.  Here we go!

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quiet september loud october.

September was a quieter month for me on the blog.  I felt short on words and I didn’t know what to share, even though there’s been plenty I could have said.  It’s been a month of a lot of fatigue, so I spent more time resting and less time stressing over blog posts and other things.  But now October is upon us [how can that be??] and it’s time to be a little more structured and a little more disciplined.

 

So in line with that I have decided to participate in the Nester’s 31 Days.  For several years she has had 31 Days in October where she writes on one topic for every day of the month.  I have loved reading her posts and topics in the past, and this year felt like it might be a good time for me to jump in.  So for the month of October I will be writing for 31 Days with the topic of 31 Days of Hope.

 

I will be back tonight with the first post in the series, as she’s kicking it off an evening early.  I hope you will follow along with me this month and see where 31 Days of Hope will lead us.  I have no expectations, really not much planned for it, but am anticipating it being a time of great learning and revelation for me.  Thanks for reading along!