Wednesday, February 29, 2012
I never had an older sibling, so I was never compared to my older sister, or brother. I never had a teacher ask me, "Why can't you be more like your sister?" I never had to deal with trying to walk in the shoes of a talented older sibling. I never had to play sports or sing (thank goodness) as well as my older brother or sister did. There was no one to compare me to. I was the one who got to set the bar :)
I hope that I never compare my girls to each other and wish that one was more like the other (though I know that I will most likely do this at some point). I want them each to be the person God has created and gifted her to be. I want them to be their own individual person, to showcase who God has specifically designed her to be. I pray that I am able to do this well!
Although, I am already getting the girls mixed up and calling them by the wrong name! I figure it's only going to get worse as they get older, and we have more kids. But, seriously, look at them. Can you blame me for getting them confused?!
Coralyn when she was born
Kellah when she was born
Coralyn being weighed at her one-week check up
Kellah getting ready to be weighed, day of birth
Coralyn after her first bath
Coralyn enjoying some tummy time, about 1 month old
Kellah enjoying some tummy time, about 2 weeks old
Coralyn at one month
Kellah at one month old
Coralyn having some more tummy time, about 2 months old
Coralyn at 2 months old
Kellah at 2 months
Coralyn was "helping" me with this post and every time she saw a picture of herself as a baby, she would exclaim, "There's Kellah!" I tried over and over again to convince her they were pictures of her, when she was a baby. She didn't believe me. The only time she would agree it was her was when she saw a picture of herself recently.
I guess if Coralyn can confuse herself with her little sister, then I can too! :)
Yesterday, I was "lucky" enough to attend the birth of my dear friend's son. She asked me to be her doula, and I couldn't have been more excited. I was so blessed to be able to share this experience with her and help her and her husband welcome their son to the world.
We have joked around that their son could possibly be Kellah's future husband, forever uniting our families! It would be pretty funny if that happened and Kellah could tell Eli she was there when he was born. And that, I -- his mother-in-law -- had been there too!
Eli at birth is already bigger than Kellah at 10 weeks! :)
All joking aside, I am thrilled to have been at Eli's birth yesterday. I am completely and definitely hooked on helping people prepare to welcome their babies to the world by teaching childbirth classes and now I am all the more eager to have opportunities to serve as a doula and be physically present when the babies do make their grand entrance.
Throughout Jessi's labor I was analyzing what was happening through the lens of all that I have learned as an childbirth instructor. I knew the signs that she was in transition and then the beginnings of the second stage (pushing). BUT, I was also responding to everything as a woman who had just given birth not that long ago. I recognized those low, deep moans and figured we would be meeting Jessi's baby sooner rather than later. As I moaned with Jessi, I was doing my best to relive what I had felt at the same point during Kellah's birth. In doing so, I was also hoping that her labor would go as quickly and smoothly as mine had. And although she did have a longer second stage than I did, her overall labor was shorter than mine was with Kellah's! That's pretty good too, since I was only in labor with Kellah for 6 hours from my first contraction until the second she was born. Jessi beat me with her "mere" 2 to 3 hours of labor!
I was also there for Jessi as a friend. In fact, I hope that was the first hat I wore. Yes, I was her childbirth class instructor. Yes, she hired me as her doula. But, in my mind, first and foremost I was there as Jessi's friend. I was there to help her in any way she needed so that this birth experience would be the best possible and one she could look back on with fond memories and pride. I kind of felt an extra responsibility to make that happen as I was the one who introduced the idea of natural childbirth to them and planted the thought of having a home birth in their heads. If I was going to play a role in transforming them into some strange, wacked-out people who have babies in their living rooms and bedrooms, then I at least wanted them to be successful at it! Hence, I didn't think it awkward or weird to moan right along with her, to fix her ponytail when it fell out, to massage her shoulders, to hold her placenta in a plastic tub and then take pictures of it while the midwife looked it over and showed it to Jessi. I am humbled that Jessi would invite me to be a part of something so special and personal.
I love all of my friends' kiddos, but I think I have a special bond with Mr. Eli. In the same way that I want to see my former 5th grade students excel academically and even more importantly spiritually, I am excited to see Eli grow up. And as he does, I will celebrate every milestone from rolling over to sitting up to crawling to walking to attending his first day of school to graduating from college. But even more deeply, I look forward to hearing that he has decided to follow Jesus and then to watch him live wholeheartedly for God. I want this for all of my friends' kids, but there's something special with Eli.
As I think about this connection that I have with this brand new baby boy, I am realizing that this sense of closeness is good. Our small group is my closest set of friends right now. Jay and Jessi are a part of this group. Over the past several years of having these people into our home on a weekly basis for Bible study and prayer, we have developed "deep" relationships with them. Our friendships go beyond the hour we spend together on Wednesday nights, although that is foundational. Really, we "do life" together and encourage each other to "do life" better. We babysit each other's kids so we can go on dates. We share meals. We watch the Super Bowl together. We exchange white elephant gifts at Christmas parties. But most importantly, we challenge each other to be in the Word and to live it out, boldly. We pray for each other. We hold each other accountable to put into action what God has been teaching us. We support each other when times are hard. And while we don't typically attend each other's baby's births, I think it's good to be invested in each other's families to the point that we deeply care about the spiritual formation and development of each other's kids.
Lately, I have been reading books about being totally in love with God to the point that we live radically for Him, about our need to be completely dependent on the Holy Spirit, and about the way we "do" church. I think these books have stirred up my heart's desire to be a part of a community of believers who join together on this wild journey of being God's child, challenging and inspiring and encouraging each other along the way to be bold in our faith and hold nothing back as we proclaim our love for Jesus. After helping Jay and Jessi welcome their baby to the world yesterday, I realize that I am part of a community like this. I am so thankful for the people in our small group and the opportunity to run beside them as we pursue Christ and race towards the ultimate prize of knowing Him fully.
Not only that, I am extremely glad my girls get to grow up in this environment, surrounded by people who are madly in love with Jesus and living all out for Him. My deepest and greatest desire is for them to each accept Jesus as Lord and Savior at a young age and then proceed to pour their hearts out to Him at every stage of life. I am already praying for the friends they will make in the elementary years and then high school and college, wanting them to choose people who will help them become more like Jesus. Even more fervently, I am praying for the men they will eventually marry. I want them to walk down the aisle to a man who is deeply in love with God so that as they follow his lead, they will be following Christ Himself.
And who knows, maybe one of my girls will marry Mr. Eli! :) Whatever the case may be, I feel like I have a special bond with this little boy, a bond that has inspired and challenged me to go deeper in my relationships with fellow believers such that we "push" each other to become all that God has created us to be.
Monday, February 27, 2012
A few snapshots from the past week (mainly for the grandparents).
I couldn't help myself. For our trip to the zoo, I picked animal outfits for both the girls.
Coralyn is showing Kellah how the train needs wheels to go.
Coralyn loves spending time with her Grampy!
Getting all her ducks in a row
Such a happy baby girl, and cute to boot! :)
I can't say it enough: I am so blessed!
Friday, February 24, 2012
Around 5 or so Coralyn starts asking for snacks. Well, let me rephrase that. She starts asking for more snacks. I think the child would eat all day if I let her. Granted, she asks for healthy things to eat, but still...
And then there's the never-ending, "I want something else, Mommy!" Usually something else means raisins. Why she doesn't just get straight to the point, I don't know.
Because I can't let her eat non-stop, at some point I have to tell her, "No. Nothing else right now. We're not having anything else until Daddy gets home. When he gets home, we'll eat supper."
So as soon as Lawrence walks through the door, she runs/bounces/hops to greet him. "Daddy!" she exclaims with loads of excitement. Before she can even finish giving him a hug, she is calling out, "Let's eat, Daddy!" and running back into the kitchen. She's on her chair, fork in hand, waiting for him to at least take off his coat so we can all sit down and eat supper as a family. It's all she can do to wait for me to dish up everyone's food on to our plates. And then taking a few more seconds to pray. Whew! Almost more than she can handle, or so she thinks.
Not only does Daddy coming home mean that we get to eat supper, it also means that she gets to read book after book after book after book. After she has inhaled her food, she announces, "All done, Daddy. Let's read books." She rushes into the living room and comes back to the kitchen book in hand, ready for him to read with her. Once again, she has to wait. His fork has barely had the chance to pick up a bite of food, let alone make it all the way to his mouth. And forget chewing!
On days when the weather is really nice, Coralyn might forgo both eating and reading and go straight to, "Let's jump on the trampoline, Daddy" or "Daddy, let's go to the park."
Whatever the case may be, Daddy coming home means something good for Coralyn.
On this particular evening, we were downstairs when Lawrence got home.
So while I finished supper, Coralyn and Daddy had some tea.
We got a blow-up globe in the mail. I told Coralyn when Lawrence got home he would blow it up for her.
As soon as he walked in the door, "Blow this up Daddy," as she hands him the deflated globe.
And then when it was ready, "Let's play ball, Daddy."
At least he got to change into some more comfortable clothes first, this time.
I wonder what her reaction to Lawrence walking through the door would be if there wasn't any promise of food, books, or play time. Would she still be as excited to see her Daddy? Or would the thrill of his arrival be diminished?
Of course this got me thinking :)
How often do I go to God because I want something from Him? How many times do I want His gifts or blessings rather than God Himself? I get so caught up in what I get from God that I forget to just enjoy being with Him, spending time in His presence with no other agenda except to BE with Him. No urgent requests. No questions about what the future may hold. No complaints about the present situation. No looking ahead or wishing for something better to happen. Just cherishing the moment right then. Simply sitting with Him and being quiet, resting and allowing Him the opportunity to give me the biggest blessing of all - Himself!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
"Let me help, Mommy," has become quite the common phrase in our house these days. I am excited that Coralyn wants to help and actually sees ways that she can make my life a bit easier. However, her help isn't always that helpful, and it's those times when I wish she wasn't such a nice, kind, caring, compassionate little girl.
For the most part, she actually does a great job of truly helping me.
*puts her dirty clothes in the hamper
*picks up her toys
*gets her coat on by herself
*brings me my phone when I am nursing Kellah
Other times she somewhat helps, but I usually go back over her work. :)
*wipes off the table
*sweeps the floor
*puts away her clean clothes
Then there's those times when her good intentions result in more work for me.
*winding up the vacuum cord
*dumping her potty into the big potty
*getting milk out of the fridge so she can have some more
*rolling Kellah from her tummy to her back
Earlier today I needed to vacuum, so Coralyn helped me pick everything up off the floor. Great! While I vacuumed, she "hid" on the couch and then read books. When I was done, I was winding up the cord and she runs over, "Let me help, Mommy!" She was more in my way than anything and it took at least twice as long to get the job done. Having her be in charge of finding the end of the cord helped for a few seconds, until the end of the cord was by the vacuum...
As I tried to let her help me and appreciate her good intentions, I had to smile as I pictured myself telling God, "I want to help." How many times do I try to "help" Him out and really just end up making His job more difficult? How many times do I get in the way in the name of "helping?" How often do I think I have really "helped" God out when in reality I have created more work for Him? I walk away smiling, proud of myself for being such a good little girl. If I were to look back, I might see a smirk on God's face as He begins to redo what I just did or, worse, tries to undo it.
The next time Coralyn kindly offers, "Let me help, Mommy," I need to remember how patient God is with me. How He graciously allows me to actually be involved in His kingdom work. How He lovingly shows me what to do time and time and time again. How He mercifully doesn't show me all the mistakes I make, but rather applauds me for my efforts. In the same way that I so often praise Coralyn, "Oh thank you so much. You are such a good helper!"
Well, it's time to go finish up supper. I better go get my little helper...
Monday, February 20, 2012
This month, I have been reading the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan. He talks about our "tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit" and the importance of recognizing our desperate need for and total dependence on God, particularly His Holy Spirit.
Speaking of people's claim that God has called them to live where they are rather than truly being willing to follow the Spirit wherever He may lead. Chan counters,
Some of the things He has said have hit me hard and raised questions in my mind about my own life and the Holy Spirit's role in it.
Speaking of people's claim that God has called them to live where they are rather than truly being willing to follow the Spirit wherever He may lead. Chan counters,
And maybe you are called to where you live. But if you say you are called to be in the place you are, a few questions need to be considered.
For example, how would you be missed if you left this place?
What would change?
Basically, what difference does your presence here make?
Or, as my youth pastor once asked me, what would your church (and the worldwide church) look like if everyone was as committed as you are?
If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or would it be weak and listless?
Along those same lines, Chan addresses our well-intended desire to "figure out God's desire for our lives." He argues that we often use this as an excuse for doing nothing. We wait around to see what God's will is for our future instead of focusing on what He has for us TODAY.
He writes, "I think dwelling on God's plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now. It tends to create a safe zone of sorts, where we can sit around and have 'spiritual' conversations about what God 'might' have planned for our lives. Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate actions in radical ways. God wants to see His children stake everything on His power and presence in their lives."
Chan goes on to say, "a lot of people add Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life."
Adding to that idea, Chan challenges us to look at our lives and see if the Holy Spirit's presence and power is readily evident. Or are we living in a way that reflects we think we don't really need God all that much?
He explains, "I don't believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world's perspective, a way I know I can 'manage.' I believe He is calling me - and all of us - to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged. He wants us to walk in step with His Spirit rather than depend solely on the raw talent and knowledge He's given us."
He goes on and uses the stories of Gideon and the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal to illustrate His point. "God wants the praise for what we do in our lives. But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them? If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and make His presence known?
Can you, along with Elijah and Gideon, say that when people see your life they respond by praising our Father?
When I live by own power and strength, relying solely on my natural talents to see my through, then people naturally praise me for how I am living. But when I am living in a way that requires me to depend on the Holy Spirit, people respond by praising my Father in heaven."
I haven't finished the book yet, but so far I have been challenged to "up my game," quite a bit. I have realized my own "neglect" of the Holy Spirit and want to make some changes. I don't want to ask the Holy Spirit to join me on my little journey. I want to surrender all my hopes and dreams, plans and purposes, along with the need/desire to know every little detail along the way. In exchange for my hair-brain ideas, I want to follow hard after God, going wherever He leads and doing whatever He has for me, even if it doesn't make sense. In fact, in all honesty I don't want my life to make sense. That would mean I am relying on myself, playing it safe, and ultimately missing out on the amazing things God has for me, and my family. So, as Chan wrote, I want to live radically, in such a way that people look at my life and think I am crazy, BUT can't deny God's power and presence in it. In fact, they HAVE to praise God for what they see happening in my life because there is no other explanation for what's going on.
In Francis Chan's words,
"I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn't be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn't come through, I am screwed. (I probably shouldn't write that word here, but it's how I truly feel about this.)"
And now that you know this about me, you can keep me accountable. If you see that my life is boring, manageable, and making sense, then call me out. Remind me to live radically, to go all out in my pursuit of knowing Christ and making Him known. Challenge me to run hard, to keep my eyes on the prize, and to finish the course that GOD has prepared for me.
Better yet, why not join me and we can do this together? I've always been a better runner when I have a partner anyway!
Friday, February 17, 2012
Seriously?! Two months already?! How can this be? Time is flying by uber fast!
At lunch today Lawrence asked, "What did we do before Kellah?" It's funny how you forget what life was like before your baby was born? And to try to imagine again what life was like before Coralyn! Our lives would certainly be a lot more quiet, and boring...
Kellah is just the sweetest thing. When she wakes up for good in the morning, she is all smiles. She likes to "talk" to me after she is done eating. We just sit there and have the nicest time together. She coos and ahs and even laughs. I love those morning cuddles that we get to enjoy before Coralyn wakes up.
Kellah still hasn't figured out how to roll over, but she sure is working her hardest at it.
She usually eats every 2-3 hours, but boy is she quick. Either she is super efficient or she just doesn't eat much. She is growing though. I think this will be her last week in the newborn clothes. The onesies still fit without any problem, but she is finally getting long enough to need the 0-3 month sleep and play button/zip up outfits. I didn't measure her for length yet today, but I did do the oh so official "hold her while I step on the scale and then put her down while I weigh myself" to see how much she weighs. Right at 10 pounds, but that was with her clothes and cloth diaper on, so probably somewhere around 9 and half pounds.
Kellah is a pretty good sleeper. The other night she slept for over 6 hours! But, on the typical day (or night I should say), she goes about 4-5 hours. During the day she either takes lots of short cat naps or just one really long nap right after lunch.
She likes to know what is going on and wants to be held in such a way that she is looking out at everybody. However, she's really quite "chill" and relaxed, just taking in everything around her. She is smiling more and more, and I love interacting with her.
Coralyn continues to be a fabulous big sister. She is kind of protective of Kellah. When we went to visit our friends, she didn't really appreciate their little boy trying to touch Kellah, at all. She made sure to let me know what he was doing and to see to it that he stopped! When we go someplace, she likes to help me carry Kellah's carseat (such a big help!). And anytime Kellah cries, Coralyn immediately comes to get me. "Kellah's crying, Mommy! She's tired. She wants some milk." The only time Coralyn isn't concerned about her little sister is when I am reading her books. If Kellah wakes up from a nap and starts crying then, Coralyn assures me, "She's okay, Mommy." She always want to be certain I know that she didn't wake her up (after she was really loud and woke Kellah up several times). "She woke up herself, Mommy. I didn't wake her up."
I love watching Coralyn and Kellah together. Granted, they don't really interact all that much. But Coralyn really is sweet and loves to give her little sister kisses. I pray that they are close growing up and become best friends for life.
I think back to when Coralyn was this age and try to remember what she was like. Then I dream ahead and try to image what Kellah will be like when she is Coralyn's age now. But really all I know is that my two girls are both growing up before my very eyes. Lawrence asked Coralyn last night if she would stay this way forever. "No, Daddy! That's silly!" Of course it is, but can't we just pretend that you will always be our little -- I mean big -- girl! And that Kellah will always be able to lay on my lap with room to spare.
I guess I do want them to grow up, to become the girls and then women God has created them to be. I know He has special plans for them, and I am excited to see what they are, and to get to play a role in helping make them happen. I am so blessed to be their mommy!
My life is certainly all the richer thanks to Coralyn and Kellah!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
"I need this," Coralyn announces as she grabs her purse to take with her in the car when we go to the grocery store.
She needed to sit on Kellah's play mat to read her book.
"I need this," she explains as she reaches for the letter magnets she has removed from the fridge and goes to put them in her mixing bowl to make soup, or coffee...either way, she needs those letters to make it taste good.
"I need this," she shouts over her shoulder as she picks up a book, or two or three, and races to the bathroom to go potty.
"I need this," she pouts as she tries to convince me to let her bring her stuffed pink bear into the bathtub with her.
"I need this," she huffs as she lugs her stuffed caterpillar that is bigger than her (thoughtful gift from our neighbors who wanted to make sure Coralyn wasn't being overlooked as the big sister of a brand new baby) down the stairs, and then back up again.
"I need this," "I need this," "I need this..."
It's absolutely ridiculous all the things that Coralyn needs. Quite often she has so much stuff in her hands that she can't carry it all. She will do her best, but sometimes she complains, "This is too heavy, Mommy." Gee, I wonder why? Could it be that you are attempting to carry twice your body weight in stuffed animals? Or she'll regretfully admit, "I have so much stuff; it's too much, Mommy." Yes, dear, it is. It certainly is.
Last night topped the cake though. Coralyn had worn a headband to church, and when she got home it was time to get ready for bed. "I need a bath, Mommy." After explaining that we didn't have time for a bath since we had gone to church, she agreed that it was time to get her pajamas on and brush her teeth. "But I need this," she countered back, holding up her headband. Fine, you can hold onto your headband. I don't really care. Just help me get your pajamas on. Okay, switch hands so you can put that arm through the hole now. Now the other hand. Put the headband right here on the sink so you can brush your teeth. Yes, here's your headband back. Now, climb in bed and we'll read our Bible story. Apparently the headband was more exciting that Jesus calming the storm because we had to stop reading to ask Coralyn to put her headband down and pay attention. Finally, we got through the story, said our prayers, and gave our hugs and kisses. Headband in hand the entire time, mind you. "Cover me up, Mommy." As I put the blanket over her, she still has the headband grasped tightly in her hand. Really?
It may have been ridiculous, but she didn't cry at all. She didn't come out of her bedroom one single time. She went right to sleep. I guess she really did need that headband after all :)
So much so that when she woke up at 4:30, right as I climbed back into bed after feeding Kellah (for the first and only time last night!!!), and realized she didn't have her headband in hand she cried out in terror. I go in to see what the problem is, relieved to discover all we had to do was locate the precious headband and all was well once more. She gripped the headband, slipped under the covers, and was back asleep in under a minute.
This morning when she woke up and came out of her room, the headband was safe and secure right there in her hand. And it laid on the table in front of her as she ate her breakfast too. Although I guess it's not that important anymore because it's still on the table. She has moved on and found other things that she desperately needs. Like the chapstick she got in her Valentine's Day basket on Tuesday. I swear she will have the moistest lips in the whole neighborhood. My guess is that the chapstick will be all used up by the end of the week, as she is constantly applying and reapplying and reapplying and reapplying it. At least she's not selfish about it though, as she was so very kind to share and let Kellah try some too. :) And of course, I needed some as well. :)
Today on our grocery shopping trip, she needed the receipts from each store. She got quite upset when she dropped one as I was buckling her into her carseat. I reached down and picked up a receipt and gave it back to her. But oh no, it was not the right one. The one I had given her was from Wal-Mart and didn't have the coupons on the back like the one from Hy-Vee did. How does she recognize these things?! Seriously! She needed the Hy-Vee one, and so I had to look again and find it before we could return home in peace.
She's now taking her nap, and she needed her chapstick. So my bet is that she's doing more applying of chapstick than actual sleeping. But at least she'll have soft, smooth lips when she "wakes up" (as she says when she comes out of her room after playing during the entire nap time).
While I was unloading and reloading the dishwasher I was smiling to myself as I thought about how silly Coralyn is with her constant "I need this" requests.
She needed to wear her Boots socks on her hands to drink from her Dora cup, which didn't even have anything in it to begin with!
She needed to sit on Kellah's play mat to read her book.
Then I heard that little whisper in my ear, "But so are you, Sarah. So are you."
Ugh, God, not again. Why do you have to point these things out to me, using my two-year-old daughter to teach me another lesson?
How often do I think I need something or hold on so tightly to something that is absolutely ridiculous? How often do I try to carry around a bunch of stuff, way too much stuff, to the point that I am so loaded down with all the things that I thought I so desperately needed that I can't even use or enjoy them?
I may not need a headband to go to sleep. And I may not need to put chapstick on my lips every two seconds. But I am still pretty ridiculous at times. So the next time Coralyn announces, "I need this" and holds up some random toy, I better remember that I look just as silly to God.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and we celebrated our love for our family and friends. We exchanged gifts like chocolate candy, roses, balloons, teddy bears, and the like. Some people were "lucky" enough to get jewelry, maybe even a diamond ring. I think I heard that 1 out of every 10 proposals is made on Valentine's Day, so quite a few people got engaged yesterday. In several months time they will have their wedding and stand before their family and friends, promising to love each other for better or worse, for rich or poor, in sickness and in health, until death do them part. And they will kiss and smile the biggest smile of their lives thus far, then walk down the aisle giddy with excitement as they start their new adventure together as husband and wife.
Yes, yesterday was a day of ooey-gooey chocolate-covered, rose-petaled mushiness. Unless you celebrated Singles Awareness Day...but even then you can celebrate your close friendships and let the people closest to you know how much you appreciate them.
Whatever the case may be, I didn't want to "ruin" yesterday's love fest with my less than happy thoughts that were running through my head and try to dampen my spirit. I kept myself as busy as possible with Coralyn, packing the day full of various heart activities to make the day as fun as I could for her. I want her to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love her, and yesterday that was evidenced by all the construction paper we cut and decorated, all the stickers we stuck, the books we read, the songs we sang, the dances we danced, the special food we ate - including not one but two scoops of peanut butter ice cream with fudge ripples and chocolate covered peanuts.
Now that Valentine's Day has come and gone, I feel like I can express my emotions and do my best to try to make sense of what has been going on in my heart and mind the past two days. I can try to grapple with another, completely different meaning of "until death do us part."
Monday morning, Coralyn and I were happily making Valentine's cookies for our neighbors. I was snapping pictures of her trying to stick the entire mixer thingy in her mouth so that she could eat every last bit of cookie dough. She was covered in flour from head to toe (having her wear black pants that morning wasn't the best idea). Lawrence had the day off from school due to the snow, and he was in the living room with Kellah, enjoying her ooos and aaas and precious baby smiles. It was one of those kairos moments, where you want to freeze time and fully enjoy what is happening, taking in everything and locking it away in your stash of priceless memories.
Then the phone rang. It was my mom. Unfortunately she wasn't calling to let me know about a score from basketball game or that something had sold really well on ebay or that someone I knew was getting married. Oh no, quite the opposite. She had sad news, terrible news, horrific news that you never want to hear, ever. A friend from high school (and college) had lost her baby boy. He simply didn't wake up that morning. They didn't know what had happened for sure, but he was gone. Gone. He was only four and a half months old!
Things like this aren't supposed to happen. Especially not to someone you know. But it does happen, and this time I didn't hear about it on the news. It wasn't some stranger from some far off place. It was someone I went to school with, played sports with, did forensics with, studied with, experienced Chicago with, and so on. And to make it hit even closer to home, her baby boy was just months older than my baby girl.
I remember being at Judy's wedding. I remember congratulating her and Ernesto. Coralyn was just two months old at the time. She wore a red velvet dress since the wedding was around Christmas time. I remember Judy smiling at Coralyn and saying how she couldn't wait to be a mommy herself.
Well, Judy's wish came true and she had a happy, healthy baby boy. Judah Ernesto was born on September 17, 2011. I loved seeing pictures of her little man on facebook. He was absolutely adorable. Life was good.
And then Monday morning happens.
What in the world was God thinking?
Why would He allow such a thing to happen?
What is the point of taking a baby from his parents, especially one so young?
What good can possibly come out of such a tragedy?
How can He have planned this before time began?
Why would He create life only to take it away so quickly?
How is this fair? It's not! Not at all! There are people who don't want or love their children, who abuse them even. Why doesn't God take those children? Why does He allow them to remain in such an awful situation and then take away a baby who was wanted and dearly, dearly loved?! It makes absolutely no sense. None at all.
WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!
I feel like I have had to ask this question far too often.
A friend grieves as his mother loses the battle against cancer.
Another friend loses her husband in a tractor accident.
Another friend is killed when she is riding her bike and gets hit by a car.
Yet another friend loses her baby to cancer.
A friend has a miscarriage, and then another.
A student loses her baby, at 32 weeks gestation, just one week after they finished taking my childbirth classes.
I could go on, but what is the point?
Every time something like this happens, I want to know WHY. Why did God allow this to happen and how He is going to "work all things together for good" for these people who "love Him and are called according to His purpose?"
And each time there is no answer. Except silence. At least that is how I feel.
I am getting tired of bad things happening, especially to people I know. And as more and more bad things happen, I get scared that next time it won't just be someone I know...it will be ME.
And it was me when we miscarried and lost our baby in 2010. That was hard, really hard. BUT, God was faithful, and He did use that terrible situation for His glory, and my ultimate good. Yes, I will always think about my loss and wonder "what if" as I dream about what my baby would have looked like, what his/her personality would have been, what he/she would have become as he/she grew up. At the same time God has brought healing. He has replaced my tears with joy; He has turned my mourning into dancing. He has graciously given us Kellah (not to mention Coralyn) to fill my time (and heart), to create special memories with, to treasure and enjoy.
I think that is what makes the news from this phone call even harder though. To lose someone you never knew is one thing, but to lose a precious child you had held and kissed and laughed with is quite another.
I can't imagine.
Nor do I don't really want to imagine, ever, the pain and sadness Judy must be feeling.
The other day at church my friend Jeanne was carrying Kellah around. Coralyn was home sick with Lawrence. And so my hands were free and my arms were empty. I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I felt lost. Take that feeling and multiply it by a million billion gazillion, and I might get close to understanding what Judy is experiencing. I am sure there were baby clothes to be washed, and she will find them when she goes to do laundry. Or she will happen upon a bib or burp cloth that got hidden under the couch. Or she'll walk by his nursery and see an empty crib. All around her will be memories of her baby boy.
Little Judah was only four and a half months old. That just seems cruel to give a mother a baby for such a short time, just long enough to fall madly in love, not to mention feel like she is finally getting the hang of the whole mommy thing in the first place. Again, I ask, no scream, WHY?!
Not only that, I hold my own children a little bit closer. I give them more hugs, more kisses. I tell them, "I love you," every five minutes, or so it seems. I fear losing them. I worry that something bad will happen to one, or both, of them. But, as Lawrence reminded me on Monday as I was crying on his shoulder, I can't live in fear. I can't allow myself to be overwhelmed with all the "what if's" of life. I simply have to enjoy the time I am given with my precious girls, however long that may be. And since I don't know how many days are written in their books of life, I just have to be thankful for the day at hand. What's more, I have to remember to keep things in perspective.
Coralyn's whiny voice means she is alive and well. So does her asking me to wipe her nose, for the 10,000th time. Or her coming out of her room during nap time with yet another ridiculous reason (there's dirt in her toes, for example).
Kellah's cries, at 2 am, mean she is alive and well. So do her dirty diapers, even the ones that "explode" and require a sponge bath before redressing her.
And so since I hung up the phone on Monday morning, I have been trying not to get agitated or frustrated or upset at such things. Instead, I have reminded myself how blessed I am, how thankful I should be that my hands are full and my arms anything but empty. Each time I do, I say a prayer for Judy and Ernesto as well, that God would wrap His arms of love around them, that they would feel His strength and be overwhelmed with His peace.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
This month, in anticipation of Valentine's Day,
I have tried to do a fun "heart" activity with Coralyn every day.
We made a list of all the fun things we would do,
one activity for each day leading up to Valentine's Day.
Every day we take off one link and do the activity for that day.
We made cranberry almond muffins.
We paints hearts with sponges.
I had more pictures, but my camera decided they were in an unreadable format! :( Yesterday, when we made heart cookies for the neighbors, Coralyn was covered in flour (wearing black jeans nonetheless). I also had a great shot of her trying to stick the entire spinner thingy for the mixer in her mouth. I guess you will just have to imagine what that looked like. :)
Lawrence and Coralyn delivered the cookies yesterday, and then enjoyed playing in the snow.
We didn't get everything done, and sometimes we did a different/substitute activity. Today, we get to catch up on everything we missed.
We spent all morning doing various heart projects and will probably do some more this afternoon, just for fun.
Coralyn watched a special Valentine's Day episode of "Go, Diego, Go!"
We made hearts for a mobile.
We cut out playdough hearts.
We read Valentine's Day books. And non-Valentine's Day books :)
Peanut butter and honey sandwich (the perfect pair)
Cottage cheese with red sprinkles on top
Peas (Won't you "peas" be my Valentine?)
Kellah couldn't really participate in the heart activities, but she is still super cute.
All decked out in her V-Day outfit from Grandma Sherry.
I am blessed to have not one, but TWO, sweet and precious Valentines this year! Not counting Lawrence, of course! He's my first and foremost Valentine, today and every day :)
I made him a "I Love You Because" collage frame where I can write something new each day.
Later, Coralyn is going to help me make some heart cinnamon rolls for dessert tonight. I think I am trying to keep as busy as possible to avoid dwelling on my friend's loss yesterday and worrying if something similar will ever happen to us. Lawrence reminded me last night that I can't live in fear, but that is easier said than done. So, I guess I am trying to do as many fun things as I can today to rack up those special memories. Plus, it's a blast lovin' on my girls. That's what Valentine's Day is all about, right?
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