B & D

B & D

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We have this little friend who I will call “B.”  He comes and hangs out with us two days a week or so.  He has since he was eight months old.  Now he will tell you he is a BIG boy at his four years of age.

And this little guy is awesome!  His favorite thing to do as of late is to help me with everything.

A few days ago “everything” include dusting with sock puppets and wrapping birthday presents and making sure the gift had lots of tissue “hair.”  (Isn’t that what everyone calls the extra tissue paper we feel obligated to put atop each gift bag?  If it has a name and you know it, let me know in the comments below.)

So in our cleaning with sock puppets (mine ate more dust than his), he came across a round box.  And being the fabulous little gent that he is, he asked if he could open the box before he removed the lid.

I gave him permission and watched him open Daniel’s box. It was given to us at the hospital when Daniel died.  In it I have put things that remind me of him over the years.

Blue knitted caps that were given to us.

Blue and white stones used in a flower arrangement at his funeral.

An ultrasound picture.

B was thoroughly confused when I told him that the ultrasound was a picture of my baby Daniel in my belly.

Lets be completely honest:  ultrasound pictures are not the clearest.  I remember thinking one of my children looked like a primitive dinosaur at one ultrasound…

Anyway, I could tell that B was a little confused and he always desires to understand everything in the world around him.

So I offered to show him Daniel’s baby book.  B absorbed every picture into his brain as I explained that Daniels’s body could not survive here on earth and he had to go to heaven to be healed.  And I reminded him that we would see Daniel in heaven one day!

But B kept looking at the ultrasound pictures asking if this was an eye and that a foot.

Then he looked at me with all the honesty of a little fellow trying to figure out this great big world around him and said, “When I was a baby, I was in….” and he looked like he could not find the words to articulate what he wanted to say.  He looked at me a few minutes longer and I realized he could not remember her name.  I said his birth mother’s name out loud.

He said, “Yes, I grew in her tummy.”

And I realized that there are two little boys in my life who live apart from their birth moms.

Daniel lives in heaven with Jesus.  And B lives with his aunt who is all he has ever known as a mother.

And in both cases it is good.  God’s plans don’t always make sense to us here on earth but we can trust that He is always at work and we are never alone on our journey.

I praise the Lord for providing shelter and protection to my little buddies B & D!

The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:8-9

 

I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

October 15th

October 15th

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in the United States.  It is a day for parents to remember the child/children who they hoped would be here on earth, but whose home is heaven.

This month is also recognized as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness” month.  As such, I have gotten a new opportunity to share at the local library.  In doing some research for my class and for this month, I have found the following memes.  While I cannot say that I agree with everything the groups who have posted these stand for, I found these memes to touch a special place in my heart.

 

Then I came across this poem that touched my heart:

“Some would say I didn’t even know you, but I carried you, felt you grow, longed for the day we’d meet, dreamed of your future.  Not only did I know you, I fell in love with you.” (From Mommies with Angel Babies)

So on this October 15th, I want to encourage you, that if you have had a loss, you are not alone.  And I know that it hurts and that the pain never goes away.  But I hope you find comfort in the assurance that your baby is in heaven.  And I pray that you know that you will one day see him/her/them again.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:10

 

Devotion: Alligators in My Bed

Devotion: Alligators in My Bed

I had all the normal childhood fears.  I was afraid of the dark.  I was afraid of the monsters in my closet and under my bed.  And, of course, I was afraid of the alligators sleeping in my bed.  

You read that correctly.  I feared the presence of alligators between my fitted and flat sheets.  This was an easy fear to overcome.  I simply had my mom pull the top sheet and covers to the very end of my bed each night so that I could confirm no alligators.  

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My alligator fear was so real that when I wanted to get into my parent’s bed in the middle of the night, I asked them to get out of bed, turn on the lights, and pull their covers all the way back so that I could confirm they had no alligators in their bed as well.

Here is where I will confess to you a few things about my childhood that I have realized since becoming a mother myself:


1.  I was a high maintenance child.  (There.  I said it so you would not have to.)

2.    We never lived within five hours of an alligator habitat.  There was zero chance of alligators in our yard much less my upstairs bedroom!  

3.  I was a very high maintenance child.  

I had always thought I was the easy child, but I have learned that I was definitely more difficult than my sister.  This was because once I became convinced of something, I could not drop it.  Just like the idea of an alligator in my bed…no one could reason with me otherwise.

The alligators became a fearful presence in my life , because I was convinced they were a real possibility.  

A few months after Daniel died, I read a scripture about being convinced.  I had read this passage before.  It has always reassured me of God’s presence no matter what.  

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  
Romans 8:35, 38-39

It was true, and  I had known this before Daniel died. But after his death, this verse seemed to ring truer than before.  

Neither Daniel’s death nor my life here on earth could separate me from the love of God.  Nothing – not my grief, not my fears for the future, not anything that had happened or could happen, could separate me from the love of God.  

I want to encourage you not to let anything separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Seek Him and you will find Him.  Know that His loving arms are just waiting to hold you, hug you, and carry you forever.  

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I made my bed in Sheol, you are there!  
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:7-10

“The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!  
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”  
Psalm 28:8-9

Blog Readers:  Remember, I would love your honest feedback about these devotions.  You can leave a public comment or send me a message privately.  Thanks in advance!  

Everyone Has Good Hair, But Me!!!

Everyone Has Good Hair, But Me!!!

While scrambling eggs one morning, I overheard the following proclamations coming from the bathroom.

“Daddy has good hair.  Ruthie has good hair.  Julee has good hair.  Izzie Lou has good hair.  Molly Beagle has good hair.  Mommy has good hair.  Everyone has good hair but me!”

(Izzie Lou and Molly Beagle were two dogs we had at the time.)  

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Then the tears began to fall on my three-year old’s face.

She thought that her hair was not good.  

At the age of three.  

I stood there thinking….”Why does she even care?  I have tried so hard to not emphasize beauty on the outside.  I’ve been lenient about looks.  I let the girls wear mismatched clothes out in public.  And plastic high heel shoes to the local bagelry for breakfast.  I’ve even been known to take a tiara or two out to lunch.  Why does she care about beauty?”  

LeeAnne saw in the mirror that morning what she was not.  She could not see that she had the most beautiful big blue eyes and was the only one in our family with blond, curly hair.

LeeAnne could only see what she wasn’t instead of what she is.  

I can’t get upset with her – I have the same problem.  

After Daniel died, I remember thinking about how much I wanted to hold him in my arms.  I wanted to his sister to be able to love on him.  I wanted two car seats in my back seat.  I wanted diapers to fill my shopping cart.  

But that was not to be.  At least not at that time in my life.  

Daniel was not meant to live in my house or to be loved on by us here on earth.  Years later, the Lord gave me two other daughters for whom I am most grateful.  I had to buy pull-ups and diapers at the same time!  I had to have three car seats in my car at one time.  And I never complained about it!  It was wonderful to have life in my home after such a tremendous loss.  


But when I was walking the days and weeks after Daniel’s death, I could not see the future.  I could not know for certain that I would ever have another healthy child.  I saw other families having healthy babies.  I saw families full of life and joy and I seemed to have none.  I had allowed my joy to be taken from me by the loss I was enduring.  

I am by no means saying you need to be full of joy and that you need to be happy with whatever God gives to you.  Sometimes that is humanly impossible – we cannot do it in our own strength.  

What I am saying is that when you find yourself uncertain of your circumstances and not thankful for what is going on in your life, take those concerns and frustrations to the Lord.  Ask Him to take those burdens from you.  Ask Him to show you how He is working.  


Sometimes you may need to beg the Lord to show you how He is going to use your circumstances for good, but I promise you that He will never leave you and you can cling to Him during your difficult seasons of life.  

And He will show you that your blond curly hair is beautiful – even if it is different from the others in your life.  He will use all things for His glory if we trust in Him.  

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”  Psalm 55:22

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and bounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  Psalm 145:8-9

Everybody’s Named Daniel!

Everybody’s Named Daniel!

I have been a little busy these last few weeks with two weddings that I helped to plan and direct.  My hope was that the proceeds from these events would fund the printing process of self-publishing this book, but God had other plans which I will share soon.

Anyway, so as I was directing these weddings, I started to see a common theme, the name Daniel.

Father of the Bride:  Daniel

Sound Tech (for BOTH weddings):  Daniel

Groomsman:  Daniel

And if it wasn’t their first name, then some people even had it for their last name!
I was surrounded with Daniels all these last few weeks.

And I really think there were a few more, but I realized two things as I kept having to interact with all these Daniels.

Number One Lesson Learned:  Daniel is a much more popular name than I realized when we chose the name for our son.

Number Two Lesson Learned:  While I was surrounded with living Daniels, I was constantly reminded of my Daniel in heaven.  Partially because I am have been amazed at God’s provision to fund my book project in ways I had not anticipated (again, more later).  But because in the midst of getting all the “T’s” crossed and the “I’s” dotted for these weddings, I was going over I Have a Brother with a fine tooth comb and making sure I had done everything needed to be ready to send it off…

And obviously reading the story over and over again, reminds me of the days when it really happened…and I am so thankful to be on this side of the journey, but I am so thankful for the Lord’s goodness to me throughout this journey…He has been so good and I am so thankful!

So that is where we have been these last few weeks.  I hope to blog a few times each week and share where we are on the self-publishing journey and also to share more about God’s goodness to us through life.  God is good – even when we cannot see what He is doing.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

 

 

Why share the dream?

Why share the dream?

When my little lady with big eyes had her dream, I was overcome with emotion.  Then fear crept in, what if??  What if she just made it all up?  What if it wasn’t real?  Could I trust my two and a half year old?

That’s a loaded question.  Trust her with what?  With her great-grandmother’s fine china…probably not.  But trust her to tell the truth,  yes.  Those baby blues cannot tell a lie.

But there was a bigger question for me to answer:  Was God trying to send comfort to me through the dream of a little girl?  Could God do such a thing?

I hope we all read that last question and had a resounding answer like, “Of course, God could send you comfort through your child’s dream…God is God and He can do anything!”

When I was in the hospital after Daniel had been born, I remember telling the nurses and doctors that God was God and I trusted Him whether or not my son lived.  And then my son died.  And I had to live that proclamation out.
I will be the first to say that I did not live that out as nicely as I wish I could have, but I had no idea what it meant to grieve or mourn when I said those words.  My heart had never been so broken.
Slowly over time, I was able to gain understanding as to what God had done and was doing through our loss.  I could trust the Lord and not be afraid.  God is still God and I could still trust Him.

And I do.

Now I understand that I will not always understand His answers or desire His answers, but I can trust Him wholeheartedly.  And I hope that is what I am doing moment by moment, day by day.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

I have had this proverb in my heart since I was a wee little Daphne. Then one day a few years ago, I kept reading…

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”  Proverbs 3:7-8

At the time I was reading this, I had convinced myself that my body was failing.  I may be alone in this, but I can start having a pain or an ailment and all of a sudden, I go there.   I can convince myself that I am dying.  And if I google it, I can confirm my suspicions.

I will stop right here and just praise the Lord that my husband will listen to my diagnoses and disprove them each and every time, though sometimes it would be nice for him to get on board my crazy train for just a minute or two…misery loves company.

So verses seven and eight of Proverb chapter 3 really just encouraged me to put my focus where I thought it had been…on the Lord.  Let Him guide my each and every step and turn away from my doubt and my frustration…to turn away from me.  Put my eyes on Him.  And it will bring life to my bones.

So I decided to share this dream with others.  For I found that it was a gift from the Lord.  I would not be afraid of what people would say or if they would question the dream.  If God gives us a gift, we must glorify Him with it.

For me, this dream was God’s gift of confirming in my heart that I have not lost my children who died before me, but rather I will see them one day in heaven.  And for that I am grateful.