Tuesday, October 27, 2009

T-Shirt UPDATE

Ok. So I decided to make life much less complicated and I am ordering a t-shirt with a one shirt minimum. This way, if you want one I can email you the ordering information and you can order it right off the t-shirt design website. I don't have to pre-order this way and worry about recouping my money and for those who want shirts you can get one fuss free in your size sent right to your house. What do you think about that!?!

I look forward to running for you babies. You only have one more day to submit names. I will place my order tomorrow morning and I really don't want to leave anyone out.

Thank you!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.(Psalm 139:14)

When my son was born it was easy to not only see that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, but I was also. Through conception to birth, I carried my son without a hitch. Everything went so well I was convinced that I was meant to have babies. My body was good at it. It came so naturally. God had certainly made me that way right, wonderfully made to have babies.

Fast forward two years. My second pregnancy was a double blessing as we discovered we were expecting identical twin girls. I was thrilled! And being labeled "high risk" as twins always are did not scare me. To be honest I never gave it a second thought. I was good at having babies remember? I never worried or became paranoid. I trusted my body. I did my part and remained responsible and informed. I followed my doctor's advice, took my vitamins, got rest (as much as I could with a two-year-old) and patiently waited to meet my girls. What could go wrong?

Little did I know the magnitude of such a question. When I woke up the morning of June 24th, 2008 I knew something was terribly wrong. As I drove myself to the hospital I begged God to protect my girls and keep them in my body. It was not their time. When the doctor told me that all attempts to stop my labor had failed I felt resentment toward my own body. Why was it not cooperating? It was failing my girls.

In the days that followed I could not look at my girls without feeling that my body betrayed me and my girls were the victims of its betrayal. I will be honest, I did not feel very wonderfully made. I felt all wrong.

My girls died almost 16 months ago. In those 16 months I have learned as much about what I know as what I don't know. And today when I read Psalm 139:14 I cried because it is yet another thing I can add it to the list of all the things I don't know.

It is something I do not know full well at all.

But I want to.

I believe God's word is true. True always for everyone in all circumstances. Feeling that I am not fearfully and wonderfully made does not make it so. And only an all loving and compassionate God would desire to remind me through His Word that I am in fact these things at a time in my life when I feel like none of these things.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Despite it all, I am. Not only when everything is going right, but even in my broken and defective state, I remain a work of the Creator. God's workmanship.

His works are wonderful...even when my eyes are too blurred with tears to see the wonder of what His hands have done.

And I praise Him for that.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful, I know that full well.(Psalm 139:14)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Half Marathon T-Shirt!!!!!

I am running the Silver Strand Half Marathon in three weeks. I am running to honor my girls and would also love to run in honor of other babies gone from us too soon. I need to order the t-shirts in two days. If you want your child's name on my jersey please let me know ASAP. The name that have already been submitted are:

Audrey Caroline
Jenna Belle
Emma and Chase
Bridgitte and Ashlyn
Amelia Faith
Christian
Sophia and Ellie
Arianna Kim

Please, if there are more send me a comment with your child's name. I will be sure to include them.

Thank you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Valley

Some things just cut to the core.

That is me lately. Cut clean through.

When I look at myself in the mirror I see someone I hardly recognize. I am so wounded. I can still see the pain in me. I wear it in my countenance. I wonder if I am the only one that can see it or if others can tell I hurt?

I think maybe I am just having a hard week. I do better for a while and then the hard days come back. I know I am having a rough day when I feel desperate. Desperate for a change. Desperate for an end. Desperate for the answers to my questions.

Desperate for my babies.

When will I be out of this valley?

On my run the other day some song lyrics spoke to me. I don't need to explain them. They speak for themselves.

The Valley Song by Jars of Clay

You have led me to the sadness
I have carried this pain
On a back bruised, nearly broken
I'm crying out to you

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

When death like a Gypsy
Comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek your face

But I fear you aren't listening
Because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger
For a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

Alleluia, alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia

While we wait for rescue
With our eyes tightly shut
Face to the ground using our hands
To cover the fatal cut

And though the pain is an ocean
Tossing us around, around, around
You have calmed greater waters
Higher mountains have come down

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

Yeah

Alleluia, alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia alleluia, alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia alleluia, alleluia

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy x4

Sing of Your mercy
Mercy
Your mercy

I don't know when I will be out of this valley. And I still don't fully grasp how healing comes. It seems fleeting at best. I still feel desperate, but this time for a faith that assures, so that someday I can truly sing from my heart of His mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy.

Yeah.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fearing Hope

When Aubrey and Ellie died I put a shield over my heart. I kept loving the things I already loved more fiercely and possessively than ever. But I warded off any kind of new love or attachment of any kind. Fear and hurt consumed my life. All my energy was spent worrying if the other things I loved so much would be taken from me too. I bargained with God often.

I'll be a better Christian, I promise, just let me keep my son.
Please, I'll do anything, just don't let anymore of my children die.

Once my husband and I were talking about having another baby and I told him that I was scared to even try. I even said that if I lost another baby I would kill myself. My confession scared him. It scared me. I started seeing a grief counselor after that.

The truth is I would never kill myself. I was just scared...scared of what having my hopes dashed again would feel like. I wanted the pain to stop and never return. And the fear of not knowing if more pain was waiting for me in the future made me not want to move forward with my life.

I couldn't bare the thought of losing anything else.

I still have days when I am gripped with fear and I lose all motivation to hope and dream. Which is really sad because that is who I am. I am a dreamer and a hoper. I lost a huge part of myself when my girls died not just because I had to say goodbye to my own flesh and blood, but because in my pain I had allowed a seed of fear to be planted in my heart.

I feared hope.

Without hope who am I?

I realize that I will never be the same, but there are some changes in myself I am not willing to allow. As I heal I get stronger and more able to fight to regain what was lost. I want hope back in my life. I want hope back in my heart.

I am about to go on a six mile run. And yes I am actually looking forward to it. Like usual I will put in my ipod and let Jars of Clay lyrics fill my head and pray that the Holy Spirit speaks to me. I want the pressed down and covered up dreams at the bottom of my heart to resurface. I want to remember all the things fear caused me to forget. I want to hope today.

I want to hope always and forever.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV (emphasis added)

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Rom 5:2-5 NIV (emphasis added)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our New Puppy

This is our new little puppy Chevelle. She is the sweetest thing on earth and I just love her. We have been talking about getting a dog for over a year. Believe it or not, it is a big step after losing our girls. I haven't felt ready. But a few weeks ago the opportunity presented itself and in my heart I knew it was time. We adopted her from the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter and fell in love with her immediately. Dustin just adores her. She is 8 weeks old now and a wonderful addition to our family. It is nice to have something little to hold again.











Sunday, October 11, 2009

Visiting

I visited my girls at the cemetery.

We buried them near my childhood home because being military we don't always know where we will be. My parents will never move so it only made sense to lay them to rest somewhere I would always be able to return to.

My babies are buried where I grew up. There is sad irony in that.

I took them each a bouquet of roses and alstroemerias (different colors of course) and sat with them awhile.

It was a beautiful day. Warm sun, cool breeze. Just lovely. I knelt in the grass and brushed off their headstone. I wanted it to look nice of course. My sister was with me. We sat and talked about Aubrey and Ellie, life, God, faith and the future. Me on one side, her on the other, and a little tiny headstone in the middle. We felt sad. It has been hard on all of us losing Aubrey and Ellie.

It still feels strange going there. It stirs up the memories of the saddest time of my life. I can't imagine ever feeling comfortable at the graveside of my babies.

But I am glad I went.

I wait anxiously to see them again. Until then I have my spot in the grass...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Too Real

Some people may think that there is no such thing as too real. Something is either real or it isn't. But I disagree.

Losing my girls is too real.

This morning I opened Aubrey and Ellie's memory book because I haven't in a while and wanted some time with them. The pictures remind me that they were really here. But now they are not. I still have to remind myself that this all really happened..

It is, in fact, real.

Too real.

That day in the doctor's office when I saw not one, but TWO, babies on the screen was real. Carrying them in my belly for 24 weeks and 4 days was real. Loving them was real. Naming them, planning for them, setting up their nursery for them, buying a double stroller and two infant car seats for them, dreaming about them...all real.

Sitting in a chair staring at the tiniest casket you ever saw with both my girls in it was too real.

My girls really died. That is the too real part.

I don't know why it is still so hard for me to accept that they are gone. I mean, I live it every day and have for over a year now. But for some reason today I am having an extra hard time accepting what is real.

It is simply too real.

And it hurts.

I just miss my girls.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Due Date Anniversary

One year ago today was my girls' due date.

I have been thinking all day about giving birth. I speak from personal experience when I say that giving birth is hard work. It was very important to me to have a natural, medication-free birth, and with my son I did. 8 hours! Not bad for a first birth so I hear. But in the moment it was tough. Hardest thing I have ever endured...until I lost my girls of course.

Yet the most fulfilling.

When I saw my son's smooshed little face and tiny wet body set on my chest it felt as though my life began. He was the most beautiful thing I EVER saw, cone head and all! I never felt more joy in all my life. Every moment of pain was worth it. Every single one. I had a beautiful, healthy little boy. What more could a mother ask for? It was the best moment of my life.

Perfectly beautiful. Wholly fulfilling. It changed me forever.

I have a story to share.

My sister has two little girls. The cutest little girls ever. She had her first daughter just four months after I had my son. Like me, she wanted a natural medication free birth (I know, gluttons for punishment in my family aren't we). And she did! 13 hours and lots of tears later her little girl (with a pretty big head) finally emerged into the world. She got the whole thing on tape. When I watched the video I was completely speechless. Having just given birth myself a few months prior the experience was still fresh in my mind. I felt her pain and winced with every push. She was such a trooper though. She stuck it out.

There was this amazing moment though that lives imprinted on my memory. After hours of labor my sister was completely wiped out. You could see her eyes were glassy and she could barely even talk. She was completely focused on getting that baby out. Finally her daughter came into the world, perfectly fat with a head full of dark hair. We waited in anticipation to hear her baby cry. As the doctor dealt with the baby my sister just laid there. I never saw anyone more exhausted. But as soon as that baby let out her first scream I watched my sister do the most beautiful thing...

She held her arms out for her baby.

She didn't speak, she didn't lift her head, she didn't sit up, she just held out her arms. And the doctor handed her little girl right to her.

When Aubrey and Ellie were born I felt completely cheated out of holding my arms out to them. I had imagined in my mind a million times the moment when my babies would be handed to me all tiny and perfect.

It never came.

They were born while I was out cold. And they were handed to nurses instead of their mommy. For the weeks they lived I had to suppress my instinctual urge to hold them. I could only look through the incubator glass occasionally reaching in to gently touch just a hand.

I finally got to hold my girls when we decided to remove them from life support. I remember watching the doctor take out the tubes and peel off the tape.

I held my arms out...

And she handed Ellie right to me. We whisked her away to our private room and held her all we could. Forty-five minutes later I handed her back.

Six days later I held my arms out again...

He handed Aubrey right to me. I stared into her eyes until she closed them. Two hours later I handed her back as well.

I never imagined that holding my arms out for my babies would be to say goodbye instead of to say hello. Reaching for my babies is supposed to be the first time I get to hold them, not the last.

One year ago today was supposed to be the day that I held out my arms for my babies.

It wasn't.

One year later I still hurt. But I am thankful for EVERY SINGLE memory I have with my girls, especially the one and only time I held them in my arms. I still remember how they smelled and how soft their skin was. I wanted to hold them forever.

Today I am holding my arms out to them in my heart and wait patiently for the day when I will hold them again.

I miss you sweet girls. I miss you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Light of the World, Are You Still Here?

Jars of Clay is one of my favorite bands. I have been listening to them since I was in High School and have always ALWAYS loved their music. Their lyrics make me feel something and know something at the same. They stir my soul...and I am not being cheesy when I say that. Half of my blog posts are inspired by their lyrics.

On Saturday I was running and listening to, you guessed it, Jars of Clay. Running time is thinking time for me and what better to inspire deep thoughts. One of my favorite songs is Weighed Down. The first line asks a question.

"Light of the World, are you still here?"

When my girls died that was my question.

My very real in need of an answer but too afraid to say it out loud question.

When my girls died I spent the days and months after their deaths reconciling everything I felt with what I knew…or thought I knew…about God. I had spent my life with Him, yet suddenly He felt no where to be found. The faith of my head had forcefully collided with the faith of my heart…and the two were at odds. I wrestled deeply with a single question...

Are you still here?

It didn't feel like it to me.

In the months that past I asked this question in many different ways. All the whys and how-comes and I don't understands were really just different forms of the same question. My broken heart bled doubt. Every emotion I had (and there were many) was fueled by a single common denominator.

Fear.

Light of the World, are you still here?

EVERYTHING I believed and held as Truth hung in the balance. EVERYTHING I staked my life on rested on this single question.

Are you?

I have to admit though that the first time these words left my heart they were more of an accusation than a question. I vividly remember feeling so let down that I could not even lift my eyes toward Heaven when I inquired of God's God-ness. Asking Are you was really my disappointment disguised in a question because in my heart I had my doubts. What I really wanted to say was you aren't are you?

I was afraid.

...afraid that God let me down, afraid that He couldn't be trusted, afraid that I never really knew Him at all, afraid that where I thought I found a refuge there was none. I thought He was my most intimate friend, my rescuer, my protector...and the protector of my children. But He seemed to have stepped back out of my reach. When I needed Him most He seemed distant, absent, or silent.

Was I alone?

This idea that God makes all things right in the end seemed incomplete. What about now, in the middle, in the meantime? A relationship with Jesus has to be more than life sucks and then you die...but at least now you go to Heaven. What is the point of calling out to a God who does not listen? Or worse yet, hears but does nothing.

Things were not making sense to me. My head told me that the God I love is still good, that He loves me and my girls more than I can ever understand, and that He is with me and never left me. He cares deeply about my meantime. But my heart couldn't help but feel abandoned.

Light of the World, are you still here?

Over a year has passed now. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of what should have been my girls' due date. And although I wish I was updating you all on what life is like with one year old twins, I can honestly say that there has been a miracle in me. Nothing will ever make the loss of my girls "worth it", but it is more than a consolation to be able to share the hope that is in me now that God has done a healing work in my heart. I do not have answers to all my questions nor is all my pain gone. Not even close. I had a breakdown just this morning remembering how my tiny girls felt in my arms as I watched them leave me for Heaven. The pain isn't over. It is still right there on the surface of my broken heart.

But where my pain is my Jesus IS also...

He never left me.

When I feel alone I no longer question if God is with me, but instead ask Him to show Himself to me. Just because I don't see Him doesn't mean He isn't there.

Daily God answers my prayer and reveals Himself to me again just as I need Him to. My fears were unfounded, my doubt unsubstantiated, and once I chose to let it all go to let near my God who didn't leave me but who I, in my pain and disappointment, had pushed away, my healing began.

Light of the World, you are still here.

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
 
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