Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hmmm....

I have a lot of thoughts today. Ok, I have a lot of thoughts every day, but more so today, if that is even possible.

Thoughts and questions. Challenging questions.

I have ALWAYS been a question-asker. My elementary school teachers used to go crazy having me in class with all my questions. I was often told not to raise my hand again, and to let someone else have a turn. When I was little my mom knew the answer to every question I asked and I was amazed by that. I would ask her how she knew everything? She just laughed at me.

I can't help it. I like to know how things work and why. I like to understand processes and outcomes. I like to know what comes before and what comes after and what happened in the middle. I like to have all the information available.

And when I don't "get" something, it really bothers me. I have become quite proficient at finding the answers to most all my questions.

Except Why?

My questions used to be so much easier than the ones I ask now. My mom can't answer my questions anymore. And now that I am an official grown-up (I gave myself that title when I said goodbye to my baby girls as I felt that I aged fifty years in a minute losing them) I realize that my mother was not a genius, just an adult, and adults know more than kids.

But they don't know everything.

No one knows why? And try as I may, I can't find the answer on my own.

Not all questions have answers. (They didn't tell me that when I was a kid either, another "lesson" I learned losing my girls.)

But I think it is still ok to ask them.

I think I have made peace with the unaswerable why? Because I know Who.

And that is better than an answer.

Besides, I have moved on to other questions these days.

With a new baby on the way I cannot get this one question out of my head: How do I know everything will be ok?

I don't. (Did I just say that out loud?)

I don't! Sometimes I just want to scream those words at the well-meaning but ignorant people who make empty promises to me that THIS TIME everything will work out...they just know it.

They don't know anything.

I don't know anything.

I certainly HOPE and PRAY I get to bring this new baby home. I am absolutely in love with my little one already and am filled with expectations of raising another child...

I WANT THIS BABY!

But I can't be certain of anything...except HIM.

The same Jesus that walked with me then, walks with me now. The Jesus I know loves my children even more than me will keep his promise...He will make a way where I cannot...He will protect what I cannot....He will save what I cannot not....and NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS I can trust Him.

He is, was, and always will be TRUSTWORTHY.

So on a day like today, when I have a lot of questions, I quiet my heart not with the knowledge of answers, but with a real faith refined by fire...

And simply trust.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
Love The Crawford Family;
Kirk, Rachel, Dustin,
Aubrey, Ellie, and baby #4!
(My necklace has Aubrey and Ellie's initials on it!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Worthwhile

Today my son got a stomach flu. Poor little guy. He had been complaining that his stomach hurt for the entire day. I thought he was just hungry. And my husband and I totally did that "stop complaining and finish your sandwich" thing, making him eat because we thought his complaining was just a ploy to get out of eating his lunch. We put him down for his nap and BLAMO! Throw up everywhere!

What is really funny is it only took five minutes or so of throw up odor and I was hanging my head over the toilet too. I held it together long enough to get my son in the bath (he even had vomit in his hair) and clean up the bathroom (my husband tackled the couch and carpet), but once I started gagging it was over. My husband had to laugh. I'll admit, it was a little funny.

These are the challenges of pregnancy unfortunately. I honestly don't get at all how I can be ravenously hungry all day, but nauseous at the same time. Why would my body ask for food only to barf it up as soon as I'm done eating? Argh!!!!

I just really don't like to feel sick. Not that anyone does, but I am probably a worse than average sick person. I like to have my energy to do and accomplish throughout the day, not just mope around unsure if I am going to actually throw up or just feel like it. It is frustrating. I want to do something to fix it, not just endure it.

I want control.

Don't we all?

I really should be thankful. This pukey inconvenience is the evidence of a miracle. Growing a baby is hard work. And it no doubt has its challenges. It is tough to be sick for months, and I know women who get way sicker than me, but I think we all have one thing in common...when we finally hold that baby it is all worth it. The nausea, the vomiting, the constipation, the gas, the heart burn, the midnight leg cramps that wake you up out of a dead sleep, the stretch marks, even labor...ALL WORTH IT!

I am going to remind myself of that the next time my head is over the toilet and try to relinquish my desire for control.

After everything, I am still learning to trust. It is so much harder than I ever imagined.

I also have another confession (as if the aforementioned was not enough personal information). I used to be one of those women who truly believed I, my efforts and will, made healthy babies. When my son was born I was convinced that I caused everything to go so well, that I knew the formula for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby. Of course I gave God credit, and thanked Him sincerely. But I also gave myself credit. You can imagine the shock, and eventually guilt, I felt when my girls were born too soon. I had failed them, I just knew it. It was all my fault.

It took me months to accept that it was not my fault. I did not cause the deaths of my daughters anymore than I caused the life of my son. I did not posses the control I thought I did. These things are in God's hands.

I know that is really hard for some of you to understand. I can't wrap my head around it either. But I know that it is true. God is always good, always loving, and always wise. What He allows is always for our good and His glory. That does not mean it isn't painful, but we can trust Him.

We can.

He saved my girls. Not the way I wanted Him to, but in a way I NEVER could have. Yes, it hurt me. It broke my heart completely. But I was not left with just questions and tears...I was left with a promise. THE PROMISE.

He is in control.

And He has made a way.

Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

A long time ago was a young girl, pregnant with the promised Messiah. An angle visited her and told her a baby named Jesus was growing in her womb, God's son and Savior to the world. And instead of getting upset, instead of asking why she wasn't consulted first, instead of demanding control, she simply obeyed. She trusted. God's way was her way.

And it was not an easy way. But she never stopped trusting. Because she knew He would be OUR WAY.

2000 years later I am so thankful for her obedience. Do you think she knew how far reaching it would be? Do you think that she could comprehend that centuries after that angel's visit, her first born son would be this grieving mother's only hope? She probably didn't. How could she?

But God did.

So on Christmas, God birthed a promise. The only promise never broken.

And with hindsight we can see that everything Mary endured was absolutely WORTHWHILE.

Trusting God is always worthwhile.

How far-reaching will our obedience be if we so choose it? Those of us who were not consulted either before our path was made plain...will we trust?

Trusting God does not mean we won't have pain. It won't be easy.

But it will be worthwhile.

John 16:19-23 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. NIV

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Change of Plans

So, in April I wanted to do this run called the Ragnar Relay. I can't even explain to you how awesome it was going to be. A team of twelve runs 177 miles down the California coast in 24 hours. Each team member runs three different legs of the race for a total of 15 miles a piece. I have never done anything like it before. It sounded so adventurous and bold. I had my heart set on it. It was a perfect perseverance project...

But plans have changed.

I have a different perseverance project now.

One that was just sort of handed to me. An unexpected one that cannot be measured in miles nor does it have a definitive finish line. It is a completely different kind of race.

I am one of those people who always knows what the next step is going to be. I have owned (and used) a day planner since I was in junior high. I still have the day planner I used when I was pregnant with Aubrey and Ellie. On October 7th, 2008, are written the words Babies Due. I kept it and put it in their keepsake box because it represents their existence and presence in my life at the time. That planner holds the six months of hopes, dreams and plans I had with them. Sadly on July 11, 2008 are written the words Aubrey and Ellie's Funeral 11am. I certainly didn't plan that.

That was the day it finally sunk it that not all made plans happen. Having my heart set on something is not enough. Writing it in my day planner does not make it so.

Yet even today, after all I have been through, when plans change, I am still surprised. And it takes me a while to adjust. Even when it is good news.

So, in April, I won't be running the Ragnar Relay. Not because I don't want to, but my pregnant belly might be in the way!

Yes you heard right. I am pregnant. Due August 6th, 2010. How is that for a change of plans?

Pregnancy is my next perseverance project. It will be the hardest yet. Makes a half marathon seem easy.

Pregnancy after loss is entirely different. As you can imagine, I am thrilled...and nervous...and excited...and scared. And I think I have every right to be all those things. But mostly I'm soaking in every second of it (morning sickness and all) because, well, I just can't help it.

It is just who I am.

I love my children and am thankful for them whether I have them for a minute or a lifetime. The very idea of them inspires hope that even the scariest of outcomes cannot squelch. I am not an idealist, life has taught me about its harsh realities. I know better than most what could happen. I cannot forget what I have endured.

But I also know what else could happen...in August I could be holding a healthy, beautiful newborn in my arms...or maybe two? I just don't know the surprises that may be in store.

Being pregnant again makes me miss my girls more than ever though. I have been caught off guard by the strength of the emotions it has stirred up. I am still so sad. I am learning, yet again, how to live after loss. It never gets easier. There always seems to be something that triggers more pain.

But this time, along side the sorrow, is immeasurable joy. A new baby is on the way! Hope is literally growing inside me. It's amazing.

I will keep you posted as I learn more about the baby in my belly. So far I just feel icky and tired. But that is normal for me. My son seems certain that its a girl. I explained to him that God decides and he confidently told me that he is going to tell God to make it a girl. My husband is working hard to convince my son that he wants a baby brother. But I think we all agree that any baby we get to keep is fine with us.

Please keep my baby in your prayers.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Need a Favor...

I need a favor...

As you know, I live in San Diego. And it does not snow in San Diego, ever! It does rain, sometimes anyway.

I would like to have my girls' names written in the snow. It is hard to write in the rain.

Is there anyone out there who could do that for me and take a picture of it and send it to me?

Aubrey and Ellie.

Just those two names, side by side.

If I had their names in the snow, I would have their names written in each season; in the sand in summer, on leaves in the fall, on gardenias in the spring, and hopefully in the snow in winter.

I would be deeply grateful.

So amazingly deeply grateful.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Perseverance Project

I changed my blog.

Running the Race is now The Perseverance Project.

Check out my new post!

I will reveal the next "challenge" soon.

I will give you a hint. It is 177 miles long. That is one hundred and seventy seven miles.

You in?

I dare you!

Make your life a perseverance project.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another Thoughtful Gift

Thank You Holly (mommy to Carleigh) for making this!
Thank you for honoring my girls and comforting my heart.
It's just beautiful!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweet Encouragement/God's Provision

This is the conversation my son and I had over lunch today.

"Mom, do you remember when you ran your running race?"

With a mouth full of food I nodded Yes. "Was it fun to watch mom?" I asked.

"Yeah. Some people were faster than you and some were slower than you."

"Yes, that's true." I said smiling.

"And you won!"

" Well, no, I didn't win honey."

"Yes you did. I saw you." He insisted.

"You saw me cross the finish line, Sweetie," I insisted back trying to seize an opportunity to teach him that winning wasn't the point.

"No mom, you were running for a long time and then you won."

"The important thing is to always try our best right?"

"Mom, to me you won."

"Thank you Buddy. That makes me feel good. " My heart melted inside.

He just smiled at me and finished his lunch.

There are moments in my life when the light of God's provision chases away even the darkest reminders of what has been taken from me. My son, without question, is a daily reminder of God's perfect provision in my life through all levels of hardships. Since the day I learned I was pregnant with him, he has been God's instrument of encouragement in my life.

When my husband was in Iraq for 8 months during my pregnancy, it was my growing belly that got me through the loneliness of that time.

Holding Dustin for the first time was the purest form of joy I have ever known. And that joy has only increased. Even in the difficult times, the joy remained.

There was no way I could have known that Dustin would be God's conduit of comfort during the saddest time of my life. But God did. He knew what I would need before I even needed it-grace in the form of a little blond-haired blue-eyed boy.

After Aubrey and Ellie's deaths, my love for Dustin was often the only motivation I had to heal. So much of my hard work to mend my broken heart has been for him. Trust me, I've fallen off the wagon, but I got back on because I never stopped loving my son. Holding him every day kept me going.

I think God gives us these tangible reminders because he knows we need them. Sometimes the spiritual things feel so abstract. Yet God understands. He knows our limits. And He lovingly provides us with exactly what we need.

Sometimes I don't even know what I need, but I recognize it when it arrives.

To me you won...

Those words were perfect. A gentle and much needed reminder from the Holy Spirit that I am not failing.

I am healing.

God has provided all along.

Not that God's provision takes away my pain. I still miss my girls. Nothing will fill that void until Heaven. But it does encourage me.

Before this void ever formed in my heart He made a way to fill it by providing His own son. Jesus went before me so that I can follow.

In this race I will never be first across the finish line. But I don't need to be. God will get me there in His time, not mine. In the meantime I will be confident that I have everything I need to persevere and ultimately this race is won.

I think that is really what my son was telling me.

 
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