Thursday, July 31, 2014

On our own terms...

"We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!  But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:12

I took the bar yesterday. I slept in until about 11 today. It was the hardest I've slept in months. There were lots of people praying for me to have focus. And I was able to quiet my mind and focus on the law for two days straight. When it was over, I was exhausted.

I'm completely grateful for it because when I woke up today, the weight of what is coming hit me like a ton of bricks.

Brandon and I haven't made any finalized plans about Lily's funeral or anything else for that matter. I've started documents for her eulogy, the birth plan, my hospital list, etc. We've talked about certain things, but most of it has been shelved. Partly because I needed to study, but also because it's just sad. Plus, I don't want this grief to overtake me or make me bitter and so I have to know my limits. We are trying to find a balance as best we can.

Before I got out of bed this morning, I looked at social media and saw that two friends lost family members too soon again today. It feels like we have just been surrounded by loss this year. So many good people taken early. I realize this is a season. But today, I'm just mad about it all. I've had my fill of death.

Unfortunately, our turn is around the corner. We talked about things a lot on Monday as we drove to Little Rock. As of last Thursday, we've been grieving for three months. Now we have to finish up all of those awful to-do lists and it pisses me off royally.

That doesn't mean that people haven't continued to reach out to us. Most of it I really appreciate. Knowing people are praying for me has been the most comforting thing. there are two emotions I've felt consistently: heartbreak and anger. I know God has been right beside me through both, but I'm just curious about what he thinks on the days I'm pissed as hell at him. On those days, I don't have a lot to say to him. I know prayer is what gets me through those days. I know it got me through the bar the past two days too. People have also brought us meals and talked to us about meal schedules for afterwards.

But there are also people that want to tell us about others that have been through a similar situation. I know people mean well, but I have two thoughts....and maybe I shouldn't share them. But this is just where I am tonight.

1) Who wants to meet someone because they've experienced the horrible tragedy you have? Think about it. You know someone or meet someone only because they've gone through the same shitty situation you have. Listen, I get it. This is a situation that will be a ministry for Brandon and I for the rest of our lives, but right now, I'm not entirely happy about it. I'll make my peace with it at some point. For now, I don't want to know others who have been there because it just makes me madder. Because here's the other deal, everyone I've met that has gone through this is someone that doesn't deserve it just like we don't. I am trying desperately to make the best of this situation and seeing more bad isn't a help right now. Some might find comfort in that. I don't at this point. It just makes the sting bite harder. I already know that in the future when this happens again and someone reaches out to me, I'll be telling them to make sure it's something the other person wants.

2) How that couple handled their situation may not be the way Brandon and I handle ours. Every so often, I look at the websites for Trisomy 13. What I've learned is that EVERYONE does things differently. I am sure that Brandon and I will be part of that trend. Not everyone has the same faith or belief system, so how each couple handles it will be different AS IT SHOULD BE. I realize that couples that have been in our place are the most likely to get that, but people are people. And I don't necessarily want to be told, "This is what we did..."

Brandon and I have to do this on our own terms. She's still our first-born child. Every couple goes through a steep learning curve with their first baby. We will be no different. I want respect (and space!) for that. 

I hope people get where I'm coming from on this. In the meantime, pray for us. The next two months are going to be really rough.

Happy end of July y'all.

P.S. I also highly recommend reading this article.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On miracles...

   "They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.
    Going a little farther he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"  - Mark 14:32-36

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I have had the following conversation several times since Lily's diagnosis was confirmed by the amniocentesis:

Other person: Hey Sam, how's it going?

Me: Good days and bad. I'm emotionally drained from the pregnancy. Things that I probably would chalk up to being normal stress me out. While I'm ready to be done, it also makes me sad because I know that when I am, she won't be here for very long either. It's a double edged sword."

Other person: Don't give up hope. God performs miracles every day. And I pray every night for you to have that miracle.

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When I have this conversation with people, I want them to know that I, of all people, don't want my daughter to die. The only other person that could possibly want it more than me is Brandon.

But I don't think God is going to take this cup from us.

I so desperately wish He was.  I've never wanted something so badly in all my life. But I don't think that's what Lily's story is going to be.

That reality is just really hard to say because then it's out there and it's real and there's nothing that can be done about it. I don't think people want to believe it anymore than I do. So most of the time, I'm just quiet. I think it's a coping mechanism more than anything.

There are some times when I can't stop the pain. My triggers lately happen with two situations. The first is when I see new babies come into the world. The hardest part of seeing all these pictures of families looking happy is watching the daddy drive the family home. The other is watching all the nurseries and shopping trips and all the little rites of passage of getting ready for baby coming together.

We haven't made any major shopping trips.
We don't have a nursery.
I can count on one hand how many outfits she has.
Brandon likely won't get to take Lily home.

Some days the pain of what lies ahead of us is overwhelming, but it doesn't mean that I don't think she isn't a miracle.

I think it's crazy to know that Jesus knew what was ahead of him. He knew it was going to hurt and that it was going to be humbling, and that he was going to be humiliated. And it's why he asked for his Father to get him out of what was coming.

I so identify with this. I know Lily dying is going to hurt. I know Lily dying is going to be humbling. To some extent, I know that Lily dying is going to be humiliating. I wish that last part wasn't true, but there are some people that don't think about what they say and things will happen that I just can't control.

But you know what Jesus also knew? He knew that his death would bring the resurrection which is the single greatest miracle this world has ever known.

Now I don't think that Lily is going to be resurrected by any means, but I do think that there will be beauty  from the ashes that I can't even begin to fathom or know about yet. While I can't see past my nose for trying some days, I know that our redemption will come.

It has to come. It just has to...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Here's to seeing the good.

I mentioned in my last post that going to sleep is the hardest time of the day for me. There isn't anything to distract me from the reality that awaits us.

The other night I was looking at my Instagram account and I was looking at all the pictures from when we lived in Michigan. I was struck by how happy we looked in them. There were hard times in Michigan for us, but we were melded together as two in a way that might never have happened for us if we hadn't gone to Michigan. The whole time I was looking at these pictures I kept thinking, "All that time, that happy girl was headed for where I am sitting tonight and for this year."

I also wondered, "Will I ever be that happy girl again? Will my smile be changed? Will people be able to see that there is just a bit of sadness to my eyes for the rest of my life?"

And it made me sad and mad all over again. I told Brandon at dinner that I remembered that the first 8 months were hard because we were so homesick, law school was kicking my butt, and we were struggling financially.

But we survived and so many things worked out wonderfully for us.

That hard didn't seem to touch what we were going through now. I'd take all three of those situations in a heartbeat if it meant we got to have a healthy little girl.

I shared with Brandon that I wanted so badly for Arkansas and all that it holds for us to be good like Michigan was. I remembered Michigan being hard, but the level of hard we'd experienced in Arkansas, was just weird. I then took a sip of my water at the pizza place we were at and said, "Man I'm so glad that just about everywhere in Arkansas has Sonic ice for drinks."

And he said, "See there's something good about Arkansas right there."

It was simple and to the point. Brandon never said it, but if I want to see the good, I've got to look for it.

That's who I am. In the worst of times, I look for the good. It's how things in Michigan got better and how we survived at first and then thrived there.

I feel like this might be among the worst of times for us is an obvious understatement. But I've still got to look for the good, even if I have to fight to find it, because if I don't, I'll drown in my sadness.

The time I have with Lily is going to be special, no matter what. If it is two hours or ten, I want her to get the best version of me. I am not naive enough to think that it won't be hard to watch her go, but while she's here, I want her to know me as her momma who loves her with all she has. I want her to know the woman that fights to see the good, and not only survives this hard time, but thrives because of the grace of God.

I know there will be days I fall back down again, but the point is that I will fight to stand up and with the help of God and those that I love, I'll be able to stand up and see the good while doing it. I'll definitely have some battle scars from this deal, but those scars will be just that, scars, because God will heal me.

So here's to seeing the good...and on the bad days, here's to remembering that the good days will come.

Happy Wednesday.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On being the Tin Man




"Now I know I've got a heart, because it's breaking." -The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

Ever have a post that just doesn't come together like you want it? That was yesterday for me. There are so many thoughts I have going on these days and I'm trying to express them because I know it's important in the healing process.

Today is going to be short and sweet, but exactly where I've been and am right now.

Brandon and I have our NICU appointment today for Lily. 

I've been having panic attacks at night because it gets dark and quiet in the house and there isn't any noise to distract me from what's happening. I don't have them every night. But I'd say about once a week. Things are always harder when I know I have a doctor's appointment coming.

The anxiety is crippling at times.

I fight it as hard as I can. I pray constantly throughout it. Bottom line, it's just really sad to think about and I worry about everyone else I love being safe.

Sometimes I tell Brandon if I can just survive this year, I will make it. But as soon as I tell him that all the worry about what else could go wrong with it comes whooshing in and the rest of the year seems cloudy.

I've never felt that before.

I've always been secure in my life and the direction it was going. I've always gone with plans of how I think things will work out and for the most part they do. When they haven't, I've been able to bounce back.

Now NOTHING is certain anymore.

I know that losing the power of control and being vulnerable is part of my journey in all of this, but I feel helpless.

...and scared. I've never been so scared in my life of losing the people I love.

At this point, my heart is broken with Lily. I know that with time, my heart will heal. But if I lose Brandon, I think my spirit will be broken. I don't dare say these things out loud all that often because I feel like I'm tempting fate. I have never once let myself say out loud "What else could go wrong?" because I don't want to be like Job with no one left. Even now I worry about typing those sentences out. I can't handle losing everyone. I can't really handle losing Lily.

I'm wondering if God has forgotten about me.

Everything I grew up being taught about Jesus is being put to the biggest test right now.

I want so badly to believe that this plan is better and that God's ways are better, but I feel almost betrayed by God. I am called to trust Him wholeheartedly and I've been told my whole life that no matter what I can trust Him.

I know that is Satan at work which pisses me off. I wish I could tell you that that asshole has left me alone during all of this, but he takes his shots whenever and however he can.

I fight so hard to see the good. Trust me on that. It seems like a lot of good Christian people have been hit hard this year with loss.

I want so desperately to see God's faithfulness to others, but I want to see it for us as well. I need to see it and desperately so.

So pray for us today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Took for Granted...

Tonight's post is a bit of a rambler. I apologize in advance. 

We didn't try very long before we were pregnant with Lily. In fact, we weren't really even trying. We were in the "no longer preventing" phase of our fertility story. We stopped preventing at Thanksgiving. I had my cycle in December and when I had it, I was met with mixed emotions for the first time about it. On one hand, I wasn't all that sad because we had both said that we weren't putting any pressure on the situation until after the bar in February. On the other hand, I was sad because I had finally let myself think about there being more than just the two of us.

For our anniversary in December we actually went somewhere by ourselves to celebrate. We usually are around family and we were earlier that day, but we usually try to eat dinner by ourselves at some point. This was the first time since we were married that we stayed the night in a hotel for the occasion. We ate at Outback Steakhouse and saw American Hustle. During dinner, we talked about our goals for the coming year and babies were a part of that conversation. Brandon was still hesitantly excited. Meanwhile, I was very much ready to go look at and register at baby stores. Like I said, I had waited a long time to let myself think about babies so when I finally let myself entertain the thought, it was as if the dam broke.

But in all that time together (6 years of marriage and 8 years together total), I didn't really pray about our babies.

I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. I think that this time in our lives was coming for us whether we prayed about it or not.

What I am saying is that I considered kids more of a mental big life moment check list.

As a Type-A person, checking off to-dos makes me more excited than most. Babies are one of the biggest and last to-dos in terms of goals for my life that I have. I know it's going to be one of the most important contributions I make in this world.

So it was a big to-do being checked off and little Miss Have to Be in Control aka Me was very happy about it.

God knew that. So did Satan.

In January we found out we were pregnant. We made it through the first trimester. I had some morning sickness and my hormones were a bit cray at times, but we had very good signs that this was going to be a healthy pregnancy.

I let myself think even more about all that we would do with our newest addition.

I thought about her going for her first cheeseburger with her Pop (my dad), blasting the radio with her momma, being at AL's and Uncle Will's graduation party stealing the show, arguing with her about clothes, boys, and rules when she was a teenager, her nursery and what I wanted it to look like, going to Papa and Mimi's (Brandon's dad and momma) to fish with daddy and Papa on the ponds, being a shoe junkie with her AJ, being Nana's best road trip buddy yet, having her Uncle Matt and Uncle Aubie wrapped around her finger, what she would be when she grew up, whether she would play softball or be a cheerleader to AL's delight, and everything in between.

But something I didn't think a whole lot about was her time in the church growing up. I'm not saying that I didn't think about it. I just took for granted that it would happen. I didn't realize what a responsibility it was and is to be a parent as a Christian. I was fortunate enough to have good leaders in our church that I wanted to be in the church I grew up in. I also had parents that took the time to make sure I was at church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Those priorities are a large part of why I am who I am today.

I figured it was something else on the check list that would get done. I didn't really know how that would happen which should have been a sign to me. When I think about something important that I don't know how it will all work out, I think about it and analyze it and study it so that I can have just a slight edge on how to handle whatever situation I'm looking at.

On April 24, 2014 all of that control as to how I was going to be a good parent was stripped from me. There isn't a thing in the world I can do to make this better for Lily. It is what it is.

To be this vulnerable is really hard.

I have to trust God to take care of this situation completely. I have to let Him fight for me.

I think that's my spiritual battle.

When things are good, the trust and the faith come easily in Him.
When things are hard, the trust and faith in God are tested.

And boy am I ever being tested. Right now, I have to put my whole faith in Him.

I have to let go of my security blanket that is control. I took it for granted and now I'm facing life head on without it.

Instead of me teaching Lily about Jesus, her story has been about her turning me toward Jesus not just for her, but for her future siblings provided we are blessed with children in the future as well.

I love that because I pray for all of my babies daily. And I hate it because it took this situation to get me here.

But I'm not taking it for granted because I know it's where Jesus needs me to be -trusting Him entirely with EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life.

 But dang is it hard.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we cannot see...And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." - Hebrews 11:1,6
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Hi y'all! The name's Samantha. You can call me Sam if you like. I am a lover to a boy I met at Falls Creek in the summer of 2005, that is a student of Jesus, a Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I'll be Sooner dead, Democrat by party, blonde to the core, and oldies but goodies kind of girl.
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