Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Today is Caroline's birthday.  It's been one year since we both celebrated her coming and mourned her loss.

One year.

It's a little hard to believe it's been a year.  In some ways, it feels much, much longer.  In others, it feels like just yesterday.  Cameron and I have decided that sometimes it doesn't even feel real.  It was such an emotionally intense moment, and then...we just had to let go.  As we prepare for Christmas, it's been quite bittersweet.  I put up her stocking, and I put her ornaments on the tree.  I can remember how I felt last year at this time, trying to find ways to celebrate Caroline's life while preparing to lose her.

So far, I haven't completely lost it.  There is still time.  Haha.  But I am taking comfort in the fact that the same Jesus that walked with me through this day last year is still walking with me as I remember it this year.  God is a good and gracious God, giving me peace and strength on a day that has the potential to break me down.

I expect a few tears.  I expect to have some melancholy moments.  But even through the remembered grief and new bittersweet memories, I can feel God's presence and comfort.  He is still here, holding me up as I walk through this first birthday. 

I am blessed with some amazing family and friends that have walked this path with me.  I can never say thank you enough to them, or to God for blessing me with them.

Now, during this season of loss, I can also thank God for the blessing of Everleigh.  While she can't and won't replace Caroline, we feel so blessed to have her to look forward to this Christmas season.  I am so grateful that God saw fit to bless us with her even as we mourn Caroline.  He has turned our weeping into laughter and our wailing to dancing.  Praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow.  He gave us our blessing of Caroline, and now He has given us our blessing of Everleigh.

I made a little collage of pictures from Caroline's birthday last year.  What a precious memory we have in our photos.  I am so grateful we were able to take so many, and to have them to remember her by.  I hope you enjoy remembering with us today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 weeks

I made it to 30 weeks today. One step closer to Everleigh coming in a timeframe that is healthy. Hopefully that means full term. :)

I am more pregnant now than I ever have been. I'm starting to experience new things that I didn't with Caroline. My belly is bigger than when Caroline was born. Everleigh is bigger than Caroline was when she was born. I'm starting to get more of those pesky aches and pains that accompany late pregnancy. I have started getting Braxton Hicks contractions. Man, those freaked me out BAD the first day. Now that I know what they are and have been reassured by my doctor that nothing is happening to progress me toward labor, I can handle them. I mostly feel them in the morning, and then I don't get them as much later in the day. Thank the Lord.

At my most recent check up, my doctor did another preterm labor test called a fetal fibronectin test. It came back negative, which means I should be good for another couple weeks. :)

I'll admit that this part of my pregnancy has kinda thrown me for a bit of a loop. I didn't realize how much I missed out on with Caroline's pregnancy. Some of it is not entirely pleasant, like the pain and BH contractions, but some of it is cool. Everleigh moves in an entirely different way than Caroline ever did, and it's fun to watch her do an impression of that scene from the movie Alien. My belly does weird things. Haha.

My belly is bigger, I have to wear more maternity clothes. Even just the thought that we will bring this one home, God willing, is a totally new thing. Preparing for her arrival is completely different than preparing for Caroline's. We're having to get a nursery together. We have to get a car seat and stroller. I'm excitedly looking at clothes, knowing she'll get to wear them all, not just one thing.

Cameron and I were talking the other day, and it's funny how similar we've been feeling about certain things. One is bringing Everleigh home. I think it hit us both that we actually get to bring her home. It was kind of an ephemeral awareness before, like we knew it logically, but it hadn't quite become real to us. Everleigh's birthday isn't the end of her time with us, like it was for Caroline. It's really just the beginning. With Caroline, our lives didn't really change on the day to day level of sleepless nights, impositions on our schedules, having to plan around carrying an infant around with us. We were heart broken and our lives were changed in a deeper way, but our day to day activities pretty much remained the same. With Everleigh, that's not going to happen. She'll keep us up at night, and she'll infringe on our social schedule, and she'll need to be fed constantly. She's going to change our lives. And we're going to love every minute of it. And that part just recently hit us, I think.

I'm not naive enough to think that there will not be days that are ridiculously difficult. I know I'll get annoyed or short tempered or cranky. I know I'll complain about certain things. So when I say we'll love every minute of it, I mean we're going to love it because it means we have a baby girl that is a huge blessing. I don't mean I'm going to literally love sleeping for three hours a night. Or that I'm going to love not taking a shower whenever I want. But overall, I am going to be so stinking grateful for Everleigh that it will temper the inconveniences.

I have a lot of friends with babies right now. Born any time from June to last week. It makes me so much more anxious to hold my precious girl. I can't wait to meet her outside her little home right now. Ok, let me rephrase. I can wait until she's full term because then she'll be healthy. But I am so excited to see her. Haha. I am rejoicing with every week that passes that God is continuing to knit her together in my womb to get her to where she needs to be to meet us. Each week is a blessing and a victory. One step closer to a healthy delivery.

So...30 weeks. Ten more weeks to go. I just might make it this time. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Something special...

Caroline's birthday is coming up soon, on December 15th. A friend of Cameron's from high school has been incredibly sweet to us throughout our journey with Caroline, and she's doing something else now, too. It's pretty special. Read Jennifer's words below (she does amazing work with her company called Fadeless Memories, and even has Caroline's story on her site) and see why...

From Jennifer:

I never met Caroline Grace, but she changed my life in a way that I can't explain. I haven't seen Cameron for over 12 years when we attended high school together, and I've only talked to Emily via the internet, yet they have encouraged me to love and trust the Lord in ways that are only caused by experiencing extreme amounts of pain. Like many of you, I stalked their blogs, I prayed for her healing as they chronicled their journey with anencephaly, and I wept on December 15th when she was born into Jesus' arms. She's caused me to hug my children tighter, and hold my plans for them a little looser, trusting that the Lord knows what He's doing.

When she left this world, I was honored to be able to use a product my business makes to preserve her memory by carving one of her NILMDTS photographs into acrylic.
Since then, I've been looking for a way to serve other families that have lost their precious little ones before they left the hospital. I was overwhelmed by how many families had experienced such a loss and I knew that I didn't have enough resources to minister to everyone. However, I've come to realize that doing something is better than nothing and I need to comfort as many people as I can.

In honor of her first birthday, if you would like to receive a free suncatcher/Christmas ornament with your baby's photograph carved into it, I would love to send one to you. Please email me 2-3 images of your baby along with your address to jroberson at fadelessmemories dot com before December 15th.

  • Christmas ornaments are approximately 2.5 x 3.5 inches and tend to be the perfect size for an image of one face (think traditional hospital photograph). Multiple family members will not be distinguishable and normally need to be carved in a larger size to look good. I request multiple images so that I can choose the one that will carve the most beautifully but if you only have one then I totally understand.
  • Help with shipping is appreciated and allows me to send more ornaments out to more families. However, it is entirely optional.
  • For now I must limit this offer to the residents of the United States.
  • I will make as many ornaments as I can, and will establish a waiting list if needed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

28 Weeks

I'm 28 weeks pregnant today.

28 weeks. That has huge significance for several reasons.

I was 28 weeks and 4 days pregnant when Caroline decided to come. So in 4 days, I will be in uncharted pregnancy territory for me. Should be interesting. :)

For Everleigh, we've reached a point together where she could be born now and survive, and have few, if any, health and developmental issues. Obviously, I'd rather have her stay inside and bake a bit more, but at least I have the comfort that she could be born now and be ok. Huge sigh of relief.

Emotionally, this week is going to be interesting. Having had Caroline at 28 weeks means reliving her birth a little bit. Tomorrow will be 11 months since her birthday. I'm doing ok so far, but I know I have the potential to break down at any time. God is good.

I'll be completely honest. I have been scared out of my mind this entire pregnancy. I did not want to lose Everleigh, and I've not been as graciously accepting of things this time around. I've been hospitalized twice, and each time I have wanted to fuss at God for allowing me to have to go through a difficult pregnancy after the craziness that was Caroline's time with us. I'm beginning to think he's done it to remind me that He's in control and that I can't rely too much on Everleigh to bring me peace and joy after the loss of Caroline.

This little girl is already so loved. I can't wait to meet her outside her little cocoon. I'm so thankful that God has allowed me this time with her, to carry her like I did Caroline, but with the difference of knowing she'll get to come home with us (barring any craziness, and if it's God's will).

So...I will continue to pray for peace of mind, deliverance from the crazy anxiety, and continued health for my precious girl. And hopefully she and God will hold off till February to have her make her appearance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I feel like a drama queen these days.

I don't like being a drama queen. I would much rather be back in the shadows than in the spot light, but if I'm going to be in the spotlight, I'd at least like it to be for a good reason.

My spotlight recently has been because I've been having issues with this pregnancy. As I write this, I've been home from an approximately 36 hour stay in the hospital for about four hours.

Apparently my body is rebelling against pregnancy. Sigh.

I have had 3 infections in about 6 weeks; the first was minor, treated, and all was well. I thought. The second came about two weeks later, and was not fine. I was hospitalized for that one, but was treated and sent home, all was well again. I thought.

Then at just before midnight on Tuesday, I went back up to the hospital and was admitted again. For another infection. This time it was causing abdominal irritation, which in turn was causing me to start to dilate. Fortunately I never got beyond 1 cm, so I am now home, on bed rest. I won't be traveling or leaving the house much, but if that's what it takes to keep Everleigh healthy in the womb till she's ready to be born, then I'm ok with that.

I must tell you honestly, though, that I am finding it very difficult to accept all this with grace. I have been rather frustrated and anxious for the last few days. I've been falling into a why-me-pity-party. I know it's understandable under the circumstances, but it's not the truth of the matter. I want an easy pregnancy. Badly. But apparently God has other plans in mind for me. I don't really understand it, and I don't particularly care for it, but it is what it is. God obviously has a reason for it, whether I know it or like it or not.

I can guess all day why He's letting this happen. I might be putting too much of my hope in having a healthy child. I might be putting too much faith in doctors and nurses instead of my Jesus (not that I won't or think it's wrong to consult doctors, but God is the Great Physician who gives them their knowledge). I might be falling into an "I deserve this child" mindset, which I railed against in a previous post. (See Deserving) I've probably been doing all those things. But I don't know if that's the "why" behind this pregnancy and its difficulties. It doesn't really matter why, I guess. It's just the human response when bad things happen to us.

However. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 I'm new. The human, sinful side of me is dead.

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin...In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are , 11-not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:6-7, 11-14. I am dead to sin, and it no longer rules me. I am alive in Christ through His grace. To keep on sinning intentionally is to slap him the face.

So, while I may feel justified in my feelings, I am not. I don't mean to say that Christ doesn't understand my frustration or anxiety. I think he understands just fine. But I don't think I can remain there. I have to take those feelings of injustice, fear, and anxiety and leave them with Jesus. I need to be grateful for His mercy, since Everleigh is still healthy and where she should be. I have amazing friends and family taking care of me. I am very blessed.

In the end it will all be worth it. God is bigger than all my problems. He's got this one too.

On that note, a picture from my last sonogram of Everleigh. Hang in there, Baby Girl!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembrance Day

For those of you who don't know, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I think for those of us who have lost a child, it doesn't really take a day set aside for us to remember our babies. However, it is nice to have a day set aside for others to remember with us.

I remember a lot these days because I'm carrying Everleigh. I can't help but compare and contrast my two pregnancies, to note differences in their little personalities, even in utero.

It's been just over a year since we got Caroline's diagnosis, exactly 10 months since she was born, two months till her first birthday. We've gotten through almost all our "firsts" without her.

I look at today as a way to remember the good that has come from Caroline's time here with us. I've made new friends, grown closer to old friends, drawn closer to my family and my husband, closer to God. I've learned so much about what being a mom is, how to be a better one. I've learned to appreciate things I didn't before. I've learned not to take things for granted. I learned a lot about God's grace and mercy, His love and patience, His healing and kindness.

Caroline was a blessing. I would have loved to have been able to keep her for a while, but I am so grateful for her regardless. She was, and is, such a precious gift, one I will never forget, and one that I will treasure always. The pain of her loss is lessened by time, but there will always be an ache in my heart as I wait to see her again in Heaven.

I am so grateful for Caroline. I am so grateful for all my friends and family who supported me while I was carrying her, and continue to support me beyond. I am so grateful for a God who is so amazing and so loving that He would give me Caroline, then walk me through each day with her. I am truly blessed. I am truly loved.

So today, sweet Caroline, know that I love you, I miss you, and I can't wait to see you again in Heaven. You are such a precious girl.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Name and Showers

Well, I guess I should let you all know that we decided on a name...
I love it. And now I have something concrete to call Baby Girl. :)

Then, I got this in the mail yesterday.

I have a group of friends, who happen to be slightly long distance, that have been sneaking around planning me a baby shower for a couple months now. I'm making a trip there in November to visit, and they ran with the opportunity. Somehow no one spilled the beans until they sent me this little thing to tell me about it. My hubby was even in on it and managed not to say anything. For those of you who know my hubby personally, that's a big deal. He's terrible about keeping secrets from me. He's just too honest, and if it's a good surprise like this, he is just too eager to share the fun. So he did good. Haha. I had no clue.

Looking back, I realize that this certain group of friends kinda...stopped talking to me about baby stuff. They were all so worried they would let the cat out of the bag that they didn't trust themselves to talk to me. Haha. I didn't really notice too much before they sent me the little announcement. Afterward, I looked back and realized. It's kinda funny. Cameron and I have had a couple conversations lately where I would talk about these friends and voice some opinions or questions, and he was having to think on his feet not to give the plan away. I really don't know how he did it. Haha.

I say all this basically to show how wonderful my friends (and hubby) are. They really wanted to show how much they cared about me and have spent a lot of time and energy to make it happen. I feel incredibly blessed in my friendships. I can't wait till I am there with them.

What's truly amazing is that they're not the only ones making me feel special. My local group of friends is already working on a shower for me here, too. And while I will appreciate every gift I receive, that's not why I'm so excited for these showers. I have found myself fighting tears a few times because I just feel loved. I'm sure part of it is because I didn't get to have a shower with Caroline, so having showers for this baby just seems more special. And it's more, too. People aren't just offering to throw me a shower. They're not just getting a group of people together to give me stuff for Everleigh. They're telling me I'm important to them, that they care about me, and that they're rejoicing with me in this pregnancy.

I have truly been blessed in my friendships. I know I've said that before, but it's true. I feel very humbled by the amount of care I have received at the hands of my friends. I only hope I am as good a friend to them as they are to me.

So...I just had to share. My heart was bursting and there's only so much Cameron can listen to. Haha. He heard all this already last night, and I didn't want to make him sit through it again. He would have, because he's awesome, but I didn't want to do that to him. Haha. Gushy girly stuff can be overwhelming for even the most wonderful man.

So thank you to all my amazing friends, near and far. You have blessed my heart enormously, and I am immensely grateful for your friendship. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baby Somersaults

Today I am 22 weeks pregnant.

In two more weeks, Baby Girl's chances of surviving outside the womb are 50%. For me, since we lost Caroline at 28 weeks, this is a huge deal for me. Do you know how much my anxiety will go down once I know that this baby could very well survive, even if she comes early? Granted, I know that the longer she stays in the oven, the better her chances, and the better her overall health will be, but I'll take what I can get. Haha. I won't feel quite so panicked every time I feel a twinge or something.

Speaking of twinges...last week I had to spend a couple days in the hospital because I developed a pretty bad bladder/kidney infection (called pyelonephritis). I woke up one morning with excruciating pain on one side, and while I didn't think it was a problem with baby, it was still scary. They got me on meds and fluids and I'm fine now, but it just made me even more grateful that Baby is ok and continuing to grow and develop. She was still active the whole time I was in the hospital, which was so reassuring. I'm not sure I've taken one day of this pregnancy for granted. I'm just so grateful God's looking out for both of us.

I think if I make it past 28 weeks this time (which my doctors all believe I will), it's going to be a little crazy for me. It'll be a big milestone to pass. That will be an all new experience for me too...making it further into my third trimester and getting huge and all that. It'll be quite an adventure. Haha.

I cannot even describe to you how much I want this baby. It's a constant challenge to make sure she's not becoming TOO important to me (i.e. more important than God), but oh my word I want her. I think God understands. And I'm hoping His will is to let me keep this one. If not...well, he'll get me through it, but I pray all the time that I'll get to keep this one.

This little girl is an active little thing. I sometimes wonder if she's practicing mixed martial arts, soccer, and ballet all at the same time. Sometimes I can feel her doing little somersaults. Literally. She like flips around a couple times. Such a crazy feeling, and one I adore. I joke around with Cameron all the time that she's beating me up on the inside.

While I do sometimes want a little break from her occasionally painful jabs (especially when she hits the same spot over and over again), I cannot tell you how much I love feeling her. With Caroline, feeling her move inside me was really the only time I got with her. It was my only real connection to my first daughter. That was the only time I got to know she was alive. It was always a reminder that time was short, and someday, I would lose that little life growing inside me.

It's different with this baby. Every kick and punch and roll is a reminder that she's healthy, growing enough so that she can join us on the outside, where we can cuddle her, love on her, and treasure her. I have days where I have tears in my eyes as I feel her moving around in there, reminding me of her presence. It's helping me bond with her. It's helping me love her already. Cameron's even been able to feel her a couple times. I am so grateful for those little karate chops and roundhouse kicks.

I think we're finally getting close to picking a name. Woohoo! For some reason it's been harder to come up with one this time around. We've gone back and forth on several names for a while now, but I think we're getting close. I can't wait to be able to call this little girl by name. It makes her seem so much more real. So much more a part of our lives already. I can't wait.

So...I am rejoicing that I have made it this far, by God's grace, and I'm leaning on the Lord to keep me going even further. And I will continue to love those baby somersaults.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

So I'm Human...

I am officially 20 weeks pregnant.

At this point with Caroline, I was still digesting her diagnosis.

This baby, so far, has been perfect.

I feel quite differently this time around, obviously. I think I need to be honest for a bit, though. I know I always try to put a positive spin on things, and that I always try to keep my focus where it should be. I try to put aside my fears and anxiety and trust in God's sovereignty. I think sometimes I hide the darker parts of my life and struggle because I want to bring hope instead of fear. I don't really feel like I've done anything wrong, per se, or that I've intentionally hidden things. I just try not to think about them.

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but life's been busy and I just haven't done it. I'm kinda glad, now, because I have a little more time under my belt, and therefore a little better perspective.

All that to say...I am most definitely human. I had a freak out moment (or...a couple days) where I was really worried something was wrong. It wasn't major. I was just scared. I went in to my OB, and everything with Baby was fine, and I just had a common pregnancy condition that has since been treated. No big deal. But it reminded me of several things.

I am not in control.

This baby is God's, just as much as Caroline was.

God has to be number one.

I'll admit that I've started falling back on my old mindsets. This baby is mine. I'm in charge. I've also fallen victim to terrible falsities that are not of God. I have found myself thinking at times, "Surely God wouldn't take this baby too. He wouldn't ask that of me. I've already lost one, I don't deserve to lose another." If it's God's will for us to lose another, then we will. I don't think that's His plan this time, but we can never know for sure. Regardless, I can't let my happiness and joy be reliant on what God gives me. It has to be reliant on Him. Period. I have to find my satisfaction in Christ, and Him alone. I can find joy in His blessings, surely, but that has to be secondary, not primary.

I found that I was clinging too tightly to this baby. I know that what I'm feeling is normal, that there's nothing "wrong" with me for having some of these emotions and fears. But I still have to surrender myself to Christ. I think God understands my fears and anxiety. I think he pours down His grace on me daily to handle them. Some days, I feel more like a yo-yo. Up, down, up, down. It's not easy to surrender these things into God's all-powerful hands. I am still the frail, imperfect creature I have always been. I still have to rely on God to get me through.

I just wanted to share this, especially for anyone else that has been through a loss and is now going through another pregnancy. I am a basketcase some days. I hide it well. :) Actually, God usually snaps me out of it before I go into public. It's mostly when I'm by myself, thinking too much, when I turn into crazykins. But I just want everyone to know that I'm human. I'm not perfect, and I have my struggles. The good thing is, God is here to help me out. He brings me out of the crazy back into grace.

Anyway...thanks to those who have been praying for me and everything. It really does help. And thanks for reading this really random page of rambling thoughts. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012


Well, I had my 16 week check up with my specialist this week.  All is well with Baby, and we got to find out what we're having.  :)

We're very excited.  We're also having trouble deciding on a name.  Haha.  Caroline's name was so easy to decide on.  It was almost instantaneous.  Cameron and I both liked it, and it was done.  Not so much with this sweet girl.  It's taking us a bit longer this time.  Haha.

Before we knew what we were having, Cameron and I talked about gender, and whether we would prefer having a girl or boy this time around.  Obviously, we would have been happy to have any child, no matter the gender.  But I think most parents at least think about what gender they would rather have, even if it really doesn't matter to them.  For us, it was more, Can we handle having another girl?  Will she remind us too much of Caroline?  Would it be easier to have a boy since he'd be so different, or would it be harder because he's so different?  I don't think we really knew the answers to that at all.  I think we had to just take it as it came and deal with it then.

I'll be honest, I really wanted another girl.  I've thought a lot about why that is, and it's purely selfish.  I had my girl, but I didn't get to keep her.  I didn't get to do any of the fun girly stuff with her.  I didn't get to dress her up in cute little outfits, or put cute little headbands on her head or clips in her hair.  I didn't get to decorate a nursery with fun cutesy bedding, or find cute little socks and shoes to go with her outfits.

So, I wanted another girl, so I could do all the stuff I didn't get to do with Caroline.

I had to really question myself, about whether I was trying to "replace" her with this new baby.  I've decided that I'm not.  But I am looking forward to doing the things I missed with Caroline.  I think that's normal.  I think when we lose someone we love, we always try to be better with the people we still have.  We regret not spending more time with Grandma, so we make the effort to spend more time with our extended family.  We didn't say, "I love you," enough to Dad, so we make sure we say it more to our spouse and kids.  I think it's similar with me and this baby.  I didn't get time with Caroline, so I'm looking forward to the time I get with Baby Girl. 

I asked Cameron if he was ok having another girl when we found out.  You should have seen his face.  He had this sweet grin on his face and a light in his eyes.  He just looked at me for a second, then said quietly, "Yeah.  I'm glad it's a girl."  I think in some ways he feels a bit like I do.  He gets another chance to have a "Daddy's girl."  I married a good man.  I can't wait to see him be a daddy to the children we get to keep.  He was great with Caroline, and I know he'll be great with Baby Girl.

I can't wait to meet this child, especially if it's God's will to let us keep her for a while.  Cameron and I know nothing is guaranteed, even thought we have faith and hope that all will go well this time around.  I'm so excited.  God is so good.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Welcome Home

I just got to spend a week with my family back "home."  Where I grew up.  Where Caroline is buried.

I went to visit Caroline while I was there.  I mean, I know she isn't really "there," underneath her headstone, but I can't seem to say it any other way.

I had some mixed emotions while I was there.  The last time I stood on that plot of land was the day of the funeral.  Cameron and I live approximately 1500 miles from where I grew up, so it's not easy to get back there frequently.  It took me 7 months, in fact.  Haha.  So I had never even seen her headstone in person.  My family has been great about sending pictures so we knew what was going on, but I'd never seen it in person.  I don't really know why that's so important, but it was nice to feel like things were taken care of and that I had the opportunity to check on it.  I guess it's what a mom should do or something.

I'm sorry if this whole thing sounds slightly morbid or if it makes you uncomfortable.  That's not my intention.  But this was another milestone for me in my journey with Caroline.  Going back to visit her.

My mom was with me when I went, and I'm kinda glad she was.  It made things seem a little less somber or something.  I've been doing so well with "moving on" in life that I was almost surprised to find myself fighting tears.  I shouldn't have been surprised.  I should have expected to feel that way, I guess, but I didn't.  It kinda snuck up on me.

It reminded me that Caroline will always be a part of my life, and there will always be some remnant of the hurt of losing her.  I know that, intellectually, but it's sometimes hard to grasp emotionally.  I think anyone who has lost a loved one in some way just wants the whole thing to go away.  They want the person back, or they just want life to go back to normal, or they just don't want to have to think about it and deal with it because the loss is permanent and leaves an indelible mark on our lives.  We want to have emotional plastic surgery to remove the scar the loss caused.

At the same time, we would never wish that the person never existed for us to lose.  We wouldn't trade our time with that loved one for anything even though it had to hurt to lose them.  It's a strange mix of emotions.

To me, it's a reminder that this isn't home.  That I'm not supposed to be comfortable here.  That I can look forward to a place where I won't ever feel loss or pain anymore.  And my precious Caroline is already there enjoying it.  What a blessing.

I'm still incredibly grateful that God's grace has seen me through this loss so well.  I'm so glad that God has given me joy amidst the sorrow.  And I'm not talking about the new baby on the way, even though that is a source of joy.  No, what I'm talking about is that even before we started trying for the new baby, God gave me joy.  The joy came from Him, from His comfort, from His truth, from His grace to me.  He walked with me through all of it, from diagnosis till now.  He gave me joy with the pain.  He gave me hope.  He is so gracious to me.

I hope you have His joy.  It's better than anything.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The results are in

Well, we got back from our specialist a little while ago.

Baby was very cooperative with our ultrasound tech, so we got some great pictures. :)

Baby also looked absolutely perfect. :)

The anencephaly did not recur, and the nuchal translucency was completely normal. While all that is wonderful news, we obviously don't know what the future holds. We'll continue to be monitored for the next few months to make sure everything stays the way it is now.

I cannot tell you how amazing Cameron and I feel after that appointment. The sonogram popped up on the screen, and we both let out a huge sigh of relief when Baby's head came into view. The tech almost immediately started smiling and was extremely happy for us. She then went on to find all the other pertinent stuff to reassure us even more.

God is so good. We are incredibly blessed. God's grace is amazing, and my Jesus is powerful. He wasn't surprised by this result. He's been knitting this baby together since the beginning, and knew it would exist before time began. He also knew what this baby would be and accomplish, and we don't even know what day he or she will be born yet. God is so amazing. I can't even fathom His greatness.

I am so thankful for God's grace in this. It is only His goodness and mercy that has given us this healthy baby. I praise Him for His goodness to me, a wretched sinner saved by grace. I feel absolutely humbled and awed by the gift He's given me in this child. I will never be able to thank Him enough.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us and supporting us. It's been quite a ride, and it was made more joyous and more fulfilling by all of you.

We'll go back to the specialist in 4 weeks for more monitoring (read: more pictures!), and I'm looking forward to it. :) I can't wait to see what God does with this precious child. I'm already asking for wisdom and grace to raise him or her in the love of Jesus.

Thanks, once again, for everything. We're so excited to share our news with you. :)

God bless you all.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


God continues to teach me through Caroline even now. It is such a blessing to know He's still using Caroline, and not just in my life, but in others' as well. I got to share her story with someone new today. After I finished telling the story, the sweet woman I was telling said, "Thank you for being so open about it and being willing to share your story." That's not an exact quote, but close enough. It made me realize that by being obedient to God's call to write this blog and share our story in other ways, He's being glorified. I mean, I know that, I guess, but it's just little ole me. I'm nothing special apart from God, but He uses experiences like today to remind me that my obedience is not in vain.

I've also recently seen how my journey with Caroline has encouraged other moms going through something similar. I love that God can use me to give hope and peace to others walking a difficult path. It's such an honor. Especially now that we're kinda "on the other side" of the whole thing, I can see how God has worked and is continuing to work through Caroline. What a wonderful, humbling, and awe-inspiring knowledge. I don't know why God chose me for this. But I feel incredibly blessed that He did.

The title of this post is "Deserving." I have a few things to say about that particular word. First of all, I don't feel at all deserving of what God has done and is doing through me because of Caroline, like what I mentioned above. I literally sometimes sit back and marvel at God's grace to me. At His use of me. I feel so unworthy of this whole thing. Even though I have chosen to be faithful to Him and to "let" Him use me, it's been His power doing all the work. I can't take credit for much of anything that's happened. He's been there every step of the way, guiding and directing my every movement, thought, and blog post. He's carried me when I couldn't find the strength to go on. He's held my hand when I had enough strength to trudge along, letting me know I wasn't alone. He's shown me glories I never even knew existed. He's blown my mind with what He's done.

I recently surpassed 18,000 hits on this blog. I never in my wildest dreams thought that many people would spend time reading my blog. I thought there would be, like, 25. Haha. And mostly my family. It just goes to show that God is bigger than anything I could imagine, and can do things I never fathomed. I don't deserve to have thousands of people reading this story. I don't deserve for people to say such sweet things to me, to encourage me in my journey, to let me know I've influenced them somehow. It is absolutely awe-inspiring. God is too good to me.

But there's another side to that "Deserving" title. I hesitate to even go here, because I don't want to offend anyone, but I just feel a burden to speak. I'll explain, but there is a little background I need to give first to make sure I portray this whole thing clearly.

I announced recently that Cameron and I are expecting our second child. We are ecstatic. We're trusting God that no matter what happens, it's His plan and we'll be ok. Going through pregnancy after a loss like ours can be pretty nerve-wracking. You wonder, a lot, about what will happen with this new child. You wonder if the anencephaly is going to recur, or if there will be something else wrong, or if you're going to somehow lose this one too. You almost feel like you can't be overly excited, just in case. There's a lot of just in case. I took a ridiculous amount of folic acid before this pregnancy trying to reduce the risk of recurrence. In fact, I'm still taking it. Just in case. We waited a little while to reveal my pregnancy just in case I miscarried. I've been tempted to go in to my doctor several times, just to make sure the heart was still beating. I haven't, because I try to surrender my fear to the Lord whenever I start to get worried or anxious. If I really thought something was wrong, I would go in, but it's just anxiety and fear.

And finally, there's my appointment with my specialist. It's this coming Wednesday. I'll be getting a sonogram to check for nuchal translucency and anencephaly. We should know immediately if the anencepahly recurred, and hopefully pretty immediately if there are any other neural tube defects. Talk about anxiety. I'm not terribly nervous about the appointment, because I'm trusting God as best I can, that He's got it under control. He knows this baby already, and nothing's going to surprise Him. He's proven that He will be with us if the worst were to happen, so I know I'll be ok. But the waiting to find out...ugh. No fun.

As we've been going through all this, we've had a lot of support from family and friends. We have so many people praying for us it's kind of ridiculous. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from so many.

But I have to confront something that several people have said to me. I just have to, because I want God to be glorified, and I don't want to be the object of someone's misguided admiration.

I've had a few people tell me they're praying for me, and that no one deserves a healthy baby more than I do, so they hope everything goes great with this pregnancy. They say I deserve a healthy pregnancy and baby. I truly appreciate the sentiment. It means a lot that people think so highly of me when it comes to motherhood. You people have more faith in my parenting abilities than I do! Haha. And I truly believe that people who have said this just want me to have something good because I had to have something hard before. I appreciate it. It's extremely kind of you to say so.

But I don't deserve jack.

What I deserve is death because I have sinned. God gave me grace in salvation to exempt me from that particular fate. The fact that I am living and breathing is a gift from God to a wholly undeserving human. The fact that I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a husband that loves me is all God's grace to me because He loves me. What I deserve is death. But He has given me life.

Even if God asks Cameron and me to go through losing another child, it will not be based on my merit, or on my shortcomings. It would be because we live in a fallen world where loss is a reality. If we have a healthy child and get to raise him or her until they are adults, then get to enjoy them into our old age, that is not going to be because I deserve it. It's going to be because God loves us and is gracious to us. If I fall into the trap of assuming that I deserve happiness with a child, I am puffing myself up, making myself more than I ought. I don't deserve anything but death. Anything else is a gift from my marvelous, loving, amazingly powerful and generous God.

As with Caroline, I cannot want or love this child more than I want and love my Savior. God is sovereign. He is in control. And He knows what's best for me. I hope and pray that God's will lines up with mine this time, but I need to be willing to accept that God might have bigger plans for me. No matter what, I want my time with this child to be glorifying to God, whether it's for a few months or several decades. I want this child to be with me in eternity, so I will do all I can to show him or her the way to Jesus.

So, in every way, I am undeserving. I am undeserving of God's grace to me. Undeserving of being used by Him in the way He has used me, reaching more people than I ever imagined. Undeserving of every good and precious gift God's given me, including this precious life growing inside me. I am wholly undeserving, but so very grateful for grace.

God is the only one deserving of praise and honor. My Savior deserves my worship.

I deserve nothing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

You turned my wailing into dancing...

"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. " -Psalm 30:11-12

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance," -Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

As we've walked this journey, there have been a lot of ups and downs. We've dealt with way more than I ever thought possible. God's grace has been with us throughout.

Recently, I've shared a little bit about our healing journey after Caroline was born. I've talked about the future a bit, about how we've thought about future children, the questions people have asked us. I've talked a good bit about the attitude Cameron and I have in regard to future children. I've also talked about where I felt like we needed to be emotionally and spiritually before we even thought about other children.

We have to be ready to lose the next one too.

We have to trust not only in medicine, but in God's sovereignty.

We can't "replace" Caroline with another child.

We have to allow God's grace to get us through the anxiety and fear that may come with another pregnancy.

Not only have I mentioned all that, but I've also mentioned what I feel it will be like to love any children God blesses us with. What will be required of us as parents. What I desire my parenting to look like. I want to glorify God with our other children as much as I tried to with Caroline. I'm looking forward to future children because I'm excited about the opportunity to raise them with God.

Well, barring any complications, and if it's God's will, I'll get my chance in February.

Cameron and I are expecting our next little one in February. We are extremely excited, but both of us will admit that we're slightly guarded in our excitement. We know that anything could happen. We know that God is sovereign and that His will is going to be done regardless. We definitely want this child with a passion, but we are also doing our best to reside in God's grace. If the worst were to happen again, then we have a loving Savior who will carry us through again. He's done it before, so we can have amazing faith that He will do it again.

We are hoping and praying that all will go well this time. I'm not living in constant dread, but I would be lying if I said I never thought about it. Any time those thoughts come in, I try to surrender them to the Savior who's in control anyway. And He is gracious to me and gets me through it all. I have been to my OB once, and in a couple weeks I'll go to my specialist. At that point, we'll be doing a nuchal transparency screening sonogram to check for neural tube defects, including anencephaly. I will breathe a huge sigh of relief after that appointment, if all goes well. Either way, God is good, and His mercy endures forever, so we will be ok.

Obviously being pregnant again brings up some interesting emotions and thoughts. I really am mostly at peace. It's amazing what God can do in crazy situations. While I am slightly more paranoid about stuff this time around, it's not ruling me. I am definitely grateful for the modern medicine God has allowed us to discover. It's amazing to me that at 12 weeks gestation, they can screen for all these disorders. It's quite reassuring to have visual proof that the child inside me is ok. Seeing his or her heartbeat at my first OB appointment on that sonogram screen was incredible. Seeing the miracle of life after living through the pain of death is just something incredibly special.

I have to be careful not to place my faith in doctors and medicine above God. I know He gave us those tools, so I will be grateful for them and take advantage of them, but God is still the one on control. So while there are some nerves involved in waiting for the appointment with my specialist, I'm doing my best to rely on God while I wait. He's been good to me, and so far He's given me the grace to do that.

While the loss of Caroline is not diminished by our news, we do feel incredibly blessed to have this little gift from God. We'll always love and miss Caroline, but we'll also love and (if it's God's will) get to raise this little one that's on its way. It reminds me a bit of what was said about Job. "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first." Job 42:12. Job lost everything. All his children, all his wealth, his home, his health. His wife and friends just nagged him forever. And he was a very wealthy man with a lot of children. I can't imagine that Job ever forgot or stopped loving and missing the children he lost. But Scripture says that God blessed him more after he got through all that pain, than when he had it all to begin with, before it was taken from him. That's kind of how I feel. Nothing will change the painful experiences we had with Caroline. We had some good experiences, too. Nothing will erase her from our lives and hearts. But we can appreciate the blessings God gives us afterward too. Like this little one coming in February.

Goodness, the emotions going on in me are a little nutso. They're so hard to describe. Hopefully I've made some semblance of sense. Haha.

Anyway, we are grateful for this little blessing. We are grateful for the blessing of Caroline. We are grateful that God is sovereign and powerful and loving and gracious. We look forward to what God will do with us all, no matter what happens with this pregnancy. Thank you for sharing in this journey with us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Surreal Life

For some reason, it seems like I've had several opportunities to talk about Caroline recently. As time goes on, I don't really talk about her as much as I used to. I still think about her everyday and everything, but the need to talk about her has subsided a bit. I'm not ashamed to talk about her, and I don't shy away from it either, but the urgency isn't there anymore.

So the fact that I've talked about her several times lately is a little out of the ordinary at this point. It's been a little over six months now since she was born. As time passes, her time with us begins to seem a little surreal. I look back and think, "Did that really happen to me? Did I really go through that?" Of course I did, and it changed my life. I will never forget Caroline. I will always miss her. But time is dulling the pain a bit, that's for sure.

I think part of why she's come up a lot recently is because there are about a million people I know having babies. Haha. I've mentioned this a little bit before now, but it's still true. It seems like just about every week I find out a friend or acquaintance is pregnant. I'm ecstatic for them. I do, naturally, feel a little twinge now and then, but it's not jealousy. God has been gracious in that I've been able to rejoice with others without becoming bitter myself. The twinge is more just that dull ache that comes after you lose a loved one and are reminded of the loss. Whether it's a baby or a grandparent, sometimes the pain just pops up.'s been kinda sweet lately because people have made a point to tell me they're praying for me specifically because of all these babies. They say something to the effect of, "I know it can't be easy to see all these other babies, so I've just been praying for you." It's been touching, really, that people have been so supportive and sweet. And while I do have those pesky twinges occasionally, I know that God is good and His grace gets us through just fine. :)

But yeah, Caroline's come up a few times. I've gone back and looked at her pictures, and I've gone back and read bits and pieces of my blog again. I've reminisced about our time with her, about everything that's happened since. It's truly incredible, really, to see what God has done. I know He's not done yet, either. But like I mentioned, it's become a bit surreal. I suppose that's a natural reaction. I guess you start to kinda separate yourself from the intensity. I look back and wonder how the heck I did that. Obviously the answer is through God's grace, but it's been a little crazy to think about.

You know how sometimes you see people doing something slightly out of the ordinary, and you think, "Wow, I could never do that," or "They must be made of different stuff to be able to do that." For instance, military people, fire fighters, policeman, etc. I think we tend to romanticize people like that. I have a little experience with that because my hubby is military. Those people don't necessarily see themselves as something special. They're just people doing their job. It's kinda that way with my experience with Caroline. A lot of people looked (or may still look) at me as being something special, doing something extraordinary. I don't feel that way at all. I'm just me, dealing with something that came into my life. I know I had a lot of help from God. I know I wouldn't have made it otherwise. But I guess that's why it seems so surreal looking back.

I know that what happened was different. It was unusual. It was out of the ordinary. And I handled it in a way that many people told me was unusual and out of the ordinary. I can't take credit because Jesus was carrying me, but I do realize that something special happened with Caroline. It seems surreal because I'm still me, just a normal person, but I got to experience something extraordinary. I took part in something unusual. Jesus blessed me with a situation that can only be called extraordinary. It was, and continues to be, quite a ride. I am humbled by it, because I realize that I am a simple human being who was carried through an insane experience to show God's glory in a unique way. I continue to hope that my testimony can help others, that this blog will be shared, that Caroline's story will be shared, and that others will come to know Jesus or know Him better because of her life.

If you ever want to share something with me, I'd love to hear it. You can always leave comments on posts, or you can email me at the email address on the contact tab above. Thank you for being part of Caroline's story.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Is Love?

"What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." You know you just sang that.

That's totally not what this post is about. But it is about love. I wrote the title and the song popped in my head, so I had to share. :)

We're coming up on six months since Caroline was born. I've been through Mother's Day, and we're coming up on Father's Day. We're starting to get asked a lot (see my previous post) if we're gonna start trying for another kid soon. Lots of progress, so to speak.

As I've been preparing my heart and mind for whatever God's will is in the future, especially related to children, I've asked myself a lot of random questions. Are we ready for another child? What would happen if we lost the next one too? Can I keep myself from making an idol of the next child? Will I be able to surrender my child to God's keeping and will, or will I try to grasp on and hold on? Will I be a good mother?

What is love?

That question right there probably can help me answer all the other ones. I'll admit that I am a little fearful for the next go round of pregnancy/motherhood. I don't think I'd be human if I didn't have some fears and anxieties. But I also don't want them to rule over me. I don't want them to stunt my spiritual growth. I've been praying a lot that God would protect me from that fear and anxiety, that He would help me not to lose focus. That He would show me love, and how to love. He is love.

I know there are a million verses in Scripture that talk about what love is. Laying down your life for a friend. Patient, kind, not proud or rude, not easily angered, not self seeking, keeps no record of wrongs, doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It never fails. Jesus' death on the cross while we were still sinners. I could go on and on. There are also commands to love God more than anything, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then to love your neighbor also. Obviously love is important to God.

I know in the English language we use the word love a lot. We love tacos, we love our spouses, we love a tv show, we love our kids. With such a wide spectrum of love, and only one real word to use to describe it, it's no wonder that the definition of love can get a little skewed or muddled. So I had to ask myself as I've been wrestling with all my emotions and thoughts, What is love? What does it mean for God to love me? What does it mean for me to love others? What will it mean to love my children?

There are simple, cliche answers to all of those questions. But I don't want to stop there. I want to dig a little deeper and figure it out. It's too important not to. God showed His love for me by sending His Son to die for me, then raising him again so that death has no victory, and we get to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Sunday School answer. Having lost a child of my own, and not voluntarily, I can't imagine the pain that caused God. Not only God, but Jesus. He voluntarily gave up His life, was disowned momentarily by His Father while He took on the sin of the world, and then overcame it all so that the very people who killed Him could spend eternity with Him if they choose to. Talk about love. I can't even begin to understand that kind of love. And I can in no way pay God back for it. I can do my best to love Him, but only because I want to. I can't reciprocate what He's done for me. He loved me sacrificially and unselfishly, and I want to do that too.

If God can do that for me, I should be able to show others love while I'm here on earth. What does that look like? Being inconvenienced. Offering hospitality when it's not comfortable. Telling people about Jesus, even if I'm rejected for it. Putting other people's needs and desires above my own. Making myself nothing so Christ can be everything. Always pointing people to the Savior of their souls. The most loving thing I can do is make sure the people I care about know Jesus. Without Him, eternity will be miserable beyond imagination. With Him, it will be paradise beyond our wildest dreams. So I need to share that. I need to be loving.

When it comes to children, that doesn't change much. The most loving thing I can ever do for my kids is show them how to know Jesus. All the other stuff is secondary. Kissing boo-boos, wiping tears, feeding, clothing, encouraging, supporting. Without Jesus, it doesn't matter much. I'm not saying it's not important. Some of why our kids find Jesus is because we're willing to kiss boo-boos. Kids see Jesus' love for them in our love for them. I get that. One of the best ways I can love my kids is to love Jesus first. To let His love flow through me.

And as I battle my fears about our next child, I have to remember that. I have to remember that I have to love Jesus first. I have to trust Him to be in control of my child's life. He is sovereign, and whatever He does is for the best. I can't hold on and try to manage my child's life beyond the responsibility God has given me. I'm not God. I can't play God to my kids. As I learned with Caroline, I am not worthy of Christ if I love my kids more than I love Him. So I've been working on loving God, and letting Him take care of the rest. I have certain responsibilities. I have to take care of myself physically. I have to go to doctors when the time comes. I have to take care of any children God gives us. But I also have to rely on Him to do that. I can't do it on my own strength or by my own plans. If I truly want to glorify God as a mother, I have to let God be in control of my efforts as a mom.

So, as the fears and anxieties wage war against a God-given peace and security, I have to choose to let God be in control. I have to constantly lay those fears and anxieties at His feet, letting Him take them away from me. Sometimes, that's pretty frequently. And that's ok. I'm not perfect. I'm a human being. I have to deal with a fallen world and a fallen me. But God's still in control. He's still taking care of me. And that's all that matters.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Question

Yes. The Question. Capital Q.

Shall I explain? Ok.

We have been getting The Question a lot lately. The Question entails some form of "Are you guys going to have another kid? If so, when?"

Since we've been getting The Question so frequently lately, I figured I might as well blog about it and answer everyone at the same time. Hopefully all this will make sense.

The answer is, yes, we'd like more children, if that is God's will for us. As far as when, that will depend on God's plan, as well as our own emotional health. That has always been true, and nothing has changed. We always wanted more than one child, and even if Caroline would have survived, we would want another one. The difference now is that Caroline did not survive, so we might have another one sooner than we would have had she lived.

I want to be 100% clear, however. We do not want another child because Caroline is with Jesus. We want another child because, if it's God's will for us, we want to glorify Him with each child. There are a lot of emotions and thoughts involved now because we lost Caroline, but I want to share a few things with you that Cameron and I have come to understand.

First of all, Caroline was, is, and will always be our first child. Nothing will change that. No subsequent children will replace her. Having another child will not make everything better in our loss of Caroline. I think a lot of people think that if we just "hurry up and get pregnant again," that having that next child will somehow alleviate the pain of losing Caroline, or make things less difficult. People can accept and relate to expecting a child. Not everyone can relate to losing one. They know what to say to people expecting a child. They don't know what to say when someone loses a child. In some ways, it will be easier on everyone if/when I get pregnant again, because the elephant in the room will be smaller. I don't say all this to be mean or callused. I just want to lay it all out there. Having another child will change nothing in regards to Caroline. We'll just have something else to look forward to here on earth.

But that child is still a gift from God, and is still only on loan to us while we're on earth. Someday, that next child will meet their maker as well, it just might not be at birth. It may be long after Cameron and I are gone. So we have to remember the lesson that God taught us through Caroline; our children are not ours, but God's. We still have a responsibility, certainly, to be parents. We won't neglect that responsibility, but we also have to realize that our children are still in God's hands. He is sovereign. His will is going to be accomplished, and He will be glorified. I have to trust Him to take care of my children. I have a responsibility to take care of my children in the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that arise in their lives. But the ability to do that comes from God. He provides me the means to take care of them. He's still in control. I simply pass along His grace to my children. He loves them more than I can, and I love Caroline and will love any future children a whole heck of a lot. But I have to parent them with the understanding that God's the one in charge ultimately.

That brings me to another point. In order to be ready to have another child, I have to be ready to lose another child. No pregnancy guarantees a healthy child. Anyone can lose a child during or right after pregnancy. If I can't rely on God enough to trust Him to give me His best no matter what happens, I'm not ready. In other words, I have to be at peace with God's will, regardless. I have to be willing to accept that God may decide He wants us to lose our next child. I hope not, and I pray not, but the fact of the matter is, God may ask us to do that again. It may not be anencephaly, but it may be something. That doesn't mean I'm morbid, or that I'm expecting that, but I have to remember that God is my refuge, that He's sovereign and in charge, and that His will is what's best. His will is to bring Himself glory, and I play my part in whatever way He deems. I've come to the point where I've accepted that. If He requires me to lose another child, then to Him be the glory. I know He will be faithful to me and carry me through, just as He did with Caroline. Like I said, I hope that's not what happens, and I'm not expecting it, but I'm not in charge.

Cameron and I are in agreement on these things. Our ultimate goal is to glorify God with our lives, including how we parent our children. That includes how we handle pregnancy. It also includes how we think about things before God blesses us that way again, if He chooses to. I want to remember the lessons He taught us with Caroline. I have to love Christ first. If I love anything or anyone more than Him, I'm wrong. If I look forward to another pregnancy more than I look forward to knowing Him more and making Him known, I'm off. Does that means I can't look forward to another pregnancy? No. I am looking forward to it, when the time is right and God sees fit to make it happen. I don't know when that will be, if ever. But for now, I also know that my walk with the Lord is foremost. It's the most important thing to me, even though I am far from perfect in living my life.

I want to see Him glorified. I want to see Him known. And if He can use another pregnancy and another child to show His glory through me, then I'm all for it. If He has other plans, then I'm ok with that too. To Him be the glory, no matter what happens.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A couple pics

So...after a very serious post yesterday, it's time for something a little nicer. Pictures!

Caroline's headstone came in not too long ago. My amazing dad went down and gave her some flowers. Makes my heart happy. :)

And then I finally got some of her stuff put into a shadow box frame.
I think it turned out pretty well. Now if I can just figure out where I want to hang it, we'll be in business. Haha.

Just thought I'd share. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Tough Subject

I just want to warn you that if you are easily riled up, you might not want to read this post. I'm giving you fair warning. This is an emotionally, politically, and socially volatile topic, so if you can't handle it, don't go any further. I'm going to do my best not to use inflammatory vocabulary because I want to speak clearly and strongly, but compassionately. I don't want anything to get lost in emotional translation. The viewpoint I will espouse in this post is socially unpopular, but it is something I feel very strongly about. This is also going to be a rather long post. I know, not terribly unusual for me, but hey.

At this point, you're probably asking why I don't just get on with it. I will, I promise. I just wanted to make a few things clear first. :)

So what is this topic, you ask? You might have already guessed it.


I've already lost some of you at this point. That's ok. I hope that those of you who are still reading can hear my heart and will take the time to hear me out. I decided I needed to say something about this because I've recently been convicted that I've been a coward when it comes to this subject. I've mentioned it briefly on this blog, mostly just saying that we chose not to terminate Caroline when that option was offered. For us, it was never really an option, but it was offered to us. We did have to make the decision. So I'm not coming at this from a completely ignorant perspective. I've been faced with the choice, I had to decide, so I'm not ignorant of some of the emotions going through people's minds when they also are faced with this choice. That's why I feel like I need to say something.

I say I've been a coward because I haven't wanted to talk about this in any substantial way. I'm ashamed of myself because of that. I have never wavered in my beliefs on this issue, but I have wavered on how committed I am to talking about it. My beliefs are unpopular, and people have a tendency to get rather angry when I voice them, so I kinda just...stopped. I cannot, in good conscience, continue with that. I can no longer remain silent. I'm sure you can gather from what I've said that I don't agree with abortion. I do think it is morally wrong. I believe life begins at conception, and that "terminating" a pregnancy is actually ending a life. I believe that God is sovereign, and that every child conceived was intentional and "planned," even if it's a surprise to the parents. They are special, unique creations of God that He personally knits together in a mother's womb. I'll share more specifically my beliefs as I go.

I want to start with a little bit of science for those who do not share my spiritual beliefs. I'm not claiming in any way to be an expert on reproductive, genetic, or biological science. I know enough to pass all the science classes I had to take in school, and a little bit from my own study, but not a whole lot. My knowledge is not exhaustive. But I do feel like I have a general grasp of the basics and can therefore speak intelligently on the subject. My point here is not to debate, but simply to share my own beliefs.

It confuses me that one of the arguments used to justify abortion is that the baby in a mother's womb is simply a part of her body to do with as she chooses. First, the "mass of cells" referred to as an embryo or fetus does not contain only the mother's genetics, but the father's as well. In fact, from the moment of conception, the DNA of a child in utero is unique from both mother and father. It is a completely separate genetic code. Yes, it has genetic markers from both parents, but it is unique. How, then, can the "embryo" or "fetus" simply be a part of the mother's body? It's a completely separate organism with a distinct genetic code all its own. It is indeed reliant on the mother for survival, but, well...isn't an infant? Without someone's care, wouldn't an infant die? If the measure of life is going to be reliant upon self-sustainability, should we cease to use CPR, ventilators, pace makers, or life support at all?

Something else I don't completely understand is trying to put a gestational age on when it becomes a life. There are premature babies in NICUs all over the country that are being kept alive by heroic efforts, when they could legally be aborted at the same gestational age. A premie can be in a mother's arms, even if it's through an incubator, at 24 weeks gestational age, surviving through medical intervention, while that same child, if it was still in utero, could be legally killed in the same hospital.

As a quick foray into the legal realm, of which I have an admittedly more limited knowledge, I just want to mention one thing. If a pregnant woman is attacked, and she loses the baby, the attacker can be charged with killing the baby. I realize this isn't always the case, and it isn't cut and dry, but the fact of the matter is, it's possible. Why is it that if a child is wanted, but killed, it's a crime, while if a child is NOT wanted and killed, it's a choice? I just don't understand this.

Please hear me when I say this; I'm not trying to judge or condemn anyone for whatever choice they've made. I obviously know there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this subject. I'm going to continue shortly with some of my theological reasoning, but I wanted to pause here to say this. I know that MOST people who choose abortion don't do so flippantly. I know many people wrestle with the decision. I know it's often difficult. I'm not trying to denigrate anyone, or claim I'm better or stronger. I'm not. I'm an imperfect creature with as much propensity to choose wrongly as anyone else. I am not immune to immoral decision making. I make mistakes all the time. That doesn't mean I have to accept the behavior, however.

I have several scriptures I want to share, hoping it can shed some light on the theological reasons for my beliefs about abortion. The first is Psalm 139:5-16.
"You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

To me, this Scripture proclaims God's individual care and creation of every human being. God is intricately involved in putting a tiny person together. God knows us while we're still being formed. He's involved with us before we're born. He knows everything about us before we're born. If God, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, cares so deeply about a child in utero, how can I ignore His example? If I trust in this God, I must also treat the new, growing, forming life of a baby in utero with as much respect as He does.

Another is Exodus 21:22-24.
"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

I find it interesting that this verse so specifically points out that unborn children are valuable. If someone causes harm to the child because it's born prematurely, God directed His people to be serious in punishing that crime. While this isn't specifically about voluntary abortion, I think the point still holds true. Unborn children are valuable to God.

Another: Psalm 22:9-10:
"Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God."

The last phrase of this gets me. "From my mother's womb you have been my God." It seems like even in the womb God knew David, the author of this Psalm, that there was a relationship even then.

Isaiah 44:24:
"This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,"

From the individual child, formed in a mother's womb, to all of heaven and earth...God does it all. How can we not see that each child in utero is God's workmanship, and that He takes great pleasure and pride in that creation?

Jeremiah 1:5:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

God knows us before we're even conceived, so of course He knows us and loves us after conception. He has a plan for us from before we're even in the womb, so wouldn't He have one once we're there? A child developing, at God's hand, in a mother's womb, is a loved child with a specific plan for their life. We should not alter that plan by ending that life.

Luke 1:44:
"As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."

This is Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, speaking to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The child in her womb leaped for joy. That is a specifically human reaction. How could a non-life have a human reaction?

All through Scripture, there is evidence that God values and wants to protect the unborn. If that is true, then we should do the same.

From here I'm going to rely on some of my own personal feelings and anecdotes. I know that these will probably have the least influence on anyone's opinions, especially if they differ from mine, but I'd like to share them anyway.

When I first found out I was pregnant with Caroline, I was in shock but ecstatic. It happened sooner than I expected, but from the moment I knew she existed, I loved Caroline. I knew there was a child, a new life, growing inside me, and I treasured it and valued it. I read books about the development of the baby for each week. I had an app on my iphone that told me what was going on weekly, complete with pictures. I saw the first sonogram when we went in to the OB for the first time, and I was in awe. She was moving around even then. It blew my mind just finding out about what was going on as she developed.

At 18 weeks, when we found out about her anencepahly, one of the first questions they asked us after they confirmed the diagnosis was if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I really dislike that terminology. Do you realize we use the same word for abortion- terminate- that Hitler used to describe his systematic killing of Jews and other "undesirables" in Nazi Germany? It dehumanizes the victims. It makes us feel better because it's not "killing," but "terminating." It hurts my heart to think about it. And even after having gone through this whole experience of pain and loss, having that extra ten weeks with Caroline was incredible. I would have missed out on so much had I ended her life. She wasn't done yet. God's plan for her wasn't done yet. And because I chose to keep her and carry her, I got to experience some of the best days of my life. I can't even imagine any other alternatives.

Sonograms blow my mind. To be able to see your child moving around on a screen is just incredible. Once, Caroline had the hiccups. It was hilarious. You could watch her heart beating. You could see her kicking her legs like a little soccer player. You could see her holding her hands by her face as if she were trying to hide from us. Even at 18 weeks we could see some amazing things. And at that point, it was entirely legal to end her life, even had she not had any health issues. I just can't imagine.

Feeling her move was another thing. She had a mind of her own. She moved when she wanted, she wedged herself where she wanted. She was her own little person, even if she was inside my belly. She was part me and part Cameron. She wasn't just another piece of my body. She was Caroline.

As I rap up this extremely long and emotional post, I want to say this. I serve a great and mighty God. He created me. He created you. He creates every human being that ever makes an appearance on this earth, wanted or not wanted by the earthly parents who have a part in conceiving it. He sent His Son to live in a womb for 9 1/2 months, so that He could grow up and die on a cross and rise victorious over death, for all the other babies He has created. You and me included. Christ was not a part of Mary's body to do with as she pleased. He was a living human being, God incarnate, sent here to save us.

You know what the awesome part is? He died and was risen so he could offer us forgiveness and salvation. Even for abortion. If you've chosen abortion, He's willing to forgive you and heal you. He loves you, and has since YOU were in YOUR mother's womb. He knit YOU together. And the power that He has to create new life in a mother's womb is the same great power He has to love us, forgive us, and hold us close forever. You just have to ask Him and accept His gift. He creates a new life for you when you accept Him.

I know what I've said here can be divisive. I know it's not a pleasant subject. I know my beliefs are unpopular. I didn't even touch on all the "what-ifs"- What if a baby is conceived by rape? What if the child is disabled? What if the mother's health is at risk? I didn't get into politics or social agendas. I don't want to go there. I've already said so much here. I'd be happy to discuss it with you if you want to contact me at the email address in the contact tab at the top of this blog. Just please do it respectfully. Don't send me hatemail. I've heard it all before anyway. But like I said at the beginning of this post...I just couldn't refuse to say something anymore. This is too important not to talk about. If you made it all this way...I congratulate you. This was a book. I appreciate your perseverance. Haha. May God bless you all.

I hope this has at least given you some things to think about. I hope I've said all of this compassionately but boldly. I pray, like always, that God is glorified here. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's Worth It

This post might be a little crazy. I'm just warning you now. :) I have a lot on my heart.

First off, it's Easter. Happy Easter! Because of what this holiday celebrates, I get to see my Jesus and my Caroline in Heaven someday. What an amazing blessing. Sometimes, when I truly think about it, it just blows my mind. I am so grateful. Not as much as I should be, and not as often as I should, but I am grateful.

Two days ago, on Good Friday, Cameron and I were involved in a simulcast of David Platt's "Secret Church." If you've never been involved in this, or heard of it, you're missing out. Here's the background: David Platt, a pastor of a church in Alabama (who wrote a very cool book called Radical), went on a mission trip to Asia. The Church there in Asia is highly persecuted, as I'm sure many of you know. It's illegal in China to meet publicly with other Christians. People risk their very lives to meet together. It's incredible. Anyway, David Platt went to Asia. He was invited to speak at a secret gathering of the saints in Asia. He was told to wear a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood up, and to look down, all so no could see him. They went through a million precautions just to get him to the meeting site, which was a run down building with one lightbulb hanging from the ceiling as the only light, no sound system, no air conditioning, no chairs to sit in, nothing. And it was packed. The people there are so hungry for the Word. They brought him there the first day, and he was supposed to preach for 3 hours. He ended up preaching for 6 hours. They begged him to come back the next day and preach longer. So he did. From before dawn to long after dark. He did that for days and weeks. And people kept coming. Can you imagine that?

When he got back to the States, he wanted to see what would happen if he tried something like that here. He started with his own church in Birmingham, and people came, knowing he was going to teach for 6 hours. He's done it several times now (I think this one we went to was the 12th), and it's now simulcast all over the world. Our church took part in that simulcast, and that's what we went to do.

Before we went, I was debating whether I should go. I didn't think I could do 6 hours of Bible Study like that.

I was wrong.

It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. Guess what the topic of those 6 hours was. Just guess.

Suffering. Christ's suffering on the cross, and human suffering here on earth. An exhaustive study of suffering.

I'm still digesting everything I heard that night. I probably will be for a long while. It was that crazy. David Platt could be an auctioneer with as fast as he talks. And he still went over by 45 minutes. It was incredible. And I was glued the whole time. My mind didn't really wander, I was able to focus on what he was saying, and I was engaged by it. Incredible. I even cried a few times. He used a bunch of my "Caroline verses" and even ended with the hymn "It is Well With My Soul," which was my theme song from Caroline's diagnosis onward. I used that hymn in the email I sent out to friends and family to inform them about her diagnosis. I sang it the day her diagnosis was confirmed. I'm pretty sure God wanted to remind me that He's awesome and in control. 'Cause He's the only one cool enough and powerful enough to do this. I got goose bumps a lot. God was working, and still is.

I want to share a couple things that I have been reminded of or that God taught me through all of this. If I can find the words. I feel like anything I say will be so completely insignificant and unworthy. But I will do my best.

Most importantly, I want to start out by saying "It's worth it." It's worth it to have lost my daughter for the time I have on earth to see the eternal reward and eternal reverberations of her life. She was used by God to change my life. Not just change it, but to completely tear down walls I had erected, to break through chains I was bound in, and to change my entire perspective on life, heaven, and my walk with the Lord. I cannot even begin to describe to you how grateful I am to have suffered so that I could say "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Yes, I said I was grateful to have suffered. You may think that's a weird way to look at things, but it shouldn't be. How many Scriptures say we should rejoice in our sufferings? How many times did the early church lose EVERYTHING, only to gain eternity? How many times have we seen suffering produce amazing things? Not just in our own lives, but in others' lives, and for years to come? The man who wrote "It is Well With My Soul" was Horatio Spafford. He wrote it after losing four daughters to drowning. He suffered, and God used him to write this hymn, which in turn has incredibly impacted who knows how many people. Myself included. This has been my heart's cry for months.

God is amazing.

It is SO WORTH IT. I prayed from day one that God would give me the grace to suffer well, and that He would be glorified in it all. I still hope and pray that He has been glorified. I still desire more than anything that my Christ would be lifted up. He used this "Secret Church" to really grab my attention back and to make sure the lessons I learned with Caroline were cemented in my heart and mind. I am once again blown away by God's magnificence.

One of the main things David Platt emphasized during his teaching was that God is Sovereign. Absolutely and completely Sovereign. Nothing that happens surprises God. In fact, He plans it all out ahead of time. God knew before I was even born that someday I would bear a child that I would lose. He knew before Cameron was born that he would have to be the father of a child he would never get to hold alive. And he blessed it. He knew that through our suffering, we would grow. We would honor Him. We would show others His grace. And He knows that in the future, whatever happens as a result will influence others. At least I hope He will continue to use our story. I hope we are worthy of that calling. We are far from perfect, but we want to be willing.

I've mentioned many times that part of what has gotten me through this is having an eternal perspective. It's still what makes this bearable almost four months after she was born. In fact, when I think about Caroline, I am no longer very sad about her. I rejoice that she's in Heaven. I rejoice that God has used her to glorify himself in so many ways. I still miss her, and the separation still hurts, and it's still hard some days. But it feels petty to cry. It feels petty to be sad. God has done and is doing and will do in the future amazing things because I suffered through carrying her, knowing I would lose her. I rejoice that God decided to honor me by taking my child. That He thought me worthy of such a calling. That He gave me His special grace and peace throughout, to teach me and others. He chose me to bear the burden so that He could be glorified. I am thrown prostrate before Him in awe of His goodness to me by giving me Caroline.

Do I sound crazy? Good.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ...but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him...

...Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight." 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, 23-29, 3:18-19a

I would rather be thought crazy, foolish, and an idiot by the world, and be right in the Lord's sight, than to be normal to the world. I am not of this world. My old self is dead. DEAD. I am now alive IN CHRIST, and so I take on His character as much as I can. The world thought He was crazy too. Why would they think me any different?


Cameron has been reading David Platt's book Radical for several weeks now. I've been listening to bits and pieces of what Cameron has gleaned from that book, but God has also been working on me individually. We've both decided that we want to live more simply. We want to do more good with our lives and resources than we are now. We've made a few changes.

We canceled our cable. It's mostly junk and wastes too much time and money. TV isn't evil. We still watch tv. But we don't need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to be numbed by entertainment for too many hours a day.

We've given up drinking soft drinks so we can use the money to donate to organizations that give clean water to people who don't have it, like in Africa and Asia.

And we've started eating a poverty meal every Tuesday night. I did some research and came up with meals representative of common food in impoverished places. This month, April, we're focusing on North Africa and are therefore eating couscous and lentils. As we eat it, we are reminded both of our blessings, and of others' poverty. We pray for the people our meal represents, like the people in North Africa. Each month will be a different region. (If you're interested in what I actually make, you can check it out here)

We want our time and money to go toward worthwhile things, not just toward our own selfish enjoyment. These are decisions we've made because God has pricked our hearts. We asked ourselves, "Is Christ worth abandoning everything for?" (which is the question David Platt asks in his book). God didn't send us Caroline just so we could soak up His goodness through the pain. He sent her to us to teach us, to touch us, so we could then go out and touch others.


I know I've written an entirely too long blog post. But I could still go on and on about this subject. I might have to write another post someday about what else God is doing. Suffice it to say, He is ripping off my calluses, He is ripping the scales from my eyes, and He is graciously allowing me to see more clearly who He is, and what He wants from me while I'm still here on earth. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. I lose my life so that I can find it. I am struggling to make sense of God's wisdom because I am a foolish earthling. The more I put off the trappings of this world, the more God is opening my eyes and heart to Him. The more I suffer, the more blessed I feel. The more I suffer, the more God teaches me. The more I suffer, the more the gates of Hades are thwarted. The more I suffer, the more people are brought to the saving light of Jesus.

How could I not say that it is worth it? Oh, that I would be blessed with more suffering for my Lord, so that He can do more work through me. Oh, that I would suffer more so I can learn to suffer well so I can show the glory and majesty of my Risen Lord.

It is worth it. It is so worth it.