Monday, April 25, 2011

How Great Thou Art

Wow, what an amazing Easter it was this year.  More than ever, I've been reminded of how much my Savior, my Creator, loves me.  My, how I have been blessed!  As we sat in the service yesterday morning listening to Tom tell us about what my Savior endured in order to set me free, I got chills.  Sure, I've heard the story and I've seen "The Passion of the Christ", so I know the devastation that the floggings and the crucifixion brought to Christ's body...  But this time, I heard it as a Mother.  *gulp*  I can't imagine, do not want to imagine the anguish that Mary felt watching her Son being beaten to within an inch of His life, only to then be drug through the streets and finally to watch him have spikes driven through his wrists and a crown of thorns shoved onto his head.  These were not the thorns from your Mama's rosebush either.  Historians tell us that they were several inches long.  To imagine how God felt as He watched His Son suffer and die...  knowing that he couldn't stop it...  how utterly helpless he must have felt.

I cringe when Grayson gets the tiniest bruise or scrape and just want to calm him down and dry every little tear that he cries.  It makes me physically hurt when he's in pain.  Every bit of my being just wants to take it from him.  Oh, the love I have for him.  I imagine how it would feel to be Mary, remembering the tiny kicks in her belly as she carried Christ in her womb... I remember how it feels because I am there once again with our tiny Jelly Bean kicking ferociously every time Grayson squishes him/her.  I know the love that you feel for your child before you even get to hold him in your arms...  and how great that love grows as you hold them more and more.  For 33 years Mary got to hold her Son and yet she was unable to save Him in the end.  I saw a whole new side of Mary during our service yesterday, and she was not even really mentioned.  I guess I just really stepped into her shoes while listening to the horrors of Christ's death due to the situation I am in.

I quickly realized how blessed we are that Grayson has not had any serious illness or injury so far.  We have not spent unexpected nights in the hospital, and certainly have not felt the horror of losing a child firsthand.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you for taking those nails, and accepting those thorns.  Thank you for rescuing me AND my family!  Thank you for protecting us and sending Your Angels to watch over us.  Thank you for my amazing husband, my wonderful son, and this incredible little Jelly Bean kicking me while I type.  Please help us to remember, not just on Easter but every day, How Great Thou Art.

[If you haven't seen this, it is a must-see!]

Monday, April 18, 2011

You Never Let Go

You Never Let Go--Matt Redman

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back, I know You are near
And I will fear no evil, For my God is with me
And if my God is with me, Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go, Lord, You never let go of me
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles, but until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes 
 Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

So I have to make a confession.  Last week at church, in the aftermath of Alyssa losing sweet Morgan, I admit that I had a really hard time praising God.  Singing the Hallelujah's and telling God how great He is was really hard for me because I, well, I was angry at God.  I didn't understand (and still don't) why He would allow this to happen at all, much less a second time to the same Mommy.  Doesn't He know that we need to have a baby in our arms?  I sang numbly through the service, crying for that sweet baby girl that was in Jesus' arms instead of in Alyssa's belly.  

This week at church, we sang several songs, but Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go" stood out to me.  We are certainly walking through the valley in the shadows of death...  and not just any death...  the death of a sweet, innocent baby.  We are caught in the middle of a storm that Satan has conjured up and we are broken.  Broken-hearted, broken-minded, broken-bodied, and broken-spirited.  Last week, I caught myself wondering where God was in all of this.  I feel so afraid...  obviously for Alyssa and Brian, but also for our own little Jelly Bean.  The kicks that I feel now no longer bring displeasure, but security.  But at the same time, I don't want him/her to be too crazy in there, lest Jelly Bean might tie him/herself up like poor Morgan did.  Alyssa and I both have wondered about God's design of the umbilical cord... I know He makes everything 'perfect', but why is it so long?!  We babyproof our entire house, yet we can't babyproof our womb from that crazy long cord?!  It just doesn't make sense.  

This week while I was editing photos, I came across a verse that really stuck with me.  I really feel like it was almost a message coming through Morgan from God:

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."  John 14:27 (NLT)

God is here.  God was there with Alyssa through the silence of the doppler.  God was there during her delivery, and He was there to carry sweet Morgan Home.  He is still here now, and He is sorrowful too.  He knew this was going to happen, but He didn't make it happen.  Satan made it happen.  God brought life into this world--Satan brought destruction and death.  God made everything perfect, especially sweet Morgan.  I should know... I photographed every inch of her tiny body.  She had beautiful, long perfect fingers and she already had long, skinny feet, just like her Momma.  I thought she looked just like her big brother, Carter.  God made her.  Satan took her from us, but God ushered her Home.  God left us His peace and the truth that He will come back for us too, in His perfect timing.  We don't have to be afraid.  Even through the suffering, we must hold fast to the Glorious Light that is coming.  

For this, I can sing praise to my King who has redeemed me.  Even through my pain and sorrow, I hold tightly to my Savior, the One who rocks Morgan to sleep at night and comforts the weary...  because He never lets go.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy 1 Week Birthday, Morgan

One word can't sum it up.  A few that come to mind:  unspeakable, tragedy, horror, dismay, utter disbelief, shock.  A few more:  devastation, incomprehensible, heart-wrenching.  Broken.
Thursday, April 7 will be a day I will remember forever.  It is the day that the heart inside my best friend's belly ceased to beat any longer...  and the day that both of our hearts broke.

Alyssa texted me that her midwife couldn't find a heartbeat during her regular 16-wk appointment and I just began to pray that it was a fluke...  surely everything was fine...  God couldn't let this happen to her again.  Not another baby.  He just can't.  It's not fair.  We're pregnant together... doesn't He understand that?!  Our babies are going to be best friends, just like Carter and Grayson!!!  Unfortunately, Jesus was already cradling baby Morgan and the silent doppler turned into a silent ultrasound too...  Morgan looked perfect and cozy, but she had already grown her wings.

Alyssa asked if I would mind doing some photos of Morgan when she was born since I am a photographer and already volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit infant bereavement photography organization.  Just the week before, Alyssa helped me get through my first session with a 34-week baby boy...  neither of us could imagine that what God was preparing us for.  Of course I agreed to do it, but as I did, I wept in the floor of my kitchen...  I was supposed to be doing her maternity photos this summer, not taking pictures of the baby already!!!!  Gone were our dreams of our babies playing together; gone were my dreams of taking their photos together.  It just didn't seem real.

Baby Morgan was born Friday, April 8 at 9:48 a.m.  and I got to the hospital about 11 after taking Grayson to Kelly's house (God bless her).  It was all I could do to not just sit and weep for that beautiful baby...  Alyssa was being so strong as we sat there.  I couldn't believe it.  I think I would have been a complete mess, and she was the only reason I wasn't.  I was absolutely devastated, and I'm positive she was too.  I met little Morgan, as she lay on a blanket in her Daddy's lap.  Almost immediately I noticed the tiny knot in her umbilical cord that resulted in her Heavenly home.  I like to dream about her being a crazy little girl with a lot of energy, just like she was in her Mommy's belly.  I'm sure she's keeping the angels on their toes!  :o)

Now, as we sit in the aftermath of such a personal tragedy, I want Alyssa to know that I'm going to be the same friend that I've always been to her.  I still want to see her, to watch our boys laugh and play together, and most importantly, to talk to her.  I know my continued pregnancy is going to be difficult for us both, as our Jelly Bean is a constant reminder of our friend Morgan that we never got to know.  I want her to know that she should always tell me when she's feeling sad and when she doesn't feel like doing something we normally would.  I want her to know that she can always talk to me (or just cry) about Morgan and about how lost she feels without that baby in her arms...  I want her to know that she's still the first person I want to tell when Jelly Bean does something crazy, but if I don't, it's just because I don't want to make her sad(der).  I also want her to know that no matter what, I will always be here and we will face whatever Satan throws at us together.  Because that's what best friends do.

And, to baby Morgan...  I can't wait to meet you up in Heaven!  I'm sure that you'll be ready to give us a tour and show us all of the wonderful things when we get there.  You were so crazy in your Mommy's belly that you just couldn't stay in there long enough, so I'm sure you're staying plenty busy up there.  I want you to know that I'll help take care of your Mommy because I know that she's really sad that she didn't get to raise you.  I'm really happy that you've already got to meet Jesus and that He'll take better care of you than we ever could.  I know He also loves you and is sad that He had to meet you so soon too.  I want you to know how happy your Mommy was when she found out about you and how happy I was too.  I was really looking forward to you playing with our little Jelly Bean and I hope that you'll watch over him or her while he's/she's still in my belly.  I know they will never replace you, but if there comes a time that your Mommy has another baby in her belly, I want you to take special care of that baby and make sure God makes him or her perfect, okay?   I know that you can do that because you are a special girl...  I want you to remind Mommy how much you loved her too and how you appreciated what good care she took of you while you were in her belly.  She did everything she could to help you become a strong, healthy baby and you were!  You had long, beautiful feet and hands and you were perfect.  Until we meet again...

all my love,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Big Boy Bed!!!

Wow, so my 19-month-old is growing up... preparing to be a big brother, I guess.  This weekend, albeit with some hesitation, we decided to put the toddler bed rail on Grayson's crib to begin his transition to a real toddler bed this summer.  We'll be needing his crib for Jelly Bean, so we decided that it would be best to start early and give him time to transition, just in case.  Well, he has passed so far with flying colors!!! 

Turns out our Angelcare Motion Monitor is dual purpose--it tells us if he stops breathing in the middle of the night (yes, I am super-paranoid of SIDS, since I know TWO families that have lost their 18-month-olds to it!) AND it tells us when he gets out of bed now!  He very quickly figured out how to get in and out of the bed... that was easy-peasy for him!  Saturday night (his first night in the new bed), he had a bit of trouble going to sleep and got up twice.  But, as soon as he got tired enough, he laid down and went right to sleep!  He only got up once at 1:30 and then slept until morning!  Last night was even better, despite the massive storms we had all night.  He woke up a few times, but stayed in his bed like a good boy!  He woke up about 7:45 for the day. 

The day has ended with our OB appointment for Jelly Bean.  I have to go finish dinner, but let's suffice to say that it was an AWESOME appointment!  I'll post more later...  (pics too!).