After Quinn

Two times I have laid on that table, looked up that screen, and wept because my child was still. Two times the Doppler was silent. Two times the Lord shattered my heart.

I could not will the tears to stop falling the first time. I clung to Christ, His Word, His promises and His hope. I grieved heavily but trusted Him fully.

I could not will the tears to come the second time. I was crushed. Felt forsaken. Confused. Hurt. I was doubtful of all those things I knew about Him in my head. Numb. For four weeks that baby stayed with me. I carried death. I was physically tormented for days upon days as my body recognized death and rid itself of it.

It wasn’t until I returned into the world, after my baby was gone and the physical healing had begun, that I was hit with grief.

Trapped in the hallway, walking in front of the one who still carries her baby. She tells a man she’s tired. I want to scream. I want to lash out at her and at the One who took away. I want to fall flat and weep all those tears that I should have been shedding for weeks.

But I keep walking. Tears surface and I’m thankful to finally feel sadness. Someone hugs me and I struggle to stay composed.

Why on earth would I feel like I need to stay composed? My baby died. I saw him still, I felt pain delivering him, I’ve been isolated and lonely and disconnected. My own family’s barely reached out, the knocks on the door have been few, and I’m a mess. Why shouldn’t I wail right there?

But I don’t. I don’t.

I walk upstairs. Take my seat next to the teenagers. Smile as I’m expected to. But every time he says the word “death” in his message I can barely stand it. Because I know it intimately.

That night I lay in bed and silently soak the sheet with tears. He lays a hand on me to test my breathing and knows I’m still awake.

So he reads.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

I can’t stand it. Because I know He has all power and He did this.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;”

I FEEL CRUSHED!

“Perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

Why not? I feel despair and forsaken, though I know in my head I’m not. How am I not destroyed by this?

“Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus. . .”

I know what it is to carry death.

“So that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

So the death in me is to work life in you.

Cruel. It feels so cruel right now.

But I know it’s truth. I know it’s good. I know that one day I will get to that point where I can do more than write it. I will speak it again.

 

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Five

My sweet Noah,

This past year has been the sweetest with you yet. With your brothers at school, we have so much time together. Just us.

When I was bedridden with morning sickness for several months last year, you were my faithful companion– watching youtube while I grew a baby inside of me.

When we lost that baby, you were a grace. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you during those months of heavy grief. You reminded me of His good gifts and you kept me going.

I remember when it was you I was growing inside. I was stunned when that pregnancy test turned pink, because I was not expecting you at all. Wes wasn’t even crawling yet and I was overwhelmed.

Then you came. And we loved you with all our hearts. Because you all were so little (you plus a 1, 3, and 5 year old), I felt like I was drowning and someone handed me an infant (that’s part of a joke that daddy heard at work and I related to so well!). The first year you didn’t sleep through the night. The second year we were trying to figure out how to accommodate your allergies. By year three, I felt less overwhelmed and started to breathe normally again.

Too much is a blur, really. But I do remember this past year and I remember how sweet it’s been to have your endless chatter with me day in and day out. You say the funniest things, ask the best questions, and love me in the sweetest way.

You can’t sleep without your regular pillow, smiley face pillow, and green blanket. And unless you have one of your stuffies, you won’t sleep well through the night. Something to snuggle is necessary 🙂

Your most requested meal is still hot dogs. When we are out running errands, our favorite lunch spot is SAMS club where we can each get a hot dog and share a soda. I love that.

Whenever we get in the van, you rush to the front and buckle up quickly. You think you’re hilarious. So do I.

You still ride in the front of the cart and hug me as we walk down the store aisles. You still walk sleepily to me every morning and snuggle in for a hug before you do anything else. We have a “secret kiss” before bed at night and then you say, “Goodnight! See you in the morning!”

You call me your “sweet baboo” and open the door to “your majesty.”

We watch Curious George or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood together after the boys go to school in the morning. We go to the library often and read so many different books together. You always want to look out the head roof when we are in carline at school. You are so excited for kindergarten in the fall.

I’m not sure how that will be. Honestly, I dread it. Having you all gone almost everyday is just the worst thought to me. It’s gone too fast. There’s so much that I wish I’d done better hindsight, but I just have to throw myself on His grace and trust you got what you needed.

You are a determined, strong-willed, stubborn, social, so sweet, lovable little man.

You have my heart.

All my love,

Mama

Boy Mom

A tap on the shoulder. An older woman with tears settling in as she considered what she saw. “I always imagine it’s a special bond– a mother and her son.” She had seen the way one of you leaned behind daddy to rub my arm for a moment during church. “Do any of them ever come up and. . .” I knew what she was asking, though I don’t know how she would have worded it or even how I can put it into words now.

“Yes.” I answered her. Before I could tell her that all four of you love and take care of me well, we were interrupted. She has two girls. Grown. I wondered if she missed never having a boy to love on her, stand beside her, be protective of her.

I don’t think I’d ever stopped to consider the uniqueness of that boy/mom relationship. It’s all I’ve known. But when I consider a mother with her daughter, I realize that this certainly is different. And it makes me grateful again. You four boys are so precious to me. You all have moments where you snuggle in next to me and let me know that I’m your girl 🙂 I love it.

I needed that reminder because I often get bogged down by the burping at dinner, obnoxious noises, rowdy inattention. All those things that make you boys. But I truly love you and I love everything about you (even if sometimes I need to step away from it for awhile;).

I was thankful for that tap on the shoulder. I am thankful for that little hand that reached behind daddy to let me know he loved me. I am thankful for each of you. I  love being your mom.

xoxoxo,

Mama

Wynne

I’m thankful there is a story beyond my own. The hard in this life would be too hard unless He was bigger than my story.

I’m thankful He’s writing it. Because in spite of he parts I would write differently, I know He’s weaving something beautiful.

He took a womb and four times grew amazing precious people. Unexpectedly to us, he gave us a fifth precious person that we dreamed about, planned for, and loved wholeheartedly as she grew for four months.

Then the doppler was silent and the screen showed her still.

To be empty when you are supposed to be full, to feel death when there ought to be life is to know brokenness in a wretched, personal way. The curse has hit full-force and I reel with grief.

As I move forward, I want to keep the grief close. If the grief is near me, I haven’t moved past that child. She’s real. She exists. And even if she is never mentioned by another, she is still loved and thought of. Miscarriage is cruel like that. You lose a child but have no shared memories with others of that child. So there’s nothing to say– nothing to reminisce on– no way to easily mention that name. And so it seems the rest of the world has forgotten. I make sure I don’t.

Today is Wynne’s due date. But really it isn’t, is it? We thought she was due here, but that was never His intent. He created her, I grew her, and then she went Home before knowing this broken home we know. For her sake, I rejoice. For my sake. . . well, I’m still trying to get used to the idea that for the rest of my life, I’ll be desperately missing her.

I’m reminded of the uncertainty of life as we know it. With that, I’m reminded of the grace that accompanies every sunrise. I know the faithfulness that He folds me in from the moment my feet hit the floor. I know the power of Truth being broadcast into my ears, eyes, head, and heart in a steady flow all day long. I know His Presence because even in my darkest moments, He moves in with Truth and steers my heart toward Him. I know His comfort– as I sit behind a closed door weeping from a broken heart my mind never drifts to despair. He nudges me with hope.

I know this small piece of my story isn’t the end of His.

This knowledge is a grace. Though I wish today that I was kissing sweet baby cheeks, I am confident that He is good. And perhaps because this good is so painful, it urges me to constantly look up rather than at my own small story. And you can’t complain about something that pushes you to Him.

Starting Again. . . A New Year

Dear Boys,

I sat at a friend’s table last time December turned into January. The new year crawled in with all the discouragement and uncertainty that the old year had dragged along. Homeless. Jobless. Completely incapable of making any decisions while we waited for Him to tell us what He’d already decided.

Clinging to His sovereignty.

He did tell us. February moved us into our own home as we prepared to enter a new ministry. . . again. Beginnings and ends are so hard. Six of us starting over again.

Trusting His faithfulness.

March was a balm. Such loving kindness was showered on us. And what I dreaded about this new beginning, never came to pass. Our new family welcomed us in the warmest way.

Resting in His mercy.

Sweet routine swept us through months 4-6. Settling into our new normal. Getting to know new friends. Walking hard roads with old friends.

Reveling in His grace.

July brought the biggest surprise of the year. On our 10th anniversary, I told your daddy that the 7th Blondo was on the way.

Rejoicing in His kindness.

I spent August and September with a bucket attached to me, but dreaming of how this baby would be loved so well. I listened to excited brothers pick out names and plan for this baby.

Enjoying His gifts.

October. . . a sweet doctor in a cold room tried so hard to find that heartbeat. The screen refused to acknowledge life. I met death. Everything broke. For the rest of my life, I know that someone is missing. The sadness is deep.

Clinging to Truth.

Every moment for the rest of the year I grieve. But I also sing and laugh and dance with you boys. Because there was a Baby who became a Man who is our Savior. And I trust Him to take all these broken days and make them right.

Trusting His presence and His promises.

2016- He gave us so much. He took so much. But no matter what, always know that He is good.

Love you all like crazy,

Mama

A Little Bit of Honest

Dear Dana (because we all need to remind ourselves of a thing or two),

Honest. Sometimes when I hear of someone talking about pursuing their passions, doing great things, exciting things, fun things, I get upset. Not mad, but frustratingly sad. I used to be that girl who traveled, did big things, met interesting people, always had a dream.

See me get jealous of my younger self. Because now here I sit– beside a huge pile of clean unfolded laundry, sending kids back to bed after chaotic goodnights, ready to pass out as soon as I hit the pillow, only to welcome a little person into my bed in the middle of the night (because I’m not coherent enough to send him back to bed) then wake to my alarm before anyone else’s feet hit the floor. I’ll cook. I’ll clean. I’ll teach. I’ll discipline. I’ll answer a few hundred questions and laugh a few dozen times. I’ll wipe pee off of the toilet just so I can use it and listen to brothers argue over objects. I’ll wish for a date with my husband only to remember that that’s only a luxury. The price to be paid for being a full-time homemaker in a two-income world.

There’s nothing grand. My dreams are few.

I don’t know when I stopped dreaming big. I wonder when I let passions slip through my fingers. But more than anything, I wonder when my perspective changed. When I was young, all I wanted to be was a wife and mommy. Somewhere along the way, “exciting things” became the norm. Then I came full circle– and became a wife and mom. And that was enough.

But I hear the Enemy’s lies that I’m missing out and I start to believe it. Yet I know that I’m not really missing anything.

How are any of my crazy dreams more important than having these little men love me like crazy? How could I dare think that adventuring without them would bring any joy at all? Who can make me laugh harder or smile more often than cute little voices who always have something to share?

These cute faces belong to the little men that I am training to be mighty warriors for a King much greater than my silly whims. There is nothing menial about a mama’s job. Our time is so short with these precious people. I don’t want to wish it away or want something else.

I want to show these boys Christ. Teach them to see Him in all things and love Him well. I want their hearts to be tender towards Him and ready to follow when He draws them.

Nothing is more important than that.

Nothing is more exciting.

Be content and enjoy the life God’s given you.

Dana

 

Waiting

Hey Guys,

I think we have all become a little weary in this waiting. The past six months have found us waiting for so many answers. Waiting on a job. Waiting on a church. Waiting for a home. Waiting for each of these things so we can finally stop waiting on all of these things.

Today finds us 14 days into the waiting process again. We are waiting to hear about a house. Not just any house. We are waiting on the house that ALL of you (including daddy and I) felt at home in as soon as we walked into it. You haven’t felt at home since we sold our house almost 2 years ago.

So this is big.

I drove by the house this morning with two of you, and we were pleased to see that the For Rent sign was removed and that no one else had yet moved in. We are trusting the Lord to give us that house.

But while we wait for a house, you have a schoolmate who is waiting on a bone marrow transplant for her mom. And suddenly the Lord turns our attention again to the brevity of this life and makes us think about the Big Picture.

No one is really waiting on anything except for Him. We are waiting on the Lord to change our circumstances when He sees fit. We are waiting on Him to give us a space where we can better serve one another and those in our community. We are waiting on Him to heal this JECA mom.

So when we aren’t getting what we want when we want it, let’s help one another to remember that because He is sovereign and because He is trustworthy, we are waiting on Him alone. He will move and give and take away in His time.

And if we don’t yet have what it is we are desiring, it’s simply because He has not given it to us yet. And we can be content knowing that He is our good Father. No good thing will He withhold from them who walk uprightly.

Wait on the Lord. And be content in the wait.

I’m crazy about you little loves,

Mama