Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How He Loves

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Our weekend was nice and relatively quiet.  Just the way I like them :)

We spent time with the in-laws and ate lots of food and played a few games.  My favorite was the game Nerts!  Have you ever played that?  It seems to be a combination of the games Solitaire and Speed.  It's crazy-fast and such fun.

Summer has just begun over at our household, and it's been a slow start.  Love it! Today, when The Husband took a break from studying (he's completely taken over the dining room--I'm going to be out-of-my-mind-excited when he's finished and has taken the durn test), we ran a few errands.

We just got the white board today; sadly, it has replaced a beautiful piece of art that used to hang there. He promises it will hang there again soon.  
*fingers crossed*
Then, we had lunch at an Italian restaurant around the corner from us.  A friend gave us a gift card to use there, and I'm always excited about free (or mostly-free) food.  
Now, normally, I would rather go to that other Italian restaurant (you know, the one with the bread sticks and the salad).  Their Fettuccine Alfredo is super tasty, and I get that dish EVERY time I get to eat there.  
But today, friends, we chose to not wait 30 minutes for a table.  Today, friends, we went to a quieter place with no wait and with AMAZING food.  Seriously.  The Husband and I kept saying how delicious our meals were.  So amazing, in fact, I took pictures of them.  (Our individual salads were delicious, too, but I didn't get shots of those because as soon as he finished praying, we dug in haha!)

This was mine--the ravioli with a tomato-cream sauce--YUM!!
This was his--the hasta la pasta
Now, don't you try to get me to give away the name of the restaurant...nope, I won't ;)
  These were our very clean plates--haha.
The Husband took this picture; he said it was very "artsy-fartsy" :) I agree.
People, this meal was oh-so-fabulous.  I have to stop talking about it; it's making my mouth water!
After filling our bellies, we slowly walked to the car, past the Italian bakery, and headed home.  A gal from church was bringing over dinner for us early, so we needed to be at the house until after she dropped by.  At one point while she was there, the cat stealthily escaped through the open door, arrgh, but was caught and hoisted up (he's fat) before he managed to get too far.  Oh, that cat. He's not the sweet, purry cat.  He's the old, giant one who is irritated by much (mostly The Husband).  He was not thrilled with being captured and let me know it.  I think he's hiding somewhere, pouting about his near-escape from his life of wet food and dry food, of fresh water, of a clean litter pan, of assorted comfortable sleeping areas, and of a cat-friend who loves to play with him.  Oh, his life is horrible, readers; doesn't he look so mistreated?    

After our food arrived and the cat was retrieved, The Husband and I went to vote.  It was a very grown-up thing to do, haha, and we felt pride in doing our civic duty (Go, Ron Paul!...ooohhh I threw it in there).  

While out, The Husband asked if I'd like to go visit Hadley, but once we got out there, we saw another service had just ended, and her plot was covered in preparation to bury yet one more wee one.  When we go out the next time, I hope her gravestone will be in place.  We still need to see about getting a permanent vase out there.  

I miss her today.

I'm in the middle of reading the book of James again.  It's my go-to book in the Bible.  I read the first chapter in bed last night before we went to sleep, and I said, "You know, this is my most favorite chapter in the entire Bible."  He said, "Really? Why's that?"  And, I replied, "Because it's the one chapter (to me) that really talks about life and the hope that's there even when things are really bad." Even if you're not a big Bible reader, I hope you'll give James 1 a chance.  I read it in the NIV version last night because I love the wording (especially verses 2-8 and verses 19-25), but I read it again tonight in The Message and really enjoyed that version, as well. If/when you read the Bible, do you have a preference? Are you a King James gal or an ESV kinda guy?

I'd like to do a post or two (or five since there's five chapters) on James soon.  God speaks to me ever so loudly when I read that book, and I need to hear Him loud and clear these days.  I'm asking Him to speak boldly to my heart so that I may speak boldly to others.  I try to pray over this blog often (not nearly as often as I should) because it's easy to fall into believing that these posts I write are solely about me and about what's going on in my life.  I know, however, that if I want my life to mean something--to make a difference--then I must pray that God is glorified in everything I say or do or write.

~That means the words that I speak to others matter. Do I guard my words and the words in my heart well, or do I say whatever I want whenever I want? 
~My work at home and at school are worth my best effort. Am I seeking praise for a job well-done from others or from my Father?
~My participation in the choir and on the praise team are about praising Him solely.  Am I focused on what and how I'm singing instead of to whom I'm singing?
~The phrases and sentences and run-ons I put on this blog should be winsome and worthy in such a way that others desire to seek Him out.  Do my words push people away from seeking a relationship with Him?

Am I pointing to me in my words and deeds, or am I pointing to the One who created me?
I want to point to Him always.
Oh, how I want to plant the seeds that He grows in the lives of others!  That's the whole point (no pun intended) to this blog.  It's why I began writing.

Each day is a brand*new*day, and today has been a good one.  And, I'm so thankful that I got to record it here.  It's a memory I'll be able to come back to in months and years to come, and hopefully, it's one more direction-sign pointing others to Christ.  A demonstration of how Christ has worked and is working in my life and in the lives of my family members in "such a time as this."  Evidence that we serve a faithful and just God who loves us far beyond what we could perceive or imagine.

He does love me, friend.
And, if you don't hear anything else from this post, hear this:  He loves you, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last days *updated*

**This has been edited because, after talking with a friend (who was slightly confused by a few things I said...or didn't say), I re-read it and realized that I must have been half comatose as I typed it last night.  Good grief, even I was befuddled.  So, I clarified a few things and deleted a few things and added a few things, and now, in my mind at least, it seems to make a bit more sense.  So sorry for any confusion, and thanks Bethany for being my unofficial editor!  Haha!**

Thursday was the last day of school.
My last day to teach six of the sweetest pre-kindergartners.
That morning, as we sang our "good morning" songs, I began to tear up.  But, I stopped myself.  I didn't want our last day together to be one filled with tears.  I do have a sweet picture of the six of us (one of my boys was absent), but I won't post in on here since I don't have their parents' permission.  It was a great half-day with them, and then, the real fun began.
The weeding out of things not needed by me anymore to be donated to another teacher.  The throwing out of things not used often into trash piles.
The packing up of seven years of teaching.
It took two days to get it all packed up and transported home.  It's all here now.

Here are some of the piles and boxes of things that were brought home Thursday afternoon.
 The two plastic sets of drawers fit nicely in the office.
Binders. Binders. Binders--filled with lesson plans, college class assignments, student teaching items, projects.
 Some boxes have been emptied of things to be stored away indefinitely. The piles with the stuffed animals and the baskets full of crafty items are a few of those things.
It was nice being able to sort things into piles, and it was even nicer to be able to put things away where they fit here in our home.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, I went back to school yesterday.
And this is what I came home with. :(
We live in a two bedroom/two bathroom condo.  Where the heck am I supposed to put all of this stuff??!!  How did I accrue this mass of items?
Last days are interesting.  I've had many last days in teaching.  A few, honestly, I've looked forward to all year.  Those of you who teach or who have taught know what I'm talking about.   It's ok.  No one is judging you.  Just nod your head, and we can move on.  :)  

But, for months I had expectations regarding this one. 

I expected I would be sad to say those farewells--goodbye to my students, goodbye to my coworkers, goodbye to the parents, goodbye to the school I have loved teaching in these last five years.  

I expected to pack and pack and pack some more and have some magical place to store it all. You know, like in our magical new house that we could magically afford on The Husband's magically-awesome salary.  Ok, so some of that was a bit sarcastic.  Or, all of it.  Whichever you prefer. 
But, really, I was excited at the thought of packing up those things because I knew that I would get to use them all as I began to teach our child and then our children at home for however long that worked for us.

I expected to start the summer and spend the summer working in our newly-painted, newly-carpeted nursery to get everything in THE right spot; all the books and items we'd been given put away in the places they belonged; all the clothing washed and sorted; all the artwork hung.  

I expected to end the summer with a baby in my arms and a new chapter of my life just beginning. 

I expected that my life would drastically change, and I was unbelievably happy as I imagined holding and tending to our daughter every day.

Well, it did change.  But, none of those expectations turned out the way I, well, expected.

It turns out, I wasn't sad as I said, "So long" because, now that things have changed drastically (though certainly not in the way I imagined) I knew that I'd be back in the fall.  I love teaching--please don't misunderstand.  I was just incredibly thrilled and overjoyed at the dreams I've carried with me for so long of one day soon taking care of and teaching our child and eventually our children, not just other children.  

I packed and packed, but my emotions were all over the place.  Several people asked me what my plans were for the following fall, and I just broke down.  How do I explain everything I'm feeling in a short enough paragraph to not make people feel uncomfortable? How do I tell them that I'm ok with not teaching because, at this moment, I don't even want to think about setting foot in a classroom full of small children who look to me to take care of them and teach them and love them, when my very soul cries out and desires to do that with our own children? It seems most people have this expectation, that because this pregnancy ended, I'm just going to step right back into that role without a second glance.  

I can't predict how my summer will end, but I know what it won't include.  And that hurts my heart.

As of now, I will be back to work in the fall, but I will most likely not be teaching.  Does it make sense that I just need a break?  From teaching, from planning, from organizing a classroom.  I'll be at the school but in a slightly different capacity, and I'm content with that.  I'm looking forward to it, really as a change of pace from what I've done for these many years.  And, this way, I'll still get to see the kids, the sweet families, my amazing co-workers.  I just won't be under that pressure every day of the week.  I'm also considering offering my help (like a consultant or an accountability partner, thank you Lesa for the idea!) to friends who are starting the journey of home-schooling.  I'd love to partner with them once or twice a week to help plan lessons, to make sure they're covering what needs to be covered, to brainstorm, to think through problems, and to offer support and encouragement.  I've had incredible mentors over the years who have done just that for me, and it would be an honor to do that with people I care about.

So, you see, my last day wasn't really my last day.  I don't know what this summer and this coming school year will hold, but I'm praying for good health, for financial stability, for debts to be paid off, for even more joy and beauty in our marriage, and for a closer relationship with our Savior.  Not necessarily in that order.  I look forward to starting this summer off right.  I can't wait to dive into the word more often and sing praise songs loud and proud as I go about my day--washing clothes, loading the dishwasher, tidying up.  I want to keep things under control here at home, so The Husband can study and job-search without feeling burdened by chaos around him.  I want to really be with him when we're together, not on my phone or staring at the computer screen or reading a book.  He's really good about just being with me.   Losing Hadley has awakened in us a deeper love for one another and a desire to be kinder in our words and our actions.  That loss has strengthened our marriage in a way that I never imagined.  We thank God for such an incredible blessing in the midst of such incredible sorrow.  

I don't want to end this post on a sad note, and really, I'm just too tired to think of something to pep things up.  
So.  
Here's Chloe. The gentlest, purr-iest, most skittish cat you will ever meet.  We adore her.
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.  
I'm very thankful for all of the men and women who have fought and died so bravely for this country. 
Blessings!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Healing

"May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope." 
Romans 15:13.

Since the day we left the hospital (it played in the car as we drove away) just over two weeks ago, I have clung to and listened to and sung along with one song over and over and over.
I've NEVER had a song touch my heart and match my circumstances as clearly as this one does.

Sometimes, it hurts to listen to it.  It reminds me yet again of our loss.
But most times, I smile as I hum along.
Because the singer speaks (sings) truth, and the lyrics play across my mind and soul so vividly.

My favorite part of the song?
The tag at the end.

"Jesus come and break my fear,
Awake my heart and take my tears,
Find your glory even here,
When the hurt and the Healer collide."

I need those things.

I need Jesus to break away the fears that I find myself falling into multiple times a day.
I need Him to rip away the fear that the same thing is going to happen the next time we conceive, the fear that I won't ever get to experience being a mom this side of Heaven.

I need Christ to take the tears that fall freely.
These tears that show up at unexpected times.
The drops that are barely kept at bay as one more friend announces a pregnancy, or delivers a healthy baby, or mentions details about being a new mom or grandma.  I covet those things sooo badly, and it hurts like crazy to see others experiencing what I am mourning.
And, it's not their fault.
They're not doing those things to intentionally hurt me, to cause the tears to pour once more.  But it happens, and I have developed a new-found compassion for those who have lost children and who find themselves in those painful circumstances.

But, most of all, I see God being glorified in all of this.  His healing has collided with my hurting in big, big ways.  I praise Him daily for the good that has come of this, and I still cry to Him with the things that are--well--sucky. Because, Dear Readers, losing Hadley sucked.  I'm not going to sugar-coat it because God knows it's rotten, too, and He wants me to be honest with my feelings. This loss, this hole inside of me, hurts.

I do feel the healing taking hold, though.  I do sense Christ in the big and small things that have come our way.  And, I do know that Christ wants to break the hold that the fears and the tears have on me as He is glorified and as my hurt is healed.

Thank you, again, Dear Ones, for your prayers and for your love.  You all mean so much to us.

This morning, as I work on lesson plans for the last week of school, I will listen to this song once (or twice) more.  I hope you find comfort in it as much as I do.  Blessings.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A New Normal

Then.
Hanging out with The Husband
and with friends like Hank
and being silly in restaurants
because we could.

Now.
Receiving 
20
30
40
sympathy cards
in less than two weeks.

Having 
wonderful, caring people 
pour themselves 
into fixing/providing delicious meals for us every other night.

Being presented with
plants
 and
flowers
and giant, child-made signs 
from the ones who grieve alongside us.

Finding monetary gifts 
on my desk at work 
after being gone for two weeks
and feeling a sense of awe 
at the generosity 
of our friends and coworkers.

Knowing that we will be in debt
for quite a while 
to the hospital that
took such amazing care (I wish I could double underline the word amazing because the hospital staff was absolutely incredible)
of the three of us
at one of the worst possible times.
(Jeanette and Tracy, you will probably never read this, but you were two of the kindest, most precious nurses.  The time you took with us, the care you gave us, and the kindness you showed us will never be forgotten. You were such blessings.)

Seeing the pictures 
a talented 
and
caring
photographer-friend of my teaching partner 
took of
our 
Hadley 
that day at the hospital. 

Looking at 
the sweet, sweet book
she made for us,
for my parents,
and for The Husband's parents.
(Jana, your gifts--the time you spent at the hospital, the gorgeous collage that we will TREASURE, the CD of priceless pictures, and the sweet books--meant and mean so much to the two of us.  You were a blessing we were not expecting in the midst of such pain. Thank you.)

These things are our new normal.  

I went back to work today after being gone for two weeks.  It was difficult and lovely.

Difficult to step back into a world that used to be filled with such joy and expectation.
Lovely as I spent moments with children who missed me and who love me.

The verse my sister sent me yesterday? The one a friend sent her?
"Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Our memory verse in pre-k this week (you know, the one that has been in the trimester plans since last summer, the one that I didn't even remember I was teaching until I did my lesson plans yesterday)?
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

I'm casting
Lord.
Thank you for surrounding us with those who are 
Your hands and feet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Moments

The moment the test came back positive

The moment we loved you for the first time

The moment we heard your heartbeat

The moment we saw your arms and legs moving, moving

The moment we found out something might be wrong

The moment we saw you were a girl, and we began to pray pray pray for you like never before--by name

The moment you first kicked or shoved, and Daddy and I could feel you at the same time

The moment I worried that I wasn't feeling you like I had been

The moment they tried and tried and tried but couldn't find your heartbeat

The moment the doctor shook her head and said, "I'm sorry."

The moment we were admitted to the hospital, in the maternity ward, where mothers were delivering their sweet little ones

The moment the nurses began to induce and the physical pain set in right alongside the emotional pain we were all in the midst of

The moment we realized it was going to be a long night...and then a long day

The moment that I delivered you

The moment the nurse laid you on my lap

The moment Daddy and I saw your beautiful, perfect feet and your teeny, tiny hands

The moment we said goodbye

The moment we remembered you, shared your sweetness with others, and buried you in the midst of far too many small graves

The moment we cried and prayed and thanked God for those moments we had with you

We love you, sweet Hadley Grace, and we miss you oh so much.  
You have left a hole inside of us, but we are begging and trusting God to fill it like only He can.

Because.

Because, we know that you are His.  You were His from the beginning, and we are beyond grateful for the time we had you. 

Though it feels far far far too short.  

Keep praising Jesus, Little One, and keep dancing before His throne with those precious, glorious feet.  

We can't wait to join you. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Soaking it in

I know I'm not suppose to worry.
It's not healthy, it's unproductive, it doesn't change what's happening.
Or what's going to happen.
Or even what has already happened.
Heck, me, myself, and I wrote an entire post about why I shouldn't worry.  You'd think I would at least take my own advice if not The Husband's or friends or family members. 
I'm tired.  And worn out.  And a little scared.

*This could all totally be pregnancy-related.
I'm a little hormonal these days.  I'm an emotional mess.  I cry; I complain; I panic; then, I cry some more. My poor husband has really had to extend the limits of his patience.  Not that that's a bad thing.  I think we could all use some patience-extending moments in our lives.  Don't you?

*Or, it could be my own desire to control situations.
Case in point:  Something goes awry at home (something breaks, needs cleaning, needs changing, you get the idea), and I am all about getting it set to right.  Quick.  I hate--with a capital H--having a messy home, things not put where they belong, items left to collect dust, dishes in the sink, clothes piling up. So, when it overwhelms me, as it often does, I go into "panicked-cleaning mode."  It's not a pretty sight.
The Husband does not operate this way.  "Things get done when they get done" is his motto. Which is a lovely motto to have, except when you're married to...well...me.
You see, after the news we received at our last prenatal appointment, I have had to slow waaaayyyy down.  And that, my good readers, drives me crazy.  I am not a lazy person.  Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy relaxing and reading and watching a good movie as much as the next person, and I truly relish sleeping later on Saturday mornings. And, I L-0-V-E my summers off. But, I have a very difficult time just sitting still when there are things to be done (dishes, laundry, cleaning, vacuuming, straightening, filing, etc, etc, etc.).  I know it will get easier this summer when I'm not working full time, but right now, I am stressed out.  I am counting down the days to when my mornings aren't rushed, my days aren't filled with me being on my feet, my afternoons aren't crowded with chores.  I'm excited and ready for summer to be here just as much as every other teacher and student filing into private and public schools each day.  This has been a wonderful school year, and I will miss my students very much.  But, I'm in need of a break.

*It could also be the fact that I have told the administration that I will not be returning to teach in the fall.
It hurts a little bit knowing that I won't get to see those little ones grow and mature each year as I have gotten to do these past five years.  Our school has made such an impact on me; my faith in and knowledge of God has grown by leaps and bounds just by being there.  I will be forever thankful for the opportunity I have had to teach at such a remarkable school with the amazing faculty and staff, families, and students.  I'm worried that my seeking of biblical knowledge will peter out once I'm not in that environment on an almost daily basis.  Being in the classrooms and meetings, preparing for lessons, speaking of our faith in daily conversations will all stop when May 25th rolls around. What then?

*Um, it could likely be that I will not be receiving a paycheck after August, and The Husband does not currently have any leads on a full-time, benefits-included position.
I am concerned that we will be without insurance during a critical moment of my pregnancy: the delivery. I am concerned that the Little One will decide that she likes being in there so much, all snuggly and comfy, that she will linger past my due date (as I've been told that many first-borns do) at the end of August.  We really need her to make her appearance before those benefits run out.  Can I get an "AMEN"? I love my husband and believe in him and in the abilities that God has poured into him.  I believe that when he finds that job, he will be amazing at it.  He's a friendly, charming, intelligent, handy, reliable guy, and he will be a great asset to whatever company hires him to do the thing he enjoys.  He just needs to get there.  We need God to get him there.  For my sanity, I need God to put arrows and sign posts directing our every step toward this position that is perfect for him and for the needs of our family.  I believe He will provide, just like I believe He is knitting everything together in my body to provide for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy.  I just worry.  I worry it won't be soon enough, you know, on my timeline.  It's so silly of me to think that my timeline is perfect and without flaws.  I look back at these last 9 1/2 months of marriage, and I think, "What an amazing time The Husband and I have had delving into this marriage thing."  I praise and thank God for allowing us to have SO much time together, especially during these difficult moments in my pregnancy.  I am so grateful that The Husband has been able to go to every single one of my prenatal appointments with me and has been there when scary things were being discussed.  He has been such a rock in all of this.  Day and night.  Having him up at the school has been such an incredible blessing.  Knowing he's there in case anything were to happen has made me worry far, far less.  If it's a rough day, he hugs me and takes me straight home after school.

I have been worrying and worrying and worrying these last few weeks, and it was making me sick.  I was feeling more exhausted than ever, and my nerves were frayed.  I was short with The Husband and with others.  I was impatient and distant.  I was unpleasant.  I hated it, but I couldn't snap out of it.  The panic was setting in.  I was starting to doubt my choice to not return to teaching after the Little One comes.  I was starting to believe the lies that satan was spewing.  Then Sunday came.
You know, Sundays usually do that for me.  Turn my world back to right.  Sitting in God's presence, lifting hands and praising our Maker, hearing His word, hearing Truth.  Those things remind me that we are not alone in this existence.  That He is with us all the way.  Sunday's sermon was written for me.  I know it was.  It had to have been.  It's like God was poking me and saying, "Are you listening to the words that are coming out of Ty's mouth? They're for you, my dear. Soak it in. Pray.  Believe.  Trust." If you have any time at all, please check out the sermon titled "Kids of the King." You can download this puppy and listen right here. You will not regret it, and I pray that your time spent listening to God's word and the message Ty gives is blessed beyond measure.

I can't focus on the judgements and worries and fears of others.
The Word says, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." Proverbs 29:25
I can't focus on my own either.

It's difficult, but I'm going to do what I heard in that message Sunday.
I will soak it in.
I will pray.
I will believe.
I will trust.

Will you join me?