Monday, December 15, 2014

the miracle marker

What is it about a miracle? Especially when you see one. How are they determined?
Is it our admittance to it? When the seemingly shocking happens.
When what seems to be impossible or grim (at best) suddenly does a 360 and there is cause to really rejoice?

It's easy to forget them. Miracles, that is.
For all the miraculous that happens, it's easy to dumb them down. To belittle them. To explain it away.
To be annoyed when we hear ourself or someone else to continue to talk about them.
That one moment. We always want to move on. I always want to move on.
To the next thing:
Ok I am done talking about that.
Ok I am done reliving and remembering that.
It's as if the miracle can only touch our faith for so long.

What are we doing to mark them out?
Miracles. Small and big (if there is such a thing as a small miracle).
Miracles that no one else may care about.
Acts, really, of God reaching down and showing us literal physical grace.
So close and real that we could reach out and touch it.
What am I doing to mark them out? The miracles.
What am I doing to remember them?

One year ago today I was cut from navel all the way down the length of my stomach.
And my baby. My sweet little Eden girl was gently pushed aside. All 19 weeks of her.
And my left ovary was lifted out. And a tumor the size of a grapefruit was cut out of me.
And I slept.
Not knowing if I would ever feel my daughter again.
Not knowing if I would ever see her grow outside of me.
Not knowing what the tumor was.
Not knowing if it was, you know, cancer.

And then. Miracle.
Not only did my little girl make it through surgery and the 24 hours that followed.
She made it until 34 weeks and then came into this world. All beautiful and loved and alive.
My left ovary was saved. And that tumor came back cancer free.
And the healing process that was physically and emotionally painful was all wrapped up in life.

You see, I read somewhere this week that it doesn't benefit us to ask: why, God?
Why me?
Why this?
Why them?
Why now?
But, rather, this writer suggested we ask: What now? What now Father? Because, she said, could we even grasp the answer? His ways. So much higher. His purpose. Not of this world. Not of human understanding. We can not understand God completely. Would He be God if we could?
There is something to glean from miracles. And trials. And trials that are even absent of a miracle that we can see with these physical eyes.
And I've been wrestling. For a whole year now. Wrestling with the why of this trial. Wrestling with the why of the miracle. Sometimes it's hard for us to except miracles in all their grace.
We want to pick it apart into tiny shreds until we figure out what exactly we did to deserve it.
I did nothing.

I've been wrestling with grace. At night when I lay my head down on a pillow. And all is calm. Except my heart.
It's rustling and stirring and asking tough questions about God's favor running out on me after this. And what about the next trial that comes? And what if I suffer again physically?
Because, God, I don't want to.
God I don't want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death again.

Staring at a clock for over two hours in a pre operating room. Listening to the rapid beat of my heart rate blaring over the machine next to me. It was me wrestling with my mind and doubt and so much fear I could swallow it. It was watching patient after patient be wheeled in. Sickness and fear all over their faces. Stories I didn't know. It was trying to repeat scripture over and over to squelch the battle raging. It was fragmented worship in my mind. It was frantic prayers.
Peace, be still.
You see, I've been wrestling with the valley. With the miracle. With the why.
And for a whole year, I don't think I've been able to ask what now?

This is my marker. My stake in the ground. I am marking the miracle. The grace. All undeserved.
I am marking the trial. To remember the weight of the miracle.

I am acknowledging that after all my wrestling I am no closer to understanding all the why.
But, the what now, that is a question that I believe God has been waiting to unwrap and show me. Does it not take faith to ask that question? To say: even though more trials come, it is well.
Though miracles hide, His grace and love are no less.

What now, God?
What would you have me do with this trial and miracle all intertwined?
What now God?
To dare to walk in the grace, the miracle, with no sight of the why.

Yes, God, I will.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

dear eden girl: an open letter to my daughter

dear precious Eden girl,
    I am blessed beyond words to be your mama. You see, your daddy and I knew we wanted you for a long time, but I don't think I was prepared to love you this much. It's kind of scary in some ways. I love you more than I could put into words. I loved you when you were growing in my tummy and I had never seen you face to face. I wept when I heard your cry for the first time. Instant love added to love. Layers upon layers of love. I'm not good at expressing these sentiments usually. It's (one of the many) faults that your mama has. But, I promise to be committed to letting you know, with my words, that I love you. You are my precious miracle child.

dear little Eden girl,
    I hope you know that you are a part of a much bigger story. One that centers around a God, a Savior. His name is Jesus. And He loves you more than I ever could. And He formed you and thought you up. And He gave you to me and your dada. And this whole story is about Him and how He came and died for you. Because we are sinful, my little girl. We are full of darkness and capable of hurtful things. But, this God man loves you. And He offers you grace. And you don't deserve it, and neither do I. But, grace is the most special wonderful gift. A relationship with Christ is the reason to live.To love Him and run after Him: that is the whole point of this life. I am praying for you even now. That you accept Him and love Him with your whole being. That you run hard after Jesus, no matter the cost.

dear baby Eden girl,
   your parents are not perfect. I hope you extend us the same grace that God extends to everyone. We will let you down. We will hurt you (unintentionally) and we will need your forgiveness. Please know that we are learning to be the best parents we can be to you. But, we are flawed. At the same time, we have stories to tell. Lessons that we have learned. Wisdom that has developed. Please trust us. Please trust us to want the very best for you and to act in a way that promotes that. I know, sometimes it will not seem that way. But, under the surface, there's a good chance we have walked where you someday will walk as well. We love you more than anyone on this planet does.

dear strong Eden girl,
   in this world you will face trouble. Pain will come. Tears too. Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Stay grounded in His Word. Stay active in prayer. So when your faith is tested, and it will be tested, you will be able to remember. That God is good. His Word is true. He has done good things (already) in your little life. And He has a purpose for you.

dear bold Eden girl,
   it will be easy to get distracted. This world offers many things. Fortune. Fame. Stuff. Don't let it take control of your heart and mind. Temporary things only offer temporary happiness. And there is no hope in running after having as much stuff as you can store. No hope in seeking the approval of man. No hope in relying on money to provide security. Everything that you have been given and will be given is all grace. It belongs to God. So, learn to give. Of your time. Of your talent. And of your treasure. Cultivate a heart of thankfulness. There is joy in living a life with open hands. Live a life that seeks to please Christ.

 dear loving Eden girl,
   you have a chance to love people. To really love them. To see past the outside to their greatest need. I pray that you learn to love people the way Jesus does. To be colorblind. To be blind to status. And appearance. And prejudice. There is more gray in this world than you may know. And sometimes people may appear to be something they are not. Love them regardless. Love them enough to do hard things.

 dear lovely Eden girl,
   you are beautiful. This has nothing to do with your physical appearance now or later. No matter what you think you have to look like. No matter what size people try to tell you you need to be. I am sure your dada will have plenty to say about boys that come around. And I will let him. Know this: a boy can not define you. And neither can a relationship with one.You are a beautiful strong little girl because of who you are. Because God says you are HIS. You are dearly loved. You have been bought with a price. Do not be afraid to stand out. Do not be afraid to speak your mind. Do not be afraid to march to the beat of a different drum. 

dear miraculous Eden girl,
   you should know that miracles do happen. That your little life speaks to that. You should also know that there is power in prayer. Your little life speaks to that as well. We know that God has called you to something someday for His glory. We are committed to encouraging you toward that. We love you baby girl. I love you. And I always always will.

-your mama

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Influence Conference 2014 Recap

I had my mind made up that I would not be attending the Influence Conference this year. I attended in 2013 for the first time (pregnant...and slightly nauseous and hating the smell of coffee). And it was amazing. But I now had a 6 month old little girl to attend to. My mind was settled.

Until the Holy Spirit nudged me.

There was only about a month and half left until the conference. And I felt the tug. I asked my husband if he would be willing to come along and help with Eden girl. He was. So, I took a small step of faith and bought my ticket. Booked my hotel room. And prayed that it would be worth it.

It was more than worth it. "Worth it" does not begin to explain this weekend. I feel like I sound like a broken record. But the Holy Spirit was there. And He was moving. And it felt as if these conversations and speakers were just for me. Because they spoke into areas of my life that are fresh and painful. And yet they also went even deeper to places that I thought I had left behind. That really just makes me pause in wonder. That the Spirit of God would meet us there and speak to us collectively and individually as the body of Christ.

There were casual conversations in the foyer with other women that turned into moments where the Holy Spirit used their words to speak truth into me. I have remembered those moments over and over since leaving. They were like a healing balm to me. And I just wanted to exclaim: "How did you know?"

The community group I attended was also so powerful to me. Just to know I was not alone in this whole "mothering-running a home-wife" thing.

Jess Connolly spoke words that could have not come at a better time. Some quotes from her session that hit me hard:
      God loves His kingdom. God hates my kingdom. He loves when I build His kingdom.

Sometimes we want to be for God. But we are not with Him. 

Repentance is bringing refreshment.

At the final worship session I felt the call of the Holy Spirit to lay my fears down. 
Fears that I have held onto for the last year.
Fears that have developed and grown down deep into my mind and emotions. 
As clear as day I knew I had to confess them out loud and lay them down. 
It was during this exact moment that the song "Cornerstone" started. 

 This was so significant to me because this song-- I held it close to my heart during my pregnancy with Eden. The lyrics to this song were the first thing to come to my mind when they found a tumor when I was 19 weeks pregnant. This song is the song I sang to Eden every day when she was growing in my tummy and I was changing my gauze to my incision from surgery. This song. 
I just felt my Savior whispering to me that He loves me. That His grace is enough.  
That He can heal the physical and emotional wounds. 
That it's time to find my identity in Him alone and not in past experiences. 

It's time to lay down the fear. It's time to build.

Are you coming next year?
And have you joined the Influence Network yet?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Point Betsie Lighthouse

There is just something about lighthouses. They feel risky, on the very edge of the tumultuous water. And at the same time, they feel like a huge safe haven. All tall and strong. Sending light out. Michigan has a lot of lighthouses. And I have not begun to see all of them with their stories of safety. But, we did have the chance to explore the lovely Point Betsie Lighthouse a couple weeks ago with our family. It feels tucked in. Almost in it's own private little world. The area surrounding it is simply beautiful. The stretching Lake Michigan views. Wildflowers growing wherever they can. And drifting white sand getting everywhere. Note to the adventurer: bring an extra pair of shoes.

We loved Eden's reaction to the rolling Lake Michigan. She dug her little toes into the sand and took it in. The water is still extremely cold. Even at the official end of summer. So, our toes are pretty much the only thing that touched the water's edge as well.
Maybe, next summer, when adventures continue, we will all get brave and take a dip.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

eden girl: month 2

 Some of my favorite moments with eden girl during her second month.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

day trip to ludington, michigan

A couple weekends ago we decided to pack up the car and take a day trip to the Lake Michigan shoreline. We thought it would be fun to spend the day in Ludington. Seeing as we had yet to visit. We have a list, of michigan places to visit, you know.

Naturally, we spent a lot of our time exploring the beautiful beach there. And of course, we had to walk the pier in order to get the lighthouse at the end. If you ever get a chance to visit, you can pay a small fee and climb to the top for a better view. Personally, I am little I passed on that opportunity.

The town has a lot of quaint architecture. And that is one thing that we really enjoy about exploring new cities and towns. Just walking around and taking in all the buildings. I actually would rather do that than a lot of planned activities when we visit new places.
So, make sure to wander around downtown and along the streets if you enjoy that kind of thing too.

We ate at a cute little place downtown called The Blu Moon. And I ordered a BLT. Normally, this would be a pretty boring choice. I agree. But, this was a BLT upgrade. We are talking unique flavors that really made it the best BLT I have ever had. So, there's that.

We ended the day with a walk down by the marina. It opens up to some beautiful park areas.
A really lovely place to watch the sun set on another michigan summer day.

It was a pleasure to finally visit, Ludington.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

eden girl's nursery

I wanted to share some pictures of eden girl's nursery.
What a labor of love.
With baby girl's unexpected early arrival, things were definitely not finished until after she was here.
I have a personality that leans a lot towards order and organization. So, this was definitely an area of growth for me.
Seeing as we are still renting, there are some things that cannot be done in her little space.
Regardless, I feel like a lot of the stuff in her room has a meaning. A story behind it. And has been used to some degree by women that were once little girls before her. A little legacy of sorts.

From top to bottom:

1// these little tassles came from her first baby shower. my mommy made them.

2// this little lamp was my mother's when she was a little girl and then mine and now eden's.

3// we ordered this little hamper from the land of nod. i love it so much I have often wanted to use it in our laundry room. don't tell eden.

4// her curtains are nate berkus for target. and one of the last things to be added.

5// bless the Lord print is from the naptime diaries shop. i love love their prints. and have quite a few spread throughout our home. this one is very special to me and i love it in her nursery.

6// little books that were gifts from my parents and my brother. my brother bought her a special "aesthetically pleasing" set of books for Christmas. these are so special to me. and i know she is going to love reading them knowing they came from her uncle stephen.

7// the little lamb figurine belonged to my mother when she was a little girl. and the change cube was mine when I was a wee one.

8// we ordered our crib from amazon and is a babyletto. we love the functionality and that it can grow with her.

9// lovely hand made blankets from sweet friends.

10// i found this dresser at a garage sale for 30 dollars. my father in law put in the time to paint it the color of our choice and we purchased new knobs....and there it is.

11// some of the prints on the wall are cards from rifle paper co. shelving is from ikea.

12// the little rabbit figurines were my favorite things in my room as a little girl. the "eden" poster was made for her and hanging on her incubator and then crib in the nicu.

13// some special books that she received as gifts. and a fuzzy rug to roll around on (from ikea).

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