Sunday, April 27, 2014

work in progress...

I have a confession to make…

I recently reacted harshly towards someone very dear to me.  My reaction was the result of listening to this faint whisper in my head- "say how you really feel."  The next thing I know, I'm up-chucking these harsh, blunt, and judgmental words.  I fell into satan's trap.  Years of holding back and neglecting to work through this issue in my life has created this anger and resentment inside of me, and BAM.  Satan won that day.  I let him take control and I reacted in the exact way he was hoping I would.  It was a disaster.  I look like a hypocrite and I feel like a fool.

I've spent the last week thinking and praying about what to do about it now, and talking with my counselor.  I've been writing out my feelings, and reading them out loud.  I have been physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Have you ever felt like you can fix people?  Have you ever felt that if you could just say something or do something in the right way, someone would "see the light" and be fixed??  Yea, don't do that!  Because you know what is wrong with that picture?  You lose sight of where the work needs to be done in your own life.  God convicts those that choose to follow Him.  Not me, I can't do the convicting.  Do I get angry when I see something wrong in this world?  Sure I do.  But my reaction and delivery should walk a very fine line.    Because we all sin.  

I am a work in progress.  I will be a work in progress for my entire life as long as my eyes are fixed on Jesus and I follow Him.  He is making me new all the time!

Jaxon's death has given me a beautiful gift.  It's given me the desire to grow.  I have a desire to be who God created me to be, finally.  It's not the easy way, but it is the beautiful way.  :)

To paraphrase my pastor, Ed Young-

I am God's art.
I am His masterpiece.
I constantly try to turn it into a disaster-piece by following my own will,
But as I let Him take control over my life,
He is making me new.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter letter

My sweet Jaxon,

I am sitting here imagining what you must be doing right now.  Are you dancing your butt off? Because I would be ;)  Are you singing and laughing and praising Jesus with all of your new friends? What do you see?  Are you looking at the face of God in all his glory and light??  Can you feel His love for you radiating throughout your soul?!?

Do you have story-time??  What a story to be told in remembrance of today!!  And to be told by God Himself.  Wow!!  You know the big picture.  I mean the BIG PICTURE.  You know how everything "began" and how everything will "end."  You know all of the answers to all of my questions.

Have you seen us yet?  Do you know that we are so excited for you??  Have you seen us laugh and celebrate your memory here on Earth?  Do you know that we are okay?

We miss you so, so, so much.  But what is even greater than that is our love for you, our love for our King, and the gratefulness we have for Him.  Oh how He loves us!!  Our time together is just around the corner sweet love.  In the blink of an eye, we will be with you.  Running, jumping, singing, laughing, dancing, and praising together.  I can't wait to sing with you :)

I love you sweet boy!  Jesus loves you more!!  (but you already know that)

Waiting and hoping for that day,

Oh How He Loves Us

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don't have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way...

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us...
Oh, how He loves us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

stronger than you could ever have imagined...

Today has been emotional to put it mildly.  I've been listening to this song over and over and over again- it reminds me of everything.  Sweet anticipation (almost to the point of impatience) of Jesus coming again, deep deep sorrow that only my God can console, submission to a trust that runs so deep that all my fears cease to exist in His presence, seeking and finding permission to be just me.  Just wholefully resting in my Jesus' arms.  Words just don't do it justice.  Sometimes a song can come close. 
Close your eyes and just picture Jesus calling you out into the waters- scary, unknown, death-seeking waters.  The waves all around you are higher than you can see.  The devil has shaken and stirred the water so high.  The world says you are sure to drown and you realize just how small you really are.  You look at Him and He holds you secure.  You see the catastrophe all around you.  But you haven't been swallowed up.  Soon you find yourself going limp as you give up control. Trust overpowers fear and you submit with complete confidence in Him.  Not only are you safe, but you are stronger than you could ever have imagined... 

music video here

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"
by Hillsong
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Monday, April 14, 2014

5 months

At five months out, I can say that it does get a little easier.  I miss my little man and I always will.  My aching is getting lighter and my emptiness sometimes feels as though (dare I say it?) it is being filled.  Maybe it is because I've cried a lot recently.  Maybe it's because I am learning to carry this better.

Saturday, we took my dad to a Ranger game at the good ole ballpark in arlington for his birthday.  Baseball will always remind me of Jaxon.  His room is covered in baseballs.  It was a good day, and was a great game (even though we lost in the 10th inning- yes the 10th.  By 1 run!)  I just pictured Jaxon watching the game with us from the best seat in the house, maybe on Jesus' lap.  I dream that he sees us down here every time we are happy, and that he knows that we are only sad because we miss and love him so much.  Before he knows it, we will be right there behind him, running to hug him.

Yesterday (Sunday, the 13th) was our 5th "Jaxon day."  I've been posting a picture of my boy on Facebook on monthly anniversaries for the last couple months, but yesterday I decided to leave technology alone and just be with John-Michael.  We bought another candle, which seems to have been our tradition when remembering Jaxon.  This one is dark blue and matches the colors in his room beautifully.  We bought some blueberry pie and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream and had a little party in honor of our Jaxon.

We still haven't changed much in his room.  All of his clothes are still hanging up in the closet, his crib and changing table are still out and put together, and his dresser has become a second memorial to him.  Sometimes I go in there and just sit and talk to him, talk to God, cry, and look at his sweet face in all of his pictures.

We finally filed our taxes today, ugh.  Hard day because we tried to explain to our tax lady several times why we don't have a social security number for Jaxon.  I guess she didn't quite understand what the term "stillborn" meant, so after the 3rd time trying, I said quite bluntly, "He was dead when he was born."  I think it hurt John-Michael more than it hurt me when I said it.  I hate to see him hurting.  Men grieve so differently.

But, in spite of all of the pain, I came across a couple verses that I am just in love with today…
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  2 Corinthians 4:17 

I have to say- right now these troubles are quite large, but compared to what they will seem like when we reach heaven's gates, I have to believe they will be quite small!  Because...

I know the lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.  Psalms 16:8-11

Thursday, April 10, 2014

holding back…?

This past week, I've had a couple encounters with people that didn't know I was pregnant and lost Jaxon.  Let me tell you, it sucked…

The first was a lady that I met about 6 years ago, when I would take the little girl I nanny for to Kindermusik.  A kindermusik class usually lasts around 45 mins or so, and you just take your little ones there to explore music and movement- it's fun!  So anyway, this lady was just an aquaintance from Kindermusik, she has twin boys.  I haven't seen her since the class ended 6 years ago.

So, last week, I was at the park and here she comes with her now 7 year old boys.  At first, I didn't recognize her, but she recognized us.  We found ourselves sitting under the gazebo, talking about the kids and how fast time goes by, etc.  Then she asks the question.  "So do you have any kids now?"  My immediate response was, "no, not yet."  Wait- what?!?

Then, a couple days ago on Tuesday, I had dinner with a friend who was going to introduce me to someone who works as a dental hygienist for children.  We had a previous conversation where I thought, wow that would be cool to be able to clean children's teeth!  (Ha! Well, after a second thought… maybe not so much...)  But anyway, I went ahead and agreed to meet with her anyway- what's the harm, right?

So we start talking about it and like I already knew, you need an associates degree, and a lot of labs and internship time and study time… ummmm…NO.  I'm done with school for now.  I will go back if and when the time comes in about 10 years- after I have kids and they are in school.  Nothing is going to make me hold off on having kids for another 2 years.  I said these things to her, and she had no idea why I was saying them.  That was a perfect opportunity to tell her my story.  And I didn't.

These things just suck!  I know it's hard to talk about losing Jaxon, and I just want to cry anytime I do talk about him, and I should give myself grace, and we should judge each situation, and maybe not make other people uncomfortable by talking about it.  But you know what?  After not talking about him and feeling so guilty immediately afterwards, I know I want to talk about him.  This isn't for everyone, and I know that.  Please, don't let me make you feel bad for not talking about your child, because I know how that feels too.  My husband was a little upset and surprised with me when I told him that I said I don't have any kids yet.  It just made me feel even guiltier… and don't get mad at him either, because that is a true, heartfelt response from him that comes from the love he has for Jaxon.  

But I'm choosing to talk about him.  You never know whose life you will touch, whose life you will save by telling these stories.  We have hope of seeing our babies again because of Jesus Christ and the promise He fulfilled.  And some acquaintance might not have that same hope.  Everyone has hardship.  Everyone.  It's not if the hardship comes.  It's when.  Having hope is what this life is all about.  Pressing on and having peace in a hard, cruel world.  It sounds impossible, but it's not, I promise.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

hope box delivery

At the hope box gathering, a girl came up to us and told us about a friend of her friend that recently lost a baby.  She wanted to know if we could get a hope box to her, so of course, we set one of the boxes aside for her friend.  I took the address and decided I would take it out to the girl on thursday morning (yesterday).  Later that night, the wave of anxiety hit.  What do I say to her?  What if she doesn't want one?  What if all I can do is cry- how helpful is that?!? (btw, the box I delivered was the one I pictured in my last post- it was gorgeous!)

I didn't know this family, I didn't know many details of their loss, or what to expect with how she was grieving.  I just wanted to be whatever she needed me to be for her.  Whether that was dropping it off and leaving, sharing my story with her, listening to her story, or just a big hug- whatever she needed.  Everyone is so different when grieving.  Of course, I played out every scenario in my head and thought way too hard about this.

The girls at hope group prayed for me last night, my mom prayed for me, and my musketeers prayed for me.  And I prayed the whole way out to their house.  Ok- so I know God heard these prayers and he wasn't going to let me get in the way of His plan for this delivery.  As simple as it was supposed to be, leave it to me to make it complicated.  ;)

As I pull up to their house, I finish writing in the card that goes in the box.  I had asked the girl who told us about this family to send me specifics so I could make the message in the card more personal- like "I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter <insert name here>."  It means so much more getting a personalized message rather than a generic "sorry for your loss" type message.  I left, still no reply.  And go figure… just as I pull up to their house, I get a reply.  "I believe around 20 weeks-girl-unsure of name."  Ok, now I have a little more of a clue what to say.

I finish up the card, say a last "please Jesus speak through me" prayer in my head, and I walk up to their door.  There was this beautiful potted tree with orange flowers all over it, I've seen these flowers everywhere- but sadly I don't remember what they are called!  I want one of those trees for our patio :)  Anyway, as I ring the doorbell, I notice the door was slightly opened already!  Weird I thought.

A guy answers, a young guy.  I quickly blurt out, "Hi this box is for <keeping their identity private>.  It's from Hope Mommies, we heard about your loss from a friend of a friend…."  I don't remember exactly what was said, but I felt the awkwardness coming out of me.  He said something like, "great, thank you!"  He did have a smile on his face :)  And then I see a young girl poke around the corner inside the house.  She smiles at me and I smile at her and wave.  He says, "well we were just leaving, sorry about the open door," and so I took that as my cue to leave.  As I left, I said, "ya'll take care!" Umm… what?  Take care?  Ok… now we know what not to say next time.  

I realize that I am my own worst critic.  I'm asking God to work that out in me.  I have the tendency to think I should say the perfect thing to create a scenario that I picture would be best.  And as I'm typing this I also realize- this is the very thing I wish people wouldn't do when talking to me about Jaxon.  There isn't a perfect thing to say.  There are definitely some wrong things to say though, and we usually say those when trying to say the perfect thing.  Thank goodness I didn't say one of the wrong things!  But I believe God took care of that, because I asked Him to just let me be what they needed me to be for them.

1 John 3:18-20 NLT
Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.  Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.  

I read this verse last night, and something new popped out at me.  I've heard this one before and I just took 'actions speak louder than words' out of it.  But I got something else this time.  I got 'God knows our hearts, and that's what matters!'  He's trying to tell me I'm not the inadequate girl I'm always telling myself I am.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

hope box gathering

Back on the 18th of March, I went with Amy to help her "host" (more like watch her host) a hope box gathering at her church.  I remember being SO NERVOUS walking into that church, thinking I was just going to cry the whole time while we talked about our babies and asked these women to join together and make hope boxes for other moms like us.  I have this tendency to totally work myself up over something that may or may not come true, and I play out every single stupid scenario and agonize about how it would go.  My brain is such a mess!  You know, I've heard you can totally make things come true if you think about them too much.  And I think there is a lot of truth in that.

So anyway, there we were in front of these women (sweethearts!) and Amy starts sharing.  I'm sure she knew I wasn't ready to speak my story just yet- I told her while walking into the church how nervous I was.  And in email too!  Yea- BIG CHICKEN right here!  Oh yea, and this just so happened to be the 6 month anniversary of her daughter's death- this girl is so BRAVE.  Can you see why I'm in awe?  Anyway, gush session over. :) So all the women have made their way in and it's time to start.  Amy begins telling her story, she introduces me (and I sheepishly wave like a dork), she starts going through her box and explaining the items and what they mean to moms like us, answers a few questions and then its over.  Nice, I didn't have to cry in front of a bunch of strangers and I lived another day! (I'm totally being sarcastic here, hopefully you picked up on it.)

For some reason I feel like I have to mention, this was a very hard week for me.  I don't really know what triggered it, other than a couple days before this, I wrote Jaxon's story down and relived every moment of november 12 and 13.  I was doubting the goodness of God during this time.  I had a front row seat to witness how God was working in someone's life- to make something good out of her pain. And it was very inspiring, yes.  But, I was still doubting His goodness.  I guess there's really only so much hope you can borrow before you have to find your own.  That Friday, I had an awful day drowning in the whys of my loss.  It didn't matter how inspired I was a few days before, I still had a hard time with trust and doubt.  I think this just goes to show how God works.  Real change, real trust and faith, real growth doesn't develop by watching others do it- you can't copy or mimic that.  It happens by going through it yourself.  By asking the questions and seeking through the bible and feeling the answers in yourself.  It is a personal relationship with Him.

So, fast forward to this Tuesday, April fool's day (barf!! with all the pregnancy pranks), and we are collecting the items for the hope boxes.  These women went above and beyond with this!

These women wrote down some verses like Romans 15:13, Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 56:8 (go ahead- look these up now!) and several other good scriptures to help someone grieve.  We gathered around the boxes and prayed over them.  Yea, and about that- I cried through my prayer, of course- that's me, why wouldn't I?! Ha!

My point is, this ministry is so good.  When I got my box, the contents in it immediately ministered to me.  It gave me a community and I wasn't alone anymore.  I didn't know where to start, and this made it easier on my missing brain (which I still haven't gotten back- I think Jaxon took half of it with him when he went to be with Jesus).  The fact that a complete stranger is able to provide so much love and comfort is nothing short of a miracle- and that is what God does for us.  This is how He works in us.  And it's warms my heart to see that our babies have an impact on this world when they aren't even here.  It makes me feel like I'm doing my motherly duty by making sure that my boy had a purpose.  I want Jaxon to be proud of his mamma and one day he may even be able to call me brave.  :)