Nov 30 2015

First Week of Advent ~ Hope

When do we most need hope?
In hopelessness.

That is when we feel lack of hope most acutely. It is when we need to have our eyes opened to real hope.

“A prison cell in which one waits, hopes,…
and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom
has to be opened from the outside,
is not a bad picture of Advent.”
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

That is what this first week of Advent is all about. Hope.

Anticipating, longing, looking ahead, believing that the fulfillment of promises and prophecies are yet to come.

I love these simple perspectives and tips for observing Advent, even in a family with little (messy, fussy, short-attentioned!) children.

“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light,
now in the time of this life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;
So that, at the last day, when He shall come again
in His glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal.”
–The Book of Common Prayer

I am pulling out our Advent wreath, our Advent calendar, and a huge amount of chocolates.
Soon, other Christmas-is-coming boxes will be brought up from the basement, as we slowly see hope fulfilled by the advancing of Christmas.
May God give us eyes to see and ears to hear. May He make us awake and ready.
May He give us hope because of Jesus.

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Nov 30 2015

Celebrating Life with Hope

We are continuing to celebrate life! Simeon’s lungs filled with oxygen 36 days ago. Yesterday Simeon’s head was covered with water and oil. He has always belonged to Christ, but yesterday he was officially welcomed into the Church by receiving the sacrament of baptism. He is officially a son of the covenant, heir of God’s Kingdom, full participant in the body of Christ as a member of His bride. Hallelujah! What hope! What a perfect thing to celebrate on the first Sunday of Advent, where we lit the candle of hope. Please rejoice with us and celebrate the life of Christ in our little son.

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For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off,
everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.
Acts 2:39

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them
 in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to
 the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20

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Nov 10 2015

Joy Multiplied

The joy of having these four children in my arms is indescribable. Simply incalculable!
And that joy is multiplied by the delight they take in one another.

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Thanks be to God for these immeasurable blessings!

8 responses so far

Nov 07 2015

Another PAL Perspective

There is no denying that I have been nothing short of a walking pharmacy for the last few years. In the last few months (maybe since June?) I have saved up all my needles and syringes (and a few of the med vials) in order to share another unique perspective on my PAL journey. If I had saved all of them since I started doing injections in late August 2010, all four of my children (THAT is am amazing phrase right there…) could be surrounded by a fort made out of them. Not joking.

But this is what a couple months looks like. Just the injection stuff though. This doesn’t include the 1/4 cup+ full of pills (medications, vitamins, supplements, probiotics) that I took every day.

This is to show a portion, a perspective, on a specific labor of love – just a small glimpse. I want my children to always know how desperately loved they are, how incredibly wanted they are, and how I would give anything (including my own life-blood) for them.

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Nov 01 2015

Pregnant with a Rainbow, Part X

Pregnant with a Rainbow, Part X
Ends & Beginnings

When I got up last Sunday morning, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for our day. I went about our morning like any other Sunday morning ~ pancakes for children, dressing in our Sunday clothes, packing Bibles & coffee cups into the car. More for the sake of having a practice run than actually thinking we needed to, Steven and I threw our hospital bag into the car, and the very last thing I ran back into the house to get was my camera. The drive to church was our normal boisterous fifty minutes. Sunday school and worship were normal too, but for the fact that I preferred to stand in the back & sway a bit rather than sit for two and a half hours. I was noting fairly regular cramping, but only had a few real contractions. Which I had been having on and off for a few days. So I brushed it off as being nothing. We continued with our plans for the day, which happened to be having brunch at our pastor’s house. What a sweet time of food and fellowship! But our visit was suddenly cut short because around 3:15pm I suddenly noticed that I was having contractions… about every four minutes… and they were quickly growing intense. I called my parents to let them know I thought we might need to think about going to the hospital at least to get checked out, and wondered if they could meet us there… but while I was talking to my mother in the span of about three minutes, the tsunami hit.

Wave upon wave, with barely a pause between, the contractions kept coming ~ and hard. Steven took the phone and told my parents we were on our way as quickly as we could. We called the children to clamor into the car, and we said goodbye to our friends. We sped off… and within a couple of minutes, my water broke. In the car. With my children in the backseat. And we were still twenty minutes from the hospital. It was a dramatic drive, to say the least, and the Lord’s angels were clearly His agents of grace toward us as we made our way from one end of the city to the other. I tried to control my breathing, to resist pushing, without scaring my children who sat behind me. Steven kept two hands on the wheel and two eyes on the road, maneuvering the car with some pretty good skill along the way. At 3:40, we pulled into the emergency room drop-off, where my parents and a nurse got me into a wheelchair. I called goodbye & I love you to my children, and told them how proud I was that they were so brave, and was whisked away through the hospital to the maternity ward. At this point, I let the emotions flood through ~ I covered my face with my hands and wept while I tried to breathe in a focused and purposed way to resist pushing. I was not in the mood to have a baby on the elevator. Thankfully, they had a room ready for us; nurses bustled about, bringing in everything they needed for me and my baby. I was bewildered by everything going on around me, and completely disoriented. Weren’t we just sitting on the pastor’s couch talking about things like schooling and coffee and baptism? How is it that I am suddenly here? At the hospital… in, umm, labor?!

Praise the Lord, my own doctor was on call. It was a relief to see him walk in. We waited for a couple more minutes, while my dad passed our children off to my brother, and I was grateful to have my mother & husband on one side of me and two nurses on the other side to help me get through the intense contractions. Apparently I had been in quiet, early labor all morning; and then I guess I started to hit transition suddenly at our pastor’s house; and now that we had arrived at the hospital a few minutes earlier, as soon as my dad ran into the room, my doctor declared it’s time to have this baby.

I felt delirious and overwhelmed. So not prepared for this today. Did not expect the baby to come yet, and definitely had not spent the day expecting it to involve labor & delivery! Talk about a sweet surprise.

Two long, hard pushes (and a couple of screams) later, I was told to open my eyes… as my doctor reached up and placed a purplish, wet, squirming, tiny human on my chest. I could not believe my eyes. He’s here!? Already? Now?!

Amazing. It was 4:06. One hour prior, I was still eating egg casserole and sausages at my pastor’s house. Now I was in a hospital bed, with a circus whirlwind bustling around me, as I tried to get my eyes to focus on my little 5lb 10oz rainbow boy snuggling on my chest.

Simeon James arrived in famous fashion at 36 weeks ~ a bundle of precious little pumpkin peanutty goodness. I still simply can’t put him down. My neck has a continual kink because I can’t stop staring down at him.

Oh! The Lord has heard! He has supplanted our grief with joy!
We are in awe of His good plan.

I did not know when I woke up last Sunday morning, before we got out of bed, that it was the last time my husband’s hand would rest on my belly & play with the baby who was nestled underneath my skin.
I did not know when I was in Sunday school last Sunday morning that it was the last time I would feel my son’s hiccups from inside the depths of my body.
I did not know during worship last Sunday morning that it was the last time there would only be seven of us in our pew, or that it was the last time Asher would sit beside me and try to poke his baby brother’s limbs under my ribs.
I did not know last Sunday morning that it was the last day I would ever be pregnant.
I did not know last Sunday morning that my rainbow was about to break through the clouds for my eyes to behold its beauty firsthand.

And then suddenly it happened.
It was the end. And honestly, it happened so mercifully fast that my brain and heart did not have time or coherency to fight the bittersweet side of it. I did not process until we were home from the hospital that the end of my PAL journeys had arrived.

But what’s beautiful in the Lord’s economy is that ends are also beginnings.
And the end of Sweet Teen’s life in the womb brought a beautiful, dramatic beginning to Simeon’s life in the world of sunshine.

There is a time for everything.

Thanks be to God.

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7 responses so far

Oct 27 2015

Introducing Simeon James

Sweet Teen’s rainbow has burst forth!
We joyfully welcome our precious son
Simeon James
~the Lord has heard, and supplanted our grief with joy~


born on Sunday, October 25th at 4:06pm
5lbs 10oz ~ 19 1/2 inches ~ pumpkin fuzz atop his head

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Blessed be the Lord!
For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to Him.
Psalm 28:6-7


I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1, 3


This is the Lord‘s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:23-24

13 responses so far

Oct 26 2015

Now We Are Six

Published by under Family,Sweet Teen

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Oct 24 2015

Pregnant with a Rainbow, Part IX

Praying, when you are Pregnant-After-Loss(es)

I have written before about praying when you are pregnant, both here on Joyful Domesticity and in the Rainbows & Redemption devotional I helped write & edit a few years ago.


Desire and surrender are the perfect balance to praying.
~Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p123~


And today, here I am at 36 weeks pregnant with a precious and beloved little rainbow baby, preparing for the marathon that will soon be delivering him from my body into our arms… and I feel nearly at a loss for words at my Father’s feet. I want to pray. I feel like I know what I need to pray for. And yet the words feel so hard to come by. The contractions come more frequently than the words do. My words feel feeble and basic, deft of depth. Are they void of faith too? Lord, have mercy and give me faith in spirit that spills out into faith-filled, faithful words. It is hard to feel like my prayers would have efficacy. It is hard to feel like it even matters. All I can mutter while sitting here and silently speaking with the Lord in my heart is Oh God, I need Your strength and I need You to do the work ~ I need You to establish this work, and I desperately desire Your favor to be upon us.

I am fearful and anxious.
I am both physically and mentally weary.
I am prepared and completely unprepared, simultaneously.
I know God’s in control.
It is both freeing and terrifying to know that I have zero control.

I like meditating on these Scriptures when I have these anxious moments, and turning them into prayers:

Today I am reminding myself of certain truths that I can grab hold of in Scripture, in regard to my child’s life.
The Lord made and fashioned my son in my womb (Job 31:15) just in the same way that He made all other things in creation (Isaiah 44:24), and before even that, He knew my son (Jeremiah 1:5). He not only knew, created, and formed this little baby, but He knows the numbers of his days and sees him even in the secret depths of my womb (Psalm 139:16).
I am begging the Lord to be faithful to my family, to me, to my son ~ that He would deliver this baby from my womb in His perfect timing and cause him to trust the Lord even while he nurses, that not only would He cling to our son once he is born but that even now the tiny faith of my baby would be clinging to his God (Psalm 22:9-10). I am asking the Lord to be the One on whom our tiny baby is leaning even now, and that he will not be afraid when he is plunged into the hard throes of being delivered, and that in due time we all would be praising the Lord together for His provision and strength and deliverance (Psalm 71:6). I am confident that this fruit of my womb is a blessing, an unmerited reward from the hand of God simply because He is gracious (Psalm 127:3).

And so this brings me to my knees, knowing that this entire pregnancy has not only been planned, knitted, and seen by the Lord, but that He continues to hold my life and my baby’s life in His hands… knowing that the end is in sight, and while the unknowns of how and when delivery will happen are outside the reach of my knowledge, it is all in the Lord’s sovereign plan already. I am asking for peace in the waiting and wondering. I am asking for comfort in the face of pain and anxiety.

At just seven weeks, I wrote:

My prayers are no longer eloquent, but have been reduced to a childlike sputtering of short phrases. I walk around in circles feeling like time is slipping by at the rate of a tortoise race while my heartrate feels like a busy jackrabbit. At the heart of it all, I guess my humanity is saying that I want control, that I want what I do to matter and effect a difference. My child is in the coziest place, closer to me than anyone could possibly be in any other physical way—but I have absolutely zero power over what goes on in there. It is a helpless feeling. The helplessness of a child wells up within me, and I feel like a toddler. Those childlike prayers come out, the tantrums happen, I climb helplessly into my Father’s lap when I curl up on the couch with my Bible or my prayer book… and I remember the call of Jesus to become like a child. And I think, oh! That’s exactly what He has done to me right now! He has made me like a child before Him in all of my sputtering, frail helplessness!

At twenty-five weeks, I wrote:

Please grant us hearts that are rejoicing in You, Lord. Make us rejoice! Please give us confidence in You and peace with all people. Remind us of Your presence with us each day, no matter what arises—spotting, nausea, exhaustion—and give us Your power over anxiety. Lord, help me to bring everything to You in prayer. Give me the wisdom not to simply fret, but to rather be filled with thanksgiving so that I can bring You my requests in prayer and praise and supplication. Lord, please remind me that it is Your peace alone that will surpass my understanding, and will guard my heart and my mind in Your own Christ Jesus. When I feel anxiety beginning to take over, bring me to my knees so that Your presence, Your peace, and Your guarding Spirit will be the only thing overwhelming me. Please fill my mind with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Please take away all things which are unlovely, false, dishonest, and fretful. Make me to dwell on things that You find excellent! Give me a heart that focuses on things that are worth of praise! Use Your people around me, Your Scriptures, Your Spirit that lives within me—to help me practice what You would have me do. And please, in all of these things, send Your peace to be with me and reign over me (Philippians 4:4-9).

At thirty-two weeks, I wrote:

It has not been an easy road for over eight years of seeking to grow our family. But Lord, You have done the work, and You have repeatedly restored us. Desolation has always been followed by restoration. We see Your faithfulness. We have seen it in the darkness and the valleys. We have seen it while dancing on the sunlit mountaintops. Your hand of grace and Your heart of mercy has never been far from us, even when we in our humanity somehow felt far from You.
Therefore, we sing to You and we give thanks to Your holy name. Because while we have felt the cold shady side of being Your children, living tangibly in the realities that You are sovereign even in the most painful and harsh of circumstances, our family is also living proof that You do bring the dawn—and with it, You restore joy.

And now, with the culmination of this PAL journey nearing my fingertips, I pray again:

Oh God my Father, You have been faithful. You have been my food and drink. You have been my peace and strength. You have been my hope and joy. Remind me of these things now while I am feeling weak, isolated, empty. When the contractions grip me, use their power to remind me of Your hands powerfully gripping me. When the pain overcomes me, fill me with Your presence so that the One who overcame the power of sin and death will give me the strength to come through the agony of delivering a child from my body. When the fear and anxiety of unknowns control all my attention, give my heart Your peace because I have confidence that You not only know all but planned all and hold all things.
Give us joy, because You have continually proven that You hear our prayers. Give us confidence, because You daily provide for all our needs. Give us energy, for You are the source of all light and life and strength.

Give me words to speak and pray that are glorifying to You. And remind me that eloquence is not Your measure of faith, but a contrite heart and open hands. These are what I offer to You today, my King and my God. Be near to me, near to my son. Don’t let us go.


Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos;
continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.

~Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p71~


I am asking for big blessings. Big strength. Big faith. Faith that will be far more precious than gold, for it has been tested and tried, given and proven. May the Lord’s blessing be upon us as He establishes the work of our hands and knitting of His covenant child in my womb. Amen.


A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.
~Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p24~

2 responses so far

Oct 15 2015

Balloon Release, PAIL Day 2015

I can’t remember for sure if we have done this every year or not, but if it hasn’t been an annual tradition, it’s been really doggone close. I remember doing it with Gabriel at our old house when he was only a year or two old, and how the balloons got caught in our neighbors’ pine tree. Whoops. It has worked much  better since moving out to the country, with more wide open spaces.

This afternoon, my children and I let off nine balloons into the sky.
Why do we do this every year, Mommy? Gabriel asked while Asher blew kisses to our babies in heaven & Evangeline said, Goodbye balloons- I will miss you!
I answered Gabriel with tears in my eyes, It reminds us in a way that we can see with our eyes, how our babies have left us & life here on earth, and gone to heaven where we can’t see them anymore but where we know by faith they still live.
Asher piped up, And this way, our brothers and sisters have balloons to play with.
To which quick & quippy Gabriel responded, oh Asher, they don’t play with the balloons- they probably don’t even see them. We just do it because we love them so much. And because we miss them playing here with us.

And he’s right. We do it because we love our children, and we do miss them. And it is a tangible, visible way to slowly (year by year) teach my children about their brothers and sisters. As I handed each of my three kids three balloon strings, I named off three of their siblings’ names. They repeat them.

With laughter and with tears, with memories and while looking ahead, this was our PAIL Day 2015 Balloon Release.

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Oct 15 2015

Nine Treasures, on PAIL Day

Today (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day)
we are remembering our darlings in heaven,
the nine siblings of our treasures here.

While this day does not cut so acutely into my heart as it once did, it is still a day that bittersweetly blesses and affects me.
In addition to treasures of glory, of Christ, of spiritual hopes & faith ~ we have nine treasures in heaven.
Little treasured people whose bodies I held within mine… and in my hands…
Boys and girls, my sons and daughters, who were beautifully created and wonderfully knit by their heavenly Father.


Covenant Hope, Glory Hesed, Promise Anastasis, Peace Nikonos
Mercy Kyrie, Victory Athanasius, Hosanna Praise,
Heritage Peniel, Fidelis Se’arah

~ oh, how we love you. I think of you all the time and imagine what life would have been like if you had stayed here with us. Your brother Gabriel talks about you a lot. And even Asher and Evangeline are starting to know your names, to remember how your lives have been entwined with theirs, to acknowledge that our family is much bigger than what meets the eye. ~


I am so happy, blessed and honored and privileged, to be their mommy. And I look ahead with joyful anticipation to holding them again (or if I don’t get to hold them, at least being with them and seeing them and singing with them) when I join them on the other side of eternity.


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