Long-distance and Long-time

Five years ago right now, I found out I was pregnant with my ninth baby, who came on the heels of six consecutive miscarriages.
Five years ago right now, we began the process of building a home out in the country.
Five years ago right now, a friend of mine emailed me a crazy idea.

Boy. That was a busy year.

I now have a four year old Asher to show for that year.
I now have lived in this home, which we had built out in the country, for four years.
I now have participated in sharing a Pregnancy After Loss devotional, our free ebook download, for four years.

So many big things were obviously going on back then, and honestly, they continue to. Sometimes it is hard to see the growth of such blessings. It felt like so much big stuff back then, but when looking through the proper lenses, I can see that God is continuing to do great big things with those very seeds from five years ago. My friend Kristi reminded me this week that it was four years ago that R&R went live. What an exciting day that was for us! And today, she shares a little here about the growing process of our Rainbows & Redemption devotional to give a little special insight to the planting, blooming, and pruning progression.

Later this month, I will get to see Kristi in person for the second time ~ the first time was three years ago. I’ve known her long-distance for 5 1/2 years, as God has taken each of us on similar yet different journeys. We met online when we were both pregnant-after-loss, once: she was pregnant with her little Kyria, I was pregnant with my Peace. Neither of us were having a good time of it at all. We ended up delivering our precious little first trimester babies, three thousand miles apart, that November, in 2009. We have both had more pregnancies since then ~ my Asher and her Caleb were in our bellies while we wrote and edited R&R, so we shared wild roller coasters for months at a time. We have each called one another in moments of panic, straight from our own home bathrooms… because we were either starting to miscarry or had gotten less-than-encouraging blood test results or were worrying our brains to a fritz psycho-analyzing every little twinge and symptom and dream while PAL.

How good it continues to be to know that I am not alone.

We may be separated by basically the entire United States (she is at the SE corner while I am in the NW corner), but we are still there for one another, especially when it comes to specific niche topics. Things like miscarriage and related babyloss topics. Writing, specifically when it comes to words of encouragement. Homeschooling. Rainbow babies.

I hope to continue sharing life, prayers, and writing with Kristi as time goes on ~ my long-distance and long-time friend.  God grows beautiful things from little seeds. Like babies. And friendships. And books. Blessings.

Our Thanksgiving Blessing

Psalm 126

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues are filled with shouts of joy! We have been blessed with a sheave of wheat so sweet and ripe! Our precious Asher Timothy is here!

On Thanksgiving morning, just before sunrise, we received the enormous blessing of welcoming our Baby Nine into our arms. After a long labor and quicker delivery, we were overwhelmed with the goodness and mercy of looking upon LIFE. 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and 20 inches of squeaky, wiggly, precious, cuddly, redheaded, blue eyed life! As I held my Asher on my chest for the first time, I told him I have waited so long for you ~ I can’t believe you’re alive and sobbed over God’s goodness and grace. It’s just overwhelming. Astounding.

Asher ~ blessed, happy
Timothy ~ one who honors God

We have waited for years to bestow this name upon a living, breathing, image-bearing covenant child. He bears the name Timothy, just like his daddy, and he inherited his daddy’s eyes. We rejoice over this little boy’s life, and delight in sharing his arrival with you. God has indeed truly blessed us and made us happy. We seek God’s strength to raise him to honor God with every fiber of his being, to live in humble thankfulness before Him all of his days for the mercy God has showered upon all of us.

What a Thanksgiving miracle! Our children are a pure, unutterable blessing. Thanks be to God on high!!


Baby Nine’s Shower of Blessing

On Friday evening, our church family hosted a baby shower to bless us as we anticipate the soon-arrival of our Baby Nine. Besides numerous women & girls from our church family, I had my sweet Gabriel, mama, sister-in-law, and one of my nieces there with me. It was nerve-wracking, honestly, for me ahead of time, thinking about attending a baby shower. For someone who has experienced infertility and/or loss, baby showers are extremely difficult things, almost regardless of the circumstances (if you’ve worn those shoes, you likely know what I mean). So I was very thankful when God gave me showers of blessings there and wiped away many of my nerves replacing them with joy.

Of course, my best friend offered a beautiful prayer of thanks and blessing, and included all nine of my children in the prayer by name (except Baby Nine… she doesn’t know his name yet…) :happytears: and that got the waterworks started… and then my mom did the “word of encouragement” (basically a 5 minute time of encouragement for a mom, tailored for me and my life) where she used Hebrews 12:1-13 as her springboard, talking about my journey, my children, my grief & pain, and the strength God has given me to run the race thus far along with an exhortation to continue resting in His strength to continue running the race He has set before me :happytears:, which got the waterworks going again… and then it was my turn to read some Scriptures & prepared words of thanks. By the time it got to my turn to speak, I was already crying (and so were plenty of other ladies ^_^) so it wasn’t such a big deal to just keep dabbing my eyes and sniffling a wee bit. ;)
I had half a dozen ladies come up to me later thanking me for what I said, and telling me they are so glad God is so honored in our family’s story, and such. I’m thankful that my words were a blessing, and that God enabled me to thank a small portion of people who have walked alongside us and upheld us over the last couple years of grief. God is good, and His mercy endures forever!

As I thought about it, I realized, though, that I need to share my words here as well. So many hundreds (in fact, probably thousands) of families have prayed with us over the last few years of suffering God has brought into our journey, and only a handful of them were present at the shower. But these words need to go far beyond the circle of saints that were with me at Friday’s shower. If you have walked any steps with us on this journey, these words of thanks are for you. If you have prayed with us and for us, this is for you, with sincere and utter thankfulness.

My Thank You Words for Baby Nine’s Shower

 Read Psalm 77:1-14

Read Psalm 78:4, 6, 7

A year plus a few days ago our son Hosanna was our seventh baby born to heaven. A few days later, many of you gathered in the frost on our front lawn for a prayer vigil (and some gathered via distance in their homes to pray). At that time, I never thought I would be HERE—especially not just a year later.

So many of you have walked this long, hard road of grief alongside us. For over four years, actually—but especially for the last 2 ½ solid. THANK YOU.

Grief is so isolating—infertility and miscarriage and death are so isolating—being a bereaved mother is so isolating—so thank you for coming alongside of us, alongside of ME, in recent months and years to weep and mourn and grieve with us. Thank you for praying with us through so many ups and downs, hopes and griefs. And now—I can’t believe I get to thank you for REJOICING with us!

It honestly feels so different to rejoice now after grieving for so long. It feels so different to hope now after despairing. It feels so different to carry life inside of me after having deaths occur inside of me. Thank you for wanting to celebrate and rejoice and glorify God with us because of our youngest son, this little boy, this brother of yours. THANK YOU.

It’s been such a long journey to get to this place (and it certainly isn’t over yet).

Four and a half years of marriage. Nine children—seven of them who live in heaven. Countless medical consultations and ultrasounds and other diagnostic procedures, many hundreds of vials of blood drawn, iv infusions every other week in 2010, four trips to Mexico for medical treatments that aren’t even FDA approved, sixteen+ months of daily injections (as many as three injections every day, but currently just two), a minimum of half a dozen oral medications and supplements every day, billions of tears, prayers, hopes, fears, doubts… One experimental medication cleared for use in treating recurrent miscarriages in the United States in January, which God allowed me to actually start using in January—and one nearly miraculous little life that finally took root in March that God has continued to nurture and grow and bless and prosper ever since.

How many people have prayed for us to have another living child? How many prayers have those countless people each offered on our behalf? The gates of heaven have literally been hammered and bashed by these prayers. God has heard. And He has extended extreme mercies. To us. And to you. He has made us blessed. He has made us happy.

Thank you for being the arms of Christ to us in so many varied situations. Thank you for being warriors with us in prayer. Thank you for seeking to hone your skills of weeping with those who weep. Thank you for jubilantly rejoicing with those who rejoice.

Your efforts in all of these things have not gone unnoticed. We appreciate each of you, and we are confident that your reward in heaven will be great.

This isn’t the end of our journey by any means. But it is a beautiful, even balming, chapter in the midst of what God is speaking in the story of our family’s life. We are thankful—so very thankful—to have you upholding us as we continue seeking God’s wisdom day by day, pursuing His greatest glory in the story He is speaking for us.

We were blessed by many church families in the form of a wonderful carseat for our new baby boy, and I also came home with a couple bags full of new things for Baby Nine: some super darling clothes, blankets, homemade bibs, stuffed animals, organic bath stuff for baby and pampering bath stuff for me, puzzles, a book… it was so surreal to sit there opening presents. I really felt like an imposter, a fake, definitely like I didn’t belong. Even between opening gifts, I kept thinking, “why am I opening these gifts? shouldn’t someone else be doing this?!” It was surreal and odd, but in a good way.

It was so great to see Gabriel participating in the anticipation of his newest baby brother at the shower, and to see just a small portion of people there who have been with us (or at least watching us) on our journey thus far. So while it was nerve-wracking to go to my own shower, it really was a great blessing on so many levels. It blessed me, it blessed others, and the gifts people bestowed on us will certainly bless Baby Nine. God is kind, and I am so thankful for His abundant blessings.

Loving My Boys

Have I mentioned lately how much I cherish, love, and adore this man? He blesses me so much and in so many ways that I can not begin to describe it to you. But my husband has my heart, completely, and I am beyond thankful for the gift that he is to me, our children, and everyone else that we know.

And this big boy? I love him, too, more than I can tell you. His life, his vibrancy, his cleverness, his curiosity, his passion, his tenderness ~ they constantly surprise, encourage, humble, bless, and amaze this mommy.

And how about this tiny boy? I have never so much as even seen his profile, but he already has me wrapped completely around his little fingers (which I do see every week on the ultrasound machine). His life stuns my socks off every morning. Our little Baby Nine is quite the charmer (he has charmed his big brother completely!) and I think God has great plans for him to impact the Kingdom and the world! I can just tell.

Casting Anxieties

1 Peter 5:6-7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

This is something I am praying daily for strength to do. Particularly right now, I have anxieties about the house-building and moving timing, and anxieties about Baby Nine’s life. These are big things in our life and there are big anxieties associated with these big things. But they are not too big for Christ. I am called to cast my anxieties on Him, no matter their size or weight. And why am I called to cast my anxieties on Him? Because He cares for me! HE cares for ME! How incredible is that! My anxieties are not too big for Him, but they also are not too small. He cares about the little details that press upon my heart. Christ is not one to roll His eyes and tell me to get over it: His method is to enfold me in His mercy and carry the weight for me.

I am anxious about how the house is going to come together in under four weeks… but each day, God is showing me things that He is accomplishing out there and reminding me that He is faithful. No matter what gets done, no matter what is left undone: He is faithful and will provide for our needs in all of it.

I am anxious about Baby Nine’s life… in fact, when I was lying awake during the night last night and wasn’t feeling him move, I laid there crying and just asking God to give me the comfort of kicks or wiggles. I still fight fear daily that he will die. When I rolled over and laid on my stomach (which I know he doesn’t like…), he started wiggling, and my tears of anxiety changed to tears of thankfulness as I finally fell back asleep. It is so hard to hold my children with open hands, no matter their age. But these children are HIS, ultimately they do not belong to me at all. I am praying for bigger faith and trust as He cares for these, His children, in whatever ways His providence has ordained as best.

I realize that the life of the Christian is one of daily giving up our anxieties to God and hourly placing ourselves at His feet. As I continue to grow in my knowledge of Him and His character, I want to grow in my faith and ability to cast all my anxieties at His feet and lay all my burdens on His shoulders. May the Father strengthen and enable me for this enormous task of daily Christian-living.

Works in Progress

With (give or take…) six weeks until moving and eight weeks until Baby Nine arrives, we are very occupied with our works in progress. Take a peek below at the two biggest projects of 2011 and the awe-inspiring work God has been doing in, with, and for our family this year. We are humbled and thankful beyond words.


UPDATE FINALE: on our Precious Baby Nine!

There’s no reason to waste words when pictures contain one thousand each, according to folklore. 😀


That’s right, friends, our Baby Nine is another sweet Baby Boy! What a blessing it will be for Gabriel to have a little brother, and for the little brother to have such a wonderful big brother to look up to & emulate. We’re positively overjoyed.

Genesis 48:9

“They are my sons , whom God has given me here.”

My 20-week ultrasound was this morning at 8, and I can’t tell you how amazing the ultrasound experience was. I couldn’t really see the screen very well, but everyone else could and they adored it. I loved watching their faces (to give my craned neck a break, lol). The sonographer was just incredible, talking us through the whole thing and pointing out all kinds of things to us. (He kept remarking on how easy Baby and I were to scan, and how he wished he had students to teach on us! lol) Everything is healthy! Not a single thing wrong with this baby! Such a relief and comfort to my heart. :happytears: Baby is still measuring a week ahead too, so I guess that trend is just going to continue! I don’t know if that means I’ll need to mentally prepare to deliver on the earlier side or not. (?)
And obviously as Gabriel displayed for you, we’re having a Baby Boy!! So “Baby Nine” can now be called “Baby Boy” I guess! :D
So we were able to get some “Big Brother”/”Little Brother” outfits, and Mama spoiled me with a couple more maternity things! :wub: It was surreal to be walking through baby stores without bawling. It was still bittersweet (I don’t think that will ever go away until I’m dead and in heaven!), but it was better. I was even able to buy my niece an outfit and one of my best friends an outfit for the baby girl she delivered this morning. So I bought boy stuff for myself and girl stuff for others, and hardly cried (I did tear up…) when walking through the baby stores. What a red-letter day!! And now I get to tell the world about our healthy, beautiful, medical-miracle Baby Boy! :)

I’m continuing to be so humbled and thankful. It’s just beyond words. The Lord’s faithfulness astounds me. His mercies leave me breathless.

As far as other things with Baby Nine go (and nope, we’re not sharing his name! He’s definitely named… his name has been waiting for him for at least three years!, but I think y’all can endure the suspense for a couple more months…), things have been going swimmingly. He has been healthy and super active the whole pregnancy. He gets hiccups a lot too, which is fun; just like his big brother. Grandpapa, Grandmama, Gabriel, and especially Daddy have all enjoyed feeling our tiny boy’s strong kicks. He’s already even bounced a book and the laptop off my lap! He’s a strong one, that’s for sure.

Medically speaking, things have gotten progressively easier as the weeks have gone on. For the first trimester, I was “a walking pharmacy” as they say. With three injections every day and nearly a dozen pills, it was difficult to keep track of everything, but God gave me the coherence I needed at the time to stay on top of it. Weekly ultrasounds and twice-or-thrice weekly bloodwork kept me on my toes as well. I enjoyed good morning sickness for the first 16+ weeks, too, which was kind of a first for me. It was refreshing, although of course it is always miserable to feel miserable, no matter how thankful I was for feeling miserable. 🙂

Emotionally speaking, this journey is far from normal. I have learned to embrace the woman/mother God has made me, and not regret the fact that I can not be “a normal pregnant woman,” either medically or emotionally. I don’t want to resent the person God made me just from how He spoke me into being and also from the journey He has had me on. So I am learning to be thankful that I am different. Thankful for my somewhat-unique perspective on pregnancy. Thankful for my struggles. Thankful for my worries. Thankful that He has molded me into someone who simply can not take life (or babies or pregnancy or medicine or whatever) for granted. Thankful that He has given me a history that I can continue using for His glory, as my children proclaim God’s faithfulness (through lives and through deaths), and as Steven and I are able to come alongside so many other [hundreds of] couples who grieve over deaths of their children.

So pregnancy continues to be humbling. It even continues to be scary. But because I know the weightier sides of it, I also know how much more glorious the lighter sides are. Because I know the deep darkness, I see the light even more brightly. I know deeper griefs but I truly believe I am also able -therefore-to know deeper joys. I consider that a privilege, even though it has been a hard-earned badge.

While I do not post as frequently as many women do about pregnancy/baby things, I am going to endeavor to do it a little more often now that we are in the second half of Baby Nine’s journey in the womb. We have been astounded by the amount of prayers and encouragement we have received over the last twenty weeks, and praise the Lord for each of you that have upheld us before the Father’s Throne of Grace. Thank you for bending your knees alongside us. Thank you for bearing our burdens with us to lighten our load. Thank you for continuing to do this!

I don’t have any great pictures of our youngest son to share with you, but here’s the best I can offer. It’s a front-on view, with the top of his head to the left and his chin to the right. The Lord be praised, for this boy is frightfully and wonderfully made!!

Psalm 139:13-14

“For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.”