Monday, December 5, 2011

Loving the Christmas Season!

Oh, how I love Christmas.  There is a hint of sadness in our celebration this year, but it makes me even more thankful for what my Savior has done for me.  The Christmas story is a beautiful celebration of birth, hope, and love that we sometimes miss in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Right after Thanksgiving we decorated our apartment for Christmas.  Sometimes I wish it could be decorated for Christmas all year long until I get to do it all over again.  I love seeing the transformation, the twinkling lights, and all the colors and memories that come along with them.  Both of us have ornaments on our trees given to us when we were little and decorations scattered around that come with a sweet memory of our wonderful parents and Christmases before.  Last week and this weekend, Aaron and I transformed my classroom into a Christmas wonderland complete with tree and many decorations.  I love seeing the wonder on the kids' faces as they stare at the lights during rest time.  Beautiful.

When people used to ask me what my favorite holiday was, I would always say my birthday.  Since I have become an adult, I always say Christmas.  It's a beautiful time where we can celebrate the message of our faith so tangibly, spend time with those we love, and snuggle up under a warm blanket with a mug of hot chocolate.  Bliss!

My challenge for myself (and you if you'll join me) this Christmas season is to put Jesus first.  Find some way each day in the midst of your celebrating to spend time with the Savior, the Creator, the sweet baby in the manger.  I don't want to miss this by going through this beautiful time of year with an emptiness of celebrating all the fluff without Jesus.  What a tragedy that would be.

I hope you will be drawn deeper in your relationship with Jesus these next few weeks leading up to Christmas.  If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, I pray this will be the Christmas you will surrender to the God of the universe who became the baby in the manger in order to take away our sins.  That is the best Christmas gift we will ever receive. 

I would love if you would comment and share a Christmas tradition you enjoy each year with your family.  My favorite that Aaron & I have is every Christmas eve at midnight, we give each other an ornament for our tree.  I always look forward to giving and receiving a new treasure that will become linked to a sweet memory with my man.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Glory Baby

I've wanted to write a blog entry for two weeks about our precious glory baby, but I wasn't ready.  I journaled, I talked, I cried, I prayed, I grieved, but I didn't know how to put it all into words on here.  I think I'm ready now.  Grief is a strange thing that is such a central part of life.  We are born, we live, and eventually we die.  The hard part of this grieving is this baby will never get to see the sun, smell the flowers, be held in our arms, or do any of the human things that we take for granted.  While this is true, he/she is seeing the Son, smelling the heavenly aroma of perfection, being held in Jesus' arms, and in the only body he/she will ever know, a perfect heavenly one.

Our journey began almost exactly two years ago.  When we got married, we knew we didn't want to wait a long time to have children.  Both of us love kids and want to raise children to love and serve Jesus.  Well, the Lord's plan for our lives is not always our plan.  We prayed and waited on the Lord, wanting to know His will as time continued to pass with no pregnancy.  After much prayer and a year and a half of trying and waiting on God, we went to a fertility specialist this past summer.  After a lot of testing, we found out that the only issue was my ovulation, so I was put on ovulation medication this fall.  On November 8th, I had a positive pregnancy test.  After having so many negative ones, I didn't know what to do when it was positive.  We were ecstatic and so thankful to the Lord for answering our prayers.  We still are.  Because we were seeing a specialist, they decided to have me get blood draws every other day for a week to make sure everything was progressing as it should.  We got a call after the 3rd blood draw that something was wrong - the pregnancy hormone had stayed the same over a period of a day and a half.  HCG levels are supposed to at least double every day, so this was a major red flag.  We began to pray and got everyone else to pray, knowing both that God could do a miracle and also that might not be His will.  On November 15, the day I was scheduled for another blood draw, we both woke up with tremendous peace in our hearts that God would carry us through whatever was to come.  Later that day, we found out that our precious baby had gone to rest in Jesus' arms.   One tremendous blessing in all of this is that we got the blood draws when we did.  If we had been going to a regular obgyn, we wouldn't have an appointment scheduled for a few more weeks and would have found out when the baby actually miscarried.  How much more painful and devastating that would have been!  Thank you, Lord, for your tiny blessings in the midst of heart wrenching pain.

Many people have asked me how I am doing.  It depends on the day.  The first week was the hardest as I went through the very painful physical part and the raw emotional pain all at the same time.  Time has helped in some ways and made it harder in others.  We try to remember the excitement, planning, and love for that precious baby all bottled up in the few days we knew he/she was being knit together in my womb.  As time goes on, it's harder to remember those little moments that become blurred with the pain that followed.

There are many questions swirling around in our heads, but there is one thing that has remained constant -- my precious Jesus.  He has held us, comforted us, grieved with us, and loved us so lavishly.  I have felt so close to the Lord in these past weeks.  I am not the same in so many ways as a result of losing our glory baby, but one thing I am thankful for is that my relationship with Jesus can never be the same.  I have learned to lean on Him and trust Him in the midst of the storms of life.  There is nothing more precious than that.

The verse that has ministered the most to me during these weeks has been 1 Thessalonians 4:13
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope."

The verse that has ministered the most to Aaron has been Philippians 4:6-7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I am more in love with my husband today than I could have ever imagined the day we got married.  Every one always told us that we would go through things together that would knit us together as one more than we could ever imagine.  I knew it was true, but I didn't begin to understand until now.  I have seen a new side of Aaron that I would have never asked to see, but God has allowed me to see Aaron's deep character and commitment to trusting God no matter what.  Aaron is a man worth submitting to, a man worth loving, and a man worth going through the trenches with.  I am so thankful that the Lord has given us to each other.  We want more than anything else for God to use us and our glory baby to bring Him honor and glory.  This baby's life, however short, has a purpose, and we do not want to miss that!

We have had so many wonderful people carry us through their kindness and prayers than I could have ever dreamed of.  Our families, friends, and even distant acquaintances have been there for us in such a real, deep way that I am so grateful for.  If you are one of these, thank you.  You have shown us the love of Jesus with your words, your actions, and your love.  For those of you who have shared your stories of infant loss with us during this time, thank you for your openness, your tenderness, and your understanding.  Thank you for using your pain and loss to help us to grieve in a healthy way.

For those of you that have talked to us and loved on us, thank you.
For those of you who have prayed for us, thank you.
For those of you who have felt the pain of this loss as well, we are truly sorry, and we pray the Lord will wrap you in His arms during your grieving process and give you His perfect peace.  If you need to talk, I am here.

I am planning to blog more in the weeks and months to come and hope you will join me and comment.  That's the only way I know people are reading.

Holding onto Jesus,