Friday, December 7, 2012

Is this Really Me?

Do you ever have those moments when life hits you all at once and you wonder where time went and how you became the person that you are today? Or how about you are standing at the front of a church and asking yourself, "Is this real? Has this day really come? Am I really old enough to be getting married? He loves me? He excepts me? He chooses me?" Or maybe you are holding your child and musing, "Wow, I really carried you all this time and now I see your face! I can hear your voice. Time has brought you to me." Those moments when life literally stands still and steals your breath. You feel like you literally are the only thing existing in your world, and you become trapped in your wonderment, fear, trepidation, hesitation, excitement, bewilderment, joy, exhaustion, relief, peace. Seconds become minutes and your thoughts run through your head at lightning speed or at an excrutiating drudge. It hurts too much to take or it is too good to let go of. You want to freeze or your want to run. You want to shout or you want to hide. You want to live for that moment or you want no moment more to come because you can't stand the idea of what those moments will look like without the promises of before that moment. These moments change you and make you appreciate life. They define you and shape you or they simply affirm you.
When I married my husband, I literally felt like I was watching it all from someone else's eyes. "I cannot believe this day is here..." was very much my thoughts that day. In a good way of course. I just couldn't believe that all of my life at this very moment as culminated in the union of my life with his. I will find all the human company I've ever sought and I will find the earthly love and affection I have always deeply desired and I will have it truly and faithfully until death. All of him and all of me, given fully to each other with acceptance of all our flaws. We both saw each other for who we were and still loved each other enough to say, "Forever." I still have moments when I pause in sheer joy that I married THE Cody Papinchock. The cute Asian guy at Ozark. The guy with the biggest heart. The guy everyone knew as being a fully invested and fully loving serving, man of God. He really chose me. He is mine. And I am his. He will sing to me and to my children all our lives and he will love me and care for me in all circumstances. This is my life after all I have done with it. I am being blessed with such a great reward in being loved my such an incredible man and I feel I have done so little to deserve it but this joy is mine and God has blessed it fullly. This is God's great love for me and another picture of his mercy towards me.  Those are moments that I can't help but laugh and cry because life as I had lived it apart from God should not have led me down this road and yet as it was I did except Christ and the path change has been a winding one but a blessed one. This is a moment I feel affirmed in. I feel solidly whole in the life I have and grateful and at peace and content.
Then there are moments that steal the air from my lungs and turn my stomach. When I remember losing my babies and the hospital, the pain and the reality of it feels like a bad dream. Moments of joy, you feel stuck in. You want to be caught up forever in them. Moments of pain, you draw away from. You immediately want your soul and body to seperate for a moment so maybe you can find solace in another world apart from the one that only offers you pain at that moment. I certainly don't mean I wished myself dead. I just mean that I wished myself to be another person, one far from this experience. The one before that was without knowledge of this loss. I wanted that life again. I wanted to function as that me. Not this me, not this deadened and empty breathed body. In that moment my future could only be thought of in seconds of time. I was walking and moving and talking but these moments didn't really feel like they were happening. I would have to be told soon that I could wake up and it would be ok again. So now I am here and everything that happened happened and those images and sounds and that pain are all still so familiar to me. And when it hits me that that was really me that happened to it feels like pain grabs me as hard and quick as if it were the first time I were hearing it again.
I wanted to talk about moments because my life astounds me. The things I have seen, felt, experienced all having a part in the ultimate creation and shaping of who I am. Many of those things I sometimes wish could have been avoided or that something slightly less impacting could have taken their place but I am learning not to feel that way. Every moment has not only built me but built my testimony. They've built my witness; built my area of ministry. There are so many more people I can find a way to relate and connect to because of who I am today. God is in the business of bringing beauty out of brokenness. He is perfect in His ways especially in moments of our greatest imperfections or of this worlds. Pain happens but when we are in the grace of God it never happens to our detriment but rather to our ultimate joy. It may be years before we see the blessing in moments of pain but it comes. God does not let us hurt to simply leave us hurt. He will bring grace from our hurt. And in our joy and blessing God uses us to spread that joy and passion to others to give them joy and relief and peace too. There is no one thing ever happening to us that won't or can't be used to touch another life. How and when those times come are rarely planned and they become moments of grace. You are you and your life is uniquely yours. I am me and my life is uniquely mine. Don't be afraid to see the beauty in your life even if you are wondering if there is any, I promise you there is. I am now going to be completely overwhelmed by the thought that I am loved by a God who has completely transformed me and is leading me to places where my life and all it's complexities and imperfections is being used to further his kingdom and bring his people back to him. I am so perfectly qualified in my far from perfect state. And so are you :)

Boldy and Brashly,
Mrs. P

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So, How Much Will This Hurt?

The last time I was in the hospital I think I asked that question about 15 times. I asked right before they stuck me with an I.V. in the side of the arm; new experience that turns out to be more painful than they let on. I also asked when they proceeded to stick me in the back of the hand because the side of my arm wasn't working. I asked before the catheter and before they injected medicine into my I.V. that they said would be a little "uncomfortable" (Fire in your veins is not just a little uncomfortable FYI). I really wanted to know exactly how much pain everything would cause me so that I could at least be prepared. As it turns out, I could not be prepared for any of the pain I felt because unless you've experienced any of that before there is no way to truly gage the amount of pain it'll cause you.
I find this to be true of more than just hospital visits. It's something I've been struggling with for the past 2 months with our new baby on the way. I am very excited to be pregnant again and God has truly blessed us. It's actually kind of interesting to read my last post and see how much longing I had and it makes God's mercies more real for me. I feel like the woman who touched His cloak :). However, I knew that despite how badly I wanted a baby that if I were to be able to have one again I would have a hard time being able to truly find joy in the experience. After we found out in September I began asking God, "So, how much will this hurt?" Maybe not exactly in those words but more like, "So how long do I have before I have to let go of this one?" "Certainly you wouldn't answer my prayer just to let another one slip through your hands." "How will it happen this time and maybe can you give me a little more warning if it does." I even found myself praying that if I were to lose it that I could at least lose it with all the pain and bleeding that the books say ought to be happening. I just didn't want to go into an ultrasound to be blindsided again. Yes, what a miserable way to feel about your baby. I agree. Satan did a number on me the first month or so of the pregnancy. Everyday was a struggle to not cry or simply give up for fear of the unknown. I was writing off my babies life before it had a fighting chance. This wasn't because I didn't want a successful pregnancy, I just wanted to be prepared this time even if that meant not allowing myself to become too attached to loving my child fully.
I recently asked a friend of mine who had also experienced miscarriage but thankfully also became pregnant again, how it is that she can have so much joy despite what she had already been through? She told me that it wasn't easy for her either and that she struggled with trusting a God that she trusted the first time with her other baby but who had seemingly let her down. But she went on to say, "I had to just learn to let go of my fears and surrender this baby into his arms... Question everything you can control and let go of the things you can't. There are a lot of things we can control, like what we eat, taking our prenatal vitamins... But ultimately with your miscarriage and mine, there was nothing in our power to stop that. I learned to accept that and to stop letting my doubts and fears weigh me down." That knocked at my faith and humility in an incredibly convicting way. I was holding on to my fears thinking that the more I tried to prepare for what I wasn't ready for last time that I could regain a feeling of control somehow. I wasn't surrendering my fears or my babies life into God's hands. My false sense of control was destroying my joy in having the baby and making my fears worse by ultimately convincing myself that I would lose it. I too had to learn to let go of my fears and trust God with ths new chapter in my life and in my belly. It took me a while but with the encouragement of my wonderful husband and my family I was able to pray freely to a God that DID NOT fail me before. He made something very beautiful out of something I know even He would love to be different. Like in the story of Lazarus. We still live in a physical world where death happens but this was not the perfection God originally made. Seeing His loved ones hurting and feeling grief himself, Jesus even wept in pain over this reality. But things had to be done a certain way to display His glory and in the end God brought a dead man to life. And in my life he is raising me up out of my deadness into Himself daily. He is reminding me that I am not this person who has to fight to know answers and be prepared. I am a human who isn't strong enough to live this life without Him and I have to let my weakness be His strength. I have to let go of my fear to let him begin to give me that peace and reassurance I've needed. I'm able to do that more now than before, but it's still hard. The time between appointments is excrutiating. I still let fears seep in and like a weed kills a rose, my fear kills my joy. But when that begins to happen I recite Psalm 139 in my head and remind myself of just how involved God loves to be in the artful design and structure of His creations, especially the ones that he knits together in mothers' wombs :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Appreciating Miracles

Wednesday nights at our little church in Dewey, Oklahoma are hectic to say the least. Kids running everywhere, ministers trying to meet every new face and catch up with every one else, and parents rushing food into their kids before their small attention spans rush them off to other places. I love those Wednesdays! God and pure chaos; no better combo.  One Wednesday I was admiring with envy the energy of one of our 4 year old youths. She was running and bouncing off the wall! She was a lion, a bear, a bird, a child, no.. a monkey! Anything and everything she could fit in right before class. It was truly a sight to see. Her mother just happened to be standing beside me so I turned and said to her, "I wish I had her energy." She sort of laughed and said, "Yeah, she certainly has some huh? You would never know that she had lung complications as a baby." I replied, "Oh, really? I didn't know. Wow." She continued, "Yeah, she was positioned in a tight ball for so long that as she grew there was no room for her vital organ to grow properly. She barely had any lungs and we nearly lost her at birth." Stunned I said, "Wow, what a little miracle she is. All those problems and she sure is using those lungs she's got now!" At this she turned to me, looked me right in the eye and said, "Oh, no. We call our second baby the miracle baby. Having Laney made us realize just how vital every detail is when a baby is being created in your womb. The real miracle is when they come out perfect and healthy. Every piece of them has to grow just right and at just the right time. They have to be in just the right position. The slightest deviation from any detail could result in any number of complications or issues. To think just how delicate of a process it is and then for something to make it through without a hitch... that's the miracle."
Even now when I recall this conversation I get a little emotional because I understand the other side of it; when things don't line up like they ought to and when complications do arise. But at the same time I have never considered this way of thinking about the creation of babies. It is really crazy when you look at it with this perspective. One day you and your husband are just the two of you and (literally) over night you are three! Or for some four ;) A seed planted becomes a seed fertilized, which grows into a living cluster of cells, which over time develops feet and hands and eyes and not just the outer shell but everything it needs to live in the world! Things a thousand times more complicated and intricate than your eyes and ears. Veins, a brain, nerves, a heart. A beautiful beating heart. To this day I think if there is anything I miss more, it's being able to hear that sweet heartbeat inside my belly. I was developing life inside me and that's overwhelming to think. One day there was nothing and the next there was a whole new being. Wow. A real miracle.
If I could just share my heart for a moment...
Mothers to be, don't be frustrated when someone wants to rub your belly. Don't be disappointed when people ask more about how the babies doing than you. Don't cringe when people say things about you being so big you look like you could pop! Don't hate the throwing up and the nausea and the weight gain. Love these things! Cherish these things! Because you are creating a whole new life and that is worth celebrating. If you have 9 months of gross feeling then while yes, unfortunately that's uncomfortable it's also a sign that that baby is still in there, still growing and still needing momma to pull through so it can pull through too. Sometimes the clothes you have to wear might not be your favorite but remember, they are made special for your body that has to grow so your little one can grow. I died inside when I had to put away all the new maternity clothes I had bought just a week before my babies died. I loved having my belly touched and I even missed being nauseous because I at least knew it was from them being in there still doing their growing thing. Every headache, every tired day, every over emotional moment; I just miss it all so much. Sure it wasn't always pleasant and it was hard but again... YOU ARE GROWING A MIRACLE!!! Isn't that worth a little discomfort? And yes, I did have to give birth to my babies too and while I still don't know what it's like to push out something 6 times their size I do know it still hurt unlike anything I have ever experienced. So please, don't be frustrated with my honesty. I know many people who have had very miserable experiences during their pregnancy and during labor. I am not trying to negate the pain or tell anyone that it's not a big deal. I am not claiming to understand every ones experience at all, I just know that for me, despite whatever effort I could have made something didn't work. For other's their miracles are coming into full fruition. Look at what you have as something to love every moment of as you are part of a miracle of a process. A delicate process that unfortunately doesn't always work perfectly despite doing all the right things. But you are blessed with a great gift and do not wish your time with this gift was different, just thank God that whatever is going on in there is working the way He made it to. Enjoy everything about your pregnancy. You never know if the very thing that you protest over isn't the very thing someone else desperately wishes they could feel. Desperately.

Boldly and Brashly,

A longing mother.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Should Have Kept a Day Job

If anyone ever tells you it is so great to not have to work... they either have kids, worked for over 40 years, hated every job they ever had and are over the whole work thing, or they're lying. Seriously though, I had a poor work ethic early in my working age and in my last job I worked faithfully committed to it for 2 years. I loved my job as a nanny. If you've never experienced royally nasty diapers, baby puke, a child peeing on white carpet, playing in tadpole poop or eating an already partially eaten yogurt covered raisin, then you haven't lived!! I really enjoyed watching two sweet girls grow and show me a little bit of what motherhood will be like someday. It was the best job I've ever had. I would have been there longer but my Cody got a new job in Oklahoma so I had to part with that wonderful family.
Since then I have not been working. This might seem like a luxury to some people but to me it is beginning to seem like a drag.  Oh and did I mention that we are a one car household. You don't know how awesome that is until you have to run to the store for curtain rods and your only form of transportation is a bicycle and the only way out of your drive way is through a group of construction workers. Mmmm yeah.  Well having one vehicle (which my husband drives) and one working partner (which is my husband) means one of us gets dooped. At first it was nice; I could exercise for 2 hours in the middle of the day and take naps and sleep in. But I had to have something to do between all of that. You might be thinking, "Oh gosh if that is the problem well then just get a hobby dum-dum." HA! Remember the part about bikes and curtain rods. Having a hobby is a good idea if you have the materials to maintain that hobby. In fact let me share with you some of my attempts at developing a hobby. Ehem:
Attempt 1: Selling Mary Kay.
2: Running
3: Walking
4: Biking
5: Selling Mary Kay for half the retail price because I want nothing to do with it anymore.
6: Organizing the Mary Kay product to send it back to the company because I thoroughly want nothing to do with it anymore.
7: Organizing my house
8: Spring cleaning, which I had done in winter, spring and summer.
9: Crafts
10: Yardwork... like so much yardwork a little old lady across from us gave us banana bread as a thank you for cutting down some of the forest around our house.
11: Biking again
12: Watching every movie we own at least 2 times each...
13: Budgeting and organizing reciepts.
14: I went to a school that hoped you read a 300-500 page book in one month and in two months have read 6 books of equal page length for leisure.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. My creativity has plummeted as time goes on but not all of my attempts at filling time have gone in vain! I learned that I could probably sweep our floors once a week rather than everyday. I learned that some spiders refuse to die despite the repelent you use on them. And I learned that for some people putting hundreds of random nails into a wall is a fun hobby and a fun little gift to leave for whoever moves into the house next and is looking for something to do one day and decides to enjoy undoing what you decided would be hours of fun doing :) P.s. I did the nail pulling. Not the nail placing.

On a more serious note though, I say I have done a lot and tend to think this free time is a bit much but honestly I could be doing so much more with it. I haven't done anything to boost my spiritual walk. I have a crazy amount of time I could spend with God rather than watching movies. I could fill my iPod with Christian music and bask in God's praises while I walk. I could pray and pray and pray till my knees go numb. I could write people notes of encouragement throughout their week. I could call someone up to simply ask if they need prayer for anything. I could volunteer somewhere. I could spend hours in devotional time with my Father. I could read the Bible 6 times for more than leisure. There is so much I have overlooked in my desire to fill my time. Perhaps I need to challenge myself to keep the movies off and put devotionals on my Kindle. I never sit in silence anymore. I'm bored but I have no reason to be. If anything I'm neglectful of my relationship with God. I have so much I could be doing for Him!! So much to pray for and so much to ask God's guidance on.

Honestly not having to work is a blessing of another kind when you are using the time you have wisely. Some of you work 40 hour weeks; could you imagine what you would do with 40 hours of free time? I am ashamed to admit I have been so blind and ungrateful but I share so that maybe you could change your perspective on your free time too. Don't waste your time simply finding ways to fill it. Fill your time with the One who fills you.

I am going to do a 30 day challenge, "Three of Your Free". Three hours of my day dedicated to reading God's word, prayer, praise, or simply meditation. Whatever, however but at least 3 hours out of the day. I'd like for you to join me too! Three hours is easy. Imagine the amount of TV, Facebook or leisure reading you do. Or even that hour long work out. Fit prayer into your work out, the Bible into your reading and instead of Facebook and TV sit outside and reflect on God's nature, His promises, His goodness in your life and in others'. I owe Him so much and have given so little. It's time to make God a consistent passion in my life. I suddenly see that not having to work is so great! And that is no lie ;)

If you join in my challenge I'd love to hear how you are doing and what God shows you during this time. Write me on Facebook about your experience!

Boldly and brashly with love,
Mrs. P

Rediscovering Life

Before January, I was a new bride. My Prince and I were consumed with being in love and that was all we needed. Truly, not in a corny way but in a free to love, free to live, free to do what married people do kind of way. I have a past filled with poor choices and the last 6 years were another self-discovery journey that taught me how to value and respect myself. It also led me to a solid relationship with God. Those 6 years taught me countless lessons; God is the only thing that can ever truly fulfill you, God hears the cries of the broken, Good things come to those who wait, God provides, etc. But when I married Cody it felt like God's way of saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I was free from guilt and free in love with my husband. We were blessed beyond measure and felt almost untouchable.

I believe I touched on it in my last blog about how I tend to be ready for whatever comes next of life. In high school I was ready for college, in college I was ready for marriage, and after I was married I immediately came down with baby fever. Cody and I decided to let nature be our guide to avoid any complications presently or in the future due to the use of birth controls. I didn't give my body much credit as far as fertility was concerned because I was told once to look at your mother's birthing history for an idea of what yours could look like. It didn't happen overnight for my mother or my sister so I felt i'd follow suit. In January, 3 months into our marriage, my body proved me wrong! We were pregnant and so very excited. But now we felt a lot more fragile. We wouldn't realize how fragile we'd become until about 2 months later when we found out that we were having twins and that they no longer had heartbeats all in the same terrible sentence. We weren't trying to have children but we weren't opposed to it. And once we had them we knew for sure how badly we wanted them. Losing them was the most destroying feeling I have ever experienced. It threw me into tug-of-war of resolve to be strong and work through the pain and the burning desire to crawl into a ball and let the pain consume me. I had lost a sense of who I was before the babies and now I was having to figure that out through grief rather than exhausted joy.

Thankfully my God is faithful. He helped us in the most tender way by giving us a new start in our new home in Oklahoma, literally 3 days after we lost the babies. We immediately found greeted by  people who loved us and prayed for us and helped us with whatever our needs were. The day we moved in to our new home, a band of people from the church we now serve at, came to clean and help us unpack! I remember having to sit down just to take it all in; it was overwhelming. I still wonder what we have done to deserve such kindness. We have had wonderful people to help counsel us through the pain and understanding how to deal with grief in your marriage (which I am planning on writing a blog about). God even put children in our life again! No, I'm not pregnant...yet. We are youth minister's at Dewey Christian Church. We get to love on children from ages 1 to 13 and it has been such a healing experience. It's good to be needed by young ones or to feel helpful to older ones. It's giving us more practice for the future when number three comes along! Our new home has been a sanctuary of new beginnings for us and we are thankful.

Other changes have been harder to see as blessings. For a while after the babies it seemed I couldn't even look in the mirror without seeing signs of them having been there. And for a while I even considered leaving my body as it was because I didn't want to truly face it all being over. My new baby belly had become a source of unhealthy comfort and defeating emptiness. I had to make a choice to either move forward and have hope in the future and faith in God's will or become clouded by depression and make myself suffer. I chose hope! I chose to look at all the blessings around me. To remember anything and everything I could about dealing with pain from a Christian perspective. I tried to talk about my pain as I needed to and be honest about my feelings rather than treat pain and anger as a sign of spiritual failure. I prayed to God the deepest truths of my heart rather than let bitterness keep me silent. I looked at my husband and sought to remember our bliss as newly weds. And finally I looked at my body and decided that my health, my husband, and my chance at future babies were enough reason to let go of what was so I could prepare better for what will be again someday. I began reading up on how to prepare your body to be healthy while trying to conceive and keeping up on an exercise routine. My husband and I also decided to trust nature again. We are still very young and new in our marriage, so we want to enjoy the time we have with each other and have fun with our new "married people privelges" (quotes are a good cop-out for awkward things). Admittedly it's been hard not to obsess over trying again but it's a part of my journey to learn patience. I so badly want to be better with it. I know I can't live so far into the future that I can't be thankful for what is in the here and now. My prayer has been, "God thank you for your many blessings you have laid before us and for all you have provided us. Thank you for answered prayers and thank you for prayers still unanswered. Give me a patient heart and an open mind. May I never lose sight of the gift of today and may I trust more fully in your plans for tomorrow. Give me peace enough to say your will not mine and faith to truly mean it." This change has restored my passion for life.

It's been a process but I am thankful for where it has brought me today. I miss my babies everday and long to be a mommy again. But this experience will lead my family somewhere I cannot begin to imagine, just like my last personal journey did. Whatever the future holds I only desire to hear from God again, "Well done, good and faithful servant." He is my best motivation.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Change

I like change; for the most part. I've always been pretty good with it in that I can easily go with the flow. I've simply chosen to enjoy life's unexpected turns rather than be upset that something didn't work out quite like I had planned. Now, don't ignore that I said, "for the most part". Because honestly, like all that is of this life on this earth, we all experience changes we never asked for, planned for, let alone thought to calculate a "possible reaction" for, because you hoped yourself the lucky one who could avoid being struck out in an open field during a lightning storm. Such unlikely circumstances, who would need to know how to feel about that anyway? Right? Well, the day eventually comes when maybe you were never struck beyond repair but maybe it was too close for comfort. Or maybe you were one of the unfortunate handful who were struck and now face feelings you never imagined feeling. Pain, confusion, whatever you weren't feeling 5 minutes before your reality was shaken. That's the kind of change I can't handle; Not well anyway. I suppose I have come to figure out how to stomach the inevitable. But that's just it, I have to chalk it up to "inevitable" before I can bring myself to really dealing with it.

Here's my story:
One day I woke up to a world filled with possibilites. Endless dreams were so close to becoming reality that I spent most of my time living 3 days ahead of myself in constant anticipation. Everyday before this day was a preparation for the future. And now that I was here I was comfortable, safe, and at peace. Anything and everything I wanted in life seemed to be at my feet and all was a glorious blessing. We didn't get here without some bruising though. All those gifts brought a lot of unforseen stress and being so young and new at marriage and impending motherhood, it all came with a lot of lessons learned the hard way on how to trust in God and love my husband better. But that was normal stuff with all this new responsibility. So still despite all the tiny bumps along the way the day that faced me now was no different than all the rest. It was even better. It was one day closer to the total arrival of every good gift.

But as I left the house that day I was told something...
Today, when you get in your car, you will have an accident. There's nothing you can do to change the outcome. It just has to be this way.

So I get into the car. I have to. I have no choice. I have to keep moving forward with life. I have to keep on with my day. I have no choice. So i'll get in the car. But why does it have to be this way? Why couldn't I have known sooner? Why me? Will it hurt? Will it be quick? What happens when it's all over? What am I supposed to feel? Is there anything I can do to make it different? better? less painful? If I drove slower could I postpone the inevitable? I guess not then. And so I drove... This is the best way I have found to describe all of my feelings on March 27th.

Exactly 2 weeks and 4 days ago I was told I was having twins (which we would later be told were likely identical twins) and that neither have heartbeats. They're gone. I started my day with grand dreams and ended it realizing those dreams had already been gone for nearly a week.
After Cody and I were told I remember thinking, "I had two?" I couldn't fathom that it was twins and processing it was constantly interrupted by the pain of their passing. I was driving a car headed towards an inevitable demise. All I could do was try to deal with all of the before and afters the best I could. My real demise was having to birth the babies because I was too far along for any other option. I had nothing preparing me for knowing they were gone but even less preparing me for watching them leave their home for the past 3 months; my womb. Nothing would prepare me to have to say goodbye forever to something I would be meeting for the first time. But it was all in fact happening one way or another and it was something I would have to face. Something I would have to figure out how to feel through. This was change I was not ready for.

There are words in the english language to describe pain but they are all very insufficient when describing what happened and how it felt. Devastating might be a light way to put it. I don't know. I was a mother to one, when it was actually two. I gave birth to twins, but I have no twins to show you. I can tell you about them, but I never really had a chance to know them but for 8 weeks while they quietly grew in my belly. We made it to a time where they should have been ok, but one had already been gone for about a week. I have baby clothes they won't fill and a stroller I won't push. I even started producing milk, such a normal process, after giving birth and yet I have no mouths to feed. What words do you use to describe that? I just don't know. A piece of my life was suddenly blotted out of every plan and every dream. No warning. So what do you do after?

The "afters" were worse than the "befores". It was confirmation I wasn't dreaming and that their diagnosis was correct and all the medicines did their jobs and now it was all over. I kept hoping it wouldn't work and that by some miracle the babies hearts would start to beat again. They would dash in and say, "Stop! We were wrong!" But it never happened and knowing it was all over now was a strange and painful sensation. Part of it was relief, I suppose. I didn't want to be in the hospital and my I.V. hurt. I wanted to keep my babies and go home. Eat real food and sleep in my bed. But all considering, I walked out with little pain and no surgeries. One could say I faired pretty well; physically. Emotionally my heart wasn't well. I was so disappointed. Giving birth to children no longer living, was the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life. They couldn't be saved and I had to let go.

I wanted to share this experience with you to be honest about the darkness I have felt and the pain we have been through. I also shared to be able to give you my testimony of God's work through it all.

Everyone handles grief differently. We were told that if we wanted to be angry, bitter or frustrated and confused with God that that was normal. We could grieve in seclusion if we needed to or in the company of friends. We had several tell us how they dealt with their same or similar situations. I found that I began sort of polling people's opinions more than taking them to heart. I was trying so hard to figure out how to feel minute to minute that I didn't have time to adopt any one method. So the night after we lost the babies I woke up and went to the bathroom to sit and pray. It was the first time I had been alone in 24 hours or more. It was peaceful but so lonely. For 8 weeks everywhere I went I had my babies with me. Now I was completely alone; in an earthly sense. Now I was entering into the presence of God and here is where I would decide how I would handle my grief. I told God how I didn't blame Him and i'm not mad. I understood, I was hurt and wished it didn't have to be this way but I understood. I asked for strength to never lose that mindset because I know the truth about God. He pursued me and rescued my life and raised me up new in Him. This is the same God holding my babies as I prayed and that is not a God who will ever recieve blame for this world's fallen state. I prayed that this would be a changing point for Cody and I. That this would transform our marriage and our love. That we would grow closer to God together and that we would be able to become more faithful followers from this trial. I prayed that we would not be consumed by this pain and when we would start to feel overwhelmed that we would remember the truth of where our children are and that they are whole and living in a perfect place that we so desperately wish to be. I thanked God for protecting my babies from pain and told Him that if He could grant me anything, that it would be to see, feel or hear glimpses of them from time to time. I walked away with a little more peace. Cody and I later talked and began to list every possible hurtful thing we could think of that we might say to each other out of anger or hurt regarding our situation and then we agreed to never say them or use them against each other. We would love each other despite what our grieving might look like in a moment and we would just try to be there for each other and understand. We would choose peace before anger and forgiveness before blame. We chose a road from the beginning that we knew would protect us and our marriage. God has worked in us in such an incredible way and has blessed this road we are tryig to pursue. We are stronger than we were before all of this. But only by God's power and mercy. Because of God we can still be thankful for what time we did have with the babies. Because of God we can still find joy in all of his blessings that He still pours forth. Because of God I can say that through all of this I have fallen more deeply in love and in appreciation for my sweet husband. I count on him in ways I hadn't before. Because of God's ways my relationship with God is stronger than ever.

The truth of the question, "Where is God when there is pain like this in the world," for me is this... He is right there with you. Holding you and hating that you have to feel this pain. This was not how He intended the world to be but it's how our sinfulness made it. And while we are here we will have trials but God gives us His peace. He is not against but for us. He knows pain as He too had to give up His beloved Son. He hears you cry and knows your heart. So for all of those reading who are feeling pain and confusion or hurt from lifes trials, do not lose hope! Turn to God, not away! Run to Him and let Him hold you. He loves you and hurts for you and He is our greatest comfort. He is healer and redeemer and never fail to believe that His ways are so far beyond our understanding that it is normal to ask, "God what on earth are you doing here?" Ask, pray, seek. In His perfect time He will answer you. And while you wait, He will restore you; give you patience and peace. Your faithfulness will be rewarded. Will it be easy? No. Will you slip in and out of darkness? Yeah. So everytime it happens shout His name and pray for His helping hand to pull you back up again. We will still need Him, He wants us to keep needing Him. We will never be so strong that we come to a point of not needing Him and that's part because we were never created to NOT need Him. If you feel empty and helpless, that's perfect and just where you need to be to let God help you start over. I say all of this because I am here now. I have felt it and I am trying to make it through with these truths in hand. I just want to encourage anyone in a similar place and if you were looking for another option of dealing with your grief, this is the one I found has saved me from falling completely away or apart.

I'm no hero of course and feel so unworthy of being anything inspiring. I'm weaker now in alot of way than I once was. I don't like to be alone. Sometimes no matter how hard I try despite what is going on around me, I have to excuse myself to cry for a bit. I've even taken naps with the blankets the hospital gave us for the babies. Holding their box of ashes makes me feel like I still have them with me. Once I laid with it on my stomach, because I just needed them to be there again. I am weaker than I was before. So I say don't be inspired by me. But be inspired by a God of great goodness. He is who we must draw ourselves towards not push away from. Don't run, He loves you so much. That is a truth that will save your life whatever your trial, if you just chose to embrace it. I pray you do. And when you fall, embrace it again and you'll be lifted up.

I know one day He will bless me again with another little life in my belly. And even if His plans look different, I have two little angels waiting for me in eternity. That is a welcome I so very much long for. Heaven is a change I am very prepared for.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thin Lines and Rotund Waists

Few words can describe the absolute helpless horror I felt when I saw blood. My breath was stolen from my chest which made uttering, "No, no, no," a whispered plea. It was from this bathroom, just a week before, that I dashed out to find a phone to tell my husband that I was pregnant! And now, it was this same bathroom I ran from crying, telling my husband we needed to go to the hospital for fear I was losing the baby.

I am currently 7 1/2 weeks pregnant and very healthy. My baby is the size of raspberry in fact! My husband and I could not be more excited for the arrival of our first baby. And I could not be more scared. Sometimes anyway...  The events that have happened thus far in this journey have painted very strange lines for me; lines between death and life that seemed thicker before this moment. Before I had this scare pregnancy was a bright and shiny experience.  I knew it would be no picnic but I would be carrying a precious baby all through it's development in my womb and that was enough to make any sickness rather small. Then my world was shattered. My shiny perspective was dulled by the thought of never seeing my babies face.  The disappointment in never feeling its warmth or smelling it's sweet skin.  Never getting to hear it's small breaths and hear it's gentle coos broke my heart.  Having to give away the small giraffe we were given as a baby gift; the idea made my stomach turn. All of this rushing in and out of my mind like someone going in and out of consciousness. "You have to stay calm." "Try to breath." "Getting too upset might not be good for the baby so try to just relax." Both friends and family and even my husband tried to be so helpful but all I wanted to do was scream.  Not from pain, because I didn't have any physical pain but from frustration and fear.  I was mad at myself for getting too attached. I was mad for knowing I was pregnant at all. I thought if I hadn't known then if something happened I never would have known the difference. That probably sounds terrible but my heart hurt so incredibly bad for what I didn't have answers to that I wished I never had to discover any.

Getting to the hospital was greeted with an hour and a half wait which was soothed with company from friends who came to be with us while we needed them. I attribute their presence to how I managed to keep my sanity. We were finally called back and from there it was all about tests and waiting. The doctors were so sweet and reassuring. Yet, they were very real and honest. They told me about what could be happening, miscarriage. And they gently reminded me that if that were the case, I did the best and only thing I could have done by coming to the hospital. It wasn't my fault and sometimes it's natures way of stopping something potentially unhealthy. I knew it was all good for me to hear but all I really wanted to hear was that I was crazy and overreacting and could go home and resume life as it was.

Several tests later they took me back to get an ultrasound. I remember laying there praying, "God, I don't know if this baby has a heartbeat but you are God and you made this baby and you can make a heartbeat. Give me a miracle and let me hear my baby." Within minutes of that prayer, I heard it. It's beautiful humming thumps. I wasn't sure if it could be mine so I didn't take it to heart at that moment. About 10 minutes later after all the tests were done and we were waiting to hear the results of the ultrasound (to see if there was a living or dead fetus) they told us there was most definitely a baby in there and it has a heartbeat. My heart soared and I wept. God heard my husband and I's desperate prayers and answered them with the most wonderful news I've ever received about anything in my life. The next few days were filled with more tests and more waiting and more praying that we would know that the bleeding was for no reason and that we were both healthy, baby and me. All of those prayers would be answered. We would even get to finally see our baby and my husband and I both got to listen to it's perfect heartbeat. Perfect. More perfect than how rain waters the earth. More perfect than how a body heals itself from sickness. More perfect than any note of music or hint of color in existence. The most perfect, lovely murmur of life, of creation.

It is the most helpless feeling in the world to instinctively want to save your child when there is physically nothing you can do to save what is inside your own body. I have honestly never leaned on God the way I did when this all began and I have not stopped leaning with that same fervor since. I have been so stale in my Christianity until I realized how powerless I was to protect what I wanted to keep. So much of this life is out of my control and I see now that as long as I release control to give it all to God that will be the only way that life can be sustained.  He spoke to us during this time telling us that He had us where he wanted us and that we would need to go through trials to learn some things He needed us to know. But to trust Him regardless of how hard the trials were because He would bring it around for His glory.  From the time we were in the hospital Saturday, February 4th to this moment as I write God has:

-Confirmed the life of our baby
-Increased my hormone levels to what the doctors wanted to see
-Blessed us with provision by offering Cody a youth and worship ministry in Dewey, OK
-Thus giving us the chance to be close to family during this time of pregnancy
-Provided us with a way out of our lease
-Provided us with paid for moving expenses
-And (answer still pending) I believe in full faith will soon present us with a future home

More than we asked for. More than we expected. God is good and I must share with you what these trials with our baby were for.

The night we found about the new job we began to discuss it. I became incredibly overwhelmed thinking of everything uprooting was going to take. Cody looked at me and said, "Rather than stress, let's just pray about this." To which I replied, "Pray? I can't even slow my mind down long enough to develop a full thought!" So I got out of bed (as pregnancy has nature calling more often) and walked to the bathroom. Along the way I began praying, "God this is too much. Is this right? Is this really what you want? How are we going to do this? Are we in over our heads here?" Then I heard a voice say gently, "The baby." "The baby? God this is nothing like what happened to the baby! This is different! This is not a human life!" I could hear a smile in God's voice as he replied, "I know it's not." I quickly stopped my panic and smiled in agreement. In that moment I knew that if I can trust God with the life of my baby, I could trust him to lead us and guide us into peace and safety.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.



Boldly and brashly with love,
Mrs. P and Baby

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Tale of the Elusive Nutty Bavarian

The following tale is completely over exaggerated and a bit irrational. But now that you've been warned, I will tell it to you anyway.
In most towns you can almost smell Christmas coming, weeks before it's arrival. You can expect to see street lights dressed in piny garland and white lights and some radio stations begin to sneak "Mary Did You Know," into their play lists maybe once an hour or so. Young ones begin to make their grocery list of toy wants while older ones plot newer more elaborate theories on how "Santa" arrives to fill their younger siblings minds with. Slowly, you arrange your house artificial tree by tree and vow to develop a more full proof plan for hiding presents this year. 

Me? I see it in the mall. Oh yes, massive hanging snowflakes arranged in the high ceilings, the Chik-Fil-A Cow now donning a red and white fuzzed cap.  Store windows are glittering with artificial snow and signs pop-up everywhere telling you that, "Snuggies make great gifts during this cold holiday season!!" All of these things are pretty good warning signs that everyone has forgotten it's still November and that Christmas is coming.  But the best, most distinct and until recently, most elusive sign of them all is... The Nutty Bavarian!!! (Cue power going out and loud lighting and thunder) 

Ahhhh, the Nutty Bavarian cart.  Sweet smells of roasted almonds, pecans and peanuts. Cinnamon filling the hallways and capturing your nostrils like a... a... cinnamon scented thing might capture ones senses... Hmmm. Anyway, it's intoxicating and if you've ever been around one you know what I mean when I say that every time someone buys a bag of these cinnamon roasted gems, an angel gets its wings! The mall in Joplin, MO would get one of these vendors only around the Christmas season. For 3 years I walked the halls of this mall, smelling heavens nutty treasures, but alas I could not find where the cart was!! Seriously, I walked from one end to the other and this sucker was hidden really stinking well. Until one glorious day, they put it smack dab in the middle of the mall!! And it was up, for two years straight!!! However, this took some of the magic away from them as they were no longer rare and there was a lesser need to make them last. But nonetheless, my quest was complete. Then I discovered Pinterest and I learned how to make them myself. The End!

I don't want to take credit for something I did not create myself. While the pictures I post will be of my own finished product, for the crafts or foods I used specifically through Pinterest I will include the link I found them from. I figure I can help support another person's crafting and culinary discoveries and for mine I can give tutorials to help you create your own or if you live close I can spend time creating them for you too!

Cinnamon Sugar Almonds


I made some of these for my wedding as well and they were a huge hit! No lie, it is hard to beat those vendors but this is a cheaper way to get something very close and in a larger quantity.  Super easy and super good. This is a batch I helped my sister make for her Bavarian Nut addicted husband. He approved :) Happy Baking!

Link to recipe:
http://www.bakedperfection.com/2010/12/cinnamon-sugar-pecans.html

Boldly and Brashly with love,
Mrs. P

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's the Couch For Ya! Argh!

Forgiving is a hard thing to do and I wish it weren't so. It means choosing to believe someones apology rather than believe it's a way for them to clear their conscience. It means excusing the incident and continuing to love where you left off. Ugh, that one is especially hard. To be so mad one minute and then to love enough to hug and make up? I didn't like it as a kid and I still have a hard time being able to smile minutes after being hurt.

Marriage is a good field to learn how to forgive more freely. You have to, or it's the couch for ya! Argh!! My husband forgives quite freely and with great ease. Sometimes it makes me sick to my stomach because I know I hardly ever do that for him in return. It's not that I don't love him, I'm just stubborn. This stubbornness, if let to run wild, cultivates grudges. Grudges in my case come in the form of a catalog of wrong doings one has done against me or the total refusal to invest time or interest in someone even if I don't know them at all.  They hurt me or someone I loved and that's all I need to know, right?! Wrong. By choosing to be this way I burn bridges with people that could have used love over judgment or I end up looking fake as I force myself to be cordial without truly allowing myself to cultivate a relationship. However, God continues to do something wonderful for me that serves as a good kick in the rear. When I want to catalog someones wrongs, He presents me with opportunities to see into their lives so I can see who they truly are and not just their mistakes. And those I am fake to? (This is the best) I always end up finding out that they are a lot like me; hobbies, demeanor, likes, dislikes, etc. Awesome right? I can't keep turning from them because I start to feel for them and I can't pretend to be anything when I honestly relate to and understand them. Ouch.

As of this day I can think of maybe two people my heart needs to open up better to. Just a little bit ago I got to see into the life of one of those people. Every time I do so with this particular person I find myself genuinely relating and understanding. It boggles my mind but it shouldn't. They are human just like I am. I mess up all the time and I would hate to run into someone like me who is so slow to forgive. I would want grace and understanding; maybe even a second chance. So why shouldn't I be just as willing to give that? It would be so much wiser of me than to let my rear be exposed to a God sized foot every time I want to be unmovable.

It takes a great amount of humility to forgive at all and a great deal of strength and unconditional love, two things that are impossible to have unless Christ is the source. I want to be honest in my love and God helps me to do that. Grace is a necessity, you've likely needed on multiple occasions yourself so don't be stingy in giving it! Blessed is the heart free from chains of anger. It flies freely and loves boundlessly and sees light where many may only ever see darkness. What a gift.

Boldly and Brashly,
Mrs. P

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Way to Love

Well it's a new year and while I still feel the same, look the same, and haven't aged more than 4 days since the turn of the year the new year will always seem like an opportunity for a new beginning. A clean slate to continue life on, as if we muddy up one all year just to try to muddy it up less the next. Like I said though, I'm still very much the same person. Just because it's a new year doesn't necessarily mean I get a chance to take back what I said to my husband 6 months ago during that argument or a second chance on that paper I should have put more effort into. It doesn't mean I can decide to save my money instead of have spent it and it won't give me back missed opportunities to be with friends or family. It also won't give me back a grueling 11 months of planning a wedding that I wish I had asked for more help on when I needed it, settled on ideas instead of flip flopping and focused more on the fact that I was spending the rest of my life with my fiancé not the wedding day itself. The new year does not offer second chances on time past but it offers us an opportunity to live with fewer regrets in remembrance of times past. Time wise the new year helps us to stay on track with our new goals we wish to accomplish. You really do start from square one on January first. This is how I see it anyway.

I have a list of things I desire to do differently this year, and I owe some of the credit to a book my husband and I have been reading, The Love Dare, as well as a book called Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. Jesus Calling was written out of Sarah Young's personal journaling during her devotional time in the Bible. She realized that when she would simply sit in silence and seek God's voice she could her Him speaking to her. Some of it was God speaking to her through her specific circumstance at the time and some was Him speaking his already written word to her. So everyday's entry is written as she heard Him tell it to her; it's like He's speaking directly to you and I love it! In the entry for January first God is telling you that this is a New Year and a new opportunity to draw closer to Him. A new opportunity to let Him guide our paths and to truly seek His plans. It is a chance to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and through the refreshment of a new beginning.

The Love Dare is something my husband Cody and I have been doing for about two weeks now. Everyday it challenges us to love in a new way by being less selfish and cherishing each other for every intricate trait God so perfectly designed us to have. It is a chance for Cody and I to start on a firm foundation of Godly relational principles and it has been very effective for us. We have loved watching our relationship mature and our love grow simply by praying together, being in the word, and choosing to love more often than win.

Continuing through these books are one goal I have for the year here are a few more:

{Choose to go above and beyond for my husband because he is greatly cherished and deserves it
{Eat healthier
{Be consistent about exercise
{Become a morning person again
{Less sweets for me and more for others who could just use a kind gesture
{Save better
{Be content
{Say thank you, and I forgive you more
{Make fewer excuses about why I stink at staying in contact
{Spend time journaling to God
{Continue contemplating learning how to sew
{Write the six some DIY blogs I have been meaning to write :)
{Learn to pray more often, more fervently, and less selfishly

And I'm sure there is more but this is some of what I hope to improve about myself in 2012. Sorry I mean, these are what I will release to God so He can be the transforming power that makes it all stick. To Him be all the Glory.

Boldy and Brashly with love,

Mrs. P