Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blessings - His Word

"I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 
Isaiah 41:10b (NIV)
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 Matthew 28:20b (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
 Matthew 11:28b (NIV)

Often on my journey carrying Amelia and even now, a year after losing her, people often comment on "how strong, I am" or say, "I just don't know how you did it." I've had to correct people, explaining, I am not strong, I am being strengthened. I know many of you BLM's have experienced this same thing...

The blessing I want to share with you today is a bit embarrassing for me. You see, though I have always been the church going, Jesus loving kinda' gal, I have not always made time (outside of Sundays) to be in His Word.

I think many people who grew up in a church going home, surrounded by Christ's love have made the same mistake I have in taking God's word for granted.

When we received Amelia's diagnosis, I needed to hear God's voice, more than any other time in my life. I turned to my Bible for comfort; I turned to His Word for answers. I got them.

Some days I would just open up the Bible and ask that God lead me to a verse I needed to find at that very moment (admit have done it to!!!) It was silly of me, but the truth is, there was always some special nugget of truth, love or comfort at anytime when I turned to Him and relied on His promises.  I surrounded myself with bible verses, posting them on my desk, carrying them in my planner...the Word was my shield. still is.

Not long after Amelia's death, I was asked to speak at an Iowa Youth Gathering. I wasn't sure I could do it. I wasn't sure what my story had to offer a group of high school aged kids. Then I found out the theme for the gathering was being In The Word and I knew exactly what the Lord was asking me to share. I hope they got the message. :)

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.
2 Samuel 22:3 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the King is coming!

I thought some of you might be interested in my latest project. I am attempting to take, edit and post a photo for everyday of the year. So far it has mostly been pics of Sam. (After three years, Noah is SOOO over having Mommy take his picture!) My plan is to do an "Amelia" pic on Wednesdays. Here is a link if you want to take a peek!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blessings - Friendship

After Amelia's diagnosis I immersed myself in information about Anencephaly.

I joined a Anencephaly support group for mother's carrying to term. I networked with Mom's that had traveled the same road with their precious babies, that we now found ourselves walking. The online/blogging community quickly embraced me and I felt supported and encouraged daily. In those first days, I'm not sure I can express how greatly those women helped me. They had the answers to questions I didn't even know to ask. It was somehow easier to reach out to these women than to my family and friends...I guess because I didn't have to face them and because they were the one's doing the explaining rather than me. They (sadly) had first hand knowledge of all that laid before me.

One of the comments I saw these other mother's make almost daily, was in regards to losing friends as a result of their loss. I was confused at the time, wondering how losing a child could possibly result in broken friendships. I thought, Surely that won't happen to us! As time went on, and we traveled the lonely road before us, sadly, I began to understand.

I can't say that I lost any friends during that time, but I did at times feel hurt and let down by people in my life that I would have expected to rally around Tim and I. It was difficult to sort through my disappointments at the time. It was hard to understand why I felt abandoned at a time when I needed my friends the most. In the end, I learned a great deal about my friendships, my family, about myself and about my Lord.

I learned that I had not been as good of a friend as I could have when my friends faced tragedy in their lives. In my ignorance, I had often coped out of offering love and support to them, saying to myself, "I shouldn't bother them at a time like this..." I had no idea how deafening silence could be.

I was also greatly blessed by my friends; loved and supported in countless ways. Friends and family grieved both for us and with us. Cards poured in and many sent thoughtful gifts, Facebook messages and emails. The editor of the paper where I work quickly began planning a blood drive in Amelia's honor. Strangers sent us gifts. I couldn't possibly list all the ways in which we were blessed by our friends, old and new. Today I am going to focus on one friendship that meant the world to me (and still does).

Ashley is a college girlfriend of mine. We quickly bonded as college freshman thrown together by our new found sisterhood in Chi Omega at the University of Nebraska (Go Big Red!). Ashley and I found out we were expecting our "second" kiddos just weeks apart. I was so excited to have another preggo mama to share the daily joys and irritations of pregnancy with! When we received Amelia's diagnosis the dynamics of our friendship could have easily changed...after all, her baby was going to live - and mine was not. It would have been easy for her to pull away, perhaps in fear that her pregnancy would only serve to further wound my broken spirit. Instead she came to my rescue. She was always available to chat, genuine in her love for me and for Amelia. She was a gift from God.  
She walked with me, and I will never forget it.

I always felt like I was completely at ease talking with her about my daily trials and joys carrying Amelia, my disappointments, my planning for her birth and for her funeral. Her words were always so gentle, affectionate and honest. There were so few people I felt at ease and able to completely let my guard down around. It was such a relief to talk to Ashley. She was my friend, preggers buddy, prayer warrior and my sounding board. I can't imagine how difficult it was for her to hear me talk about funeral arrangements for Amelia as if was normal, when it was anything but! I couldn't ask for a better friend.

I am still a member of the Anencephaly support group that offered so much support in while I carried my sweet girl. It seems weekly I find myself reading a new mother's story, so much like my own. It breaks my heart every time. Our stories all begin and end eerily the same, but it's the middle that has one major variable, and that is the support offered to them by the friends, family and medical staff. I always say an immediate prayer for each new parent that joins our group. It goes something like this...

Dear Lord, I ask that you surround this mommy and daddy with your love and your peace at this tragic time in their lives. Lord, rally those around them to show your love and grace through their words and actions as they travel the road you have laid out before them with their sweet baby. 
Lord, please, give them an Ashley...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blessings - Renewed longing for heaven

Today's post/blessing is one that I have mentioned numerous times here on Amelia's blog.
That blessing is a renewed and intensified longing for heaven.
I just can't wait to get to heaven.
To see Him and of course to see HER!

This week I stumbled on an image of a little girl snuggling up with her blanket. The blanket was for sale and it was super cute but it wasn't the blanket the captured my attention, it was the girl. She looked a lot like Noah...and a whole lot like me.

I found my self wishing I could have seen Amelia (as I often do) at age 1, age 2, age 3...and wondering at how she might resemble her brothers. How different our family would look if she were with us. sigh

I guess all of our longing for heaven has rubbed off on the boys a little too...

This week Noah invented a new game for himself and Sam.
Each night when we get home at the end of the workday, Noah insists that I leave Sam in his car seat so they can go for a drive under our dinning room table (Noah's car). Noah buckles them up so "we can be safe mom" and proudly announces that he and Sam are going for a ride. Sam LOVES it.

"We're going to heaven Mom," he says bubbling with enthusiasm, "We're going to see my sister 'melia!"

"Hurry back" I say, "I'll miss you very much."

I miss her very much.

I'm thinking tonight, I might just crawl under the table and go along.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Blessings - Photographs

Posted by PicasaWhen you lose a child, the keepsakes, photos and the videos you have of them mean so very much. Long after my memory fails me, I have these images documenting the time I shared with my sweet baby girl. We have hundreds of photos of her thanks to a very special photographer and friend, from our church.
I will never be able to thank Steve enough for capturing her day.

These pictures have done more than just bless Tim and I. They have allowed us to share our daughters life with you all, here on Amelia's blog. They have served to send a message. These images can say things, express things to you that I cannot put into words.

How could I possibly tell you how loved this girl was (is)?
I may not be able to put in into words, but Steve got it on camera.

How can I describe how gorgeous she was; her face, eyes, LIPS and those adorable little feet and toes?
you can see for yourself...she was beautiful.

I can tell people a thousand times how much joy we had on the day of her birth and death,
but they might never understand if not for these priceless images.

I can say a lost an infant daughter,
I can even call her by name,
and people might easily discard her life as insignificant.
These images make it impossible to ignore her.
They tell the world,
she lived.

Friday, November 04, 2011

BLMs Please Help!

I have been asked for information about having a painting or image created using u/s and funeral photos. I know some of you amazing baby loss mommas out there have had something like this done...could you please email me or comment here on Amelia's blog anyone who you know provides this service?

Thank you so much! No one rallies together in support like you Mommas!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Blessings - Her Voice

Amelia's life has blessed our family in so many ways, I had feared it would be difficult for me to choose a specific blessing to begin this series of blog entries.
Turns out it wasn't.

I often brainstorm for my blogs while driving my 35 minute commute to and from the newspaper. Noah is typically content reading a book or watching a movie and I rarely turn on the radio unless Noah requests a sing-along to one of his Veggie Tales Cd's. It is my quiet time. Unfortunately, this week he was seldom quiet. :/ But I have to give credit where it is due, as he actually gave me the idea for today's entry. Noah was reading one of his truck books out loud (no he can't read, but he has an excellent imagination!) when he called out from the back the voice Mom, which is his funny way of asking me to read and be the voices of the characters in the book.

As we anticipated Amelia's birth one of the many things I prayed for was that Amelia be born alive. I desperately wanted to meet my little girl and to hold her even for just a moment while she was living. I made numerous plans for how I wanted the day of her birth to be. Photographs, foot and hand molds, her baptism, who would be in the room, outfits for her to wear, special blankets and keepsakes, were all thought out and planned in great detail, perhaps in part because I could not plan for the one thing I wanted most for my daughter and for myself...time.

We knew that our time would be short, but just how much time we would be blessed with, we had no way of predicting. It was agonizing not knowing if she would be born alive or whether we would have seconds, minutes, hours or days with her. All I knew is that it would never be enough. Yet I struggled with my prayers for time with her living. As I began to pray for days I would recant and add, but not if she's suffering. In the end I resolved myself knowing that God's plans for her were perfect.

On the day of her birth, we had almost two hours with her before she quietly slipped away in my arms. It has occurred to me in the months following, that the heart of my prayer; was that I would get to see my daughter and to meet her, to know her full of life. God knew the deepest desire of my heart was to see her spirit and to hear her voice. He knew all of that without me even being able to express it in prayer and he blessed us with the sweetest of baby voices any mother has ever heard.

Which brings me to the blessing that I have chosen to reflect on today, Amelia's voice.
We have several short videos of Amelia in the hours she lived. I have watched them several times since she passed and I am so glad we have them because those recordings captured more than her gorgeous face or her perfect ten fingers and ten toes. They captured her voice.

I could listen to her voice over and over again and never tire of it.

I prayed for her to be born alive.
God heard my prayer and he blessed us with 2 hours full of life.
We got to meet her,
we got to hear her voice,
blessed doesn't seem a big enough word.

Although I have yet to share the recordings
(very selfish of me I know) ;)
I believe that in sharing her story I have become her voice.
I continue to be blessed by people's willingness to hear her story and the privilege that I have in telling it.
What a blessing to to be her voice!

It still amazes me today just how loud one little voice can be.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 
John 10:27-30

And the Lord spoke to you from the heart of the fire. 
You heard the sound of his words but didn’t see his form; there was only a voice. 
Deuteronomy 4:12

1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, 
and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.  
2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
       3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
       4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
       5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
       6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
       7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
       8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
       9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
       10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  
Matthew 5

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Blessings of Anencephaly (an introduction)

I have often said Amelia has blessed our lives in countless ways and continues to do so, even now. A year after losing her our family continues to be blessed by her brief but impactful life.
As we prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas we are reminded almost daily that there is one less baby to bundle up as the fall chill turns to winter freeze, one less rosy cheeked girl in family photos, one less high chair at the Thanksgiving dinner table, one less child wildly unwrapping their Christmas gift underneath our tree...

In my preparation for the holidays this year,
I would like to share both my heartbreak and my blessings with you all.
More specifically the blessings of carrying an anencephalic child,
the blessings abundantly given in our sweet little Amelia Grace.

Let me start by stating that there is nothing I would rather have than my little girl back in my arms again and to see her growing and changing. A piece of my soul will remain empty until I see her sweet face again. I would trade each of these blessings to see her smile, to hear her voice, or to hold her little hand. On this side of heaven, I will never know a "good enough" reason that she is not here. I refuse to believe that it was God's plan to let her die or to harm her in any way. I do believe that our Lord loves each of us and loves her fiercely. I believe our God is an awesome God who uses all things for our good and blesses us richly in both joys and sorrows. Our Lord had great plans for our sweet girl. So although, I prefer my plan of having her here with me, I know full well, that God's plan for her is greater than I can even fathom.

When Amelia was first diagnosed I found myself at a loss for how to pray. Yet, somehow even from that very first day, though I knew God could heal her if he chose to, I felt led to pray a very different prayer. I felt led to pray that God use her for His glory, that He use us. I would pray over and over again when I didn't have the words to express the deepest desires of my heart. Use her Lord. Use me Lord. Use us.
I knew He would answer my prayer, I just wasn't sure how.
It seems strange to me looking back I can only recall a few prayers in which I pleaded with the Lord to heal her and let her live. You would think that every one of my prayers in those months would have been for her healing! My only explanation is that the Holy Spirit was at work, holding me, carrying me and guarding my heart, leading me to a hope and healing that is not of this world; hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.

For those of you who know me only as a Baby Loss Blogger, it might surprise you to know that although I have always been a Christian, my faith is not something that I share out loud in my daily life as easily as I am able to share it here. My weakness in evangelism is not something I am proud of but I want to share it here because I want you to understand that I am no different than anyone of you reading this. I am not a pastor or theologian. I don't have all the answers.

Today, there is a song I want to share with you. The text is beautiful on so many levels. I hope you agree. :)
The song asks a question that we are all faced with when tragedy invades our lives.
What if your blessings come in tears, sorrow and heartbreak?
For me it asks, What if your blessing is a baby with a terminal prenatal diagnosis?
How should we respond to the blessings so intricately intertwined with struggle and loss?

I have been led to respond with joy, hope and with thanksgiving, and if you will indulge me over the next several weeks (each Wednesday until Christmas) I would like to delve into those blessings, one by one, here on her blog.You can think of it as me sharing my gratitude journal with you. I'm going to think of this time reflecting on the gifts the Lord has given through Amelia as a thank you note of sorts. A thank you note to God in anticipation of the greatest gift we will celebrate together on Christmas Day; salvation in His son Jesus Christ.

I can't wait to share more of my daughter's story (and His) with you.

Blessings - Laura Story 
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom

Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us

When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

to pause the music at the bottom of the page before viewing!