Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year in Review 2013

It's hard to believe that tomorrow starts a brand new year: 2014... It's hard to believe that almost a year ago we lost our Sweet Pea.... And it's hard to believe that in a few short days we will meet our Baby Blossom.

I have to be real with you, my dear reader, and if there's one thing you can trust it is that I will ALWAYS be real with you. I found myself becoming a little unsure at church this last Sunday. Now mind you, I attend a pretty small local church. We are just a little church plant with no building of our own. We mostly meet out of a local elementary school. Last Sunday because so many of the congregation were out of town for the holidays, it was decided that we would meet out of one our member's homes. It was a very intimate setting, kind of a campfire church if you will. We sang a couple songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar and launched into the sermon. The sermon this week was the kind of sermon one would expect to reflect upon prior to a new year starting.

We were challenged to look back at 2013 and think of all the things we were thankful for that happened within the year as well as to think of all our many blessings. The opportunity was provided for people to present to the congregation their 2013 blessings. Now remember we are all sitting around the living room so at one point it is brought to attention that new life was conceived in 2013 and that's something to be thankful for, a blessing.

Here's the thing, my dear reader, and I want to say this as real and as delicately as possible, I didn't really want to look back over 2013 and count my blessings. 2013 was not good to me and my family and quite frankly the last thing I wanted to do was review the year and tell everyone around me how blessed I felt. Please hear me right, I KNOW that I AM blessed beyond measure with far more than I deserve, but at that moment I didn't FEEL blessed. With the VAST exception of our beautiful Baby Blossom, when I look back at the last year I see a whole lot of tragedy. We lost Sweet Pea and began the grieving process over our first baby. My grandmother became INCREDIBLY ill and spent months in the hospital. We found out eventually that she had contracted the West Nile Virus and she passed away in August. She passed away before we knew if we were having a girl or boy and so we never got to tell her that our little girl would be her namesake. A month later, almost to the hour, my uncle passed away as well. It seemed like one tragedy after another attacked my family this year so you'll have to pardon me if the last thing I felt like doing was counting my blessings.

Can y'all just go with me here for a second? Sometimes, I feel like we as Christians trivialize brokenness and pain. Like because we are believers we should only look at the good things that happen to us and not focus on the bad. It drives me crazy... that sort of "at least" mentality. For example, my mother-in-law made a comment to me recently that really boiled me up. I know, I know, I know that she didn't mean anything ugly by it, but it still really hurt. We were talking about the loss of my grandmother and she was commenting on a picture of my mom, my grandmother, and I sitting on the side table. I opened up to her and said that it broke my heart that our daughter would never be able to have a 4 generation picture and she wouldn't know my grandmother. My mother-in-law said to me "well at least you knew your grandmother". At least... Because that makes the loss easier? Because that makes everything else better? Because that made me "get over it" faster? I hate this "at least" mentality. Nothing about losing my grandmother is a blessing. Nothing about losing my first baby is a blessing. Can't we just call it what it is and say it sucks? I feel like that provides some much more healing then always trying to look for the blessings around tragedy... When we acknowledge the pain to each other instead of pretending it doesn't exist or solely 'counting your blessings', in my mind and experience, that ministers healing. Can anyone else resonate with this? Please hear me right, I'm not saying that counting your blessings isn't a beautiful practice and a helpful one too... I'm simply saying that sometimes we need to acknowledge the pain as very real and present and not try to "at least" it, ignore it, or shove it away.

I don't listen to country music so one of you will have to help me out as far as singer and song name, but I feel like the lyrics to this one country song ring true for me right now: "God is great, but sometimes life ain't good." He is great, but we live in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people. Brokenness happens, pain happens, loss happens and it's okay to look through it all and say I don't know what was good about that, but I believe that God's will is perfect and He will work all things together for my good.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Time Last Year: A Child's Prophesy

I apologize my dear readers for my horrible absence over the last month. The third trimester of this pregnancy has been incredibly trying for me... Quite honestly, it's been the hardest of all the trimesters. Between a lung infection, sinus infections, and (dare I say it aloud) a recent battle with the flu, my blog has been put on the back burner as I've been trying to get myself well enough to function in society again. Not to mention all the business that comes with the holiday season.

This is a really strange time for me right now. Our baby girl is due in (gasp) 2 weeks and we've been attempting to ready ourselves for her arrival. Because I'm currently 38 weeks pregnant, I have been banned from flying home to Kansas for the holidays, so my sweet Kevin and I are spending (for the first time in our marriage) a Christmas with just the 2 of us. It's bittersweet. On the one hand, I'm excited for time with just me and my man, especially considering very soon time with just me and my man will be all but extinct. However, I miss my family. I miss them so much it hurts. I miss every one of them... My mother, my aunt, my sweet cousin gang (Crystal, Hope, Kenton, James), my step-father... All of them... I miss our traditions. I miss everything that is Christmas at home. This is the first Christmas without our matriarch, my grandmother, present as she went home to be with Jesus in August.... And I can't be there to hold my family. It's incredibly hard...

I think what's striking me today as being every bit as challenging as what was said above is that this should have been Sweet Pea's first Christmas. This time last year we were pregnant. This time last year we announced to the family about our precious Sweet Pea. This time last year our lives were irreversibly altered. I'm having a hard time processing it all... I'm having a hard time coping with the loss of our baby today... I tell you this because I want you to understand that almost a year later I still grieve the loss of my first baby... You don't just get over it and too many families remain silent about the heartbreak that is miscarriage. I want to shatter the silence.

BUT... for today, I want to tell you a hopeful story. After all, it is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas and what is Christmas if it is not hopeful? This is a story about Baby Blossom, our little girl who (Lord willing) will be making her way into this world very soon!

As you know from my previous posts, I didn't really put a whole lot of stock in waiting 2 cycles to 'try' to get pregnant after the D&C. The way I saw it, I didn't really have any control over when we would get pregnant anyway so why pretend? I figured it was in God's hands and his timing is perfect, regardless of what the doctors said. So Kevin and I made a decision together probably about a month after my D&C that over the period of my 2 obligatory cycles we would not actively 'try' to get pregnant, but we wouldn't prevent it either.

We found out we were expecting Baby Blossom on May 2nd, 2013. About 2 weeks prior to this date, something really miraculous happened. Now remember, by trait I am a board certified music therapist and I specialize in working with children with special needs. I specifically am housed in a decently sized pediatric therapy clinic where I have my own small treatment room with all of my equipment.

Well, on this particular day (as aforementioned about 2 weeks prior to May 2nd) I was standing outside my room eating a bag of popcorn when a little girl approached me. She was a former client of mine, but she seemed to struggle with recognizing me out of context. Once we had discontinued music therapy services, she rarely spoke to me... I don't believe it was anything malicious... I truly think she just didn't know who I was outside of my treatment room. Also, you should now that her speech was very labored and most times she was pretty difficult to understand.

But on this particular day something was different. As I stood outside my treatment room eating my popcorn, I saw her being escorted back to the front lobby with her speech therapist. The minute this little girl saw me, she ran up to me as fast as she could, she placed her hands on my stomach, started rubbing, and as clear as day said "Miss Jessica, Miss Jessica, you have a daughter in there."

I was shocked! I laughed a little and said "Well, the only thing that I know is in there right now is popcorn." She looked at me and said "No, you have a daughter in there." Her speech therapist then called her back so they could continue on to the lobby. The speech therapist looked at me after this occurred and said "Don't put any stock in what she says, you know how she is."

But I did put stock in what she said... because I don't think for a minute that message was from her. Two weeks later we found out we were expecting. At 20 weeks pregnant, we found out that we did indeed have a daughter in there. Those things cannot be coincidence. That was gift... A child's prophesy over my unborn baby.

And here we are at Christmas time, celebrating the birth of a savior baby... A savior baby who was prophesied about over and over and over.

Merry Christmas, my sweet reader.