Thursday, October 30, 2014

There were those... thank God for those....

With any anniversary comes strong memories... especially when it comes to spending the one and only day with the little one that you carried for close to 10 months...

I seem to do a lot of thinking while I run... This week that thinking has been on my boy... my sweet Samuel...

So with the running and the memories inevitably come the tears... boy that can get ugly... at least for any passersby... it kind of makes me laugh just to think of how it all must look...

Of course there are the precious memories of that day... taking in every single little bit of him that I could absorb in my mind... How I wish I could have multiplied that time with him by 1,000... It was painful and so beautiful all at the same time...

Yesterday Anna hit the nail on the head when in her writing journal she wrote, "I kept trying to take him away from my mom because I wanted to keep holding him."  She did!  Boy was it hard to balance letting everyone have a chance with their brother and me just wanting him the whole time in my arms...

My biggest regret... not have the wear with all in my mind to stay at the hospital till my mom got there to see and hold him... Why I thought it was a good idea to say our goodbyes and hand him over and then drive to the airport to pick her up is still beyond me... Why someone didn't say, "She will want to see him."  Heck, why we didn't turn around and go back to the hospital for her to see him... His body was there in the refrigerator just waiting for the funeral home... I honestly, can't beat myself up over it... You do the best you can in the shock of what you are experiencing, but it still makes me sad and angry...

Of course a million things run through my mind as I was running this week...

The incredible pain of the loneliness I felt that first year... on top of my grief...
The struggle to get through the days with my living kiddos...
The many times insensitive things were said, or done (for example the sweet grandma who just couldn't contain herself my first night back at church less than 2 weeks later and had to gush and show me all the pictures of her new grand baby... knife to the heart!)  Truly, she is more than forgiven... :)



(My sweet Anna, so tenderhearted...)


(One of my all time favorite pictures... no fear of death...  no uncomfortableness... only true, deep love for her little brother... and she wanted to show it!)

 I was going to write out some of those hard hard things that daily made my life hard, really made Sundays the hardest day of the week for me...

Instead I wanted to share with you the beautiful precious things and people who made such a difference in the early days of my sorrow and loss... Their actions, stepping out of their comfort zones to do what must have been hard is so remembered by me... I know I will forget many and my intention isn't to make anyone ever feel bad... These are just the things that have popped into my head today as I remember my son...


(Inspecting every detail of my little guy)




There are those...

There were those nurses who prayed over me during labor when I couldn't go on... Thank you Lord for the bible belt... they were the two sweetest nurses ever...

There are those friends who put their boots on with their umbrella in hand, to stand with me in the falling rain of the early storms of sorrow... (you know who you are!)

There is the friend who barely knew me who asked, "Do you want to talk about him or would you rather not?"  You gave me the chance to share him with others... I SOOOOO needed to do that... I wanted his precious life shared...

There are those family members who drove hours arriving late into the night to share their love and gifts of music at His memorial service... Then driving through the night home... your sacrifice was precious to me... His service was exactly as I would have wanted it!

There are those total strangers to me who at my brothers church laid hands on me and prayed for the healing of my heart... That hadn't happened at our church and oh how I had needed that from day one and they supplied a need abundantly... Thank you Jesus!

There is the family member who said to me, "Take as long as you need!" and he meant it... healing nonjudgmental words from his heart... Never to be forgotten!"

There is the friend, who after noticing the kids and I weren't at our home church for two months, just took it upon herself to drive over, sit at the computer and pour over pictures of Samuel with me... I will NEVER forget it... she cared, she went out of her way to be Jesus in the flesh to me... I don't know when I might have returned without her...

There is the friend who consistently prayed for the rain of God's healing to flood my soul and stood with me in God's perfect plan for our family... Boy this friend got the "crazy" calls from me... and again and again reassured me that "I would be ok... she would feel the same way... and what I was feeling and thinking was normal"... What would I have done with out you sweet Nebraska friend???

There were the packages sent by dear family of my favorite fruit, pomegranates, and my favorite cookies just to make sure I felt loved and I did...

There was the sweet older lady who become our Oklahoma grandma to our kids... she too had lost a daughter... the conversations are precious to my heart that we shared...

There were those new "baby loss mamas" that became dear friends who lent so much support as we walked this new road together...

There were prayers offered hand in hand by sweet out of town friends when they would visit... Just what my heart needed at that time...

There was the calls from a few friends, truly that I didn't know super well from out of town, that made a point to call me... I didn't have the energy or strength to make many phone calls myself, but I so needed someone to talk to on the days she called... God knew...

There was the sweet elderly couple who called to bring dessert, we invited to dinner, and stayed asking to see what he looked like...They stayed for hours...  My heart was so touched... a special bond was shared...

There were those that drove to us to spend special weekends and holidays with us knowing we were alone and needed company that loved and knew us...

There was the friend, I hadn't talked to in years that upon hearing the news called me right away to let me know how much she cared and how sad she was...

There were those at MEND who lovingly remembered honored and valued our sons life with us... And gave me hope that I would heal in time...

There were those who even meeting the first time shed tears over our story of loss... I knew I had just found a dear friend right in that moment... Thank you Jesus!

There were those that celebrated his first birthday in Heaven with us... lovingly knowing we may cancel at any minute, but were game to share memories, tears and love...

There was the friends that God sent to care for our kids while we delivered Samuel.  The wife was the one and only person we knew to see my Samuel and shares such a special piece of my heart knowing that at least someone else we know and loved held that precious boy in their arms... God knew and ordained mighty plans to place us in the same city...




(Brothers then... today... forever!)

Truly, being in a new place made my grief so hard and lonely but I know God had big plans he laid in my heart to even in that loneliness weave a compassion in my heart for people to not have to grieve alone...

To focus on all the beautiful things people did for us... those friends near by and mostly those who made a point to do it from afar brings my heart great joy today...

It is a beautiful thing to see the body of Christ be the body... especially when it takes great effort from a distance...

They had to make even more of an effort and it didn't go unnoticed... Their love for Jesus and our family stretched across the miles to my broken heart and showed me our family was worth the effort to love, support and care for in our hardest days...


Beautiful ruby red lips of our Samuel Mark... Forever loved... Forever missed...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

6 years closer to Heaven



My precious 6 year old Samuel...

Six years closer to Heaven, my boy, and six years closer to you...

What does six years with out you look like for me?

I miss you...

There are days when Levi repeats my name, "mom...mom...MOM...MOM...MOM!!!" before he can get the next word out and I wonder if that is God's precious way of blessing my heart... to hear a sweet little boy call me mom again and again... because you never were able to...

I miss all that you would be to us in the day in and day out of busy family life...

My heart hurts for Jojo who I know feels the loss of you daily... he may not even realize it... but he is lonely at times... a lot of times... I KNOW, that had you lived, you would be his right hand man... and there probably would be very little lonliness in his days...

Your sweet sister Anna still asks why you couldn't stay here with us... She still plays songs on the piano and sings about you... Oh you would have loved the way she would have played with you and helped take care of you... But yet I know for you... Heaven is SO much better...


I miss just being able to cuddle you, feel your sweaty soft head next to mine... curl your fingers around mine on family walks, watch you learn how to ride a bike for the first time, start big boy school as a kindergartener, and rough house with the little ones...

I my minds eye... you would have dark hair, be sort of slight in build, be on the quiet side, but yet have a good dose of the rascal in ya... just like every single one of your siblings... 
I know you would make me laugh... just like the rest of them...

Not a day goes by that this mama's heart doesn't feel the weight that you aren't here with us... I rejoice for you my precious boy... but on earth it still hurts... the memories run deep and don't really ever fade of that single day we actually got to hold you in our arms... I don't ever want them to... But tonight in bed I realized I couldn't remember your smell... at all... that made me sad...

As much as there is still a sadness and a deep missing and longing for you... I praise God that with that He has brought my heart great joy at your memory...


How perfectly the Lord knit you together... all 9 lb. 2 oz of you... Your sweet soft head of dark hair, your funny curved little toes, the fuzz by your ears, your full cheeks... every last bit of you... I loved carrying you inside of me for all 40 weeks... As sick as I was at times, as BIG as I became... I treasured it... You were a part of me... you were an important part of our family... You still are, That won't EVER change...

But you  changed us...

You changed me... (maybe in some ways that others still haven't gotten used to... maybe I haven't even gotten totally used to it:) And as hard as change can be... I welcome it... It means you lived... you were here for 40 weeks and 1 day and your life mattered so much!  Because of you I now do things maybe I never dreamed I would... God has strengthened me because of your short but precious time with us...



I would go back and do it all again in a heart beat... All 40 weeks and 1 day of pregnancy... just to hold you in my arms again...

And I would go back and do the hard part all over again too... Today 6 years ago, the day I realized you were gone... Tomorrow 6 years ago, the day I gave birth to you still and silent in my arms, my precious son... and the very lonely road of grief that followed... I would do it all again , just to see you in your dad, sister, and brother's arms...

I trust the Father so completely with the plan He had for your life... the number of days He ordained for you in my womb... But in my humanness there is a longing just to have you here... to have the whole family together...

You are loved more and more... your life is valued and treasured more and more... and you are missed so deeply my sweet fifth born...



My precious Samuel...

When you first died people tried to comfort me with the fact that I would see you again in Heaven...

 But in all honesty, in my shock and despair HEAVEN SEEMED JUST TOO FAR AWAY...  What if I lived to be 80?  Heaven was still 40 some years away.... Too long...

It just took a little time and healing to where Heaven brings my heart GREAT JOY!!

Whether I live 10 more minutes, months, years or more... I can see and feel we are getting closer and closer  to that beautiful reunion with each passing day...

Six years closer to Heaven, my boy... 
Six years closer to meeting my savior face to face...

And Six years closer to you.... 






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another trunk or treat in the books...


And here you have it... Larry, an angel, a disco jazzer (on roller blades:), a cowman (cowboy:) and tinkerbell... Jojo was cracking me up:)

The kids had a blast at the trunk or treat at church... They of course loved the candy, fun hayrides, and all the bible characters running around campus... even Jesus was there... 

A lot of hard work went into planning it and it was great... but man, I tell you, I was worn out afterwards... I am so thankful for all the willing hands that go into making a super fun day for my kids and many others:) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

So hard... so real...

I just had to repost this...

From the mother of our missionary friend Emma, who recently opened a special needs orphanage in Uganda...

I rarely think of the details of the many  extremely tough things that she faces in her calling... everyday...

Please take the time to read this to get a clear picture of ALL that it means to follow the Lord's calling on your life... the beautiful and the really hard stuff...

and then...

Please support them however you can... through prayer, encouragement or even financially...

Hug your little ones tight tonight:)

http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-stuff-no-one-talks-about.html

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back for "Moore"

And the St. Peter crew goes back for "Moore"...

Our precious friend Emma from AZ who came with us to Uganda last year, came a few days early to hang with the family... 
(Lou and Emma when we picked her up at the airport...  Sweet Friends reunited :)

And off she, the boys, Greg, and about 10 others headed last week.  

I am always amazed at the amount of fun they have while serving... this trip was no different as you will well be able to see in the following pictures...



They did some minor building and strangely were able to abundantly help out a family who had some hoarding issues...

They were able to help this gentleman make some really big progress...

Which in the end will help reunite a family that has been torn apart...

They were a part of changing lives and changing the future for this family... and they loved every second of it...scorpions and all... YIKES!



It warms my heart to see how the Lord can unite His willing servants into an unstoppable team from HIM... being His hands and feet and showing HIS great love to others!



Can you see the evidence of God's love poured out on this homeowner by the group?  Makes my heart smile!  No judgement... just the love of Jesus poured out on HIM...


So thankful to God for this willing team of teens and adults...
So thankful for all that God can do with willing hearts...
He is so good and so able...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Those eyes...




Those eyes that speak
joy... love... of a comforted heart... 

Those fingers that wrapped
right around mine the first day I met you...

That nose that flattens 
at the bridge whenever you smile big...

Those cheeks that have grown
 a wee bit with each warm bottle you down...

Those soft silky hair that curls
 so sweetly all over your dark head...

That body that can relax 
and melt right into me

Every moment with you sweet baby boy is a gift... 





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

His family is bigger... and what a gift it is...

So, can your child really have too many people that love them?

Can cheeseburgers and a common loved one, bring many families together making them one? :)

What does opening up your heart to all the hidden blessings God may have for you truly look like?

How can God take many broken hearts from many different families, and creatively bond them together into something beautiful?

My heart was so full last Saturday night... 
I have had to take a couple of days to mull it over:)

We were invited to a cheeseburger challenge in memory of Levi's biological dad Ryan. 
It was time to remember a special man and fund raise for Cystic Fibrosis, which is what he had died from over 6 years ago...

It is a strange thing adoption... It is a beautiful thing...

And embryo adoption is no different...

But each adoption situation is SO different from another... 
And God has had a way of knocking our socks off with all 3 of our adoptions...

When we adopted our 7 embryos... we had lots of communication with our embryo donor and pretty much left the nature of the future of the adoption in her hands... whether it would be open or closed or how we would communicate as time went on...

I am so thankful that she chose to be a part of Levi's life and ours...

The fact that her first husband had passed away because he had Cystic Fibrosis immediately connected me to her... we shared a commonality of loss... My heart broke for her... 

I have ALWAYS tried to put myself in her shoes... (I know that really isn't possible...) What if I had lost my husband and there was a child out there that was part of both of us... how would I feel?  We have always felt that we wanted them to be a part of Levi's life and ours if that was possible..

We have been blessed to get together with our donor mom, Kristin and her twins who came from the same batch of embryos as our Levi, a few times over the last few years....  And boy does Levi look like his biological sister... crazy amazing!!!  

God worked an amazing thing on so many levels by moving us up north... ironically we are MUCH closer now to Levi's biological family, which is a TRUE blessing in our lives... 

In fact, strangely we now live less than an hour from most of Levi's biological dad's family. 


In time, while still in Oklahoma,  I connected to Levi's biological dad's mom... My heart went out to her as well...

We share the same loss of a child, a son... I have often tried to put myself in her shoes... 

I have asked myself a million times... How could I keep a piece of their loved one from them?  Honestly, the only reason I could is if it wasn't in the best interest of Levi... :)

But that just isn't the case... they are amazing Christian people... 


Greg, Levi, and myself with our Sweet donor mom and her other two kids...

 I am in awe of her sacrifice to our family and how incredibly blessed we are each and every day because of her gift to us!

The whole group at the CF cheeseburger Challenge Dinner... remembering Ryan Sweeney...
I loved meeting so many of them, seeing the wonder  and tenderness in their eyes as they met Levi... Hearing their special stories of life with Ryan when he was alive.  There were some tears and many were sharing how much Levi looked like Ryan...



Cousins... the stare down...These two were cracking me up:)


Levi with his biological siblings and cousin... They had so much fun... Anna loved hanging out with Levi's sister and cousin... and Levi still is saying that his biological brother is his best friend... I can't help but think ahead to the moment that any of this makes sense to Levi...

I am thankful that it won't ever need to be something that is a mystery to him...


This is pretty much how 90% of Levi's pictures were that night... He would not stop yelling
"CHEESEBURGER CHALLENGE"  for every... single... picture... :)


We now have had the chance to meet all of his grandparents... I can not tell you how precious it was to me to have a chance to get to know them more... I can see how much they all love Levi... It warms my heart more than I can describe...

Can your child ever really have too many people in their life to love them?

When I think of them... I can not help but think of all the time and love they poured into their kids, Kristin and Ryan, who biologically make up my son... They are all so precious to me because of all they did for their kids over the years,  which in turn helped make Levi who he is...

 We even got to meet more of Levi's biological aunts and uncles.






I feel so blessed to have these two ladies in my life and especially in Levi's life...


Many have asked me over the years..."Is it weird seeing them?"  "Are you overwhelmed or nervous when you get together?"  

I can honestly say, I 100% look forward to it... I have a total peace in my heart... Another testament to the ability of God to work is shown when I recalled Kristin's words to me after we met for the first time... She said something to the affect of Loving Levi in a special way, but that God had given her heart total peace and that it felt just like a good friend had a new baby... Wow... that simply amazes me... 

I never would have imagined it in my own small human mind, the ways God would beautifully knit us all together... 

Just as God so beautifully and perfect knit Levi together as a tiny embryo almost 8 1/2 years ago and held him safely as he was frozen for 5 years...

Just as God so perfectly knit him together in my womb... 

He so creatively and beautifully has knit our families together... I truly am blown away...

Blown away by His blessings... Blown away by His amazing goodness to us... 
Blown away by the amount of people that love this little man...

Tonight my heart is so full, knowing and seeing first hand the continued miracles of Levi's story and the way God knit him into our family...

His story is really God's story and it will NEVER get old to me:)

Levi's family is bigger... and that is a really beautiful thing:)