A Shelf and Some Clothespins

I never, ever expected in my whole life that a few items on a shelf and a package of clothespins would bring me to tears. I was always the girl that never cried at the sappy movies or at anything sentimental (still am, but babies can bring a woman to a few more tearful moments than usual). But, over the last week, the Lord has brought some tender moments that I hadn’t really prepared for myself.

Little Miss started solids last week and the first couple of days were horrendous. To put it lightly, Ella abhors anything new. When we first got her an infant swing, she cried and screamed and cried some more. But, within a few weeks, it was one of the only things that could get her to calm down. This process has been repeated several times with several different things. I don’t know why she hates change and new things so much. I mean, I don’t know anyone (named Jennifer, perhaps) that hates change. I guess it will always be a mystery. Anyways…

After day three of screams, I was ready to throw in the towel. But, guess who showed up on day four? Miss McSmiley Pants! She was giggling and eating solids like a champ! Couldn’t get enough of it! I was beyond thrilled. But, at the same time, there were intermittent moments where I had to hold back tears. To start solids, we’ve been sititng Ella in her Bumbo on top of the dining room table rather than in her highchair (it’s just easier for now). And, on the wall by our dining room table, we have two shelves. One shelf contains some trinkets and photos, while the other contains some memories of our first baby. Remember this post? We do still have the shelf up and I love it. I love that our first baby has a place in our home. I love that I can look up at on that shelf and remember that the Lord has blessed us with two children, not just one.

And, just last week, Ella discovered the shelf. We showed her once before and she stared at it for a while, but this was the first time she found it on her own. She would stare at the shelf, get one more bite of food, then stare at the shelf. This process continued until she was done eating. And, ever since that day, most times when I feed her, she looks over at the shelf. Just seeing her stare at the ultrasound picture of her older brother or sister, was one of the most amazing moments for me since we’ve had Ella.

Then, yesterday, I did our diaper laundry (have I mentioned we are doing cloth diapers full-time now? So far, we’ve loved it! Another post on that later). To save on some electricity and to help naturally bleach out the diapers, I hung up our clothesline. I have never used a clothesline before, but thought the diapers would be a good reason to start. I set up the line and knew that I had brand new clothespins somewhere. The only thing I could remember is that I bought some one time for some type of craft. I dug through all of my craft supplies and couldn’t find it.

Then, to the laundry room. Nope, not there.

Then, to our junk drawer. Nada.

To the cabinet with the tools? Nope.

The garage? Not there, either!

Then, it hits me. I remember what I used them for now….

to surprise John that I was pregnant with our first baby. I used them to hang up baby clothes as a decoration.

I stopped in my tracks. Then, I thought how cool it would be to use something of the first baby’s for his or her younger sister. I went upstairs to the guest room closet where the bag full of stuff from the first baby lives. I pulled it out and there it was. The ribbon I used for the decoration still had the clothespins attached and the package of unused clothespins were in the bag, too. I took the unused ones out and went to my clothesline.

As I hung up each diaper, I remembered our first child. It’s amazing how a little baby that never even entered the world alive, can have marks all over my home and in my heart. I was reminded, once again, that God does not create living things without a purpose. That baby had a purpose and I feel like month by month I get another glimpse of it.

My sweet Ella has a purpose in this life, too. My job as her mom is to help her unravel it and to prepare her to fulfill what God has for her life. And, may I keep letting the shelves and the clothespins in my life remind me of the continuing work that is to be done in my sweet, second baby.

Ella’s First Trip to Disney!!

Family Picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney!

Anyone that knows John and I can you tell you how much we love Disney World! Pretty much the whole beginning of our marriage was spent at Disney, haha. We had annual passes and looked at it as a whole bunch of prepaid dates for us. A lot of times we would eat lunch or dinner at home, then get in the car and head to one of the parks for some already-paid-for fun! Also, it kind of became a safe haven for us after the miscarriage. I mean, it’s tough to be sad at Disney World! And, there was most definitely a stretch of time when we didn’t really want to be around many people we knew (well-meaning, but you can only take the “I’m so sorry” looks so many times) and Disney is always packed full of a bunch of people you don’t know!

On our Thanksgiving trip to Orlando, we knew from the beginning that we would just have to stop off at Disney. We were both really excited and couldn’t wait to take our sweet baby there! Well, for anyone that’s been to the Magic Kingdom before, you know all about the precious little girls that dress up like their favorite princess (or even get a princess makeover at the park!) and spend the day at Disney walking around all cutesy as can be. I have always told John how if we ever have a little girl, she will most definitely dress up like a princess whenever we go to Disney…and folks, that wish came true! And, the most beautiful part of the whole thing is I thought I would have to wait for Ella to turn 2 years old or so before she’d be big enough to fit in a princess costume. We had never, I mean never, seen a baby dressed up in a princess costume on a regular day at Disney before.
I was searching for a newborn costume for Ella’s Halloween get-up one day and lo and behold, there it was….an infant princess costume! I could hardly believe it and went searching for more. And, guess what? It’s the only one I could find anywhere! I present to you, the cutest, most adorable baby Snow White…
We had so much fun that day! I really don’t believe that there are words to describe all of the most amazing memories we made that day. It may seem silly, but soon after we entered the park I got a little teary eyed. There was something redemptive to me about taking my most beautiful baby to the place that her daddy and mommy escaped many a days to try to get through losing their first baby. And, there we were with the most perfect baby that we get to hold! And, there she was, as beautiful as can be with people constantly stopping to comment on her cuteness factor. People were asking to take pictures with her, workers were going around to get other employees to show them Ella, and on and on. Our whole day people did not stop coming up to us or commenting on our little princess. We were not expecting a reaction like that at all! There were a few moments we really thought we were VIP’s or something! Haha! I kept joking with John that we needed to set out a tip jar! Ella did so amazing all day. She barely fussed all day and even got to sneak in a nap here and there. We really couldn’t have asked for a better baby to take to Disney (even when it felt like a million degrees out!).
But, one of the most fun parts of the whole entire day was this… the money shot…

Our baby Snow White with the real princess Snow White! I don’t ever believe I’ve waited to meet a character before at any of the parks, but we were so glad to get this picture. I have the feeling this will be the first of many times waiting to get a picture of Ella with a character :o)

And, little Miss went on her very first ride! Since the Phillips family knows how to stick with a theme, can you guess what it was?

That’s right! Snow White’s Scary Adventures! Have I mentioned that while I am not really a big Snow White fan (although, I’m a little partial now because of our sweet baby Snow White), I became a big fan of this ride before we moved from Orlando? It might be my favorite in the whole FantasyLand area and Ella loved it! Here she is waiting in line soon before getting on the ride…

Right before we left the park in the evening, we changed little Miss Snow White out of her costume. We think she looks awfully cute with or without a costume!

Well, I think I will leave it here for now! Just wanted all of you to have a little glimpse into our super fun day at the Magic Kingdom! I can hardly wait for the trips in the future where Ella can enjoy the parks even more…dressed as a princess, of course ;o)

Due Date

I knew that eventually May 1st would roll around. I also knew that after Christmas, it would be the next big hurdle to get through. And, here we are, the day before the due date that back in August I thought seemed like a million years away.

To put it lightly, today has been rough. I found myself crying my eyes out in random parking lots around town as I was trying to get my list of errands done today. I felt so bad for myself, I splurged and bought myself a pink Snuggie. And, some Rasinets. Take that sadness.

There have been a lot of tears this last week over our first lost baby. It’s funny how I used to think that if a woman just got pregnant again, she would be completely healed about a miscarriage. And, truthfully for some women, that may very well be the case, but it definitely hasn’t been for me. Our current pregnancy has brought healing of the wondering if we would ever be able to hold a pregnancy past the first trimester. But, this baby, in no way, has replaced our first one.

Leaving our apartment last week, to head to our new home in Georgia, was way more difficult than I thought it would be. And, the biggest hurt was that I felt like we were leaving our first baby behind. See, we don’t have much that’s physical to remember that baby. And, that apartment was where I took the tests that told me we were expecting. It was the place that John and I dreamed about what that baby would be like. It was where I couldn’t stop crying and holding my belly the night that we found out our baby was gone. It was where my contractions started the night before my surgery and I had our baby. It was where I recovered from the surgery and questioned if life would ever be the same. It was the place we lit our candle and read Scripture to remember the baby God gave us.

I cried and cried and cried the day we left our apartment. I actually made us leave several hours later than planned that day because I felt that first baby slipping away all over again.

And, now, here I am today, the day before our due date. This is tough. It’s tougher than I thought it would be just a month or two ago. I laid on the floor in our current baby’s room today with our first baby’s scrapbook and cried at first. Then, looking through the unfinished scrapbook, there was a peace. Man, we loved that baby. And, I think Jesus knows that. Plus, God has given us a new baby to share in all of that love. A new baby that God has at least given us 20.5 weeks with while we pray for many more weeks, months, and years.

If you read this tonight or tomorrow (or any day!) do you mind tossing up a prayer for us? Tomorrow is going to be a tough day and we are trying to find a good balance of mourning, remembrance, and a continuance of life for the day. Also, it’ll be John’s first weekend at the services at Dogwood church as the Tech Director, which includes the Saturday night service. So, we want to be ready and willing to invest in people tomorrow night. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Lost Innocence

Over the last week or two, I’ve had a few nights where it’s been really tough for me to fall asleep. I just lay there staring at the ceiling in the dark and my mind runs wild. I try to control it and just get to bed, but sometimes my crazy thoughts have won.

Like, last night. I was tired and not feeling well, so I wanted to fall asleep quickly. But, instead, there I lay replaying the miscarriage over and over in my head. Laying there, despite how nauseous I feel, wondering if I am just an incubator yet again for a baby that has stopped growing.

Last night, I explained to John some of my fears and he responded with, “Yeah, I kinda feel like since we’ve been excited, that we’re just waiting for someone to pull the rug out from under us,”. Oh, how I couldn’t agree more.

At the same time, we are spending each day excited and with a grateful heart for this baby. There are some people that have not and will not see a positive pregnancy test, no matter how hard they pray. I know that to even be pregnant twice, with two precious children, is a gift. Even if “the rug gets pulled out from under us,” I will be thankful for both times having to be pregnant. But, every once in a while, a dark night creeps up on me and I can’t help my mind wandering.

When I had another night like this one about a week ago, I just kept telling John how we never got to fully experience the innocence and well, naivety of a first time pregnancy. We already know and have experienced what bad can happen in a pregnancy on our very first go at it all. I just think it’s different when it’s your first. Listening for a heartbeat has not and probably will never be a fully innocent experience for us. The very first time a heartbeat was searched for, there was none to be found. When the morning rolled around for us to check for this baby’s first heartbeat, it was terrifying. That experience never had the chance to be innocent or fun.

I’m really not complaining about any of this, I just almost feel sad for the little girl I was when I always dreamt of being pregnant. I couldn’t wait to marry the man of my dreams and we would have the most perfect pregnancy resulting in the most perfect first child. I just feel a little saddened for my first baby that he or she never had the chance to grow or for us to hear his or her heartbeat. I feel saddened for this baby that didn’t get the “belly pictures” every week like the first one, or that his/her first ultrasound was a worried one for us or that hearing his/her heartbeat for the first time was terrifying because we didn’t know if we could trust it.

BUT, if nothing else, we are trusting the Lord. We are putting our hope in Him to do what’s best for us and our little baby; no matter what that may mean. We are expecting for God to do great things despite our fears, questions, excitement, or ultimately, ourselves. And, therefore, I think we are in the best place we can be…full reliance on One that is infinitely worth more glory than anyone else

Sorry It’s Been So Long!

Good grief, it has been like a million years since I’ve updated on here! Life has actually been pretty crazy lately! Lots of turns and shifts and ups and downs…all of which I’m sure I’ll update you on soon enough :o) But, many have wondered how we are doing and I figured it was high time to write on here.

As the New Year rolled in, I remember thinking on the 1st of this year that it’s time to walk in a fresh new start. I also remember driving home and crying my eyes out on the phone with my husband. It was such a jumble of tears and hurt and desire for more healing. I can’t even remember half of that conversation. But, I do remember repeating several times, “I think I’m just really tired and I’m probably hungry for dinner”. And, I think that was true, because I ate a good dinner and went to bed early that night! It’s amazing how much hunger and lack of sleep (see, only 4 hours of sleep the night before) can affect your attitude.

The last month and a half of 2010 have brought more tears over our baby. Yet, there has also come a peace through the tears. Somehow, there has come a great desire to constantly hand things over to Jesus. It’s amazing how such a dark experience can leave you just desiring for the fame of Jesus to be had out of it. I also think as we’re coming to a better, more healed place in all of this, I have wondered if I have suffered well. Did I really do all that I could to push glory to Jesus despite my heartache? I guess I won’t really know the answer to that question until I see my baby again and stand before the Throne.

But, I do know, that regardless of what trials or blessings life can bring, there is only One Name that is greatly to be praised. I want to live my life in a way that continues to show people that Name. I want my little baby’s memory to be one that has encouraged people toward life’s one and only Maker.

And, through it all I have learned, that if Jesus gets more glory from my first baby only living a short time in the womb rather than living any time on this earth, than I can truly say I am glad the Lord is getting the most glory. I don’t expect anyone to understand that statement. I just know that I have fallen more in love everyday with my Savior. And, I believe 100%, for the first time in my life, 100%, that Jesus is better than anything. And, that His control really is so much better than mine.

So, that’s been the last month and a half; emotionally anyways! Life can be heartbreaking sometimes, but honestly, it kinda makes me feel like I am walking through the Bible (which is pretty cool). But, I’m learning how to continue to share Hope with others even when you feel like you’re trying to find hope yourself…

Doing Everything Right…

For those that know me, I am an insane rule-follower. I am a task-oriented person, a total overachiever, and I hate for anyone to think I have failed at something. With all of that, it is very easy for me to slip into legalism with faith. But, with the help of my freedom loving husband, I have stretched out of my legalism a lot more over the last year and a half.

I’ve always been one to exclaim to people looking for advice about what to do in a possible sinful situation, that plainly put, God loves obedience. And, when you don’t want to be obedient, you just do it anyways. Pray for your heart and attitude to align with your actions and God always seems to bless it.

But, then comes the issue of suffering.

I can easily say without hesitation or questioning of myself (which I tend to do a lot, thanks to my overachiever-ness) that I have walked more dark valleys than I have sung from the mountaintops. I could list everything out and make you feel bad for me, but that’s pathetic and not the point I want to focus on. But, I would like to say, with God’s help, for the most part, I clung to the Lord in the nasty times and have remained obedient. Even when, time after time, the suffering that I have found myself in has been nothing that I could even remotely control. And, believe me, I have majorly screwed up before, but I’m talking in general here. And, I’m not talking about the kind of suffering that’s because of a consequence to my own sin. It’s interesting how quickly people will proclaim their life as hard, but really it’s just different consequences to different sins they have found themselves in. I am not saying consequences are easy, they stink, BAD. But, they are also expected and simply make sense for a just and fair God.

The kind of suffering I am talking about now, is the kind where you’ve “done everything right” (quotations because, of course we are imperfect and will absolutely never do everything right), but things still go south. The kind of suffering that makes absolutely no sense when written on paper. The kind where there just isn’t a dang reason for it, yet, just like Job’s friends in the Bible, everyone tries to come up with an excuse for why it has happened…”well, God must be trying to teach them this…” “well, they must have committed this sin…” “well….well….well….”

There are some days, over the last three months, where I have been overwhelmingly honored that the Lord would allow me to endure this trial. He has deemed John and I worthy and able to handle this terrible amount of heartache. He knew how we’d react. He knew I would cry and cry and cry for months. But, yet, He knew that some how, some way, we could make it through this and that He would receive glory out of this. Oh, how on these days, I pray that the Lord would always count me worthy of suffering to bring more fame to His name!

But, then I have days, like yesterday, where I cry to my husband how, “It just isn’t fair!”. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have whispered, uttered, moaned, cried, and flat out screamed that over the last 3 months. Then, I say things like, “My whole life, whenever things messed up around me, I still gave glory to God. I never ran from Him, even when it felt like He didn’t like me because of all the bad things happening. I did things right, the way you were supposed to, and here we are. This just isn’t fair!! I don’t know that I can keep ‘doing everything right’; this wasn’t supposed to happen.” And, yesterday, as I tried to fall asleep for a nap, I was quiet. I was still. And, the Lord spoke to me…

(no, not audibly…maybe more on that later)

“Jesus did everything right. And, what happened to Him, just wasn’t fair. But, He walked through it anyways. And, because of it, the world has never been the same. YOU have never been the same”

There was such a comfort at that. He really did. He did it all right. And, you know what? What happened, just wasn’t stinkin’ fair. But, there was more glory to God than ever given before.

Thank you, Father, for considering me worthy over and over again to bring glory to You.

“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” Phil. 3:10

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Acts 5:41, 42

Update On Life!

I just realized it’s been a little since I’ve blogged. And, the insanity that surrounds the holidays can be blamed for that :o)

Before we got married, John and I decided that we would have Thanksgiving and Christmas alternate from year to year between both of our families. Last year, we spent Thanksgiving in Orlando and Christmas in Texas. So, this year was flip flopped. We headed out to my mom’s home on the coast (about an hour away) for Christmas week. It was fun to feel like we were getting away, but I was also pretty glad to make it back home to our own bed!

Because of everything that’s happened lately, this Christmas just felt a little different at first. I was supposed to be 21 weeks this Christmas. But, surprisingly, I only had one big cry fest during the day on Christmas Eve. I was really doing just fine in the beginning of the day and then, we went to Denny’s. What an unassuming place to have the start of my tear fest.

There I am. Eating my build your own grand slam, complete with chocolate chip pancakes. Mmmm, chocolate chip pancakes have always been my favorite breakfast! Well, that and biscuits and gravy. I mean, come on?? How can those two meals NOT be a favorite! Anyways, there I was and out of nowhere, everything hit me. It’s Christmas and I’m not pregnant. This Christmas was supposed to be sitting  by the tree and dreaming of what our little one on the way would look like. I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting for Christmas to be that hard. I felt like I had gotten through all of the big emotional landmarks until the due date hit, but I guess I was wrong.

But, after I balled my eyes out in the car on the way back home, I retreated to bed for a long nap. It is amazing how a little bit of sleep can make things somewhat better. And, from then on, I slowly got out of my funk and enjoyed the rest of the Christmas weekend! Including lots of after Christmas sales so we can actually have a decorated home next year, haha. I keep telling John, “I can’t wait for Christmas next year! I just want to set out all of our new decorations right now, even though I would have to put them away tomorrow!” But, I guess I can wait ;o)

I must admit, it’s a little weird going into 2010 so soon. It’s funny how I was only pregnant for 10 weeks and 5 days, but with that came a lot of dreams and plans for the future. It’s been tough to kind of switch that off and remind myself there’s not a baby on the way. It’s so crazy how in the grand scheme of life a couple of months is not long at all, but in such a short time, things can change so much. Before I walked through this, I never really thought I would be this affected by being pregnant for such a short time. Boy, was I wrong. Even though we don’t have a baby on the way anymore, may the Lord be glorified through us in the upcoming year of 2010!