Dying Grace

Not along after our Warner was born and then went to be with the Lord, John posted this to Facebook:

“My pastor always says God only gives dying grace on dying days, that is so true. We mourn but not as those with no hope. Today I met my son, today my son met Jesus. All in all a good day.”

Those words still give me chills. Every word he typed was incredibly raw in the moments following Warner’s death. I think those words bring such an emotion out of me because they couldn’t be truer. The Lord really did walk so close the days leading up in preparing our hearts and through Warner’s death and afterwards.

This past weekend we’ve been working on one of the adoption papers that I have intentionally put off as long as I could. The medical and special needs form declaring what needs we are comfortable to adopt. It’s a very strange situation to be presented with a checklist knowing that each box represents children waiting for families. No child was given a checklist of the needs they wanted to inherit or to decide to become an orphan. So, to be on the other end and make decisions that seem so unfair is a very draining process.

I spent a lot of the weekend heavy with the weight of a few conditions that we felt we could check “yes” on but trying to make sure that was the correct decision. We decided to table it for now and pray for the right leading. We are still praying, discussing, and researching. And, that’s when the Lord has really begun to work on my own heart and remind me of that dying grace.

Our pastor this weekend shared from Philippians 3 and went on to close out his sermon talking about this idea of dying grace. How grace is transformative and the Lord makes grace what it needs to be when it needs to be it. And, not a moment before. He’s there in the trenches and doesn’t abandon us when we need Him. When we share His sufferings, we get to know the power of His resurrection.

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” -Philippians‬ ‭3:10-11‬

We are still praying and trusting that the Lord already knows our child’s needs. And, no matter how simple or complex, that same dying grace that held us together during Warner’s life will hold us together as we navigate a treatment plan for our child. It really is quite an amazing grace

{If you would like to financially support our adoption, you can do so here: paypal.me/jenlynnphillips}

{If you would like to follow our adoption journey on Facebook, you can do so here: Facebook.com/PhillipsIndiaAdoption}

Advertisements

Six Months

Six months ago, my water had broken and it was time to welcome Little Man. It was the first {full term} time that I was in tears and not sure if I could do it. Anxiety, sadness, and fear threatened to choke the joy I didn’t even know was coming.

What if I didn’t bond with him over a fear of losing him, too? What if something does happen and we lose him? Will I keep checking the clock for the 45 minute marker after he’s born? What if each contraction pain reminds me of the last time I dealt with labor pains? 

Those were some of the questions plus many more that I had during Jed’s pregnancy. And, they all seemed to rush over my mind at 2am on a Tuesday morning. How would I walk back into a delivery room when I know what it’s like to walk out of one without your baby?

A friend came over to watch the girls and I bet she’s never seen such an unsure mother walking out the door to head to the hospital. Especially for a mother that’s birthed three before that night. But, we did what we could and snapped an awkward picture of myself before heading to the hospital. One of the very few pictures I even have to document our rainbow baby’s pregnancy.

IMG_2389

It was cold outside, but not too cold. The 20 minute drive to our chosen hospital was a bit surreal and then we were at the emergency room entrance {after hours entrance for L&D}. After a few contractions and some paperwork in triage, we were up to the room that I had feared for nine months. The room that held the ushering in of new life and our family’s next phase.

My admitting nurse would be off her shift very soon, but not before I cried all of the tears. Bless her soul, she seemed fairly new at her job and unsure how to handle a Mama that wasn’t decided if she could birth this baby without a broken heart. But, time marched on, as it always does, and the superstar nurse that would all but deliver our Jedidiah arrived.

She calmed me each time Jed’s heart rate dropped, which was quite a few times {and, the first time for this Mama to experience it at any of my births}. She explained and smiled and encouraged. She didn’t seem at all thrown by my obvious discomfort. And, discomfort of the body, any labor nurse is familiar. But, a discomfort deep down and beyond any explanation, takes a person placed by the Lord to be able to walk with a stranger.

I flipped through “Jed’s Birth Book” as I called it and read the Scriptures. God gave us many verses in our time with Him and God used others to give us even more. I spent the last couple of weeks before Jed’s birthday hand-making each page that I would flip through while he was about to enter a hurting family.

IMG_8512

John and I prayed over that room, those nurses, the doctor, and our baby. I would stop during a contraction and John would pick right up and continue praying. I’m not sure I’ve ever begged God for peace like I did that day. And, He brought it. Everything seemed to shift and we knew we had limited time until our lives would change forever. Again.

Four hours later, things got intense. Sweet nurse perfectly placed stays calm and declares that it’s time to have a baby. There was no time to wait for a doctor. Lots of nurses screaming for anyone that could come in and help. A heartbeat barely detected on a monitor, oxygen masks flying on, and lots of hard pushing. Everyone begins to look worried and I had a flash of “it’s happening again”. But, God is good and brings a deep peace that only He can. Doctor runs in just on time, and Jed is out. Sunny side up and out at an angle. But, out.

Is he okay?!” There was nothing else to scream.

Then, Little Man peed everywhere and everyone laughed. But, me.

Is. he. o.kay.?

Then, baby cries…what every Mom looks for to know that her baby is okay. Screams and cries and all is well with the world.

IMG_2407

I have never been so bonded so fast after having one of my babies. By the grace of God and the answer to many prayers, Jedidiah John was born to a Mama that was deeply in love with him. In the moments following his birth, he brought joy into a family that had been full of intense sorrow.

There may have never been a more scared Mama that entered that hospital room. But, there may have never been a more deeply grateful Mama that left that room.

PhillipsFamily2015-67

For the last six months, Jed has given everyone in our family a renewed sense of God’s faithfulness. God was good in the really bad. And, He’s been good in the really good. I rarely set Jed down and I don’t care how anyone {outside of our little family} feels about it. Jedidiah is one of our gifts of joy in the sorrow. He won’t always want to snuggle and while he does, I’m not putting that baby out of my arms.

And, what’s even better? While I snuggle him, his Daddy and sisters come in even closer. We all want a part of the gift that is Jed and for a few moments every day, it’s as though the world isn’t broken. God has taken the time to bring some beauty from ashes, this side of Heaven. And, we’ll spend the next six months continuing to marvel at how every single good gift is from Him.

PhillipsFamily2015-69

Warner’s Second Birthday

I’m a planner. Not a super great one. But, a planner. I see all of the things on my calendar and will think about them a lot ahead of time. Probably too much. Along with being someone that feels all of the feelings, I think all of the thoughts.
IMG_9507

Therefore, when something like Warner’s birthday is coming up, by the time the day has hit, I’ve already felt all of the things and thought all of the things. I talked about it a little bit here, but I think we’ve realized that the month of March will probably always be a minor disaster for me. We even joked that next year we should create a “Sad About Warner” budget for the month of March. Because, apparently, I give up on cooking dinner which leads to a lot of take-out. And, I also wander Target more frequently and hope that a new pair of sunglasses will make me less sad.
IMG_9558

But, with all of the pre-gaming I find myself doing before his birthday, I have been amazed at God’s grace these last two years. Both years, his birthday has been beautiful. And, peaceful. And, joyful. It can only be by the prayers of His people (which we are so grateful for!) and His lavishing of grace. I am SO grateful.
Warner 2nd Birthday_10

The day before and the day after his birthday were hard. But, on the day of, me and the kids did a lot of celebrating. John was out of town until late that evening. So, we saved the cake and balloons until he was home. But, all of the celebrating included a shopping trip to pick the right toys for his resting place in Georgia (a friend put his new toys and flowers down for us! And, added a Happy Birthday balloon), a ring that John bought for me that has Warner’s birthstone, lots of pizza and ice cream (W’s favorites while in my belly), fun at an indoor play place, lunch at a new restaurant, a picnic by his tree at home, the happy birthday song with cupcakes and releasing balloons to make it all the way to Heaven to Warner.
IMG_9527

There were lots of sweet memories. Including some pretty hilarious ones which I’ll cover in much more detail soon. But, our family is so thankful for all of the prayers, kind words, and support! You’ve allowed our son to have weight in this world. And, for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Palm Sunday’s New Meaning

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”” -John 12:12-19

Two years ago, Palm Sunday was on March 24th. That’s the day we welcomed our first son into the world. I have never been more awestruck at Easter than I have been these last two years. Loss seems to bring that out.

On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus came in on a donkey.

Lowly.

Humble.

A servant.

Willingly headed to his death.

Jesus may have come quietly on that first Palm Sunday. The disciples may not have been able to understand it all until later. But, on that Palm Sunday two years ago? He came anything but quietly. He came in power and authority. He came as the giver of life. He came as the One that ushers His people from a broken world into a perfect eternity.

That first Palm Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem. A much different scene than my Palm Sunday two years ago. He made a tiny hospital room in Fayetteville, Georgia, become holy ground. There were no palm branches waving. No strength to cry “Hosanna!” But, there wasn’t a person in that room that didn’t sense the magnitude of Jesus Himself that day.

In the days and weeks leading up to Warner’s birth, we prayed. We prayed a lot. We searched every day for even more Scripture to pray over the life God had put under care. I still have my list of Scriptures we claimed and every once in a while, I’ll look through them. But, one of the things that we often prayed was for the angel of death to pass over my womb just like he did for the Israelites as they placed lamb’s blood on their door frames during the tenth plague {Exodus 11-13}. We prayed that the blood of the true lamb, Jesus Christ, would cover over my womb and protect against the angel of death. When we prayed these things, we had no idea how God would weave it all together in the end.

Warner was born on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013. He was born on the holiday that marks Jesus’ triumphal entry. The holiday that begins Jesus’ walk to the cross. The cross that gives me hope that I will see my son again. The day after Warner’s birth, Monday, March 25, 2013, began the celebration of Passover. That idea we prayed so many times over my womb, over his life, all melded together in the 45 minutes he lived. Death did pass over. One being that we had 45 minutes with him. That, in and of itself is a miracle. Two being that because of the first passover, years ago, the coming of Jesus was mirrored. And, Palm Sunday would happen. Then, Good Friday. Then, Easter. Then, a mother and a father with a shattered heart in a hospital as they say goodbye to their first son. But, they get the chance to live with the hope that it isn’t goodbye forever.

I don’t ever see a Palm Sunday passing again where I don’t reflect on Warner’s birth. Or Jesus’ triumphal entry into our family’s lives on March 24, 2013. Or how I can ignore the meaning of Passover like I did so many years before. There is a God that marks our lives in substantial ways, as long as we’re willing to see. Just like the disciples on that first Palm Sunday, it may take us a little bit to understand it. But, when we do, we can’t help but to wave those palm branches high

My Journal Excerpt

15089749354_649ffff3db_o

With Warner’s two year birthday approaching, I decided to pull out my old journal that I wrote in the days and weeks after his death. I’ve decided to share an excerpt from one of the entries because I remember that evening so well. Here it is:

June 26, 2013

About 20 minutes before the sun set, I came to the grave. I just needed to be here. I needed to be as close as I could get. I cried the whole way here and then just sat with him. I read the verses we prayed over him while pregnant. Then, I turned to the Psalms. I started at 26 since it’s the date and read through 29. I cried the hardest at 27. I read them all out loud.

27 :4 {“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple”} about did me in. As I sit broken at Warner’s grave, he is gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. One day, I will gaze upon it with him. It’s a day I long for with great anticipation.

As much as I miss him today, I know the Lord is holding me together. I played “Here’s My Heart” by David Crowder on my phone. It felt like old times with him in my belly and playing the song on my phone. I wish I could have just one more day with him. But, the truth is, I know that wouldn’t be enough. I’m looking forward to eternity.

It’s now completely dark and I’m in the car by his grave listening to the songs I worshipped to before and after his birth. It’s hard to leave. I know he’s in heaven, but this side of eternity, his grave is the closest thing I have to him.

Hold him for me tonight my precious Jesus! And, help me to love my girls well.

Jesus is faithful. He was faithful on Warner’s birthday. He was faithful the almost two years ago that tears stained my cheeks while I sat in a graveyard and penned my journal. He is faithful today. He can be trusted, my friends. That burden you carry today, He can carry it. I think that so many of us carry wounds that we’ve allowed the enemy to twist and make us believe that God inflicted them upon us. Dear friend, we serve a God that loves and meets you where you are. Not a God that arbitrarily strikes you and afflicts you. We’ve lost track of the real source of the pain and I can assure you that the real source of healing comes from the Lord. The moment we stop blaming God for an affliction He never created, is the moment we can invite Him in to carry the hurt for us, which is His desire. I refuse to blame Him for Warner’s death because death was never a part of His plan. And, I’ve been all the better for it. He has been able to care for my aching heart because I haven’t placed blame where blame wasn’t due. And, I am grateful for the hope to Heaven, to know that this isn’t the end of Warner’s story. It’s almost two years later and I still long for our reunion. Thank you, Jesus, it’s coming one day!