Thursday, August 30, 2012

Who Needs Pictures?

I remember listening to a Brad Paisley song called "Who Needs Pictures?". In the song, he talks about boxes of pictures in the closet and then he says "Who needs pictures with a memory like mine?". While it's a sweet sentiment, no one's memory is perfect. It has been one week since my little angel, Barrett, was born so peacefully sleeping.

Today, I had the disposable camera the hospital gave us developed. They weren't the best pictures, but as I looked at my beautiful boy, I realized that in just one week my memory had already begun to fade just a little bit.

When we were getting our things together for the hospital, a camera was not exactly on my mind. Thank goodness, the hospital had one for us. Those pictures of Barrett are precious memories of the only time I had with my son on earth, and I will hold them close to my heart for as long as I walk this earth.

So in answer to this title, I need pictures. I love that I never have to worry about my imperfect memory failing me when it comes to my little angel. I can never express just how thankful I am for that precious gift I was given.

I can't believe it has been a week since my baby left us. In one way, it seems like the longest week of my life and in another, it seems to have flown by. Though I know where my baby is, I still long to have him here. I still feel so empty without him and even when I hold my baby girl, there is still a hurt knowing that I should be holding two precious babies.

I posted yesterday on Facebook that "sometimes pain doesn't get better, it just gets different. Grief puts on a new face every day." That statement really hit home with me because it is so true. I still hurt every day, but today is the first day that I've made it through without completely breaking down. Do I hurt any less? No, but I just hurt in a different way than I did a week ago. I think you just get a little stronger every day. Maybe it's not that pain goes away with time, but that you just get better at hiding it. Everyday it seems to be a little easier to choke back the tears. I was so proud that when the lady asked me about the pictures, I was able to tell her about my little angel without completely losing it.

The past week, my husband and my God have been my rock, so I feel I would be wrong to end this without sharing what is on my heart today. These are two of my favorite verses:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:11-12

Lately, my heart has been so broken as I see people going to see things like Magic Mike, or reading 50 Shades of Grey who claim to be believers (Yes, I am prepared for any negative comments I get on this). I bought 50 Shades of Grey because I had NO CLUE what it was about, but saw everyone was reading it. Once I realized what it was, I was appalled. I literally felt horrible for buying it and couldn't get it out of my house fast enough. I was ashamed I had bought it without finding out what it was first. What breaks my heart, is seeing Christians defending reading these books and seeing this movie. The bottom line is, there is no way to Biblically defend seeing this movie, but there are plenty of ways to make a Biblical point of why you shouldn't. The most common thing I see is It's just a movie  or It's just a book. The Bible tells us not only to stay away from these things, but to flee them.

I am in no way claiming to be perfect, because that is very obvious. Please don't think that.If not for the sacrifice Jesus made, and His mercy and grace, I would have no hope. As I will tell anyone, I am a wretched, dirty sinner saved only by HIS grace. In fact at one time in my life, I probably would have been one of those girls in line for Magic Mike. I couldn't help but think how I would feel if my husband had gone to watch a female version of that and I praised God every day that I have a loving, godly husband who wouldn't even consider it.In saying that, besides being convicted to the core by my God, how could I do that to my husband?

The next argument I hear is, Don't judge me. Everyone says Christians are not to judge.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

We are supposed to hold our brothers and sisters in Christ accountable, and you will be judged with the same measure by which you judge. As a believer, you carry God with you. So my question is, Would you feel comfortable reading that book or watching that movie or whatever you are doing with Jesus?, because you are. Someone reminded me of that once, and I have never forgotten it.  I feel like sometimes we do things and we might as well be saying Hey God, I don't care what You want me to do, this is what I want to do.

I say all this not to make people mad, but simply because it is weighing so heavy on my heart today--God has given me a platform and I'm using it to write what I feel led to write.

To everyone reading this--I am so grateful and I pray for you everyday--

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Light in the Darkness

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

I have had this verse memorized since I was a small child. I think that sometimes, I forget how much meaning is packed in that verse. Sometimes, when we face a difficult time in our lives, it is so hard to believe that anything good could possibly come out of it. In this verse, God tells us otherwise. God uses everything--good or bad--to work together for good for His children.

How easy is it to get mad at God when something goes wrong? Sometimes I have to step back and remember that God doesn't owe me anything. I am a wretched sinner saved only by the grace of my God and by the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross that He didn't have to do. No one was entitled to that, but God loves us so much He did it anyway.

No matter what storm you are walking through, God can bring good from it. Not only can He, but He promises in this verse that He will for those who love Him.

Sometimes it takes awhile for us to see the good coming from the bad. It isn't always instant.

This verse has meant so much to me the past few days because I have seen it happen. Within hours of beginning a journey through the most difficult struggle of my life, God followed through on this promise over and over again.

The moment I received the news that my son had gone to be with the Lord, I immediately questioned this. For what seemed like the longest three minutes of my life I begged God to give me my son back because there was no way this was right--there was no way this could be a good thing. Then I heard that song "Bring the Rain" that reminded me that life will bring us pain, but sometimes that's what it takes for God to be glorified.

So many times this past week I have read the story of Abraham and Isaac. I am amazed at Abraham's faith. If God had come to me and asked me for my son, I would be lying if I said I would have told him anything other than "no"--in fact I probably would have said No Way. When I read this story, it makes me think of the song "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets. It says:

Sometimes I think

What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs

Was I love

When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that

And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am

Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

I want to live like that

Am I proof

That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass

And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that

And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am

Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

I want to live like that

I want to show the world the love You gave for me

I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

I want to live like that

And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am

Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that

I want to live like that

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Challenge

The past few days I have been living through the worst hurt I've ever felt. I can't describe what it is like to lose a child that you have hoped and prayed for. I can't describe what it's like to let go of those dreams you have for that child and the dreams you had of holding him and seeing him grow. The biggest question I have asked myself the last 5 days is "Why?". I have begged God to help me understand why He allowed my son to be taken so unexpectedly when everything had seemed to be going so well. The one thing people have continued to tell me is "I don't know why and we will probably never understand it". Until today, I agreed. I had begun to come to terms with the fact that I would never understand why I wasn't allow to hold my son like so many others do. I have cried more the past few days than I have ever cried and I am crying now as I write this. I cry because though I am beginning to understand, the hurt is still there and I will continue to grieve for him for as long as God allows me to walk this earth.

Last night I dreamed about Barrett and my day just started off all wrong. I didn't want to do anything but curl up in a ball and hide from the world while I cried and grieved for him. This morning I had begun to let myself retreat to that dark place I've tried to avoid. When I realized what I was doing, I grabbed my Bible and I started to read. These verses hit me big time today:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Matthew 28:16-20

We have had so many people praying for us the past few days and we have felt it and we are so thankful for such an amazing family in Christ. As many of you have said and know, there is nothing anyone can say or do that will take our pain away. I have had countless people tell me that if there is anything you can do to let you know. Well, I have thought of something, and if you keep reading, you will find out what it is.

The greatest comfort and peace I have been able to find the last few days has been the confidence I have in where my son is right now. If I can't take care of Barrett, there is no one I would rather take care of him than my Lord and Savior. I know he is in the best hands. There is no doubt in my mind where my son is right now and that I will see him again when the Lord sees fit to call me home.

I posted the other day about all of the messages I have received since I originally posted Barrett's story. I have wept as people have told me how God had touched their hearts through his story. I wept as people told me of turning back to God and how they felt led to share God's love with others after reading his story. I wept as people told me that Barrett's story caused them to pick up their Bibles or hit their knees in prayer and how that led them to God for the first time.

When I was reading my Bible today, something hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been trying so hard to understand this, and God has been putting it in my face for days now. I thought to myself, I know exactly where my son is right now, but do I know where these people would be going had God not touched them through Barrett's story. If they had not been moved through Barrett's story, would they ever have picked up their Bible or fallen on their knees in prayer before God? I believe with everything in me, that God allowed my son to leave this earth in order to bring glory to Him and that has been my prayer from the beginning--that somehow God would get the glory in all of this.

I have heard so many times that God will never give you more than you can handle. As I lay on that table when they told me my son was gone, I questioned that. I asked God why He thought I could handle this, because I couldn't. But today I thought back to even just a year ago and I know that had this happened then, I would have gone in the opposite direction. A year ago, I was not where I needed to be in my walk with Christ. Last fall though, God helped me to realize that through a very good friend. I realized that I had been angry with God and that I had been running from Him instead of running to Him. Had this happened to me before then, I can't say exactly where I would be right now, but I know without a doubt that I would be in a very different place. Though I questioned God, He knew I could get through this with His help.

With all of that being said, you are probably wondering what it is I am asking you to do. When I read the Great Commission today, I realized an area of my walk with God that has been lacking. I thought to myself, before Barrett, when was the last time you told someone about God? When was the last time you witnessed to someone? I am incredibly ashamed to say that I couldn't remember.

Most of you know I have been crocheting away making blankets to donate in memory of my son. But there is something else that I know he would want me to do and my request is for you to join me in this challenge. While I know where my son is, we are surrounded everyday by people, even people who claim to be believers, who have never accepted Jesus as their Savior. While there are no words to take away my family's pain right now, there are words that you can say that will bring glory to God and honor the memory of my son. You can share the Gospel. That is my challenge for you today and my challenge for myself. If you want to honor my son's memory, use his passing to bring even more glory to God.

I am asking you, to step out in faith and share the Gospel with someone. Tell them how good our God is and how much our God loves them. Tell them about the sacrifice He made for us on the cross that He didn't have to do, but He did because He loves THAT much. There have been so many people tell me I don't know why this happens. I don't know why God lets this happen to His people. I didn't either until today. God has not given us anything we can't handle, because though we are struggling and grieving, God is carrying us through it. He has NEVER left our side through any of this.

God did not take my son, but He did allow him to leave us and it has brought glory to God. My prayer is that it will continue to do so.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

Isaiah 6:8

A Batch of Blankets

I know a of people reading this are not friends with me on Facebook, so here is your blanket update. I have three completed blankets and I am working away on number four. There will be many more to come as my house continues to fill up with yarn every day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I anticipate that our car will be packed with blankets when I run out of yarn and we take them to donate. I honestly never dreamed I would be able to make more than 4 or 5 blankets, but thanks to your generosity, I'm on number four and I haven't even made a dent in the yarn. I have been so encouraged by the response we have received and continue to be every day.

Here is #1

And #2. This one was not made by donated yarn, but yarn I already had. This was the yarn I had set aside to make a blanket for my sweet Barrett. I was torn on what to do with it. Part of me wanted to wrap myself in this one and think of my boy, but I had the strongest feeling that Barrett would want some other little boy to have this--a little boy who can use it here.

And #3! I will continue to update as I complete them so that you all can see what is being done and donated with the yarn you have sent.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Angel By My Side

Tonight, I want to take the time to brag on my husband. I once read a quote that says: "We are all a little weird and life's a little weird and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them in mutual weirdness and call it love." Now if you know me, you know Brent has a lot of my OCD weirdness to put up with, but what can I say--he loves me flaws and all.

He has always been the most amazing partner God could have given me in this life. We are that corny couple who finish each other's sentences and say the exact same thing at the exact same thing ALL the time. We stay one step ahead of each other most of the time because we already know what the other person will be thinking. I never thought I would find someone so perfect for me, but so thankful that God has had that planned for a long, long time.

Through the good times and the bad, my husband has been the angel by my side. One thing no one could ever question is how much he loves me, Audrey, and Barrett.

The last few days, not only has he been my angel, but he has been my rock. We have both been so broken over the loss of our son we had hoped and prayed for, but through it all he has been right beside me the entire time.

I was on the phone today and the person asked me, "How has your husband been through all of this? Has he stood by you?", and all I could say was "Absolutely yes. He has been amazing."

Today, I am especially thankful for my husband. I can't imagine this life any other way than walking through it side by side with him.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 2:22-33

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Praise You in This Storm

I know I've already posted today, but I decided to blow it up today. Well, actually, I felt it wouldn't be right if I didn't take time to give some glory to God. Since Thursday night, I have been contacted by more than 4,000 people. My mailbox was already filled with yarn yesterday, and I got three more bags today. I am incredibly excited about how many blankets we are going to be able to donate and I am crocheting obsessively. I never dreamed God would grow this into what it has become. Thank you for all of your supportive and encouraging comments. Also, please remember that all of that glory goes to God. All I did was write my story--God grew it to something bigger than I ever could have imagined.

I have also received other messages. I have had people tell me that after reading Barrett's story, they realized how much they had to thank God for and it caused them to slow down and do just that. People have said that they have been inspired to turn to God, rather than away from Him when they are struggling. God has used my baby's story to bring people to Him.

If you've ever wondered if God can use you, I promise He can. My son was here for a brief time, yet He is using him in such a big way. Not only is He inspiring people to give to others and to stop and give thanks, but He is also bringing people to Him. Some people have told me they have turned back to the Lord after being angry at Him and others have turned to the Lord for the first time.

While I am broken before the Lord grieving for my boy, I am praising God for the miraculous work He is doing through Barrett's beautiful little life. I knew my son's purpose was too great for this earth. I just never knew how great it would be. And I keep telling myself, it has only been three days. My amazing God has done all of this in just THREE days. It reminds me of how much of an impact my little boy still has to make.

I cry every time I get a message. I cry because I am touched that people care so much and I cry because I am so amazed at what God is doing that it is the only emotion I know to show.

Before Barrett, I might have 20 people read my blog a day. I don't know any way to explain how it grew to thousands and thousands within two hours of me posting Barrett's story, other than it was God. I titled that post "The Post I Never Wanted to Write" because I didn't. But, something told me I had to and I needed to. God wanted Barrett's story told and now He has and is using it in a BIG BIG way.

I would like to add that I myself feel closer to God than ever. I know what it's like to turn away from God in a struggle and it doesn't work. But I can tell you that there is no way to describe the power in turning to Him. God has also used my little boy to bring me closer to Him.

Love you little man.....


I called this one "Peanut", not because it has anything to do with what I'm writing, but because that was Barrett's nickname until we knew that he was a boy. Today, I buried my son. But I praise God that I am only burying his physical body. Yes, I cried. I still cry and I will for awhile. I cry because my body feels empty without him. I cry because I know that in January that rocking chair will still be empty and I won't be home with my boy. But I heard a song this morning and one line really stuck out to me. The song was "If You Could See Me Now" by Jeff Bates:

If you could see me'd see joy and laughter in my eyes
I'm swinging on a swing set in the sky...No you wouldn't cry
If you could see me now...every single tear would be erased
By the love that shines on Jesus' face...oh what a place

I never played with my brothers and my sisters in the yard

I never was rocked to sleep in my mother's arms
But the arms that hold me are the same arms that made me
I know you miss me...I wish you could see your baby.

If you could see me now...

Even though you are looking through a broken heart
You wouldn't bring me back to where you are..
I'm dancing on a star

If you could see me now...

We're all eating cake and ice cream
Oops I got some chocolate on my wings
It's a party just for me.

Daddy will you read a bedtime story sometimes just for me

Mama I'll come and see you now and then in your dreams
So don't waste another moment worrying about what might've been
Jesus loves me and you know I'm with Him

If you could see me now I'd tell you

That you're up here way too soon
And God still has some things for you to do
And I'll see you when you're through

The line that stands out to me is the one that says this:

If you could see me now...
Even though you are looking through a broken heart
You wouldn't bring me back to where you are..
It stands out to me because I know it's true. If I could see him now, I could never bring him back. He is in heaven praising our Creator and while I grieve for him here on earth, I can only imagine what he is seeing and how happy he is. He will never hurt and he will never be sad. He will never know heartbreak. 
I grieve, but I grieve knowing my son is happy and I will see him one day, when God is done with me here. 

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13

I grieve with hope. My baby was born sleeping, but now he is in the arms of the Savior who created him. 
I have been putting off talking to Audrey about her brother. How do you explain to a three year old who was so excited about her brother that he is no longer here? Luckily, my three year old continuously proves to be wise beyond her years. I asked her if she remembered that Barrett was in mommy's tummy and when she said "Yes", I cried as I told her he wasn't there anymore. She didn't say anything, she just looked at me as I cried and when I found my words again, I told her that he was an angel now. She looked at me a little longer and she said, "Mommy, did Jesus need him?". She blew my mind. But I told her yes and she still had a little brother, but yes, Jesus needed him to come be an angel. I don't know how much she understands it, but I know I will never forget her response. 
Last night, Audrey started singing her new favorite song "Where I Belong" by Building 429. It says this:
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong
And while she so beautifully sang it as loud as she could, I kept thinking, no, we're not home, but Barrett is. And while I cry for him and grieve for him, I find peace and comfort in knowing that I will never spend a day in my life worrying about him. I know he is being taken care of by the one who gave him his short, beautiful life.  
I never was rocked to sleep in my mother's arms
But the arms that hold me are the same arms that made me

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Letter to My Son

This is more for my benefit than it is anyone else. My son has had such an amazing impact already and for that I give all the glory to God. But I'm sure everyone knows that I am only human, and I am a mother, so there is a huge side of me that is desperately grieving for my son. I am so thankful that my God knows that. Amy Grant's song "Better than a Hallelujah" came on my Pandora radio yesterday as if God knew I needed that reminder.

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
Better than a choir singing out, singing out

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

(Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)
Better than a Hallelujah
(Better than a Hallelujah sometimes)

Dear Barrett,

The last two days have been so incredibly painful, but I wouldn't trade it any of it for the joy that I got from carrying you for eighteen beautiful weeks. Those few kicks I felt, I will always treasure. It still hurts to look down at my flat stomach and know you are no longer there, but time and prayer will make that easier I know. I will always treasure those two times when your dad and I were able to hold you in our arms, though it will never replace the lifetime that we thought we would be holding you. I think about you a lot, in fact you are on my mind 24 hours a day, even in my sleep. That's why I don't sleep much right now. Right now, when I think about you, I cry a lot, but I know that I will see you again one day. I want you to know that for every tear I've cried, you could take each one and multiply it by the biggest number there is, and you wouldn't come anywhere close to how much I love you. Though you don't physically walk this earth with us, you will always be my first son, my second child, and my little man. Your sister so badly wanted to get you a Dream Light. She has a turtle that shines stars all over her room while she sleeps. She wanted to get you one that looks like a puppy. Though she was never able to do that, I can only imagine the view of the stars you have now. I look at the rocking chair in your room and I so badly want to rock you just one more time, but I know I would never be satisfied with one more time. I would always want more. I would always want that lifetime we dreamed of with you. When your dad and I found out we were having another baby, we wanted a little boy so badly. And though you left us so soon, we still got our dream. We got our precious little boy and your tiny self was so much more than we ever could have imagined. You were so beautiful. I will always treasure my pictures of your sweet little face, but one thing that I will never forget were your tiny little feet. You were like a little doll. I truly believe there are angels among us, and I will believe the rest of my life that when I held you in my arms, I had the rare opportunity of holding one of God's treasured angels. We don't know what happened with your physical body that caused you to leave us so suddenly, but I know that now you have a perfect heavenly body. I believe that God creates all children for a purpose as it says in the verses we had your picture made with, Psalm 139:12-16. I believe that God's purpose for you was just too great for you to be able to fulfill on this earth. Tomorrow, we will lay your physical body to rest. Mom and Dad and all of your family will probably cry because we are human and we miss you a lot, but know that we are also celebrating your life. Though Momma cries a lot, you brought me an incredible amount of joy and now, you have touched more lives in two days than I thought it was possible to do in a lifetime. I know you see Momma making these blankets in your memory. The one I am making now is the hardest, because it was supposed to be yours. I hope that makes it extra special for the little boy who will use it here on this earth. Please bear with me as I continue to grieve your absence on this earth. As I write this, our mailbox was just filled with yarn that people have donated in your memory and to celebrate your life. Your sister amazes me everyday, and now you do too. I love you so much, but I have faith that you already know that and that someone is rocking you for me until I come home to see you. You are one amazing little man.


**Once again please excuse any typos. Please understand that while writing this helps me to heal, it hurts to much to read through it again once I get it out.

Love you Angel

This is something no mother should have to post. My little man was born sleeping on August 23, 2012 and 6:05 am. Here is the link to his obituary:

Barrett Luker

Thank you so much for all of the love, support, kind words, encouragement, and prayers.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In the Shadow of Your Wings

I'm not going to write my own thoughts on this post, I'm just going to let God do the talking. The following verses have helped me get through the past few days. I forgot to take my Bible to the hospital, but luckily I have one on my Kindle app on my iPad that allows me to highlight and bookmark verses. The night of August 22, I only slept 2 hours. The rest of the night was spent reading and praying. These are the verses God sent to me:

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Deuteronomy 33:27

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 9:9-10

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7-8

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God. By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His son is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:5,8

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1-3

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 61:1-4

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:2

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous hand.
Isaiah 41:10

O Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress.
Jeremiah 16:19

And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

By His light I walked through darkness.
Job 29:3

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.
Psalm 34:17-19

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
James 1:2-4

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Post I Never Wanted to Write

I didn't know what else to call this. It is what it is. I don't want to write this, but I have to. I still can't bring myself to talk about the past two days with anyone. Even thinking about mentioning it, makes me start to fall apart all over again. I have to write this, because I have to clear my head and sort through my thoughts. Writing is the only way I can do that without losing control.

On August 6, 2012, Brent and I received the exciting news that we were expecting a little boy. I called him our "little man", a name that seems so fitting for him now. That day, he looked perfect. He was moving and everything seemed to point to a healthy baby. That day, I was 15 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

Yesterday, on August 22, 2012, I went in for a routine check up. When I went back for the ultrasound I was so excited to see my angel again. But when I looked up at the screen, my joy faded because I knew something wasn't right. He was so still. He was too still. And the ultrasound technician was too quiet. She started measuring him and I watched as every measurement she took measured between 16-17 weeks. I was 18 weeks 1 day. My boy was too small. Then, she excused herself and I knew. I hoped I was wrong, and I laid on that table and PRAYED I was wrong, but it was true. Sometime between when I saw my perfect baby on August 6th and my appointment yesterday, my little man had stopped growing and his heart had stopped beating.

The doctor reassured me several times that it was not my fault and they didn't know why he had suddenly passed away. As the tears started to fall, I knew in my heart that it wasn't my fault or anything I could have done to save him. While Brent and I had so many hopes and dreams for Barrett, God had a different plan for him.

On my way home to pack my things before going to the hospital, I turned the music up in my car trying to distract myself. That morning, I had put a MercyMe CD in my car. I usually just listen to the radio, but God must have known what I would need to hear as I made that horrible drive. I turned it up as a song was ending. The next song on the CD was "Bring the Rain". If I hadn't been driving, I would have hit my knees right there. However, I was brought to my knees humbly before my God in a spiritual way.

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace

Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of

The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy

Is the Lord God Almighty

It is admittedly so hard for me to see the good in me losing my son, but I know that my God can bring good out of the darkest storm. My greatest prayer right now, is that Barrett's short life and the storm that our family is going through will somehow bring glory to God. I will admit that several times I have asked God "Why?". Surprisingly, I haven't felt anger though. I know God has a purpose for my little man's short life.  I am so thankful for the joy that carrying Barrett for 18 weeks brought to me, and for that I praise God. I praise God for giving me a beautiful little boy because, though I wasn't able to know him in this life, I can't wait to rock him in heaven.

Barrett Luker was born on August 23, 2012 at 6:05 a.m. and he weighed 4.6 ounces. He was born sleeping. I am so thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses who allowed us time with our boy and pictures of him that I will always hold close to my heart. I can honestly say, that today, I truly held one of God's angels in my arms. I like to picture him in heaven running around in his flawless heavenly body throwing a ball or getting muddy like little boys do.

As we spend the next few days preparing to lay him to rest, I find comfort in knowing this is not goodbye. We are simply saying farewell to his physical body and we will see you one day.

This has been a journey I never wanted to endure and one I wish no one had to go through. However, I can't wait to see what kind of glorious things God will do through my little angel's short life here on earth.

I have been thinking all day of something that I could do to honor my son. Project Linus takes homemade blankets and gives them to children in the hospital. So, I have decided I am going to crochet as many blankets as I can to donate to this cause in honor of my angel. I would like to ask that anyone who would like to help with this, to send some yarn my way--any color and as much or as little as you would like. Every bit will go towards making a blanket for a sick child in the hospital that will be donated in Barrett's name. I am hoping to make a big donation to this cause in honor of the angel heaven has gained.

Lastly, I want to say how much we appreciate all of the kind words, thoughts, and prayers. We have been overwhelmed to tears by the amount of love and support we have received the last 2 days. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing people. We will never be able to adequately express our gratitude towards you all, but please know that it has meant the world to us. We love every single one of you.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
James 1:2-4

*Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors. After typing all of this, I cannot to bear to read through it again right now to proofread.

Monday, August 20, 2012

We're Expanding! (Pregnancy Diary)

Not only is the Luker family expanding, but so am I! I have gained a whopping 7 pounds! I absolutely love food right now--everything looks good, and if I am craving it, I cannot stop thinking about it until I get some! (Right now all I can think about is Krispy Kreme, so the hubby can expect a pit stop there soon). One thing I have done with this pregnancy is take belly photos every week. I love seeing how my belly is growing and changing!

I had a wee little bump at 8 weeks that I think was probably more bloat than baby, but we will count it. I was mighty proud of that little bump! I was eating overtime to still gain weight despite morning sickness, so bloat or baby, it was a bump! At this point, it was really starting to sink in that we were adding one more to our little family. Our little family wouldn't be so little anymore. Audrey was excited to be a big sister, but at this point she only wanted a girl, and she only wanted to name her Caroline (her cousin's name).

At ten weeks, I started getting a real bump! I was so excited, and counting down the days to the second trimester. The first trimester blues were getting to me and I was so ready to just have some ENERGY again! I think by the time I hit the second trimester, I had forgotten what energy felt like! Laundry, dishes? Who has time for that? I just wanted to SLEEP! At week 10, Audrey still wanted a girl and she still wanted to name her Caroline.

Twelve weeks rolled around and I was finally starting to feel a little better. The energized days of the second trimester were in sight! Now, I started wanting to nest and begin to get things ready for baby. We got Audrey moved into her new big girl room and got it all painted for her (Well, the hubby did, I just picked out the color!). Audrey was still trying to figure out why it takes so long for the baby to come. Does she really have to wait until her birthday? We just reminded her it takes a long time for the baby to grow big enough to come home with us. She still wants a girl named Caroline!

Well, fourteen weeks rolled around, and the second trimester is finally here! I have a certified baby bump and am feeling amazing! At this point, I was starting to drive myself crazy wondering if baby was a boy or a girl. Either way, I was going to be excited for different reasons. It was just driving me crazy not knowing! I wanted to start planning for him/her! I was desperate to really start "nesting". The countdown is on though. This was just 2 weeks before we would find out about our little miracle. This week, Audrey decided she wanted a little brother and she wanted to name him William.

Sixteen weeks, and it's a boy! We couldn't have been happier about welcoming a son to our family and Audrey was ecstatic that she was getting her brother. It took us awhile to convince her that his name would be Barrett and not William, but she has come around. I keep imagining how big my belly will be in about 20 weeks and it seems like such a short time for it to grow so much! This pregnancy is flying by!

18 week update tomorrow=almost halfway there!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Must Love Dogs

You know that kid who wants to bring home every stray on the side of the road? The kid who wants to be a vet? The kid who would rather watch Animal Planet than Disney? Yeah, that was me. I can still remember watching Animal Cops for the first time at the beach when I was 8 years old. We didn't have Animal Planet on our tv at home, so I had never seen it before. I remember when I saw those animals in those horrible situations and how it made me feel. I had never seen anything like it. It was beyond my comprehension that people could do that to a dog. When we came home, I begged my mom for Animal Planet and we finally got it. The more I watched. the more determined I became.

When I was ten, I decided I was going to start an animal rescue "when I grew up" and I even had a notebook full of names for my rescue dogs and the blueprints I had drawn for my rescue. (See, I've always been a planner and a "notebooker").

Well, fast forward. I still haven't won the lottery, so no animal rescue here. However, I found another way to contribute thanks to Facebook. I never knew there were so many animal lovers out there who took these animals in for a short while until they found their forever home. I started reading more and more about fostering and decided that even if we just took one, it would save that one dog.

"Rescuing one dog won't change the world, but it will change the world for that one rescued dog."

So, we began to foster for Labs4Rescue 2 years ago. In those two years, I have come to love this rescue group. We have the most amazing group of fosters down here, an amazing group of adopters up north, and the most wonderful coordinator who places our dogs with the best possible families. Also, we have some AMAZING dogs! This has been so rewarding, even though so many will try to bring you down. I can't tell you how many times people have told me "You know you can't save them all". Yes, I know. But I can do my part and save the ones I can. It makes it so worth it when I get pictures of these babies I have loved as my own with their happy new families, knowing they will never have to want for anything and I can rest my mind about that one. That one is happy. That one is loved. 

Interested in fostering?


Our current foster, Princess Lady

Queenie before boarding Rescue Road Trips

Missi before leaving for her forever home

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I am Redeemed

 "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave:

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy

Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet"

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me

'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, 'cause I'm not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free

So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe every stain, yeah, I'm not who I used to be
Oh, God, I'm not who I used to be
Jesus, I'm not who I used to be
'Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed 

I am absolutely in love with this song and it seemed to go perfectly with the verses I read today. No matter what we have done, when we lay it all down and let God take control, we are redeemed. Thank God we have been redeemed.  Even the sins that we can never forget, God has forgotten them the minute we repent and ask for forgiveness. I love the line in this song that says:

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The person we were before Christ is no longer who we are. He has made us into a new creation. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are a creation of God.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  

The verses that really hit me tonight were in Jeremiah.

And the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he made it over, reworking it into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to make it.
Jeremiah 18:4

Worrying about something in our past is pointless. We can do whatever action is necessary to correct our mistake and ask for forgiveness from God and anyone that we may have wronged, but we can't take it back. I love that these verses say that he was remaking the vessel because it had been spoiled. Just like when we are in sin, we are spoiled. When we ask God for forgiveness, and truly repent, he makes us a new creation as the potter did in Jeremiah 18:4. I absolutely love the illustration these verses provide! 

Now I'm going to revisit that line from the song above that says: 

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

God gives us a new name--we are His child. He gives us a new life. We are no longer to live the way we did before Jesus. Everything  in our life should point to Him. Everything we say, and everything we do should point directly to Him. And He gives us hope

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't Worry

Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I came across these verses this morning. I felt that they didn't need an introduction. They really spoke to me today because I am what some people would call a worrier. I find that it's hard not to worry when you have children. However, I find that I worry a lot less when I stop and take the time to give it to God each time I find myself worrying about something. People that know me, know that I write a lot. I write my prayers, I write what I am thankful for, and I write what I am worried about. I keep my prayers and the things I am thankful for so I can look back on them. My worries are different though. When I find myself worrying about something, I write it on an index card and then I pray about it and turn it over to God. Then, I tear it in half and throw it away. It is no longer mine to worry about. I have given it to God.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

The verses in Jeremiah were such a beautiful illustration to me. The tree whose roots are by the river has nothing to worry about. While other trees may grow dry and weary when the heat comes, this tree has a constant supply of water- its life source. In the same way, when we try to do things on our own, we worry and grow weary. However, when we put our hope in the Lord, He provides us the strength we need to overcome--He is our water and our life source.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

 There is a song that plays on the radio called "He Said" by Group 1 Crew. The song is about promises that God makes to us. One line says:

I won't give you more, more than you can take
and I might let you bend, but I won't let you break

God will never give us more than we can take. The world may give us reasons to worry, but our God gives us every reason not to worry.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Faith Like a Child

Audrey and I have a morning routine for getting ready for work and school. Usually, that consists of Audrey sleeping until I am completely ready. This morning, however, she was wide awake when I got out of the shower. She was sitting on the edge of the bathtub while I was putting my makeup on. All of a sudden she looks up at me and says "Mommy you are beautiful. Did you know Jesus loves you?". So often, she reminds me of Luke 18:17.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Luke 18:17

How often have you heard the phrase "faith like a child"? I don't think that verse ever impacted me as much as it has since I have a child of my own. Fast forward to us heading to take her to school. We were listening to "The Message" on XM radio like we always do. The song "Does Anybody Hear Her?" by Casting Crowns starts playing and lyrics start jumping out at me. 

"Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even knows she's going down today?
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? "

I thought about the reminder Audrey had given me earlier. "Did you know Jesus loves you?" and how much that had meant to me. It made me wonder how many people are struggling and hurting around us that we hurry by trying to keep up with our busy schedules. I wondered what kind of impact it would have on the world, if just once a day I took a leap of faith like my three year old daughter and just took the time to say "Did you know Jesus loves you?" even to a complete stranger. We never know what someone is going through and how much those simple words from my baby's mouth could mean to someone. Let's say that person decides to go to church or pick up a Bible because of those words, and then they become a believer and ask Jesus to lead them. They begin to follow the Leader. I was amazed at the thought of the impact that could be brought about if every one of God's children took just a few minutes a day to remind someone, anyone, that Jesus loves them. So, today, that is my challenge to myself and to anyone reading this today. Make a point each day to say those words to at least one person. You never know what they may mean to another person. Step out of your comfort zone with that beautiful and innocent faith like a child.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our Precious Little Man

Yesterday, we were pleased to announce to the world that we are expecting a beautiful baby boy in January. His big sister is very excited, as is the rest of his family. I absolutely love having a daughter, and I am incredibly excited about the idea of having a son. I was most excited to tell my husband the news. He is an amazing father to our daughter and I know he would have welcomed another with just as much love. However, I also know how much he has dreamed of having his little boy. I think we have both been dreaming of this since we found out that God has blessed us with another little miracle.

I look at this picture of him everyday. Sometimes, it is still so hard to believe that next year I will have a daughter and a son. Mostly, we are so grateful and blessed that he is a healthy little baby. His closet is already filling up and his big sister has made sure he has toys to play with in the bath tub. She has assured me that it is very important for him to have rubber duckies.

We finally agreed on the name Barrett for our sweet little man. We will have an "A" and a "B" as Big Momma says. I look at this little outfit and it is so sweet to imagine him wearing it as we finally get to hold him in our arms. Children truly are the greatest blessing God gives us in this life.

"For this child I have prayed and the Lord has granted me my petition."
1 Samuel 1:27

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to Blogging

After a long break from blogging, I've decided to give it another go. I titled this one "Follow the Leader", because that is what we are striving to do everyday with Christ being our leader.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 These are two verses that I love to start everyday with.

In May, Brent and I found out that we were expecting another little miracle to add to our family. This baby has one excited family waiting for it to arrive.

Being parents has been the greatest and most rewarding job that Brent and I have been given. My only complaint is that they really do grow up too fast. Audrey started K-3 today! I cried when I got back in my car after dropping her off. My baby should still be, well, a baby! Instead, when I talk to her, I feel like I am having a conversation with a miniature adult.

Yesterday, while cleaning the house I heard Audrey singing in the living room. When I walked in, I realized she was singing: "All I know is I'm not home yet. This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus. This is not where I belong", over and over again. This is a song titled "Where I Belong" by Building 429 and Audrey and I often listen to it in the car. Honestly, I never realized she was paying that much attention, but once again she proved me wrong. I have learned a three year old cannot keep a secret and when they say don't say anything in front of them you don't want repeated, that is so true. However, there are some things I hope she not only repeats, but takes them to heart as she grows older, such as that song. As I watch her grow, I am so proud of the girl she is becoming. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but she has a beautiful heart that makes me smile every day.

Now, I am moved to tears as I think that God has chosen to bless us with another child. I cannot wait to meet this precious miracle that God has entrusted to us. I heard this song on the radio yesterday and have written it down as a prayer for my children every day:

Find Your Wings by Mark Harris

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth
And if I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you rots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you rots
And help you find your wings

It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
 But I'll cheer as you fly