Monday, January 21, 2013

When There are No Words

Shout-out to Dawn on the Luker Family Tales Blog Facebook Page--I'm using your topic, so let me know where to send your Barrett's Blankets wristband! (You can PM me on the Facebook page)

One of the hardest things I had to do after Barrett died was to tell his sister. Audrey was SO excited about her baby brother. She was constantly talking about all of the things she wanted to do with him and teach him. She was three when he died. She was old enough to understand a baby was coming--and that the baby was gone.

I don't think we give children as much credit as they deserve. Audrey talked about Barrett every day. But when I came home from the hospital after his birth on Thursday, she never mentioned him or asked anything about him until that Sunday when I told her he died. She knew something was wrong. I don't know how she knew not to mention Barrett--wisdom beyond her years. I remember that right before I told her, I tried to get myself together, but that was useless. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Audrey, you know how Barrett was in Mommy's tummy?
Audrey: Yes
Me: He's not there anymore. He went to heaven.

Of course she went on to ask why and we went through several different things but the thing that seemed to settle best with her is that her brother is an angel now. To a three year old that was pretty cool in the moment.

As a mother, I want to be able to answer all of Audrey's questions about Barrett. The most important thing I've learned the last few months as a parent is that I absolutely do not have all the answers. It is ok for me to tell her Baby, I don't really know.

There are times when she speaks of her brother with joy--like when she takes his lovey to her four year old pictures so she can have a part of him with her. Moments like that make my heart smile. Then there are the times when she breaks my heart. At the PAIL Awareness walk we attended in October, we left with Audrey in tears crying I want my brother. I don't know who was crying harder--Audrey or myself. I don't know that I'll ever be able to forget how heartbroken my big girl was that day.

About two months after Barrett died, Audrey and I had another conversation on the way home from her school that once again pulled at my heartstrings. She asked me if there would be another baby in my tummy one day. I told her if God blessed us with another baby then there would be. She looked at me and said Mommy, will I get to hold the baby and bring it home this time? I remember being shocked by that question. I knew Brent and I worried about that and were terrified, but I had no idea Audrey had the exact same fears in her own way. All I could say was I hope so baby.

There is no handbook on living with the death of a child. It's something you learn as you go. One of the hardest things for me has been watching my husband and daughter grieve and not being able to do anything to make it better. Here is my advice to anyone dealing with a loss with living children around: Don't worry if you can't answer their questions. We all want to be supermom, but we are all human. This is a learning process for us too and sometimes we just don't have all the answers. Kids will ask tough questions. Just the other day Audrey asked me if the baby in my tummy was going to have to go to heaven too and I had to choke back tears. Sometimes there are no words, and that's ok. In those moments I've learned to just scoop her up and squeeze her extra tight.

Children grieve too, just in their own way. One thing that has always been important to me is making sure Audrey remembers her brother. We talk about him often and whether he is watching us from heaven. We talk about who might be up there rocking him today and what story Jesus may have told him. She never got to see him, so it is important to me that we talk about him anytime she wants to. I don't want to change the subject or pass the questions up. It is important for her to have her grieving process as well.



If you have any specific questions, I would be glad to answer them if I can. You can email, comment below or visit our Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

Have something you want to see on the blog? Let me know and you could own the next Barrett's Blankets wristband!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beautiful

Today I am going to be very real with you. I am going to share a part of my life with you that I never talk about--a part of my life I spent years trying to forget. I have always felt like I shouldn't talk about it--like it was a blemish on my "record" that I should ignore. It seems that it has always been expected that I should keep quiet about it. But my conversation with a sixteen year old girl today is causing me to break my silence. A beautiful sixteen year old girl who thinks she is quite the opposite of that because others and the way our world views beauty have made her feel that way.

I am here to tell you that I make a lot of mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes I made and that I regret the most, was listening to the world's view over God's and allowing it to control my life.

There will be people who read this and automatically mark me off as crazy and that's ok because they won't be the first. I've been called that before because of this part of my life. It used to hurt, but now I only see it as ignorance of a true problem plaguing young girls today. There will always be ignorance and I have finally learned that and that you just have to ignore it and pray for them. If this post helps just one of the young girls that read this blog, then I absolutely do not mind if everyone else considers me crazy. There may be people who think I shouldn't be posting this or sharing it and that's ok too--I write what I feel led to write. I answer to Him.

So I'm going to share my story--though I spent years trying to forget this part of my life, it is and always will be part of my testimony. It is a reminder to me of the depths God can pull you out of. I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I gave my life to the Lord on December 28, 2004. I was fourteen years old and I was so excited about it. I love that raw excitement of discovering the Bible and God's promises for the first time. I have to be honest with you that though I went to church a pretty good bit growing up, I rarely listened and the only verse I knew was John 3:16. While this is a very powerful verse, I only knew it because we memorized it at a VBS I went to for two days once because my best friend was there. So when I gave my heart to Jesus and dove into His word, it was exciting! I wanted to do everything I could for my Jesus--this Jesus who had saved my undeserving self.

Of course, when you are living for Jesus, the devil will attack and he knew just where to attack a fourteen year old girl who just wanted to fit in. Growing up, I was always tiny. I ate all the time and never gained an ounce. Right around this time I turned fourteen, I also started to fill out like it is completely normal to do. But in my fourteen year old mind, I was getting fat. Now, looking back now I can tell you I was not, but I truly believed it then. People would make harmless comments and in my mind I would mold them into See, I am getting fat. Even so and so agrees. I developed an eating disorder, and it consumed me.

I battled with anorexia and bulimia for almost three years. It started out mild and gradually worsened. There were times when I would desperately try to get better because I was tired of being consumed by those thoughts--I wanted to go to a restaurant with my friends and not have everyone glance my way to see if I was eating this time. I just wanted to enjoy life. During those times, I might have a month or so where I did ok, but eventually I would go right back to my old ways the minute I realized I couldn't get into my size 0 jeans anymore.

I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew that I was not respecting the body God blessed me with, but I couldn't seem to truly hand it over to Him. I was selfish. I wanted to follow God, but I wanted to be skinny while I did. I was listening to the world instead of to the One who gave His life for me and loved me far beyond anything I could fathom.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body,"
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This verse was shared with me often during that time in my life--and it convicted me far beyond anything I wanted to admit. To cut my story a little short, when I was sixteen different things caused me to be angry at God. I tried to run from God--which, by the way, you cannot do. I pushed away my friends who genuinely cared, and I spiraled out of control until I found myself in the juvenile ward of a hospital a couple of hours from home literally having someone watch me 24 hours a day because I couldn't be trusted.

I have to be honest that the week I spent there scared the life out of me. I finally came to a place where I genuinely wanted to get better. Spiritually I was still nowhere near where I needed to be anymore and I wouldn't be for years. I wrongly let myself become extremely angry at God. Though this place finally helped me to heal mentally and physically, it wasn't until this past year that I went running back to God instead of away from Him. It was in this hospital that I started to write a lot. They encouraged it and it was one of the things I was allowed to do during the free time. If it was something I didn't want anyone to read, I would write it anyway and then tear it up into tiny pieces and throw it away. It was almost as if some of my thoughts and things I wanted to say but couldn't were eating me alive on the inside and when I wrote them down, I always felt better--they were no longer choking the life out of me. I've been writing ever since.

Now to the point of me sharing this story--where did our current world's view of beauty evolve from? Why do we make girls feel like that have to look a certain way to be beautiful? Why can't we accept that the true beauty of everyone is the fact that we are all unique on the outside and the inside? For me personally, I look back and I wish I could tell myself then that none of that mattered because I had all I needed in Jesus.

I look at my own daughter and her teenage years scare me to death. It is very important to me for her to know she is beautiful both inside and out. I think it is important for her father and me to affirm that for her often, and mostly through the Scriptures that tell us that.

I heard this song today after my conversation with this girl, and I was just amazed. It was on an old CD I had burned in high school and I haven't heard it in years. Why did I put that CD in today? Yes, I was curious to see what was on it, but I believe that curiosity was stirred up because God knew this song was perfect for the thoughts that were on my mind today.

Beautiful
By: Bethany Dillon

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life

[Chorus]
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory

[Chorus]

I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful 


You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful  


For anyone out there struggling, not necessarily with an eating disorder, but self-esteem in general, please remember this: You were created in HIS image. You are beautiful. You are loved. Just the way you are.

This is the first time I have ever shared this part of my life. For years I almost tried to pretend it never happened. I knew people judged me harshly for my "weakness". Even when they didn't say it, I could see it on their faces. By keeping silent, though, I am denying God some glory He is due. Yes, the doctors at that hospital helped me physically and emotionally, but only One could fill that spiritual need that reminds me that I never need to go to that place again.

It's gotten even worse in recent years since the internet and social networking have exploded. Kids who are bullied can't escape it. Kids are constantly bombarded with images of the world's view of beauty in magazines, television, movies, books, and now the internet--even when I was on Facebook, I would notice the ads and the photos that say things like "Like for beautiful, comment for ugly" etc, etc are constantly being thrown in the faces of our youth. It makes me want to be even more protective of what my own daughter sees.

How many times have you heard: God loves you. He thinks you are beautiful. It doesn't matter what you look like, it's what's on the inside that matters?

Guess what. It's all true. But the problem is it only makes a difference when you truly believe it. Someone telling you that or even saying it yourself doesn't always mean you believe it. You will only truly believe it when you really understand the depth of its meaning. How do you understand that? How do truly accept that you are a beautiful person created in His image? Dive into His word and let Him tell you. Don't just listen to me or anyone else. Read His word and discover His unending love for you.

A friend of mine in high school would always share this beautiful description: When Jesus was on the cross, every drop of blood that was spilled was screaming your name. With every drop He was saying I love YOU. I love YOU. But when my friend shared this he would throw your name in there and it would always resonate with you. So do that. Go back and insert your name where it says YOU and know that He loves you enough that He suffered and died for you and He would do it all again just to be with you--because He loves you. He truly loves you. There is nothing you can do that will put you out of His reach. Trust me because if His love was conditional He would have been done with me a long time ago. Unconditional love. That is what He has for you today. Are you ready to truly accept that and let Him radically change you?

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  
1 Samuel 16:7

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 
1 Peter 3:3-4

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them
Genesis 1:27

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  
1 John 3:1

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 
 Luke 12:7

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  
Proverbs 31:30

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:31-39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:16-17

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  
Zephaniah 3:17

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 8:3-5

For we are His workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  
1 Peter 1:18-21 
 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything


Ok--today I am going to show you just how "scatterbrained" I can be. Rather, let's go with multi-tasker. I have so many things I want to blog about tonight and, yes, I am going to cram them all in one post, so be prepared--this could get long, but I'll do my best not to overdo it.

First, I have been overjoyed to see how excited Audrey is about being a big sister again! She has been telling everyone she comes in contact with "There's a baby in my Mommy's tummy!". We shared the news with her last night and the conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Guess what the doctor found in my tummy today!
Audrey: A BABY?!?
Me: Yes!!!
Audrey: (as serious as could be) I told you you was gonna have a baby.

I have to give credit where credit is due. Right around Thanksgiving Audrey walked up to me as serious as could be and said "Mommy, I'm gonna have a baby sister in your tummy soon". It was so shocking because she said it so seriously and just out of nowhere. Since then she would mention things she was going to do with her baby sister that would be in mommy's tummy soon. I took that as God saying "I will bless you again. Be patient". Little did I know I wouldn't have to be patient for very long before we found out about Baby C on my grandfather's birthday. (Yes, my grandfather who passed away in November and right before Barrett's due date--He's always on time). She continued to skip around the house singing "Mommy's gonna have a baby! Mommy's gonna have a baby!".



In saying that, my intuition is definitely saying Girl  this time and I'm 2/2 so far, so we will see! All this momma wants is a healthy, screaming baby in September!

As excited as Audrey is, she also broke my heart tonight. When we were walking out the door for church she was telling me how she couldn't wait to tell Mrs. Donna about her baby in my tummy. Then she turns to me and says--Mommy, I hope this baby doesn't have to go to heaven. Do you think it will? Shattered--that's the only way to describe my heart in that moment. All I can tell her is that Mommy really prays we get a lot of time with this baby, but it's up to God. She asks the hardest questions sometimes, but it reminds me how beautiful her heart is. I have a baby in my tummy that is currently the size of a sesame seed that she has never seen or met, yet she is so head over heels in love already. I know she will be an amazing big sister.

Thank you all for your prayers for Baby C. I'll be going back to the neurologist next week and I also ask for prayers for no more seizures because that would be very dangerous for Baby C. I am trusting my doctors and putting my faith in the Great Physician.

So onto my next thoughts for the day--I was listening to some music this morning while cooking breakfast and was on a Jeremy Camp kick. It seemed like every song that came on, God was really speaking to me. Here is the first one:

Empty Me:



The song says:

Holy fire burn away
My desire for anything
That is not of You
And is of me
I want more of You and less of me

Empty me

Then at the end, the songs says so simply, yet so incredibly powerfully: I want more, I want more of you Jesus.

Wow. That's all I could think. I began to wonder what God would do and how He would move if we went to Him in prayer with that and we meant it. It made me think of these verses:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

What do you think would happen if we truly put away all of our selfish desires, everything that is of this world, and laid it down before Him? What would happen if our prayer was I want more of you Jesus? That thought truly convicted me to my core today. To fall so in love with Jesus that our only desire is to have more of Him--I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The next song that really struck a chord with me was My Desire:

Here is part of the song:

You want to be real, you want to be empty inside
And I know my heart is to feel you near
And I know my life
It's to do your will
It's to do your will

All my life I have seen
Where you've take me
Beyond all I have hoped
And there's more left unseen

There's not much I can do to repay all you've done
So I give my hands to use

This is my desire, this is my return
This is my desire to be used by you


I love this also. Each one of these songs I heard, hit me as a prayer. If we truly prayed for God to use us, again, what would happen? The last few months I've seen how God has used my baby boy and it has convicted me to the core--if He can touch so many people through my little boy, how much time am I wasting not working for the kingdom? But at the same time, I was deeply convicted this morning because I thought to myself: How often during the last few months have I sincerely told God that my desire is for Him to use me for HIS glory?. My toes? Yeah, they're hurting.



Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8 

I hope I didn't get so long that you quit actually reading halfway through, but like I said, my mind has been busy today. I am so excited about this baby I literally feel like I could just stand up and shout about it throughout the day. I am overjoyed that God has blessed us with this beautiful baby. 

I've got to tell you I've been having a hard time with Barrett's due date fast approaching. I'll be honest with you that lately I tear up anytime someone mentions it. I try to fight them back, but this month is just really hard. I so badly want to be holding my Barrett while he screams and rocking him to sleep at night like I had envisioned I would spend January. That piece of my heart is still missing and always will be. My Jesus is bringing healing, but I will always miss my baby boy. I know that God knew I would need the comfort of Baby C during this time. I cannot say this enough--HE IS SO, SO, SO GOOD!!!!


 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Overwhelmed

Alright y'all--my famous word is back. I haven't used it in awhile, though, so I think I get a pass. I'm overwhelmed. There is no other word for it. My family has walked through some trials lately. My everything has been tested to the core since August. It hasn't been easy and I would be a bold faced liar if I said anything to the contrary. I have asked "Why?" more times in the last five months than I could ever hope to count. But little by little His plans unfold with each passing day and I'm reminded of why He is in charge and I'm not.

I've learned so much the past five months and the two that stand out the most are these: God is always good and He will never leave you alone.

I don't know how people make it through this life without Him. I truly don't. He has carried me so many times lately and I desperately try to avoid letting my mind wander to where I may be had I been facing these trials without Him.

This baby has been covered in prayer for awhile now. We didn't know when God would bless us with another child, but we do know His timing is perfect. I didn't know when to expect it, but let me tell you that I was jumping for joy when that second pink line popped up. Mostly I was in shock. I cannot thank God enough for this beautiful child.

I'm overwhelmed by the blessings God has placed in my life as undeserving as I am. I have cried so many tears of joy the last few days. I don't understand why He blesses us so when we don't deserve it other than He loves us that much. His mercy and grace is beyond anything I can truly fathom.

Tonight I've been overwhelmed by you all. I've received thousands of messages of prayers and congratulations. Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am reading and replying as quickly as I can. Your prayers for Baby C mean more than you will ever know. I am so thankful for each and every one of you. You remind me every day that the world is still full of genuinely kind, caring, and loving people.

"For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him."
1 Samuel 1:27


The Rainbow after the Storm--Our BIG Announcement!

So after a whirlwind of hard times, Brent and I have received the most amazing news!




I feel like I am a huge bundle of emotions right now--ok, I feel completely CRAZY! I am so unbelievably excited--I can't even explain it. But at the same time I have never been so terrified in my whole life.

Today I felt so many emotions at once--going back to the ultrasound room was almost more than I could take today. The last time I was in there, I found out Barrett died. To make it harder, when they pulled my information up on the screen, it pulled up all of my measurements and things from Barrett.

Today I am so thankful for an amazing medical team who really made me feel at peace about it--they are taking extra special care of this momma.

I was so ecstatic to find out everything looked perfect and "Baby C" is moving along just great. (I affectionately call it "Baby C" because Audrey is my "A" and Barrett is my "B")

Baby C is our rainbow baby--if you are not a member of the baby loss community, this may be a new term to you--it was for me.

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."


I absolutely love this explanation. The Lord has definitely blessed our little family. It may seem kind of crazy for us to announce this so early--but let me explain. With Barrett, we waited to announce when I hit the 2nd trimester, but we lost him anyway. There is no safe point as I have learned. Because of this I have decided I don't want to hide it at all. I want to rejoice in this blessing with our family, friends, and all of you from the very beginning.

Baby C is due September 13--which just happens to have been my due date. So far, I am really tired but other than that I feel great. I'm craving spinach a lot which is definitely not usual for me, but at least it's good for baby!

I know it's wrong to covet, but right now I honestly do covet your prayers. I am asking you to please keep Baby C covered in prayers. No matter what happens, I pray that once again, God will get the glory in this!



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Will We be Sleeping?

My amazing friend :)
For this post, I am going to let a song and verse do most of the talking. I heard this song while getting ready for work this morning (it was SO nice to feel more like myself today and get back out of the house--though I'm being chauffeured around by my mom because I still can't drive--yes I feel 15 again). This song was stuck in my head all day and I hummed and sang it to myself all day at work. The more I sang and hummed, the more the message of it really sank in with me--the more my heart began to break. I also felt convicted--convicted by the things I'm not doing but could be for His kingdom. When Jesus comes again, how will He find us? Will we be working for His kingdom, or will we be sleeping?

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Matthew 24:42

I know many of you do not live in the USA, so where it says America, you can use your country's name.

"While You Were Sleeping"
Casting Crowns
Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping?
Will we be sleeping?

United States of America
Looks like another silent night 


To listen to the song:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Changes

Today is day two without Facebook for me. In this technological world, I am going backwards. It was definitely an adjustment to not get on Facebook last night and post a big Roll Tide!, but I have to say I am loving the change. I think eventually I will go back to Facebook, but I needed a break.

A lot of you have asked me why I made this decision, so I will explain. No, I do not think Facebook is evil. I think Facebook is what you make it. It can be an incredible tool for reaching others and keeping up with family and friends, or it can be used to spread evil--like I said, it is what you make it.

For me, it had become a distraction. It's on my phone and my iPad and so I was constantly getting texts or notifications every single time someone sent me a message or commented on something or tagged me, and on and on--you get it. It just hit me lately that I was way too connected. Sometimes I just want some quiet time and it's hard to do that when you are permanently connected to the world. I thought about just taking it off of my phone or iPad, but I decided against that. I decided to challenge myself.

I challenged myself to go at least three months without it--at the end of those three months I'll decide to either activate it again, continue my "Facebook absence". During those three months, anytime I feel like I would get on Facebook to read, I am going to pick up my Bible or one of my books instead. The time I spent on Facebook, I'm giving to God.

"When our quiet times have become hurried, how can we expect to give God the adoration that is His due? How can we receive the guidance that God is waiting to give? How can our hearts catch the glow of divine fire? How can we have deep fellowship with those purposes that are really nearest to the heart of God?" 
Gordon M. Guinness

I felt like if I didn't completely deactivate my account that I would still be tempted to get on the computer or Safari on my iPad and check it. If you're going to do something, go all out.



I also want to say Thank you to everyone who has messaged and emailed to check on me and to tell me you are praying--I truly appreciate it. I have been feeling fine the last two days, just still really tired. Mostly, I am nervous about upcoming doctor appointments.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

I've written this verse on an index card to carry around with me in the coming days. It is a reminder I really need right now. Giving it to God--thank you for your prayers.

If you missed yesterday's post, CLICK HERE.


Monday, January 7, 2013

This is Only a Mountain

"Only A Mountain"
Jason Castro

Another day, another fight
It always feels like an uphill climb
Another step, another mile
The story of your life

It’s harder than you ever thought
And it costs you everything you’ve got
When you’re back against the wall
And you feel like giving up

This is only a mountain
You don’t have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall
This is only a moment
You don’t have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall

You’ve gotta find a second wind
It’s not as high as you think it is
Don’t give up and don’t you quit
You gotta climb if you wanna win

And I know it looks big
And I know you feel small
But just a little bit of faith can change it all
Change it all

This is only a mountain
You don’t have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall
This is only a moment
You don’t have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall

Ask like you believe it
Trust like you can see it
Take your fear and say
There’s nothing in your way, no oh
Even when it looks big
Even when you feel small
Just a little bit of faith can change it all

This is only a mountain
You don’t have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall
This is only a moment
You don’t have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall

It’s only a mountain
Just a little bit of faith can change it all


This song started playing in my head as I woke up this morning. The past few months it just seems like one thing after another. But I feel like the devil attacks the most when things aren't going his way.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Though the trials come, I will not be discouraged. I am reminded of this familiar, and so powerful verse:

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 

Emphasis on the word ALL. ALL things. I'm also reminded by my beautiful son Barrett that God can use anything to bring glory to Him. 


Last night was scary. I had a seizure--the worst one I've ever had. I only know what people told me. I remember nothing. That is what is scary--to have a space in time that you can't account for.

I have to be honest that when I woke up this morning, one of my first thoughts before thinking of the song above was Really? Right now?

I read these verses this morning.

or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

Once again, just what I needed to read. 

I'm asking for your prayers as I go through coming doctor appointments--my greatest prayer is that they can find the cause. I'm not going to lie--I'm terrified. But it's all in His hands. 

Let me pause a moment to say this: God is good--ALL the time. He is so, SO good.

On a completely different note, if you were friends with me on Facebook, I have deactivated my account. You will need to follow the blog or be a fan of the Barrett's Blankets Facebook page to keep up with everything as those will now be the two places I post. You can also contact via email to barrettsblankets@yahoo.com.

As Barrett's due date is approaching I am experiencing so many different emotions. Mostly I just feel like a huge piece of our family is missing this month. Audrey was born 2 weeks before her due date, so I always felt like at this point it would be any day now for Barrett. Thanks to my amazing heavenly Father for the peace I feel above all else--a peace that can only come from Him.

Most assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, ’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
Matthew 17:20

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Down Memory Lane

When we started dating :)
So last night I dug through old (and I mean OLD) pictures. I found pictures all the way back to when I was about four years old. It was a lot of fun looking through all of them and reliving the memories behind each photograph. I laughed as I looked at some of those "What was I thinking" platinum blonde highlights days and I teared up as I looked through photos of Audrey's first week home.

The favorite thing I found last night, though, was a box of letters, pictures, and flowers from my husband. Brent was my first serious boyfriend and I thank the Lord everyday that I wake up each morning next to my first love. I feel so blessed to be able to say that. Not too many high school relationships go on to last, but the Lord placed my husband in my life when I was 17 and he was 20, and we've been glued together ever since.

My husband and I are both hopeless romantics. When we were dating, he was going to college about two hours away. I wrote and mailed (Yes, snail mail) a letter to him almost every day that he was gone. He would leave letters on my car before he would leave going back to school each week. I was often surprised with a rose in my car (there is a story behind the roses too) on random days just because. Several of those roses were still in this box--aged but still in one piece.

I love going back and reading those letters every once in awhile. In an age of texting and Facebook, some of those things are sadly being left behind. It says so much to me for someone to take the time to hand write a letter or card for someone. I will always treasure those.

I could not have hand picked a more perfect person for me to spend my life with--I am so incredibly proud to be his wife. I couldn't ask for a more caring and loving person--he has been my rock through so many things in our last five years together. We have shared an abundance of smiles and laughter as well. I love making memories with him, Audrey, and our angel Barrett.

PROM!!!
 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:23,24,32

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

I absolutely adore this passage--the first three verses are my favorite. We can have everything in the world, but without love we have nothing. We can speak beautiful words, but if they are not full of love they are nothing. Without love for God and other people we have nothing.

I am so thankful for my husband and the love he has for our family. He loves hard and he inspires me to do the same. Audrey and Barrett have an amazing Daddy!





Saturday, January 5, 2013

He Is

This isn't a very long post, but I want to share a song with you that someone shared with me today:

I've listed the Bible verses in the song below so you can read them. What an amazing song!!! Truly gave me chills!!!!

Genesis 1:1

Exodus 12:5

Leviticus 4:6

Numbers 9:15-16

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Joshua 24:15

Judges 3:15

Ruth 4:14

2 Samuel 22:32

1 Chronicles 29:11

Ezra 3:11

Nehemiah 1:5

Esther 4:14

Job 19:25

Psalm 96:1

Proverbs 8:1

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Song of Solomon 4:1

Isaiah 9:6

Jeremiah 2:2

Lamentations 1:16

Ezekiel 2:3-5

Daniel 3:25

Hosea 1:7

Joel 2:28

Amos 7:8

Obadiah 1:17

Jonah 1:2

Micah 5:2

Nahum 1:7

Zephaniah 3:12

Haggai 2:7-9

Zechariah 13:1

Malachi 4:2

Acts 2:3

Romans 3:24

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Galatians 3:13

Ephesians 1:7

Philippians 2:5-11

Colossians 2:9

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

1 Timothy 2:5

Hebrews 8-10

James 5:13-16

1 Peter 5:4

Jude 1:24-25

Revelation 19:16

Matthew 16:13

John 1:29

John 8:58

Revelation 1:8

Titus 2:13

Revelation 1:18

Friday, January 4, 2013

All About Audrey

I told you I would get to Audrey's birthday later, so here it is. Tomorrow, my beautiful daughter turns four. I am fighting back crocodile tears right now as I type this. I have spent the last hour looking through pictures from when she was born until now. I just can't believe she will be four tomorrow and will start big girl school this year. I just want a little more time to cherish each of these moments.

Audrey is the light of my life. She can make me smile on my worst days. I cannot even describe how much her presence blesses my life each day. I love to hear the things she tells me--that she puts so much thought into--like yesterday when she asked me if I was in Bethlehem when baby Jesus was born. Of course I'm thinking I'm not that old! But it was so sweet because the reason she asked was that she really wanted to know what baby Jesus looked like.

She loves to tell the Christmas story since reading about it in Sunday school. I cannot even describe how much it has blessed me to hear her tell her version:

The wise men brought baby Jesus gifts. Mary and Joseph were good parents. The angel told everyone where baby Jesus was. Then baby Jesus grew up and told everyone about God.

That is exactly how she told it to me yesterday. I love that last part. Reminds me of what we are to do.

My sweet girl has that smile that can brighten a room. Her laughter is the sweetest sound--and she laughs wholeheartedly. You can hear her anywhere in the house and I LOVE it. Those squeals of delight remind me how blessed we are. She sings all the time just like her momma--I treasure each time she serenades me.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of the people who are helping us to shape our daughter. Mrs. Debbie, Mrs, Sonya, NokNok, and all of her teachers at school--she adores all of you. Many days you see her more than I do. Thank you for loving my baby.

One of my favorite Audrey quotes about Mrs. Debbie--


Mrs. Debbie is really smart. She knows a lot about Jesus.

Thank you to our wonderful, loving church family. It brings tears to my eyes on Sunday morning when Audrey bounces out of bed to ask me "Mommy is it church day?". Church is her absolute favorite place to go and I could not be more thankful for that. When we get home from lunch she will ask me a hundred times "is it time to go back to church for 'night church'?". Mrs. Donna--she adores you and cannot wait to see you at church every morning--she tells me every Sunday "I hope Mrs. Donna is at church today!". She tells everyone about Mrs. Donna at church. Again, thank you for loving my baby.

Thank you to our family, and to our friends who might as well be family. Your support is such a blessing!



Before I lose control of these tears I am fighting, I'm going to end this post. Here are some pictures of Audrey through the last four years.












Month before she was born










Thursday, January 3, 2013

If God is for us, Who can be Against us?


Overall, today was another wonderful day--started off amazingly reading your emails and messages from yesterday's blog posts. God is definitely working! He is so, so good--ALL the time!

Today I was reminded that people will let you down. Of course, I know this, but it doesn't make it any easier--especially when a person you thought would always be there for you is not. That's a tough truth to swallow no matter what.


There are certain people in our lives that we just assume will stand with us no matter what--but that isn't always true. Humans are imperfect--all of us.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 3:23 

Though it is tough to accept when a loved one lets you down, it is a good reminder that God is always there for you--He will never leave you.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

I know the devil is trying to attack--trying to take my mind off of #1

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33  

The devil is good at attacking us where we are weakest--and, man, was I reminded of that today! But guess what? My God is greater!

















What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

I actually just read this verse while typing this post and had  to change the title. Isn't it amazing how God always seems to send exactly what we need to read or hear?

I am reminded of the verses I've shared about praying for those who hurt you--they immediately ran through my head today. This reminded me of why I feel it's important to memorize scripture--you don't always have a Bible right with you. 

People will always let you down--sometimes in bigger ways than others. Knowing that doesn't necessarily make it easier when it happens, but remember that your heavenly Father will never let you down. 

 Love you all and I am loving reading all of your messages from yesterday! 
 
 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This Journey

Yes, I'm going to blow up the blog today, but I had two very different topics I wanted to discuss. This post is about the journey I have been on since August--this journey of grief--life after losing a child.

Barrett was due this month. I should be starting my maternity leave--washing baby clothes, cleaning bottles, and all of those last minute things. I should be excited to finally hold my screaming baby boy.

But I'm trying to focus on what is actually going on instead. Our princess is about to turn four (Where in the world have four years gone????). A Pay It Forward day is going on in memory of Barrett. God is still working in people's lives through my son's short life.

This journey has been so many things all rolled into one--painful, sorrowful, joyful, and so much more. I remember after Barrett died thinking that I would be ok if I didn't have to stay here on earth. No, I was never suicidal--I would never intentionally leave this earth-- but I would have been very fine with the Lord calling me home at that moment so I could hold Barrett again.

Then an amazing thing happened. God gave me a huge reminder of why I was still here and why my son was not--painful as it was.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13


Barrett's story was published on the blog, and I began to hear from thousands of people--thousands of people whose lives had been touched and radically changed by God when they read Barrett's story. I am still hearing from people daily and it is a constant confirmation of what God is doing through my baby.

After I had Audrey, I always told myself I don't know what I would do if I ever had to bury a child--I would never survive it. If I'm completely honest I could not survive this on my own--no way. I would have fallen flat on my face never to get back up again months ago had Jesus not been by side steadying me every step of this journey.

There were days when I really struggled--I know that God knew I would need Audrey so much during this time. I hope to one day tell her just how much she did for her Momma these last few months. On those tough, tough days, it was hard to find reasons to enjoy anything here when a huge part of me--my heart--was in heaven. 

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Matthew 22:36-37

I mentioned in the previous post that the Lord has really been dealing with me--well, in more ways than one. As much as I love my children and my husband, I am to love God so, so much more. He is number one.

So on those tough days, I'm learning to truly let go of the hurt and give it to God.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

God is reminding me of the reason that I'm still here.



Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 

"Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together."
John 4:35-36


"And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace."
Ephesians 6:15


"Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else."
2 Corinthians 9:13



"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
Mark 16:15




Forgiveness

Forgiveness
Matthew West

It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness


Something I've learned the past two weeks is that I can hold a grudge with the best of them. Something else I learned? It can consume you. I put everything else on hold for this anger I felt and I let it take over everything--I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep--it's all I could think about. When someone hurts you, it's easy to do that.

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council;and whoever says, ‘You fool!’will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Journey Concert 2008
Matthew 5:22-24
 
I read this on Monday and it hit me just how much I have let this grudge and this hurt overtake my everything the last few weeks. I have to admit I was praying for the person I was angry with, but not the way I should have been. My heart was not in the right place. I continued to read and God really spoke to me through the following verses:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you 
Matthew 6:14
 
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32
 
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
Matthew 5:44-46
 
"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath;
for it is written,” Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore if you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Romans 12:17-20
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."
Romans 12:14
 
My toes are very sore this week. The Lord has really been dealing with me. But though my toes are sore, I cannot even begin to describe the peace I have felt in my heart today. After two weeks of turmoil, today I felt that peace that surpasses all understanding.  
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7
 
When I began to earnestly pray for this person, my heart began to soften and an incredible peace that can only come from Him came over me. Like the song says, there are instances where the world says you have every right to be angry--everyone would understand if you held a grudge. I've found myself in that place and I kept telling myself the last few weeks that I had every right to be hurt and angry--but I was lying to myself. I was telling myself what I wanted to hear, rather than what God says is true. It still hurts, yes. Forgiveness does not equal forgetting--But man was my day so much better when I was able to focus on HIM rather than the anger I had been building up inside of myself. Instead of anger, I began to feel love and compassion. 

Are you holding a grudge right now? Are you letting that anger build up inside of you? I encourage you to hit your knees in prayer about it. Truly give it to God and pray for that person(s). Allow God to cover you with that peace only He can give.