Family Photo Friday


It's Friday again. The end of July 2011. Who can believe it!?!
Here are a few photos from our week.

My husband smuggled this picture out of my son's room last night. Almost nothing in this world so precious as sleeping babies :-)

My daughter enjoys creating geometric wonders with magnetic sticks and balls. Here is one of her creations.

The kids were playing on our bench swing, pretending it was a boat. Keep those legs out of the water... be on the look-out for sharks! Such creative play.

I really like this picture of my children. Good smiles. Happy times, fitting into a huge diaper box and being pulled around by Dad. My son has hold of his pretend steering wheel :-)

Happy Friday, one and all! Enjoy your last weekend of July!

Miscarriage: Feeling


One month ago today I knew something was terribly wrong.

One month ago tomorrow we lost our baby boy in a miscarriage.

I can't believe it's been a month. I can't believe the ups and downs.

What am I feeling?

  • Guilt. Mothers who miscarry are bound to feel guilt and ask questions like "What did I do wrong?" or "Should I not have gone for that bike ride?" or "Did I eat something I shouldn't have?" My head knows that I did not cause my baby's death, but sometimes the questions still come.
  • Sadness. I know where my baby is and I know he feels no pain or sadness. But I remain here on earth with a very deep sorrow. My heart remains broken. Tears flow freely and often.
  • Grief. I simply grieve over what will never be. These weeks when we were planning to "make the big announcement" are filled with anything but excitement. The maternity clothes that I will not be needing now. The cradle that will never hold this little one. My daughter and my son that will never know, on earth anyway, their little brother. The plans for what the rest of 2011 would hold and the joy of a January 2012 baby... simply were not meant to be.
  • Fatigue. I am tired. I lack energy. I lack motivation. I don't sleep well at night. I could easily stay in my jammies all day and never leave the house at all.
  • Misunderstood. Nobody seems to understand me these days. Each of us grieves in our own personal way. And as the mother of this baby, I feel the grief more deeply than anybody else. It's hard for me to express that grief and impossible for anyone else to fully understand what I'm going through. I tend to just distance myself from others rather than trying to explain myself to them.
That is what I'm feeling. I'm struggling. I'm broken. And I very much appreciate your prayers for me, for my husband, for my family as we grieve and heal through the love of Jesus Christ.

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here again. As usual, I'm posting some photos from our week.

A family shot of us from our time in Wisconsin.My kids pretending to snorkel around the house - with straws for breathing tubes and sunglasses for goggles. Creativity on display.

My son, once again in a laundry basket, all curled up. If you've been a fan of my blog for a while, you know that he has a thing for crawling into laundry baskets. Not much longer until he won't fit!

Happy Friday to all!

Good Grief


It's been 3 weeks since our miscarriage.

The most difficult question to answer is "How are you doing?"

Some days are fine. Life goes on, almost as if nothing happened. My kids keep me busy. After some of these days, I almost convince myself that the grief is over and I've moved on.

Other times, though, the pain is just under the surface. The tears are immediate upon being asked the question. The grief is overwhelming. Life goes on, but nothing is the same.

Here's what I've learned: grief comes in waves and you never know when it's coming to crash over you. Grief ebbs and flows.

My heart remains broken. I continue to rely on the Lord to bring healing to my brokenness.

I'll close with these verses from Lamentations 3:21-24: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say to myself "The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him."

He is my only hope for comfort and mercy in my time of sorrow.

Homeschool: House on the Rock Field Trip


While we were in Wisconsin last week, we took a day for a "field trip" to a nearby attraction - The House on the Rock. It'd been 10+ years since my husband and I had visited last and it was a first time visit for our kids. You basically go on a self-guided tour that takes you 4-5 hours when all is said and done. There are a few places to eat along the way (pricey, of course) so you could spend the entire day there. This place has tons of different things to see.

There is a museum area dedicated to the life of the creator, Alex Jordan. Then you move on to the tour of the original "House on the Rock" itself. It is a house, built on/in rock. It's unlike anything you've ever seen. Unique in every sense of the word!
After the house itself, the tour has more of a museum feel. You go through the "Streets of Yesterday" as you walk along a cobblestone path and look into store fronts from around 1900. There's a carriage house, an eye doctor, a jail, a regular home, etc. It's beautiful and very authentic, making you truly feel like you stepped back in time.
The world's largest carousel is at the House on the Rock. It's unbelievable in size, with over 20,000 lights alone! My daughter was quite disappointed that you just watch it go around and cannot ride on it!
Perhaps the most famous part of the House on the Rock is the "infinity room." This is a room that is narrow, but is over 215 feet long and has over 3,000 windows on the sides. It's a breath-taking view, as you look out over the valley below. You are literally above the treetops. There is a window in the floor as you near the end of the room, allowing you to look down at the trees beneath you. You can feel the slight movement of the room, swaying in the wind... if you can stomach a trip all the way out there! In this picture are my husband and daughter at the end of the room, in front of the window area that allows you to look down.
There are beautifully landscaped gardens throughout the tour. You can see the waterfall behind my husband and son in this picture.
And more water and lily pads in this picture with my kids on the bridge. Since this is the House on the Rock, there are huge rocks throughout. Of course, my kids wanted to sit or stand on all of them!

In addition to all of this, there are huge collections of doll houses, swords and guns, crowns and jewels, a huge sea exhibit with replicas of the Titanic and other ships, and many mechanical instruments that are amazing to see but difficult to describe.

The House on the Rock gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from our family. We enjoyed it. It is pricey, but can last all day if you have the time to take it all in.
To see more pictures of what they have to offer, check out their website here.If you ever get to Southwestern Wisconsin, it's a great place to visit!

A Visit to Wisconsin


We've spent most of the last week visiting my family in Wisconsin. It's a 6-7 hour drive from our house to my mother's house, where we stay when we visit. The kids traveled very well... I think I could even say we all enjoyed the ride. My daughter counted trains, planes and windmills - the three big things that we treat as landmarks as we pass from here to there. We were able to spend time with our extended family, as well as just relax since this was considered a "vacation."

My mother made pancakes for breakfast one morning. My daughter said she could eat 7 of them. Though once the stack was put before her, she wasn't so sure - as you can see from her face in this picture.

My son waving and blowing a kiss from Grandma's front bench swing.

My daughter enjoying my mom's new pool - the most exciting part of the visit, according to my kids!

Tomorrow I'll share about a field trip we went on during our time in Wisconsin.

Blogging Break


I will be taking a break from blogging for the next few days. My family is doing some traveling and enjoying my husband's vacation time off work. I'll be back next week with some pictures to share from our time away, so come back then!

Checking In: June Update


I know that it's halfway through July, but I wanted to say something about the month of June. Honestly, it was a blur.

We found out early in June that we were expecting and by the end of the month we had miscarried. It was a month of excitement at the pregnancy news, keeping the baby a secret, and not having much energy. Then at the end there were major emotional upsets and hormonal changes.

Physical Goal for 2011: be more physically fit. I can't say I made any real progress in this area, as my focus was on getting enough rest and taking general care of myself. I didn't have the energy or motivation to get on the treadmill at all in June. I did other physical activity a couple of times, but overall lacked energy due to the pregnancy.

Spiritual Goal for 2011: read through the Bible in a year and be more consistent in time with the Lord. I often find that I have a few good days and then skip a day or two. But I have always been able to catch back up and stay on track, as far as the Bible reading goes. Knowing that I am now more than halfway through motivates me to keep on going. I will say that my relationship with God has changed a lot in the last few weeks, as I've struggled through grief and "why" questions as it relates to my miscarriage. But He is with me. He is a faithful Friend. He remains the One I love and adore and trust with all that I am. So, I guess that I can say He is using the miscarriage to turn my heart even more towards Him and all things eternal.

Personal Growth Goal for 2011: exercise more self-control, especially as it relates to anger. June had its ups and downs in this area. I was more tired than usual, so I was more irritable and had a shorter fuse. I confess to blowing up a few times. I also had some triumphs, though, and recall a few specific instances of showing greater patience and "holding my tongue." This continues to be an area that I need to mature in, with the Holy Spirit growing this fruit in me.

2011 is half over. 2012 is just around the corner. I have appreciated the accountability this blog has given me. Knowing that I will report my progress towards my 2011 goals each month challenges me to keep at 'em. Progress is made day by day by day. Little by little, baby step by baby step great things are achieved!

The 4H County Fair


Our 4H County Fair took place last week. The kids have been talking for weeks and weeks about the fair - the rides they would choose, the cotton candy, etc. Here are some pictures we took once our big fair day arrived!

My son enjoying a train ride.

My daughter in a "bumper boat."

My husband and the kids inside a huge tractor tire. My son especially is all about tractors, so we checked these out in their enTIREty! :-)

Here I am with my daughter and her 4H project for 2011: a model space shuttle.

And a picture of my guys - my hubby and son with the little guy's first ever 4H project: painted rocks. He's so proud of himself!

Who doesn't love the county fair?!

Chick-Fil-A Free Lunch


Today is Cow Appreciation Day - that special day that comes just once a year when Chick-Fil-A restaurants give away free food for those dressed like a cow. Although I've known about this for years, this is the first year that we participated. And indeed, we enjoyed a completely free lunch - drinks, fries and sandwich/nuggets. For us, that was almost $20 worth of food for free! We love Chick-Fil-A!

Family Photo Friday


Welcome, Friday! So good to see you again!
As I do each and every Friday, I have some family photos to share with you from our week.

Our neighborhood has a good old-fashioned 4th of July parade, complete with fire trucks, kids with decorated bikes, and popcorn and donuts offered free-of-charge at the finale! It was a beautiful day for a parade this year. My daughter took this picture of my wonderful husband and me.

Here's my daughter at the parade finale, enjoying her free prize, a punch balloon.
And my son during the parade - being pulled in a wagon as we walked along. Anyone can walk in our neighborhood parade, so most of the neighbors do take part - walking, biking, or sitting in their lawn waving at the participants. We love it - it's another reason we truly love our neighborhood!

We hung this mirror above our piano this week. It looks great there, I think. This came from my Grandma Nellie (who passed away in March) so I am proud to hang it in my home and remember her when I look at it.

The year is half over. I hope you're being intentional about how you're spending your days... in a blink, life will be over. Spend your time wisely!

Happy Friday to one and all.

Miscarriage: Telling and Coping


One of the hardest parts of miscarrying a baby is telling people what happened. A conversation that was supposed to be so happy and exciting as you shared the "we're pregnant" news turns into a terrible, tear-filled message that you wish you didn't have to share.

The temptation to just stay silent is great. But to silently suffer with overwhelming grief is more than any person is meant to bear. People are made for community. We are made for sharing joys and burdens. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.

We chose to tell. We phoned and personally told our parents and other close friends. I've shared in a Facebook post and I've shared on this blog. As hard as it is to share, there is healing that comes from the comfort of friends. There is healing in the power of prayer offered up by those who love us and who feel for what we're going through. And somehow there is healing even in just getting it out there in the open and not trying to hide the pain, but exposing it.

Because we shared, we have had friends bring us meals or send flowers. We have been given hugs by dozens of friends and family members... and those hugs have been healing, let me tell you! Because we shared, I have heard from many friends that they too have suffered a miscarriage. If I hadn't shared, I never would've known.

The hardest people to tell were those who would've been most excited about our pregnancy news. Calling my mom was extremely difficult because I had been so excited to share with her that we were expecting. I had come up with a neat poem for the occasion. Telling my daughter was also hard. We weren't sure how or when to tell her, but a few days after the miscarriage it just seemed like the right time. So I told her everything. She was devastated. She cried. She wailed. She took it very hard, as I knew she would. She would've been ecstatic to look forward to a baby in 7 more months.

Even so, I'm glad we told. I'm glad that we don't have this as a painful secret. I'm glad that we can be surrounded by those who love us and are supporting us and praying for us.

There is something about being vulnerable, about sharing our pain and weakness that makes us fertile soil for God's healing and peace.

I am certainly not an expert on miscarriage or coping skills. But I do know that there are 3 things we have done that have helped us heal. I would recommend these 3 things to anyone who suffers a miscarriage.

1. If possible, save your baby's remains and give your baby a proper burial.
Burial is like a symbolic handing over of your child to the arms of God. For us, this was probably the height of our grief but also provided some closure. We buried our child in a place that is meaningful for us, where we can visit as often as we'd like.

2. Give your child a name. It's hard to grieve for an un-named genderless person. If you had any sense that the baby was a boy, go with that. If a girl, then go with that. And choose a name for that baby. A name helps provide some focus. If you have any ultrasound pictures of your baby, consider putting together a scrapbook page or two for him or her. Consider writing a poem or drawing something special for your baby. Save that.

3. Tell others what you're going through. Don't suffer silently. If not publicly, at least consider sharing your news with some close friends. We need each other, especially in the hard times.

Book Review: Heaven is for Real


Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.

A month ago my mom recommended this book to me. I
checked it out from the local library and read it through in one sitting.

This is the true story of a 4-year-old boy, Colton, who was hospitalized with serious illness, basically on his deathbed. Weeks after recovering Colton started sharing details of the trip to heaven he enjoyed while he was hospitalized. This young boy talks of things he could never have known unless he truly did go to heaven and experience what he describes.

While in heaven, Colton talks about meeting the sister he never knew he had. His parents had miscarried a baby years prior. They had never told Colton or his older sister about the miscarriage. Yet, after his "trip to heaven" he told his parents that he had a sister. Not only that, but she remained nameless in heaven because her parents had never named her on earth.

Colton also said over and over that Jesus loves children. And not only does Jesus love children but He wants everyone to know it. Jesus loves children... a lot!

There are many other parts of this book that touched my heart. It's an easy-to-read heart-warming, hope-filled story. For me, it helped me to picture heaven in a clearer, realer way than the theoretical, far-off place I usually consider it to be.

Now, after having experienced a miscarriage of my own, heaven has moved closer still. My child is in heaven, just as that miscarried little girl is. My child isn't a tiny baby, though. He's a child. A little boy, running around in heaven. Meeting people like my Grandma Nellie, who is undoubtedly feeding him heaven's best homemade applesauce. And he is able to know Jesus as his big brother.

Someday when I get to heaven, Jesus will introduce me to my son. How wonderful it will be to know him then, for him to show me around the only home he's ever known - heaven.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, but especially to others who have gone through miscarriage or lost a child. God can use the experiences of others, like Colton in this book, to encourage us in our faith and bring healing during grief. I read this book a few weeks before suffering a miscarriage. God used the images that were fresh in my mind from reading this book to bring peace to me during my time of loss.

Miscarriage: the Eternal Perspective


Death has a way of reminding us all of what is really important.

It's not jobs. It's not money, houses or possessions. "The most important things in life aren't things." People are what matters. Souls are all that will last for eternity.

I can trust the loving heart of God with my precious miscarried son. Only because I know Jesus and know His love for children and His mercy for the underdog, the orphan, the foreigner, and the alien can I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my child is safe in His tender care.

Some have commented: "It's great that you are still trusting God after such a tragedy." As a Christian, God is all I have. God is my only hope of ever seeing this child again. Yes, I will trust. Yes, I will continue to proclaim the love of the Lord God for me and for my family and for my children.

I've tried to consider this tragedy from God's perspective and in doing so I have seen it as mercy.

For my unborn son to be suddenly taken in to the presence of Jesus, to live in heaven forever is mercy. He will know none of the sin and pain of this life. He will be spared heartache and sorrow. He will have no physical limitations. For him to avoid this life and all its troubles is the mercy of God. Yes, painful for me. But I'm the mom and all moms go through pain and hard things on behalf of their kids.

It is a very strange and new thought to me that I "know" someone in heaven that I didn't really know on earth. I look forward to seeing many people in heaven that I knew in this life. People that I had experiences with here on earth. I have memories of time spent with them. They have now passed on to glory and I will see them again there. But in the case of my miscarried son, I have had no real experiences with him on earth. The only experiences I will have with him will be on the other side, in heaven. That is strange and is unique to the relationship of parents to unborn children.

Yet just knowing that my child is there makes my longing for heaven so very intense and so much greater than before. Heaven seems more real to me. While I always knew loved ones were there, now a piece of my very heart is there. I feel a bit like I've got one foot on earth and one in heaven. How I love my children here but how I also love my child who is there waiting!

Tomorrow I will share about a book I read a few weeks back that God has used to bring me peace through this experience of miscarriage.

Miscarriage: the Emotional Roller Coaster


I miscarried a baby last Wednesday. You may not want to hear the story, but I need to tell it.

I was 8 weeks along. I was a day away from the initial doctor's visit to confirm the pregnancy and give us the thumbs-up to share the exciting news with family and friends.

Turn back the clock to just a week ago: I was giddy with glee as I thought up how I would tell my mom, other friends, and especially our 7-year-old daughter. She has been wanting a little sister for a long time and fostering little children recently has made the desire even stronger. I kept this little secret from her but could hardly contain myself as I envisioned her squeals of delight when she heard.

After years of struggling with infertility, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised at the positive pregnancy test. Yeah, another baby! Break out the maternity clothes. Let's start talking about baby names. All those things that go along with pregnancy news were on our brains and part of our late-night conversations.

All was well. It was an emotional high, like the peak of a roller coaster.

And then the coaster came crashing to a new low.

Bleeding during pregnancy is never a good sign. What started out as minor and hardly worth noting on Monday turned heavier and much more concerning by Tuesday. That evening I just knew that something was terribly wrong. I told my husband "I think we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that our baby might be dead."

Wednesday it happened. Cramping. Bleeding. Birth, except not birth. I called my husband and asked him to come home from work. He took our kids to Grandma and Grandpa's house for the night. He and I grieved together, as we considered our dead child.

I had a sense that our baby was a boy, so we went with that. We gave him a name. And on Thursday morning we wrapped up our tiny baby's remains and buried him a place that is meaningful to us. It was just my husband and I having a memorial service for a child we would never hold in our arms but loved with all our hearts.

That day we also went to the doctor. The appointment that was to be my first prenatal visit to confirm the pregnancy now only confirmed that my womb was empty.

The next few days have been a blur. Instead of sharing exciting news of new life with family and friends, we fought through tears to share the sad message of death. Many tears. Many hugs. Many messages of comfort and sympathy. Many sleepless nights. Many questions of "why" and "should we have done something differently?"

The heartache remains and the grief over our loss is very fresh. And yet, we have great hope because of the Lord Jesus Christ who has conquered the grave.

I'll be sharing more this week of what we've gone through, what God is teaching us, and where we go from here.

As always, your prayers for us are greatly appreciated.

Family Photo Friday


It's been a rough week at our house, which I'll share more about next week. For now, a few family photos to share, as it is Friday after all.

My daughter planted some grass in her bucket and was proud to show it off.

The highlight of our week was a trip to the playground on one of the many gorgeous summer weather days. Here's my son pretending to be a fireman, holding onto the railing of his pretend fire truck.

And my daughter popping out the end of the slide.

Take some time to love on your loved ones... let them know how special they are to you!