Monday, June 27, 2011

Emily Rose

On July 4, 2001, my dear friend went to the hospital, full-term and in labor; however, she did not leave the hospital with a baby in her arms. Her dear Emily Rose never got to breathe one breath on this earth. She went straight to the arms of her Jesus. While those of us who have lived on this sin-ridden, painful, imperfect planet realize that Emily Rose did not miss ONE thing by proceeding straight to the arms of her Savior, that knowledge is not of much comfort to her dear mother whose arms STILL ache daily to hold that little girl.

Now each year as the end of June draws near and that familiar red, white and blue starts to show up EVERYWHERE, my dear friend is not met with a swell of pride because she lives in a free country or a rise of excitement over the prospect of a day off and picnics and fireworks. The dread builds in her stomach somewhere after Father's Day, and the memory of the anniversary she has to commemorate rises like bile in the back of her throat. Without even conscious thought to it, as if her body knows what her mind is trying not to dwell on, she walks in a fog until the 5th arrives.

Friends and family try to comfort her, yet all attempts seem to fail. Many of us fear bringing up Emily will hurt her, and it will! But failing to bring up Emily hurts so much more. We tiptoe about trying to help but we can do nothing. The only thing that will relieve her plight is finally getting to hold Emily in her arms... but Heaven seems so far away!

The pain will never truly fade. Her arms will always ache. She moves on, but a part of her heart has already left this earth and resides far, far away in Heaven. Nothing can change that.

This blog isn't just a tribute to Emily Rose and to her mother, my dear friend. It is also encouragement to some of my readers. Maybe I don't know your EXACT struggle... Maybe I don't know your EXACT date...  But many of you have a date like this... A date that commemorates the day your life fell apart.... A date that commemorates the day that everything you knew about life and love and God Himself somehow shifted right beneath your feet revealing a brand new understanding about the reality of this life.

I have a few things to say to those of you who can relate:

1. God loves you. He hasn't forgotten you. He knows your hurt. He knows how that day grabs your gut. He was RIGHT THERE when your heart was torn in two and HE LOVES YOU!

2. Life goes on. You know what? This point kinda sucks because life goes on. In some ways, we don't want it to. In some ways, we were hurt so badly that it seems like the earth should have shook violently or something. There should be a huge fissure in the crack of the earth that symbolizes the crack in our heart, but life goes on, and this is actually GOOD. Even if it doesn't feel like it!  Emily Rose's momma has three other beautiful, amazing, SWEET, and godly babies and a WONDERFUL husband who need her here on earth and so she bides her time, marking her awful anniversary, realizing that life goes on as icky and as great as that revelation is.

3. Good can come from evil. Even though I don't know each and every situation those of you who are reading this are referencing as you read, I can say with ALL certainty that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD! You might say, "Jami!  How dare you say a baby dying in the womb could work together for good!" But guess what??? It DID!  See several years after Emily went to Heaven a beautiful baby boy was born into that family, and you know what??? He would likely not have been conceived if their family had already numbered 5!  And guess what I know that I know that I KNOW if you just looked closely at your dreaded day you could find SOMETHING good that came from it.  Please do not mistake me, I'm not thinking that anyone would ever be GLAD that Emily died.... I'm just saying, good did spring from that awful situation and it sprung from yours as well.

In closing, I just want to say a few words to Emily Rose up in Heaven.

Emily Rose,

Your momma loves you DEARLY. She longs for nothing else than to hold you close in her arms. The day you died a little piece of her heart went along with you, but you know what??? she is an AMAZING woman and she had SO much heart left that she loves your daddy and your brothers and your sister with WILD abandon, and she is a GREAT friend to many and she still has enough heart left to love them too. I know that missing you still rips her heart apart. I have heard her tears and listened to her grieving. But I also know that one day (soon to you, but not soon enough to us) she will meet you up there in Heaven and she will hold you close to her heart, and you will never EVER be apart again.

Say, "Hi," to Jesus for me... okay??


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God's armpit...

We have this ODD phenomenon going on in this household... every time Hannah snuggles under John's arm (usually with her head wedged in his armpit) she falls SOUNDLY asleep. I am not kidding this girl can be running around hopped up on sugar one second and the second she crawls into the armpit, she is OUT.  I have joked with John that the smell of his armpit must be pretty potent to knock her out like that, but the truth is in her daddy's arms, Hannah just feels so safe she immediately calms down and falls asleep.  The phenomenon happened in public recently. We were at the wedding of my lovely step-daughter Amanda. It was getting LATE and Hannah was getting CRABBY. She laid down on the ground in the middle of the entrance to the dance floor and wouldn't get up. When I picked her up and moved her, she just started CRYING. Then daddy stepped in. He took Hannah in his arms and took her out on the dance floor. After just a few songs, not only had the crying subsided, but she literally fell SOUND asleep right there on the dance floor in the safety of daddy's arms.

As I sat there observing this adorable image my thoughts were drawn to Heaven. You know this last week has been a bit tumultuous. I have felt like I was hopped up on sugar and running around like crazy. Between the chaos of getting ready for this HUGE wedding and the shock of adapting to the concept that Hannah needed surgery, I was disjointed, jittery and a little out of sorts. I realized that I too have access to the safety of my Father's arms. I realized that in God's armpit I can find comfort, peace, and rest. Now every time I feel those butterflies of stress rising up, I get this image in my head:

Photograph by The Salty Peanut 6/18/11

It was PERFECTLY captured by Amanda's AMAZING photographer, and it reminds me that instead of lying down in the middle of the entrance to the dance floor, crying and kicking and screaming, I should just climb into my Daddy's arms and let His peace and comfort envelope me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Out of the blue....

 While eye surgery had always kinda been "on the table" I was pretty sure over the past few checkups we had kinda taken that option off the list. With my "mommy sense" (sorta like spidey sense but MUCH better) I always knew Hannah's eyes weren't good enough with her glasses on, but I really didn't even have surgery on my radar screen.

So when the doctor nonchalantly said to her assistant, "Get the packet about eye muscle surgery." the earth fell away under my feet. I had literally not even considered that option for a VERY long time!

While I know this isn't the most earth-shattering news in the grand scheme of things, I keep thinking:

     This is MY baby girl!
     They are CUTTING into her eyeball!
     She's gonna throw a FIT when we have to hand her over to the surgeon (thank GOODNESS that is John's job!).
     I have to wait 1 - 2 hours to hear she's okay????

Every time I walk by the family calendar hanging in the kitchen, I catch a glimpse of that appointment on 6/15 at 1:30 Hannah - Dr. P  It was supposed to be such an inconsequential checkup, yet it rocked my world.

Here's what's on my heart today friends:

Life is like that! Everything can change in the BLINK of an eye! A diagnosis, a drunk driver, the word "divorce", an officer on your doorstep can turn your world upside down.  What do you do when it's all topsy turvy???  You RUN!  RUN straight to His arms! Run FAST! No detours! Do not pass GO do not accept $200! Just RUN!

I have been rocking, like a baby with tears trailing down my face, in the arms of my heavenly Father for two days now. I know it will be okay. I know EVERYTHING (even a bad outcome) is in His capable hands. I have witnessed (FIRSTHAND) His marvelous provisions many, many, MANY times.  But still I need to rock... Still I need His arms... Still I need HIM.

And here's what you do if your life is NOT topsy turvy right now:

*thank God for the good... sometimes we forget to say the positive. Stop RIGHT NOW and thank God for all that is GOOD in your life! Like:

     a beautiful step-daughter getting married tomorrow
     a hard-working husband whose health is returning
     three beautiful, strong, godly sons
     one gorgeous little cheerleading princess
     a VIABLE treatment for strabismus

*squeeze the ones you love... squeeze 'em hard and squeeze 'em NOW.... tomorrow is NOT guaranteed to ANY of us... we have NO idea what the future holds. Don't let one second go by in estrangement. Never miss a chance to say I love you. Don't forget to tell the people you love that you love them EVERY SINGLE day.

I guess... I'm back to blogging.  Sure wish I were back under better circumstances... like for example: I had become a published author now so I didn't have to waste time on these more menial jobs and was practically a lady of leisure now only writing and taking care of my babies so I had PLENTY of time for blogging.  But hey! as I've said before:

You can't always get what you want!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hannah's Surgery

I just scheduled Hannah's surgery. Thought this might be the quickest way to share the information.

August 16 - in the afternoon

Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The baby with the glasses....

Hello dear blog readers. Do you feel used and abused because I only blog when there's something wrong? I don't know what to say except, "I'm sorry." See life swirls at such a frenzied pace around here that I literally have no time for the luxury of blogging. I have been doing a lot of freelance writing for Demand Studios which does not leave much time for blogging. But today life threw another one of those darn monkey wrenches at me, and I need a little therapy... the only therapy I can afford... blogging.

See it all started nearly five years ago....

We took Hannah to her 4 month well-baby checkup and I distractedly asked the pediatrician, "Is it a bad thing that her eye crosses like that?" Sure enough it was. My four-month old perfect baby girl had strabismus caused by the fact that she was severely far-sighted. Thus began an endless parade of HORRENDOUS little plastic glasses FINALLY replaced by cute and trendy frame after frame after frame!  No lie at this point the girl goes through AT LEAST three pairs of glasses per year.

***There was the time that she threw her little pink plastic glasses out the window of the minivan as we sped down I-94... never got those ones back.

***Then there was the season where we had to make her wear a patch over her strong eye for hours a day. We bought ADORABLE decorative patches: tiaras, flowers, polka dots, and pink, pink, pink... Alas it didn't make the patching more fun.

***and now this.

You know I thought by the fourth child I kinda had this parenting thing figured out... so HEY for a little twist let's through in this tiny pair of PRESCRIPTION eyeglasses and the HYSTERICAL task of keeping them on a baby's face, keeping her from teething on the lenses and EVEN retrieving them from the garbage can of a Target cashier who thought they were a TOY.

Our journey through the world of pediatric opthamology has been grueling; however, the past two appointments started revealing a light at the end of the tunnel. That was until today... when the tunnel caved in and the light was cut out, "The glasses aren't working. Hannah has to have surgery."  Those BLASTED little eyeglasses! The bane of my existence!  I retrieved them out of situations I don't care to reveal. I have offered reward after reward after REWARD for their recovery. I have spent the past two years driving an hour ONE WAY to travel to the amazing Lisa at the Stein Optical on Hwy 100 and National to make sure the bifocals in those precious little glasses were cut properly. I have cared for pair after pair after PAIR of those little glasses for five years.... and TODAY they let me down. They did NOT do the job. So now we have to travel down another bumpy road.

Now don't get me wrong people I KNOW that we CAN do this! I know that in the grand scheme of things... ranked next to a daddy who needed brain surgery and would be out of work with NO INCOME for months and would probably NEVER return to full pre-brain surgery strength... this measly little eye surgery carries little to no degree of difficulty. But... (and that's a very big BUT there):

1. that is MY baby girl they are going to be doing ROUTINE eye surgery on

2. I don't care that I CAN get through this... I don't WANT TO... I just don't want to!  I want God to reach down and miraculously touch those little eyes and make them WORK so I don't have to sit in a waiting room for 1 - 2 hours waiting while someone cuts my baby's eyeball open.

As I drove home from the doctor's visit, I ran to the one and ONLY place I can ever find comfort. I turned on K-Love... desperate for a word from my loving Father....  He just NEVER, EVER, EVER disappoints.

First I heard...

I was sure by now... God you would have reached down...
and wiped out tears away... stepped in to save the day...
but once again... I say amen... and its still raining...
as the thunder rolls... I barely hear You whisper through the rain....
"I'm with you."


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...
Your perfect love is casting out fear.
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life...
I won't turn back I know you are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

So I will praise Him in this storm.... because I know my God is with me... But if you get a second please throw up a little prayer for the little girl with the eye glasses.... all her life she's worn those little eye glasses... but now she STILL has to have her eyes cut into... and while you're at it say a little prayer for her daddy... handing her over into the arms of the surgeon just may break that man. Oh and don't forget her momma too... a lady who has been through the WRINGER and just does not WANT to go there again.

Although as I always tell my children when they tell me what they want:  I want to be a size 10. I want to be sitting on the beach in Aruba. I want a clean house and less gray hair. 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best and Worst Year

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary.... 13 years of wedded bliss :) John and I snuck away for a celebratory lunch, and while we ate we talked about what was our best year and worst year so far...  Funny for BOTH of us, there was just one year.

The 11th year of our marriage was grueling. We saw more trials and tribulations in that year than most couples face in a lifetime. It was full of the hardest things we had ever faced, many of which I never EVER thought WE would endure. I wouldn't repeat that year for all the money in the world. It was definitely our worst year yet. Funny thing though, as we tried to search for our best year, that one kept popping up too, and finally we decided that the 11th year of our marriage was our best yet too. See we MADE IT THROUGH more trials and tribulations in that year than most couples face in a lifetime. We TRIUMPHED OVER the hardest things we had ever faced. I wouldn't repeat that year for all the money in the world, but it was DEFINITELY our best year yet.

Trials are like that you know. They are awful and gut-wrenching and PAINFUL! But they show us God's love and they reveal the stuff we're made of and they are like a Girl Scout badge proving we can get through ______________ as long as we have God on our side.

It's kinda like my wrinkles and gray hair. I'm not thrilled with them. They reveal my age and lessen my chances of ever getting carded again, BUT they are badges showing I have weathered many years (and tears). They are my worst thing and my best thing at the same time.

Whatever trials you are facing today, no matter how dark and desolate, HANG ON and KNOW--- KNOW DEEP IN YOUR BONES -- that one day you will look back and be encouraged, and be proud, and be thankful that together you and God got through this.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12
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