My Cup Runneth Over

“…Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me

all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the LORD

for endless days.”
_____
“My cup runneth over” when I dwell on how much He loves us in His sacrifice, but when I forget Him it overflows with anxiety, loneliness and despair. Today Psalm 23 reminded me that we are never meant to do it without Him. Appreciating that even the difficulties can mean His pursuit, can draw us closer to His love and mercy and eternal home. He wants our hearts! And with Him we need not fear anything. #hopeinheaven #donotbeafraid #lifeloveloss

18157875_10203452637954421_992086350938101498_n.jpg

Advertisements

Jesus Falls the Third Time

So much of the life of Christ should shock us. The fact that God would take on our humanity and suffer everything for the sake of making heaven available to us once again is shocking enough.

In addition he took on our frailty, our weakness, our vulnerability… He fell THREE times on his way up Calvary. The SON OF GOD fell, when obviously he had every power to keep it all from happening. Why would Jesus go through this?

I’ve always been taught that it was out of love for us and the more I stumble through life the more I realize that he did so so that we would have a guide for our own walk up Calvary… Because we all have crosses to carry, don’t we? Like the soldiers to Christ, we all suffer persecutions, judgement of others, our own self-deprecation even? We meet people along the way, some help us, some weep with us, some just stand by and don’t know what to do. But we all know deep down that we must walk this walk. And what’s at the end? Well, death, and hopefully after that, heaven. But death is the hurdle that we must all face.

Jesus so lovingly shows us that in no way is this walk easy. Sometimes we get bursts of strength, sometimes we get a helping hand, sometimes we fall… And if Christ himself fell three times then you can bet I’m going to fall innumerable times. But he showed us with such strength, that could only be inspired by love for others, that we must get up and keep going.

I’ve already fallen many times in my short years, and the last couple of years I’ve struggled with the temptation to just stop trying altogether. These feelings of tiredness or hopelessness is all that’s left when I think of how hard life is. It’s when I look beyond myself at Christ and the beautiful people in my life and the ugliness too that I realize how badly we all need each other. I’m inspired to look at Jesus and fight to the death like he did. I’m inspired to be a Simon to someone else in need. I’m inspired to be the good thief on the cross… Looking at God with humility and gratefulness and trusting that we will beat the cross and be together in paradise when the time comes.

Don’t lose heart if you feel like you’ve fallen. We all do, even Christ. With his help we can get back up and win this race with passion and a love that beats death. #lent #lentspiration #holythursday #lifeloveloss

Meet Our “Stormy” Rainbow Baby!

On January 17th, 2017 Clark’s younger brother was born! He is our “Stormy” Rainbow Baby because he had to spend two weeks in the NICU before being allowed to come home and meet his oldest brother, Gabe – a joyful coming home to say the least!

Lazarus James, “Laz” for short, has captured our hearts just like his brothers before him! His name, the name of Jesus’ best friend, means “God is my help.” Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11) and it is said that his tears were for all of humanity. Then he prayed to the Father and called Lazarus out, ALIVE. What a testimony to the resurrection and life we have in Christ and a mirrored reminder of God’s loving plan for our sons, and all of His children.

As difficult as it was to stand by and watch our Laz struggle in his early weeks of life, we could feel his big brother Clark with us in that tiny NICU room as he reminded us of what a gift it all is – even each breath. Today, we are loving life at home with two darling boys while continuing to love on our sweet one in heaven.

Needless to say, we are thankful beyond all measure and each moment with our Rainbow Baby has been such a gift. Thank you, thank you for all of the prayers from our friends near and far!!

Love, this Rainbow Mama 

“Jesus works miracles for His dearest friends only after He has tested their faith. He let Lazarus die, even though Martha and Mary sent word that he was sick. But after the trial, what rewards! Lazarus rises from the dead.”

– St Therese of Lisieux

Pregnancy after Loss: Fear, Hope, and a new kind of Joy

It goes without saying, I have put this blog post off almost the entirety of my pregnancy following the death of our son, Clark, back in 2015. It has been a strange journey through the unknown, full of fear, joy, anxiety, hope, pain, grief, excitement, happy tears, despairing tears and a full fledged reliance on God – who I still know and understand so little.

The entire process has felt like a meandering through an unforeseen place with many dips and turns in the road and a blindness that has only left for brief moments of a love and faith so strong that the blinding fear is cast out. Much of the time I have felt lost and unsure of where to go next and full of questions concerning the state of my heart and whether or not it is in good enough condition to love the new little life we’ve been blessed with. Life, after loss, is changed dramatically, pregnancy even moreso as much of the warm & fuzzy feelings are replaced with that dark place that wonders too often if the baby is just sleeping or if he has passed. I would not be honest if I did not share some of the darkness that has come along with pregnancy after loss… My constant prayer this pregnancy has been for the well-being of our precious baby on the way and thanksgiving for the inspiring saint we have in heaven who reminds us what this life is really about.

Life has already shown me that I have very little control over the future of those I hold dear, but it has also taught me that regardless of the pain, loving fully, deeply and through the eyes of a hope in heaven, all will be well in the end. Just as God promised Noah of his love and promise for life after the flood, there is this thing called a “Rainbow” and it means something extra beautiful when followed by the word “baby.”

Here’s a general overview of the many thoughts I’ve experienced during our pregnancy after loss as we wait on the threshold of holding and kissing another sweet son, our “Rainbow baby,” a priceless gift from God!

Trying again: “Are we ready to try again?” “Will we ever be ready?” “Will we be ready 10 months from now?” “We are beyond ready because it seems we’ve already tried, we’ve already held a sweet baby, our arms ache so badly…” “We want our older child to get to experience the love and friendship of a sibling.” “Will we ever be ready?” “We will always miss our son in heaven.” “Should his beautiful life keep us from opening our hearts to more beautiful lives?” “Can our hearts bare more heartbreak if that is to come…Our marriage… Our faith?” “Can we even imagine the joy of loving another child?” “Yes, the joy is worth it.” “Loving each other, loving our children, loving others with our lives… it’s all worth it.”

Early months: “I’m so sick, but so very thankful.” “You’ll hear no complaining from me, I’m just grateful for this new life.” “I’ve never felt so much anxiety.” “Every time I go to the Doctor’s office my blood pressure spikes… I’m so afraid that we’ll receive bad news.” “Do I love this baby as much as I loved my first two?” “Am I enough?” “Am I protecting my heart and holding back?” “Is that ultrasound normal?” “Is the baby okay?” “Can I still talk about my son in heaven?” “Am I being judged?” “God, you’ve blessed us with this baby, you’ve blessed me with a heart that is open and loves greatly, help me to continue regardless.”

Halfway there: We noticed some issues on your ultrasound and we would like to take a closer look……. *Emptiness, fear, grief (for Clark, and at the thought of losing this baby too), peace (because we have been here and God is with us)* Lots of tests. Baby is alive, growing and developing. “Thankful beyond words for this news!” “Still struggling with fear of the unknown.” “Is he really going to be okay?” “We have open arms for whatever condition he’s in, just please don’t let him die!” “We love you sweet baby!” “Ugh… why do babies have to suffer/die?” “Don’t fear the worst, the doctor said he’d be okay, don’t be irrational.” “My heart still hurts.” “I just want to go into hiding until he’s safe in my arms.” “I’m so thankful for each sweet kick, each sweet day with you.”

Later months: “I can’t believe we’re already here.” “I’m not ready.” “I’m so incredibly ready!” “I can’t wait to share you with your Daddy and big brother, little one!” *Weeping with joyful, thankful tears as we set up the crib* “I’m so thankful he’s this strong and growing so well!” “Are we safe yet?” “Will I do okay with labor?” “Will it bring back brutal memories?” “Whatever you have to do to help the baby, that’s what I want.” “Will I remember how to take care of an infant?” Will I remember how to love?” “Will he be safe outside my womb?” “Is it safe to celebrate?” “What will it be like to look into his eyes? To feel him breathe? To hear him cry?”

I can only imagine the answers to these many thoughts. It’s almost laughable how sporadic this bereaved heart is and how pregnancy has changed so much for me. To put it all in perspective, though, my husband and I are overflowing with love and anticipation for this “Rainbow baby.” We are utterly grateful at the thought of experiencing this life with a child after suffering the death of one. It’s almost unimaginable, the joy and appreciation we will have for every detail of life with our third son. Before loss, changing diapers was a chore, sleepless nights a burden… Now, we cannot wait to have the privilege of sustaining a new life, loving a unique, divinely thought up human being. What a privilege, what a blessing, what a special kind of joy this is!

103_Fotor.jpg

Life with these boys…

“Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.” – Isaiah 49:15

I don’t think I could ever forget any of our sweet children, that being said, it’s a comfort knowing that God loves them even more than I can. His plans for them are much greater than this life. Resting in the warm rays of His hope and thankful for each day we are given. I love life with these boys

15317852_10202841335352238_4064121308066135757_n.jpg

Interview: Clark’s Story Parts I & 2

We recently had the opportunity to share Clark’s story with our dear friends Jake and Lindsay in southern Idaho on Salt and Light Radio, their show is called Where Faith Begins. If you’d like to hear Clark’s story from our lips feel free to click on the podcast below which features Parts 1 & 2 of Clark’s Story.

Being able to talk about our sweet son and all that he has done in our lives is such a gift and we hope it brings love and inspiration to the many out there who are suffering themselves. God is close to the brokenhearted. He is with us every step and asks that we reach out to hold His hand in trust. Praying for all of you and still passionately waiting to embrace God and our loved ones in heaven! Love you Clark Job

Part 1 of Clark’s Story:

https://secure-hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/5/7/d57cbf88715bc124/Where_Faith_Begins_Show_7_111016-PODCAST.mp3?c_id=13284680&expiration=1481681349&hwt=0436b1aab89a1922245dcc6a4c5e1c14

Part 2 of Clark’s Story:

http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/1/8/b189e10c3619ae71/Where_Faith_Begins_Show_8_112416-PODCAST.mp3?c_id=13286658&expiration=1481681129&hwt=4d101b8809a23dcf91635d292f0e1d2c

This Pilgrimage God Has Called Me On

pil·grim
ˈpilɡrəm/

noun
1.a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.

verbarchaic
1.travel or wander like a pilgrim.


I recently had the opportunity to travel with a group of friends to the East Coast. All of us needed this trip. Whether we knew it or not, we needed to travel all this way to have our eyes opened by the extreme and endless love of God for each one of us, individually, in our own unique pains, relationships and desires.

The trip was jam-packed with sightseeing, volunteering, catching late night flights, early subway transits and making our way to as many shrines and cathedrals as possible in a one week span. This trip was no vacation, it was a pilgrimage. 

As google states above, a pilgrim is someone who wanders, or journeys, often for religious reasons. In every literal sense, we were pilgrims, as we got lost in downtown New York, looking for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. We were pilgrims as we sought the meaning behind every encounter, every passer-by, every missed on-ramp. We looked on with eyes of wonder and it was amazing…

What happens when you go somewhere you’ve never been, to see something you’ve never seen before? Well I guess it all depends… The future is a place I’ve never been, with places, people and emotions that I have yet to know. To be honest, FEAR is often what happens when I’m met with this kind of unknown.   

But this trip has taught me something important, among a great many other things, that my life as a Christian is a pilgrimage, a sacred journey, and I need to maintain that sense of wonder,  purpose and conviction in everything I do, everything I’m faced with, every step of wandering I take.

We recently found out that we are pregnant with another sweet little Edman! As many of you would know, or can imagine, the exciting news is wrought with anxiety, joy, hope, grief for Clark (whose presence we miss constantly), and fear — that we may be faced with more loss, or more pain. These are simply realities and natural responses to loss and life afterwards. I know that there will be many times throughout this pregnancy and throughout my life in general where my tendency will be fear, or a stoic struggle to truly trust or enjoy the moment. But this is not what I experienced on our pilgrimage! As I shared earlier, wonder and God’s love was my experience.

I’m comforted by the (too often quoted) words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.” And even if I get lost sometimes, caught up in fear or hopelessness, if I seek to maintain the mentality of a humble-wanderer, in need of God’s help, I’m sure He will set me right.

If you look back on fellow-pilgrims, folks who sought God radically and lived their life around that, you’ll realize that their paths were never easy. They were (and are) met with many trials and suffering. But still, like the Christians being fed to the lions, they sing praises to God. The Saints I learned about on this trip overcame all kinds of trials, but they all maintained that untouchable joy. I know that we are not guaranteed an easy path, and no, what we’ve endured doesn’t save us from the next cross, that’s just this life. I am convinced of one thing, I want to be a pilgrim. I want to see life for what it is and never be afraid, or at least always know that God is with me and my family. It’s amazing how wonder, while wandering, can lead to such great changes in faith, strength and hope. 

This life is a sacred place, where God chooses to meet mankind and beckon us home. He does this in so many ways, one of my favorite ways being through the eyes of a child! And I thank God for the gift of this sweet child growing inside of me. Just like our days with Clark, I’m seeking to take each day as the blessing it is, each tomorrow as an opportunity to love and grow in love. May this inspire you as well on your journey, to take a step forward in trust, hope or at least wonder at the crazy pilgrimage God has called you on, and the love He has for you! 

 

“Incompatible with life.”

“Incompatible with life.” These are the words that have too often been used to describe someone’s precious child. Sadly, sometimes we are left in this helpless place where science has no known cure.We were told this same thing multiple times as we faced the daunting road ahead of an Acrania/Anencephaly diagnosis. If you find yourself in this state of hopelessness where there is nothing more that the doctors can do, I want you to hear some good news…

Your baby may not have long to live, but he/she is most certainly ALIVE.

The beautiful gift we have as mothers, is this reality of the sucking, squirming, developing life inside of us. And one of my favorite experiences as a wife and mother is that moment when the father too can feel his infant child kicking his hand as he rests it on the mother’s belly. This is one of the most amazing moments … When husband and wife and child are all touching and smiling in awe of the new life that has been created … If you have been given news that your baby’s life will not be long or is nonexistent by society’s standards, don’t let his or her life be taken from you too soon.

I remember receiving the news – it is life shattering. I remember driving home from one of our many ultrasounds and feeling my son kick – I didn’t smile, instead I wept, I felt helpless as a mother, as if my baby was reminding me that he was hurt and there was nothing I could do to save him. This hopelessness came along with the shock of learning such news, but it is also in how the message is delivered that makes one wonder if there is any chance at all at happiness with this child. “Perhaps it would be best to just end it now and try again,” as a doctor recommended to us.

I’ve thought about this a lot, why the terminology and typical procedures for children who are “Incompatible with life” seem so often to reek of hopelessness and speeding up the death. I wonder, when we realize we have no cure, that we have no control, is it our basic instinct to use what control we have to end the chaos on our terms, on our time? The death of a child is always too soon. And what we forget to realize is that these babies who have been given a difficult or hopeless diagnosis are alive right now! They most certainly aren’t “Incompatible with life” because they have a heart beat, they are living, growing, human beings, they are our children! Don’t let a diagnosis take that away from you.

Like I said, it took me some time to come to grips and see the great miracle that was my son’s life, but I can tell you I came to embrace, enjoy and deeply deeply love every moment I had my sweet boy alive and with me. Each kick proved just how strong this little person was. Every hiccup, every jab to my rip, every flutter melted my heart to his sweet, deformed body and I came to realize the sheer joy he had brought to our family. What a diagnosis can’t tell you is how this little one will change your heart! How he/she will no doubt change many hearts and cause many to love more deeply and live more passionately. We immediately claim two sons to our family because our second son lived, and I also hope in his resurrection with Jesus where he truly lives. For these reasons I realize that a hard heart is a far more difficult diagnosis than what our son had. His soft, innocent heart knew nothing but compassion and now he knows heaven! I hope you can find these glimpses of hope and love as you live this difficult journey with your child diagnosed as “Incompatible with life.” Don’t count yourself short, don’t doubt the power of unconditional love. You can do this and your baby will help you through it til God calls him/her. Love fully, remind others to do the same, and know that the miracle that is your child’s life exists for a reason and one day, if not today, the Great Physician will heal all wounds.

May God bless you precious little ones! You are in our prayers.

 

Mercy and the Ocean

Have you ever sat and witnessed the strength and relentlessness of the ocean waves? The swells never stop, either they are billowing forward or billowing backward to another far off shore. Have you ever dwelt on just how large and deep it stretches? How about the complex ecosystem and life held in those depths?

Have you ever listened to the ocean?

I’m not talking about the seagulls, the crowds or the nearby traffic, I’m talking about the waves. There is something so piercing about the waves. They seem to be unending but I am never tired or indifferent toward their crashing on the shore, instead I lean forward and listen more intently. Tears roll down my cheeks as I realize this is a beautiful image of God’s relentless Mercy. God’s Mercy is unending, it is far more powerful than the ocean and all its waves. God’s Mercy, like the waves, can be so intimidating. He knows just how miserable our souls can be and still His heart gushes forth Love and Mercy *See Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The depths,

the power,

the relentlessness,

the unconditional, limitless Love that inspires such a Mercy…

0307161711a~2

It is incomprehensible, but we can witness tiny examples within creation that point to the Love of the Creator. The ocean is one of these tiny examples. When I walk the shoreline I find all sorts of worn down pieces of glass and shell. Sometimes large stones are tossed about by a modest wave, pick that stone up and you realize how smooth and round it has become. Goodness, even the sand represents what the crashing waves will do to similar stones! I do not pretend to understand why this life throws us about and often grinds us down to vulnerable, exhausted souls, but I do trust that by God’s Mercy He is preparing us for our ultimate Joy in Heaven.

If you get the opportunity to visit the ocean, I challenge you to take some time to dwell on God’s love for you, then share your thoughts below!

Motherhood – a Vocation Given by God

“Tuddle Mama?” … “Mmm yes please. I love you bud.” … “Luh you too Mama.”

Hello Friends,

Today I am moved to discuss the beautiful vocation I find myself in. Motherhood – a vocation given to us by God Himself! What an incredible gift we have as mothers.

Some of us are mothers for only a short while, perhaps for such a brief moment that we never meet our babies face to face, but we are Mothers just the same. Some of us are mothers to children we did not bear ourselves, but we love them with the love that only a Mother could. Some of us have sooooo many babies, some of us are empty handed, all of us are a part of this vocation that is Motherhood.

A mother’s heart is moved to great, sacrificial love. We are capable of practically anything in order to ensure the well being of our child’s body and soul. Saint Monica (Saint Augustine of Hippo’s mother) prayed for 30+ years for the conversion of her son. Saint Gianna Molla gave her life in order to protect her child in the womb “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other — I want them to save my baby.” Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave her heart to her Son and to God and as a result suffered greatly as she witnessed her Son and Savior dying on the cross for our sins. She is the most powerful example of a mother: she loved without hesitation, she said “Yes” to God’s greatest request of a mother – to watch her child suffer and to give Him back to God. She did not leave her child’s side and she trusted His Divine Providence even in the darkest of days.

Truly, Motherhood is more than a career, or worse – the resignation to a life of seclusion, thoughtlessness and diapers. On the contrary Motherhood is a divine appointment! Motherhood is the call to create, raise and cherish the little ones we are given. Children are God’s greatest gifts and they are our greatest gifts to Him as we raise them to be eternal flames of God’s love and light! Motherhood is a vocation far beyond anything that we can grasp and yet God invites us into His tent to participate in a love that grows, a love that bears much fruit.

In a time where motherhood is anything but glorious, remember who you serve, remember that you are the woman God chose to be your child’s mother! How can any pregnancy, toddler, disabled child, miscarriage, adoption etc. be a mistake? Eternally, our children, alive and/or born into heaven, tell of something much greater than ourselves, much greater than the limits of this life… our vocation literally spreads, and multiplies God’s Love for humanity across all time and all nations.

Loving and serving God with our vocation provides everything necessary to not only be a good mother but a joyful one as well. Yes, joyful, even amidst pain and loss. I urge you to turn away from the negative posts/comments you’ve heard or read recently about how motherhood is an inconvenience or something that takes away from our identity. So what if it’s a challenge? Children are priceless and their smiles on earth and in heaven are a priceless reward. Regarding identity, in my experience, motherhood has taught me more about myself and empowered me more than anything else I’ve ever experienced. We should embrace our children and our vocation with such respect and encouragement!

We are blessed to be given such a beautiful, important, powerful vocation. Trust me, many wish to be so blessed.  I urge you all to see your Motherhood a little sweeter today, to soak in the beautiful moments that take you above the difficulties, to thank God for all of your children (for all of His children) and to be inspired to love as only a Mother can.