Sunday, January 27, 2008

Joy Thru My Teardrops

I just walked in moments ago to find out that Tristan Hostetter has gone home to heaven. This beautiful little boy shone for Jesus for 8 amazing weeks before he was called home this afternoon. He was born just days after Poppy, and I have prayed for him and his family every day since. Even though our story was not the same as the Hostetter’s, I have watched with so much joy as I have seen Yvette, Trayc, Tanner and Tayden love this special baby with everything in them. I am so grateful to God that He chose to give them this time, yet now they need our prayers intensely as they walk forward into the grief of not having him with them.

There is something that I have wanted to share for quite a while, and as soon as I heard this news, God impressed upon my heart that the time is now. This poem has a special place in my heart. My mom, who I look up to as one of my greatest heroes, wrote this out of the deepest heartache of her life. The words are for anyone grieving, hurting, and desperately needing to be held by Jesus. It was written to be sung to the music of “A Few of My Favorite Things.” Tonight, this is my prayer for sweet Yvette and the many others who are lifting up their broken hearts to Jesus. I hope the words bless you.

Joy thru my teardrops, and gains thru my losses
Beauty for ashes, and crowns for my crosses;
He binds my wounds, and He dries all my tears
Calms every storm and He conquers my fears.

He gives me hinds’ feet to walk on high places,
He floods my soul with His heavenly graces;
When I am weak then His strength makes me strong
I know I can trust Him, He’s never been wrong.

Trials may come and temptations assail me
Though I may falter, He never will fail me;
So Satan I bind you in His holy name
For at the cross Jesus’ blood overcame!

When the doubt comes, when I’m lonely
When my heart is sad;
I’ll lift up mine eyes to my Savior above
And Jesus will make me glad.

When in my heart there is sadness and sorrow
Jesus has promised a brighter tomorrow;
Victory is mine, yes, it’s already won
I’ve only to claim it by faith in God’s Son.

All of my cares I will cast down before Him
Even in trials my heart will adore Him;
He bears my burdens, He comforts my soul
Oh why should I worry when He’s in control?

Lord in the time of deep grief and emotion
I will yet serve You with constant devotion;
You have not failed me one step of the way
That is the reason I’ll trust You and say:

I will praise You! I will praise You!
Jesus Christ my King;
For You fill my heart with a song in the night
Yes, You make my heart to sing!

Friday, January 25, 2008

What's it worth?

I have a hang up, but I’m not quite sure how to define it. It’s like I have this compulsion to make sure I know the value of material objects in order that I never pay over what it is actually worth. For example, yesterday I ordered my usual drink in the Starbucks drive-thru, and as waited to hear the familiar total rattled back at me, I was suddenly thrown into a conundrum as the up-beat barista projected through the drive-thru speaker a total 37 cents higher than expected. I quickly checked the menu just to make sure I hadn’t missed a recent price hike, but sure enough, it was the same. Now I had a dilemma. As I waited the next 14 minutes (I’m not kidding…our Starbucks is really that slow) before I reached the window, I debated about how I could gently and non-offensively let the girl know that I had been overcharged. It’s not the 37 cents per se, but the principle of the matter that is important, or at least that’s what I was telling myself. Well, as it turns out, the mistake was discovered without my help, and I was spared the unpleasantness of confrontation.

Okay, I know that by this point some of you have figured out exactly how to define my little quirk: I am cheap. I hate to own it, but when I consider my habits (I shop on ebay, Target is my department store of choice, and I won’t buy anything at the mall unless its on sale), the evidence is against me. I guess my point is that I seem to have no trouble in assessing the worth of inanimate objects. Not that this is some special talent I possess, it’s just something I’ve noticed lately. As I was thinking on this, it occurred to me that maybe I was better at judging the value of the inconsequential things in life than I am those things which are truly important.

This came as a shock initially. After all, the events of the past few days, and then before that of the past few months, have shown me how precious the lives of every one of these special babies truly is. But then I realized that’s not what I’m having trouble with. What I’m really missing is the value of every other life. The lives of the people who are healthy as well as those who are sick. It’s like it takes a terminal illness in order for me to see how valuable people really are. I can guarantee you that if Poppy had lived, I never would have had one moment of frustration with her because I knew that her condition was frail, and I would have wanted to cherish each and every moment. Yet, I find myself getting all worked up and annoyed at people--close friends, acquaintances, or total strangers alike--over the silliest things. I thought last night, “What if Nathan were sick with cancer? Would I get irritated over something silly like getting hit in the head with lip gloss as a result of his poor aim?” I don’t have to think about it long because I know the answer. And to be honest, it leaves me disappointed in myself.

I couldn’t go to sleep last night as I considered my actions. I hate that on a daily basis I treat people as less valuable than they really are. I hate that I get irritated at people over the things they do that don't match up to whatever preconceived standards I have set for them. I hate that I can’t truly grasp a person’s worth until I am faced with his or her death. That’s not how I want to be. As I continued to think, I realized that each and every person on this earth has the same intrinsic value as Poppy or any of the other babies who have gone on to be with Jesus, because every human life gets its value from the same source: Jesus. It is the love of Jesus that gives us our value, and His love is the same for each and every life He creates. I want to learn to act on this truth each and every day, and not just the ones that bring tragedy. I think it all boils down to wanting to love people better. Something that will take a lifetime of work, but will yield the greatest reward.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Psalm 139

If I say “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You.
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am
Fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it full well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:11-16

This chapter has long been one of my favorites, but in the recent months as I have become immersed in the reality of life’s frailty, these particular verses have come alive, sustaining me in the dark moments. The beauty of this passage is something I will never tire of, but even more valuable than the eloquence of the language is the truth it proclaims that ever human being is precious! I have claimed that for Poppy, Tristan, Copeland, and Mary Grace already, and now as I think of little Maddox, who will come into the world today, and Gwyneth Rose, who is two weeks old and continuing to thrive, I claim this for them as well.

Jesus knows each and every moment of every life He has ever created, and He has known all of this since before time began. In response to this truth all I can do is echo the psalmist’s cry in verse 6 of this same Psalm. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” I will never fathom all of it, but I know it is the truth. Each one of these babies is precious in the sight of our Father, and He will care for them with a love even greater than that of their earthly parents.

I have also been thinking today of the little baby that God has ordained since before time to be my child through the process of adoption. I claim these verses for that precious little one as well. I don’t know if he or she has been conceived yet, nor do I know how God will orchestrate the circumstances to bring us together. It will likely be through the local crisis pregnancy center, but I realize that God could use something even like this blog to help connect us with the child we are waiting to accept completely and wholly as our own. His plan will undoubtedly unfold in a way unanticipated by me, but it will be perfect.

Today, I ask that you stop and think about this passage and the truth it holds for your life, the lives of your children, and the lives of these children who need your prayers right now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Baby Maddox is Coming!

The Stanfield family needs your prayers right now! Kenzie has gone into labor tonight. She was scheduled to be induced on February 5th, but she knew there was a possibility that she might go in early. Right now she is progressing and will probably have baby Maddox by tomorrow morning. I know that God has them in His hands and that His timing is perfect, but please pray that all of the pieces will fall into place before he arrives. Please pray that all of her family will be able to get there as soon as possible. Please pray for Dusty and Kenzie as they approach their long awaited little boy's birth. I feel like the ground they will be treading over the next few hours is holy. God has chosen these special babies to shine brightly for Him in a way that nothing else can. I know that Maddox will. Thank you in advance for the prayers I know you will be praying for this precious family that means so much to me. Lift them up to Jesus, and I know He will take care of them. Please continue to check Kenzie's blog at

Sunday, January 20, 2008


So much sorrow and pain
Still I will not live in vain

These lyrics are from a Ben Harper song that has come to mean a lot to me lately, because the thought expressed in these two lines is the exact sentiment I have felt reverberating in my heart since Poppy has gone. The more I am exposed to the world in all of its harshness, the more I see the devastating reality of pain. Whether it is unavoidable, like Poppy’s illness, or a result of human depravity, both have the power to leave people laid open to the heart, altered irrevocably. This is not how I want to be! I have witnessed more pain and heartache—and not just my own—over the past months than maybe I have in the rest of my life combined, and I continue to be left with the strong conviction that the greatest tragedy that can come from each terrible situation is for the person to be left empty and stripped of any sense of meaning in life.

The chorus of this song is simple. It says
I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed
I am blessed to be a witness

I’ve been listening to this in my car since Poppy died, and somewhere along the way, the truth of those words penetrated my heart. I realized that this is the attitude I want to claim as I think about what my eyes can give testimony to as a result of this valley we have walked through. There are so many things... I am a witness to the unrelenting nature of hope, to the beauty and sanctity of life despite its length, to the power of prayer to relieve the fear that longs to consume, and to the ability of sorrow to refine and strengthen instead of destroy. Above all I am a witness to God’s power and faithfulness.

For the most part, thinking of Poppy no longer stabs me with pain. The hurt hasn’t been erased, but the intensity has eased to the point that it is no longer dominant. Instead, the many good and wonderful things that her life represents to me rise to the surface when I think about my baby. She gave me renewed meaning and a clarified purpose, and pursing those things in my life is where I want my focus to be.

This is why I am throwing myself completely and totally into the adoption process. It is something that God has placed on our hearts as the right path to pursue at this time, and that is exactly what I want to do. Refusing to follow the leading we feel because of some need to remain sad seems so opposite from what God wants for us. It seems like it must also be opposite of what Poppy wants for us. I imagine that if she has gotten wind of our plan, her little heart is filled with nothing but joy. Because sorrow doesn’t need to put the brakes on life—it needs to encourage me to pursue what is important in life with a renewed passion. My starting place will be to begin working hand in hand with Life Choices (yes! we did make our decision), and to take advantage of opportunities God places in my life to be an encouragement to others who are walking through dark valleys of their own. "Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings." Psalm 84:6

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Next Step

I'm going to cut the suspense and get straight to it. Nathan and I have decided to pursue adoption! I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm filled with hope, and I can't wait to get the process officially started! Okay, that being said, I'll back up and explain how this came about. Shortly after Poppy died, Nathan and I both began to think seriously about adoption. I think the idea came to us both separately, and we were excited to find a few days later that each of us had been considering the possibility. Let me give a quick side note and say that we had already felt led to adopt at some point in our lives—we just assumed it would be later on down the road after we had finished having children of our own. For many years now I have loved the concept of adoption and how it correlates with what God has done for us. I think it is such a beautiful picture of redemption and love, and I looked forward to being able to take one of these precious orphans into our family as our own. Originally, I had envisioned doing this by adopting internationally.

Moving back to present day, after Poppy’s loss and the subsequent knowledge that I would be unable to consider getting pregnant again for 18 months, we began to seriously pray about whether adoption was something that God had for us now as opposed to later. The answer we quickly came to was, YES! We both felt that this is exactly the path for us to begin exploring, and the only thing we wanted to know was whether to pursue international or domestic adoption.

My leaning and inclination had always been to adopt internationally. In fact, I can honestly say that domestic was not something I had ever considered before, but I wanted to make sure we covered all of the bases and went in the direction God had for us. In order to get all of the information, I set up an appointment with a Christian adoption agency called Bethany. As we eagerly anticipated this appointment, something unexpected began to take place in my heart: I slowly began to feel my desire shifting to adopt domestically. I really can’t explain why, but by the time we went to our appointment yesterday, while still open to both options, I knew that I felt my heart leaning strongly toward domestic adoption.

As we sat through the two-hour informative meeting, hearing the many details regarding both international and domestic adoption, I felt the calling toward domestic adoption confirmed in every way. It is unexpected, largely unexplained, and yet I’m thrilled about it. As the social worker explained the ins and outs of the domestic program, I felt everything in me completely at peace with going in this direction, and after discussing it with Nathan, we are agreed that this is the path we will pursue.

I’ll give you a quick summary of what this process will be like. We will go through a home study, and after that is complete and we are approved, we will be eligible to be put in the pool of available families. We will then create a profile, which is a picture scrapbook of our lives. We can include letters, pictures, and anything else we want to let the birth mothers know what our family is like. Then, whenever a birthmother comes to the agency, she is able to look through the available profiles and select the parents she wants for her child. It’s as simple as that. No waiting lists, no set timelines. The crazy thing is that means we could be chosen in one week, one year, or never. There is no way of knowing, but somehow, even that part of the process is exciting to me right now.

The biggest decision that still remains is whether to choose the Bethany adoption agency or to go with Life Choices, which is a local crisis pregnancy center. If you would pray with us and ask God to help us decide which course to pursue, we would greatly appreciate it! I can’t wait to be able to make this decision and move forward with the paperwork necessary to get this process moving. Last night as Nathan and I were considering how excited we are about the baby God has for us, we also thought about how thrilled Marianna is going to be to have a baby brother or sister. That thought makes me so happy. I continue to be amazed at how God is redeeming our tragedy for good. Now as we move forward with this thrilling, but somewhat daunting prospect of adoption, I know His faithfulness will continue.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I have all of these things—trinkets people have given, flowers from the memorial service, the blanket and clothes she wore, all of the many pictures that were taken—and each one of these items is special because they all have one thing in common: Poppy. We knew that each moment we had would be a gift, so I planned as much as I could to make sure there would be tangible items that we would be able to remember her by. I know that ultimately they are just things, yet they are her things, and it is their ability to help us remember that gives them their significance.

As I was thinking about this, a story came to me that reminded me of the importance of refusing to forget. I thought about the Israelites, as they were just about to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. They stood on the brink of the fulfillment of generations of promise, yet even there they were faced with the formidable obstacle of the Jordan River. The banks of the river were overflowing, effectively preventing the thousands of Israelites from crossing to the other side, until God stepped in and once again miraculously provided for His people.

God instructed Joshua to send the priests with the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people into the Jordan River, and once they obeyed, God showed Himself faithful. The waters of the Jordan River piled up on top of each other, allowing the people of God’s promise to walk across what should have been watery territory on dry ground. It was a miracle, and it was something that God didn’t want the people who had witnessed it to ever forget.

This was so important that God had Joshua bring 12 stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River to set up on the other side to serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel. It wasn’t enough for the people to just talk about it every once in awhile, or reminisce in the years to come about the exciting adventure they were a part of on the eve of entering into the promised land. Instead, God wanted a physical reminder to stand for generations to come as a symbol of His strength, power, love and faithfulness to the Israelites.

Because of this, I decided that what I wanted was a physical place in my house that was set aside to honor Poppy, but even more importantly to remind us on a daily basis of God’s faithfulness to us. With the help of my mom, I was able to set up a beautiful spot in my living room that serves as “Poppy’s Place.” On it I have a candle that contains the poppies from her graveside, several crosses and statues of angels holding babies that were given by friends and family, and an angel’s wing with a verse that speaks of being hidden under the protection of God’s wing. In the drawer of the table I have stored her clothes and blankets, the clay molds of her hands and feet, and the other sweet reminders of her time with us.

It may come across to some as a shrine of sorts to our little baby, but this isn’t what my heart’s motive is. My desire is to keep this out so that I never have a day go by without stopping to think about what God did through the miracle of Poppy Joy. God redeemed something ugly (disease and death) and turned it into something more beautiful than I have ever experienced. I am changed, and I want this spot to be my Stones of Remembrance in the years to come to keep me from ever forgetting what God did in this time of our lives.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


January 6th was a mementos day in our household. It was the culmination of weeks of build-up, anticipation, and maybe just a little dread. This event had been long discussed and debated in regard to exact time it should take place, but finally on Saturday we decided the moment was right. It was time to make the transition. It was time for Marianna to sleep in her big girl bed.

I think Nathan and I both sensed the impending storm, and subconsciously we put it off, hoping that something would prevent our being able to go over to my parents and retrieve all of the furniture we purchased back in the summer from their attic. In the end, we didn’t end up moving everything over until late Saturday night, and by the time the crib was finally disassembled and the new bed was up in its place, it was 11:00 p.m. We tucked a very cheerful, and strangely wide-awake, Marianna into the bed. We kissed her goodnight, turned out the lights, shut the door, and let the battle of the wills commence.

We eventually lost count of the number of times Marianna emerged from her room over the next hour, but I would guess she made somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 appearances. We held firm and won out in the end, but the battle took its toll on all involved. Honestly, I found that the hardest part of the entire ordeal was trying to keep a straight face in the midst of her numerous- and I might add extremely creative- attempts to avoid what we had told her she must do: remain in her room.

Since Saturday the battles have become progressively less lengthy, although we’ve had a naptime flare up or two that were certainly notable, but the entire experience has given me a lot to chew on. I’m beginning to think that God allows parents a special glimpse of His perspective in being our Heavenly Father. I know I’ve already seen on a small scale the magnitude of what God did for us by allowing Jesus to leave Heaven and come here to Earth. I think letting go of Poppy helped me to understand that as best as my mind can comprehend. As I've said before, having Poppy has changed my perspective and given me new lenses through which to see everything, including parenting. Because of this, I’m seeing in a new and fresh way how many aspects of raising my child can shed light on the way God sees us.

What has stood out to me over the past few days is how clearly I can see myself and my relationship with God mirrored in Marianna’s antics. Maybe what stands out above all else is my stubbornness. When this first occurred to me, I bucked up against the thought, but the more I considered, the more I realized how accurate the picture really was. I may not be as openly defiant, but just as Marianna tells us by her actions exactly what she thinks about our plan for her, I subtly do the same to God when He tells me what His best is for me. Marianna has showed me that there are a number of ways to do this, and I’ll share just a few of my favorites.

1. Rationalization: Marianna has mastered this technique. My favorite example of this happened that first night. She tiptoed out of her room, shut the door with her finger to her lips, and told us that she had to leave her room because she had put her book to bed. I believe in her mind she had come up with an airtight case for avoiding bedtime: she could not stay in her room because she would obviously disturb her book by doing so! I think my excuses must sound just as silly to God, as I make arguments that are so sound and logical in my own head, but in the end are just attempts at avoiding what He has told me is best.
2. Blame: Yesterday as I was sitting on the couch waiting to see if Marianna would go down for her nap, I saw her bedroom door swing open. When I questioned her about it, she immediately yelled out “Chum did it!” The fact that the dog could never have opened the door if she had not first cracked it for him didn’t occur to her. But once again, I see now how I do the exact same thing. I blame other circumstances (fear, intimidation, anger, busyness, etc) for preventing me from doing what God wants, but I don’t acknowledge that I am the one who opened up the door and allowed something to come in and get a foothold in my life in the first place.

Many more examples come to mind, but I think you see the point. Yet, as I’ve struggled with Marianna over the past few days, what I’ve felt stronger than anything else is my love for her. Her disobedience and stubbornness hasn’t lessened my love for her one iota. In fact, it’s allowed me to see just how much I love her. I want what’s best for her, so even though I hate when she cries and I hate when I have to punish her, I do it because I love her. So it is with God. If you have ever struggled with knowing how God can love you in spite of what you do, consider your children. I realize now that there is nothing Marianna could do to make me love her less. And God tells us that he loves us with a love that is greater and deeper than that with which we are capable of loving our own children. Nothing could sum it up better than John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave is only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pray for Eva

I just got a message from Chrissy, mom to Eva Jannette, to let me know that she is in the hospital in pre-term labor. Right now she is 28 weeks pregnant, so I want to ask you to lift her up right now and pray that God will allow the labor to stop so that she can carry little Eva to term. She, like so many others that I've come to know through this journey, is now part of the trisomy 18 community, and I know how desperately the prayers are wanted and needed.

Walking through this has helped me see the beauty in God's command for us to lift each other up and bear one another's burdens. Romans 12:15 says "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." What a joy it will be for me one day in heaven to get to meet each and every person who prayed for me. I know that most of you do not know Chrissy and will never meet her in this lifetime, yet God can still use you in her life! Thank you for being a part of the group of warriors praying for her and Eva's protection tonight.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Words of promise

Isaiah 61:1-3 says “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He many be glorified.”

These are the words of Isaiah, speaking perhaps in part about himself, but ultimately looking forward to complete fulfillment in Jesus. I have been acquainted with this beautiful passage for many years, but reading it this morning in the wake of Poppy’s life, the verses became alive and resonant as never before. As I absorbed the message of the words, reading them over and over again, I felt my spirit echoing “Yes, Jesus! You have truly done this for me!”

I must admit that in the weeks before Poppy was born, my greatest fears about the future began to gradually shift. Instead of fearing the inevitable death of my baby, I began to fear what her death might do to my spirit. I remember my grandmother telling me of a woman she had met years ago who had lost her third child to SIDS. She had been blessed with two additional children after the loss of that baby, yet years later, absorbed in bitterness and pain, she continued to dwell on the unfair aspect of the loss. She resented God, allowing the death of her child to color her perspective and steal the possibility of joy, even in the two children she had been given since.

And this certainly isn’t my only exposure to what bitterness can do to a person’s heart when given free reign. I, like most of you, have seen first hand what a person consumed with resentment and anger is like. Closed. Unhappy. Lonely. It’s easy to become offended by these kinds of people since the most likely thing out of their mouth isn’t going to be a word of encouragement, but the more I think about it, instead of focusing on my personal injury, I am filled with pity and compassion for people like this. To me, the life of bitterness is the life of the living dead. Whether consciously or not, someone living in bitterness has at some level refused to hand the pain over to Jesus, feeling some kind of gratification or control in the simple act of refusing to let go.

I was thinking about it this morning, and I decided there are probably few things that excite Satan as much as a discouraged and bitter Christian. The reason why is simple. The person who is entrenched in bitterness cannot be filled with God’s hope and joy. She is adorned with ashes instead of the garland that Jesus so desperately wants to put around her neck, and instead of a mantle of praise, she lives in the constant weariness of defeat. Before Poppy was born, I lived in fear of this scenario becoming my reality.

Since that time, praise Jesus, I have discovered that the path of bitterness is one that I can choose not to take. It has not already been mapped out for me. In fact, it is opposite of the beauty that Jesus has planned for my life according to these verses. He wants to make me an established oak, with roots that are deeper as a result of the storm I’ve endured. And this isn’t just His plan for me. It is what He wants for EVERYONE. It’s yours for the taking.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I never could have imagined what this year would hold for me. Last year as we brought in the New Year with our closest friends at a lake house in Pickwick, I could never have imagined the changes that would have taken place by the time December 31st came around again. I remember watching Marianna and her best friend Maggie dance the night away trying to play Dance Dance Revolution last New Year’s Eve. I remember some of the guys (my sane, responsible, and semi-chicken husband not included) jumping into the freezing lake to bring in 2007 with a bang. I remember one of our friends making a calendar of predictions regarding who would have babies this year. I was included on that list, and I looked forward hopefully to at least being pregnant by the time 2007 came to a close. What was absent from that night was any discussion about the possibility of suffering or loss the next year would bring. Not that there should have been-morbid is the word that comes to mind for anyone who does. But my point is that my outlook was full of hope and optimism, unmarred by the reality of the pain that comes with loss.

The first few months passed happily and uneventfully, and by the time April came around and I discovered I was pregnant, I was thrilled! Surprised, but definitely thrilled. As I gazed down at the two pink lines that indicated a baby was on the way, my first reaction was to laugh. I really did. I laughed out loud because I had announced to some friends just a few months before that I would NEVER have a baby in December. I had decided my life was simply too busy that month with birthdays and Christmas to make room for anything else. How far God has brought me since that moment.

From April to the end of June, we looked forward to the next baby, but honestly found ourselves so busy with Marianna, work, and everything else going on in our lives that we didn’t spend nearly as much time thinking and dreaming of this baby as we did with Marianna. In fact, before going in for the 20 week ultra sound I told Nathan I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t signed up for weekly “my pregnancy this week emails” or taken pictures of my stomach at regular monthly intervals. I didn’t want this baby to look back at her baby book and think “wow, mom really wasn’t as on top of it for me as she was for Marianna.” How could I have known?

As we drove in to the doctor’s office on July 25th, the greatest fear I had was that the ultrasound technician wouldn’t be able to discover the baby’s gender. As we drove out, I left with every dream about my second baby lying on the floor of the doctor’s office consultation room. Life for me had changed. From that point, I began writing on this blog, so I guess the rest is history.

I took several hours yesterday to sit and reflect over the year as a whole. I know that Poppy has transformed me in ways I understand and in ways I don't. God has made Himself present with an authenticity that's hard to explain or describe-like an awareness each day that my strength was literally not my own. He has been there for me in the midst of the pain, not to eliminate it, but to hold me and keep me from breaking while I'm experiencing it. Someone reminded me the other day that my grandfather often said that the eyes cleansed with tears often see the clearest. Ohh, how I relate! My eyes are opened in new ways as my old pre-conceptions, pride, and self-sufficiency have been peeled away, leaving them raw (painfully sometimes) but hopefully with the ability to see more accurately than ever before. As I sat yesterday, I realized that if I could boil everything down into one thing to take with me into this new year, it would be this: focus on what's important. Having Poppy helped me realize that much of what I have filled my life with simply doesn't matter. It's not that it is necessarily bad, but it just doesn't have a lot of meaning. What is important? People. I want to love people more genuinely. Not just those in my life, but also those around me. I want to point people to Jesus. I want to pray for people more faithfully. More than anything else, this is what Poppy has shown me. I'm looking forward to this coming year with a new kind of hope than what I've had before. Yes, I'm not as care-free as I was one year ago, but I don't regret it. I never want to be the same.