Saturday, March 29, 2008

like me

Marianna twirled into the room a few minutes ago decked out in "fairy princess" attire, hands holding out her dress curtsy style, and asked, "Dad, do you like me?" It made me laugh. Maybe she meant "Don't I look pretty?" or maybe anytime a question like that is asked, no matter the particular verbiage, the intent behind it simply to gain assurance of her daddy's approval. What I love is how it was asked: straight up, without any trace of embarrassment or hesitation.

We all need a little old-fashioned affirmation on a regular basis, but the nice thing about being a kid is that you don't have to be shy about asking for it. I can't remember the last time I walked up to anyone and asked point blank, "Do you like me?" but it's still what I want.

Being liked is different than being loved. I know I'm loved--by God, Nathan, my family--but all of them can love me and still be frustrated, annoyed, or displeased with me. That's why I want to do things that make them happy. But who do I want to like me most? The auto-response inside of me immediately says "God", yet when I think about my actions, my answer doesn't sound very believable. I think sometimes it's more important for me to get complete strangers to "like" me than it is to work at God liking me. What I mean is that I do things I know won't please God because I care more about pleasing 1) myself or 2)others. What a crazy phenomenon.

I know that nothing I can ever do will make God love me less. He tells me that in His word and I believe it! I am not saved by works--by trying as hard as I can to please Him--I am saved by grace! My wanting to do what makes God happy stems not from duty but from love. So, what does this all boil down to? I don't love God like I wish I did. Too much of the time I love myself more. I would hope that the experience of having Poppy would have eradicated this love for self from my being, but I'm practical enough to know that that's never going to happen this side of heaven. Instead, it's a process. A daily decision.

I can't make God love me more than He already does, because His love is perfect and complete, unable to be added to. But I can please God when I obey Him, and displease Him when I don't. Does this equate to Him liking me more or liking me less? Maybe. Or maybe it's better just to say that I love God, and because of that, I want to live in such a way to make Him happy, bring Him joy, and give Him honor. Whatever the case, I want to be like Marianna, basking in the approval and love of her daddy.

so the book is gone...

Several people have asked about what happened to the missing chapters of my book, so I thought I should probably explain. I'm still writing (I'm working on chapter 9 right now) but I have been advised that I needed to go ahead and take it off. I have no idea what will come of this, but I have turned in the first portion of my book to a publisher for review. That being the case, I was told that it would not be a good idea to have it all in print, because of issues of copyright with a potential publisher. Again, I have NO idea what will happen. I may not hear anything back for weeks or months, and even then, it might be a "sorry, this just isn't right for us." But, I didn't want to leave you hanging for however long I have to wait to find out one way or another.

Thank you so much for your encouragement with the first several chapters. I feel like it is my honor and privilege to record this story. It had nothing to do with any merit on my part, yet God chose me to be a central player in the unfolding of His beautiful work. It's nothing I could have ever chosen for myself, but since God chose it for me, I feel like I must write it down. I trust that the compulsion I'm feeling to get this story out of my heart and onto paper is something that has been placed in me by God. Only He knows what will come of it, but I trust whatever He has in mind.

Monday, March 24, 2008

beautiful days

Today I was on the phone, sitting in the hospital parking lot, trying to find out a room number so I could go in and see some friends and their new baby boy. I was doing okay until I heard the words "delivery room 4." As those seemingly innocuous words were spoken, I froze. I had realized I was going back to the hospital Poppy was born at for the first time. I had also anticipated a flood of memories would accompany the trip. So I had already prepared myself for the things I expected: a familiar parking lot, a familiar recovery room, etc. But the second I found out my friend had not yet been moved from the delivery room, I knew I wasn't prepared for that. I have no idea if it was delivery room 4 that Poppy lived out nearly her entire life here on this earth, but I knew whether that was the room or not, I wasn't ready to go back. At least not in this setting. I wanted to express joy for this baby--not retrace those footsteps we walked nearly four months ago as Nathan and I set out in the middle of the night on December 1st.

My heart raced. I didn't want to drive off, but I didn't want to go in. Without giving myself long to mull it over, I looked up and prayed. Thinking back, I can't remember using words, but I know God knew my heart. When I walked in the door, I discovered that at just that moment, my friend was being switched to a normal room: God had provided a "ram in the thicket."

The visit was great. I can honestly say that seeing new life brings me joy, not pain. And the baby was beautiful, healthy and perfect. I'm glad I went. I'm glad I took Marianna. She remembered things that I wouldn't have thought--she recognized the hospital, the rooms, the gift shop--but all of this only served to cement in my brain that the day Poppy was born was special to her. With the help of pictures and video, she may even remember some of it. That makes me happy.

I drove home, walking through in my mind the familiar rooms that served as the back drop for our time with Poppy. It was a drive I needed. My way home happens to pass by the cemetery where Poppy and Papa are, and I found myself turning in before I hardly realized what I was doing. I haven't been by myself before, not because I'm scared of what I might feel, but because her marker still isn't in place, and the only thing that defines the spot is a newly laid piece of sod. But today I felt like I wanted to go anyway. The day was beautiful, and I have a thing about only going to the cemetery on perfect days. I guess I feel like it gives me just a glimpse of what Papa and Poppy are experiencing in heaven. Marianna was asleep, so I left the car running and spent time at both spots. It was good to be there, to feel the tears run down without the terrible stab in my heart. I looked up at the sky and said out loud "I trust you." He has proved Himself more than worthy of that trust.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I was pulling into a parking spot recently when the scene taking place in the car next to me rivetted my attention. A lady in a two door compact in the space beside mine looked frazzled. Her hair was a bit wild, and her face appeared worn out and almost haggard. She had a cigarette in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, but before she pealed out of the space, she reached over and grabbed a child's sippy cup and gulped it's contents like it was a water bottle. It wasn't until later that I realized the contents of the cup might contain something other than juice, but regardless of the liquid, the picture was poignant.

As I got out of my car and headed to the store, I couldn't keep from laughing out loud, but the more I thought about it, the sadness of the scene penetrated my awareness. It was a reminder that even though most aren't as transparent as the lady in the car, people go through life tired, worn out, and in many ways desperate. It also reminded me that life doesn't have to be that way for anyone!

With Easter just days away, I can't help but think about the fact that Jesus died and rose again to deliver us from the life of hopeless desperation we would still be chained to if not for HIm. I'm reminded that I can't keep that knowledge inside of me, while people all around me are figuratively smoking cigarettes and downing the nicotene with the contents of a sippy cup. I want people to know what it is like to really live.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baby Eva

I have walked this trisomy 18 road with several other ladies over the past months. Each has served as a huge encouragement and faithful friend and prayer warrior. I am so grateful God brought them into my life! The last of these girls, Chrissy, had Eva this morning. I know Chrissy and the entire family would be so grateful for your prayers right now! Eva specifically needs prayers for her breathing, which she is having assistance with right now.

Please also lift up Chrissy and Vinnie and their two other children as they walk this path, hour by hour. Eva is being transferred to another hospital right now, and I know the distance will be difficult! Pray that God's overwhelming peace will cover them right now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A book

I've felt compelled over the past few weeks to follow through with something I've been toying with for a while. I really feel like I need to write a book. Even if it's only for me, my family, and friends, I want to get down the story of Poppy right now, while it is still so fresh in my heart. I don't want to forget any of it, and I want to leave a record of what God did for us throughout the journey.

I still haven't settled on a name yet, and I welcome suggestions!! If you think of something, please, please share it with me. But for now, this is Chapter 1 of Poppies in December.

Chapter 1

The first thing I did was laugh. As I looked at the double pink line that indicated a baby was on the way, the irony of God’s sense of humor won the foremost top spot in my mind, with all of the typical things—shock, excitement, the urgent desire to tell my husband—following closely behind. Nathan and I were ready for baby number two, but I had publicly announced just months before that there was no way I was having a baby in December. My life was too busy to squeeze one more thing into those joyous 31 days of the Christmas season. But as my mind quickly counted ahead the months, I realized our little surprise was due to hit right in the middle of all of that wonderful holiday chaos on December 19th. And I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

I loved it. I loved that God was giving me our second child in His timing, and letting me know without much subtlety that my plan wasn’t always His plan for my life. I suddenly loved that our baby was going to be born right in the middle of the most exciting month of the year. I loved that Marianna was going to have a baby sister or brother just one month after her second birthday. Everything about it was perfect.

With all of these wonderful thoughts and plans floating around in my head, how could I have guessed that my life was about to change forever? How could I have dreamed as I drove to Nathan’s office to tell him about the baby, that we were standing on the brink of the darkest valley of our life together? How could I have fathomed as the news of the second baby spread like a wild fire, that I would soon be sharing a very different and heart-wrenching sort of information? And how could I have imagined that God was about to take something as ugly and life shattering as a deadly disease and transform it into something more lovely than anything I’ve ever experienced?

The answer to each question is simply, I couldn’t. Life doesn’t often give warnings before the sky collapses on our heads. Instead, disaster and heartache strike with a suddenness that knocks the breath from our lungs and leaves us panting, staring up at the sky, questioning the kind of God who could allow something like that to happen. This is where I began my journey, on my knees, begging Jesus to deliver me.

From that moment on, He wrote the pages of this story and allowed them to unfold day by day. The story of Poppy Joy is really just the story of God’s unmatched love and faithfulness to me, as I struggled to hold on to Him when all of my other familiar gripping holds were suddenly out of my reach. He chose me to carry this child, equipped with no special endowment of faith or courage, to show me that it isn’t about my weakness. It’s about His strength.