Sunday, December 13, 2009

De Ja Vue

Today I watched my childhood dancing in a field clinging to a kite.

My second born, Jordan, is looking more like me each day. We have the same hair type and color, the same distant expression when lost in thought, the same body that is way to flexible and prone to aches and pains. While she is clearly her own person with great uniqueness, I can see pieces of me hiding within her complexity.

But today was something more than just watching my own child play. Today was like watching an old home video of 31 years ago. I cannot tell you what memory I was feeling ~ the details have been lost through the years ~ but watching little Jordan today, running through a field clinging to a kite took me back to somewhere.

For all the times I have watched her play, for all the times I have been caught up in her joy, never before have I felt this connection. Perhaps it was her corduroy dress, turtleneck shirt, and new bob haircut with bangs ~ a combination circa 1978. Perhaps it was watching her interact with Daddy as he told her to hold on tight. All I know is that I have been in that moment before, 3 years old, lost in the joy of a beautiful afternoon and in the company of my Daddy.

I didn't have my camera today to capture the moment, but I know that the images written on my heart are far more beautiful than any technology could create.

Friday, December 11, 2009

25 Days of Christmas

Every year since having children, I have ended the Christmas season with regret. I desire to make it fun, magical, and meaningful, yet every year all my good intentions are lost in a sea of shopping bags in a vain attempt to make meaning out of materialism.
But this year, I am hoping things will be different.
I have always loved the idea of advent calendars, but I wanted more than just little doors to open with candy inside. So this year, we made paper chains to help count down the days to Christmas. The girls cut the paper and Kaiden wrote the numbers on each slip of paper. (Homeschool hint: you can practice odds and evens with the red and green alternating days!) Then I wrote an activity on each slip of paper. Each morning, the girls cut the next link of the chain and find out the Christmas activity for the day. Now we truly celebrate Christmas for 25 days!
The great part is the simplicity. Some days, the activity is nothing more than watching a Christmas video or setting out the Little People Nativity set. Some events are more involved, like decorating cookies or making gifts for friends. And while I planned out all the events on a calendar ahead of time, I am not bound to follow the plan. If an activity for the day is too daunting, I just replace it with another slip of paper and a new activity. (Now if only I could get Kaiden to quit reading ahead!)
In planning the events, I have tried to keep with the advent themes for each week (Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy). So for example, on the Love week, we have activities like making gifts for friends, buying groceries for the needy, and buying presents for Angel Tree kids.
Here are some other fun events from our 25 days of Christmas:
Christmas Oatmeal (with red and green sprinkles!), painting toenails red and green, driving to see Christmas Lights, wrapping presents, singing Christmas carols, lighting the advent wreath, decorating their bedroom for Christmas, making Christmas cards, having the neighbor kids over for a Christmas tea party, and having a snowman party on the first day of winter.
What a joy it is to have Christmas last all month!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Shrinking Buts

I have been blogless for a while now. And when I am not writing, it means I am not processing life. And when I am not processing life, then something is amiss. Right now, it is my health. I have lots of symptoms and few answers, but mainly my health problems are all related to complications from a ventral hernia (above the belly button) and pancreatitis. And those two things are the result of 4 pregnancies in 5 years.

In the past 5 years, through hurricanes, babies, deployments, deaths, and a thousand other moments of pain and joy, I have found a strength which I never new was mine to hold. But that strength has been tested at a whole new level these past months. Every previous trial I have faced has felt like something outside of myself. But this trial of health is within. With other trials, the more effort I put forth, the stronger I become. Now, the greater I fight, the weaker I am. Other trials have caused me to value each day, not knowing when I may have to say goodbye to someone. But this trial has caused me to value each day because I am coming to grips with my own mortality. I doubt these problems would take my life, but just knowing that significant parts of my body are beginning to fail has caused me many sleepless nights.

I am embarrased to admit the panic that my health has caused in me. After all that I have endured, can I not withstand the complications of a weakened body? I find myself once again saying "Lord use me, Lord refine me, but just don't...." I want to believe that He can use me, but I keep finding there is always something I am afraid to let go of, and right now, it is my health.

There is always a "but" somewhere in my faith. So here is a little humor - my ailments have greatly restricted my eating, and as a result, I am losing weight. So if this trial keeps up, my butt will get smaller, now if only my restricted diet would cause the "but" of my faith to shrink!

Okay, that will be my new prayer -- Lord, please shrink my "but"!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hurry Up and Slow Down

A children's book with a moral for moms...

We are studying turtles this week and I found this cute book at the local library. I figured it would have an excellent lesson for my children on being diligent, swift to obey, while always be sure to do a good job. But instead, the moral was for me
Hare is a fast mover. Always on the go. Always asking Tortoise to hurry up. He never wants to sleep in, never wants to be still, and is ready for dessert before Tortoise has even take his first bite of lunch. (Hmm.. sure sounds like some preschoolers in my house!).

But then comes Tortoise's favorite time of day, when Hare settles down to sleep. Tortoise fixes a cup of chamomile tea and just as he sits, the plea comes... can you read me a story? And Tortoise, who always moves slow, reads the book just as fast as he can, eyeing his rapidly cooling tea the whole time.

Hare looks at Tortoise... Hurry up and Slow Down! We need to take time and look at the pictures. Tortoise smiles at Hare, and reads the book again, nice and slow.
I am the Tortoise.

All through my day I find myself running to keep up with children three steps ahead of me. And then, just as the nap time begins or as the sun sets, I with lightning speed rush through the bedtime routine. In the window of time when my children are actually ready to sit and listen, I have no time for them. Instead I rock my children with one eye fixed on the computer screen, longing to update my facebook status. I mindlessly read a chapter of Heidi while contemplating my to-do list for the next day.

Then the questions come. Mommy, why did Jesus die? Mommy, where is heaven? Mommy, why does my tummy hurt when I do something wrong? Mommy, can I have a water cup?

I need to hurry up and slow down. Childhood is amazing -- they need to go fast all day, after all, there is an entire world to discover. But they need me to sit slowly with them at night, while they try to make sense of it all.

I am thankful for children's books that aren't afraid to put a Momma in her place.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Little Husband Humor

The two most challenging commands in the Bible for men:

1. 1 Peter 1:16 - Be holy because God is holy.

2. 1 Peter 3:7 -- Live with your wife in an understanding manner

I confess that I make that second command nearly impossible to fulfill!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Flesh is Weak

I am thankful for babies that wake up at 3am. I am thankful for children who have constant demands. I am thankful for loads of laundry that do not fold themselves and piles of dishes that must be put away. I am thankful for the thousand issues of my day that challenge me.

Jesus said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Too many times I have had a good intention or a heavenly prompting that was left undone due to laziness. Though my spirit desires to do good, my flesh, my body, just isn't up to the task. It needs a boot camp. It needs to be pulled out of its indulgent, demanding, self-seeking pit and whipped into shape.

With every late night feeding, every meal cooked, every diaper changed, every shirt hung and sock found, every plate scrubbed, I am training my body. I am training it to realize there is something beyond hunger and sleep. I am training it to be ready for the real work - the work of the spirit.

Lord thank you for the trying times, the tiring times, and the mundane times. Thank you for the trials that force me to find strength I did not know I had. Thank you for opportunities to train my body and prepare it for Your tasks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Mile in Her Shoes

Can we please get a cart Mommy? My legs are tired!

No, it won't take long sweetie, you can make it.

Thirty minutes later, we left the store, conquered items in hand, exhausted child at my heels.

Husbands are instructed by God to live with their wives in an understanding manner. How much more so we Moms ought to live in an understanding manner with our children.

I am not the greatest cook, but when motivated, I can whip up a great meal, complete with a bread, a salad, and maybe even a set table. But that is on a good day. Most days dinner is simple and to the point. I simply don't have the energy or motivation to do my very best. And that is okay. But do I extend that same grace to my children, the grace to say "Do what needs to be done, even if it is not the very best?" How many days are they a little tired, a little under the weather, or just a little down, and yet I expect a four-course meal of perfect obedience served on fine china with a delicate floral centerpiece.

My little Jordan wanted to shop with me today. She wanted to find a present for sister's birthday. But we walked at my pace, shopped at my eye level, and left grace at the front door. Her little feet do not move as swift as mine. I wonder what a mile through a store must feel like to her. She asked for a cart, so she could keep up with me, so that she could just do what needed to be done. She knew her limits, and I was the foolish one who pushed her beyond them.

I need to slow down, see things from my children's eyes, live with them in an understanding manner and give them grace to do only what needs to be done.

What is better, to have children who strive to live every moment at the maximum of their ability, or to have children who wisely know their limits and do what needs to be done?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grieving and Rejoicing

Habakkuk 3:16
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.........

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

As I wrote my previous post, one single thought continued through my mind. The joy of the Lord is your strength. It didn't make sense. Here I was, processing through my host of bad decisions, regretting how I had not heeded God's counsel to be okay with a fruitless season, and all I hear in my head, repeating over and over again is a single phrase, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

I knew it was in the bible somewhere, Psalms I figured. It sounded like a Psalm kind of thing to say. So I googled it, and lead me to Nehemiah 8.

I froze. Now, I may not know where to find the quote, the joy of the Lord is your strength, but I do know a little bit about Nehemiah.

The passage from June, the one in Habakkuk about a barren season and a promise of finding joy in the Lord, was a prophecy for the Jews who were about to be taken in exile. Nehemiah is the story of their return. Specifically, Nehemiah 8 is about the people realizing their sin that sent them into exile and grieving over it.

Through a simple phrase on my heart, God had led me to the rest of the story.

The people, upon completing the reconstruction of the wall of Jerusalem all gathered together and Ezra the priest read them the law (the bible). The people, realizing their failure wept bitterly. This is how church has felt for me these past months. I come and all I feel is the crushing sting of knowing I have not been doing as the Lord asked me to do. Of course, being way too westernized and concerned about my appearance, I've saved my bitter weeping for the privacy of my home. But like the people of Judah I stand convicted and ashamed.

I would except a big "I told you so" from Heaven at this point. Or a big "I don't think you've cried enough yet, don't you realize just how dumb you were?" But instead, God speaks through Ezra, instructing the people not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Is he saying, "suck it up, stop crying, enough already"? No. He says to rejoice. They are not rejoicing for anything they have done, they are rejoicing for the Lord is their strength.

Too often in my walk with God when I am confronted with sin I dwell in my grief. Stewing in regret, I search for any way to make things right again that will relieve my aching soul. But this week, as I was spending time mourning my sin, God was pointing me to the next step. It is time to grieve no more but rejoice in my redemption. God knows my sin, he knows my heart. Not everything has been fixed or made right and there continues to be consequences from my choices. But God has forgiven.

Now I have a new choice. Will I stay in my grief, trying to fix in my own strength problems created from my own stubbornness? Or, will I choose to grieve no more and completely surrender the situation to God? Will I choose to rejoice in His forgiveness or will I continue to sorrow in my shame? Prior to yesterday, I never really understood that such a choice existed.

I have always dwelt in my shame attempting to make things right. Perhaps this is an effort to somehow earn my forgiveness. But that is not where true forgiveness is found. Forgiveness is not granted because I made everything right again. Forgiveness is granted when I surrender. Yes, God make ask me to make things right. But just like a child who needs to let go of the spoon before they make an even bigger mess, I need to let go.

Letting go is hard when I am surrounded by the consequences of my choices. But Lord, you were gracious to show me which path to take. Will you be gracious enough to carry me down it? I am little more than a 2 year old, covered in spilled milk and cheerios, clinging desperately to the spoon. Gently take my hand and help me surrender. Help to hear your voice once again and walk in your ways. Give me opportunities to rejoice as I share with others how you are leading me. Thank you for showing me the light and joy of forgiveness. It feels nice here. Like the afternoon sun falling on my bed during a Sunday nap. Let me rejoice in you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Barren Season

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:16-19

In June, it was like a day of calamity was coming upon me. My health was failing, problems were surfacing in my relationship with the girls. I was entering in to a very tough season. God knew this, and graciously gave me a warning. While waiting for a doctor appointment and fighting to hide a panic attack from the others in the lobby, I read the above passage in Habakkuk.

I never knew prophets had panic attacks.

While meditating on the passage, God made clear that I too was about to enter a barren season. With health problems and deployment, I needed to let go of all my ambitions to take on projects. This was not easy to accept because I had big dreams of home renovations while Mark was away. But this call to accept a barren season came with a promise - a promise of joy despite the circumstances and the promise of the Lord lifting me up and setting me on the high places.

My conviction lasted about 2 days. Then out of discontentment and frustration I decided to prove that I really could handle it all. I would, in an amazing feat of military spouse strength, turn this barren season into an amazing show of my talents.

Now two months later, I see the foolishness of my ways. God warned of a barren season, but not a barren heart. The heart that pursues God and accepts the path ahead receives joy and is lifted up. But the heart who foolishly attempts to follow its own path and make its own way may be surrounded by accomplishment but is left with a barrenness of soul far more miserable than any circumstances can produce.

For my summer of effort I am left exhausted, surrounded by unfinished projects. And rather than joy, each of my accomplishments brings me nothing more than regret and frustration.

Thankfully, the Lord in His mercy, has allowed me to learn much from my rebellion. Now, rebellion may seem like a strong word to some. I mean, what did I do wrong? I worked on home improvements, bought things on discount, and paid cash for it all - so how can that be wrong? It was wrong because I knew it wasn't the right time to pursue such goals. So now begins the process of redemption. As I daily think about my choices and pursuits from this summer, and grieve, God continues to show me truth and refine my heart.

Thank you Lord that our joy does not have to be based on our circumstances. But thank you more Lord that when I try to change the circumstances, joy does not come. The joy of You is my strength. Do not let me be strong when I go my own way, please Lord, love me more than to allow me to have joy in my own path.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I recently read that the Christian's growth into Christlikeness can be compared to a long sunrise. The darkness slowly fades and gives way to light. You cannot always measure the change, you just eventually notice that life is different than it was before.

This analogy to a sunrise has been on my mind over the past mornings. I have thought about the different kinds of sunrises. The slow ones on a clear summer day, where the darkness slowly gives way to purple then to blue. The brilliant ones where the sun defeats the darkness in a sudden blast of light against a snow covered world. And then ones like this morning - the sunrise in the storm.

We have a storm descending on us from the northwest, and an intense red sky to the east. The battle for the light of day is evident in the sky overhead, and the progress is clear as the tones of the sky are changing with each minute.

There are times in my life that are like a slow summer morning. My world is generally calm, and my growth, while still increasing, is not brilliant, blinding, or breathtaking. It is just slow and steady. Then there are the seasons like our sunrise this morning, when the storm is moving in and the Lord is quickly preparing me for the battle.
The challenge for me is to be content no matter what. I thrive on the storms of life, the challenges that push me beyond what I thought I could do. I often wish that each of my days could be as stunning as a red sunrise in the midst of the storm. But a calm steady sunrise on a cloudless day defeats the darkness too!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perfect Ten

10 years of marriage:
9 different addresses
8 house plants that did not survive my green thumb
7 years in the Air Force
6 anniversaries spent together
5 vehicles (Escort, Altima, 2 Jeeps, minivan)
4 precious daughters
3 states (Colorado, Florida, Texas)
2 cats

Mark and Anissa, married May 28, 1999

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I had a revelation today in parenting! For some reason, I have been thinking that first-time-obedience (you know, the "you say, they obey, right away" expectation) came with only one round of training. That I would only have to train them in a matter one time, and then, if I am a good and successful mom, they will obey, right away (and with a happy heart) each time thereafter.

But now I have a new thought. Perhaps parenting is less about achieving perfect first-time obedience and more about fighting bacteria! When my little one gets a bacterial infection and I go to the doctor, he doesn't hand me a quick fix, he gives us a bottle of pink goop to be administered three times a day for the next 2 weeks! And I can't stop when the symptoms clear in one week. I have to keep administering the meds until the bottle is empty.

Now, I am not too good at keeping up with antibiotic dosing, and it appears that I am far worse with discipline dosing! My daughter dawdles in finding her Sunday sandals. I think that with one stern lecture and consequence I have given her a big enough dose for the medicine of discipline to work Instead, perhaps I need to have the same compassion for her that I have in time of illness. Come along side her, walk with her, watch the symptoms of her slowness and find out the true root issue. Then, for the next two weeks three times a day, apply the training as I guide her in improving her ability. And even when, after the first week, when she appear to have killed off the dawdling bug, I must not let up but continue to help her improve.

If it takes 2 weeks to kill off a little buggy causing an ear infection, I am sure it takes at least 2 weeks retrain a habit that is causing an infection of the soul.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Counting to 3

I really get a kick out of parents who count to three. Most of all I love how the count is never the same. I mean, how long can the number two really be drawn out?

I don't count to three with my kids, but I am realizing that maybe I need to. I have been a little too quick to judge my children lately. Rather than observing and listening, I have been quickly passing judment on their actions and their motives. I need to count to three, I need to slow down, watch what is happening and give myself time to think. So if you see me just staring at my kids as they begin to run circles madly screaming in line at Chick-fil-A, don't worry, I'm counting to 3.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I have a t-shirt with Grumpy the dwarf on it. Kaiden asked me one day why I was wearing it. I wittingly answered, "Maybe it will remind me not to be grumpy!" She thought about it, tipped her head slightly to the side and replied, "Could you wear that every day?"

Wow - I needed that. I am glad my four year old has the subtle boldness to let me know I have an issue with being grumpy! I have been thinking about it since then, and it seems that I have a knack for being all the 7 dwarfs throughout my week. And since there are 7 of them, maybe I could get 7 shirts - one of each dwarf - one for each day of the week.

I have my Happy days (when we go to the playground just because), my Doc days (when I am in control and fixing everything), my Sneezy days (and who in West Texas doesn't with the constant dusty wind), my Bashful days (when I want to hide in my Mommy chair and write in my journal), my Sleepy days (a three our nap on a Sunday afternoon), my Doopey days (when I finally let myself be a kid again), and of course, my Grumpy days.

Today, if I had one, I would put on my Doc shirt. I've got a pile of laundry to conquer and breakfast to accomplish. Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, it's off to wash I go.....

Friday, May 15, 2009


While dropping Kaiden off at a friends, she turned to me and said, "Bye Dad-Mom!"

The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians that he has become all things to all people to help in sharing the gospel. The same can be said for Moms! To Emma I am a sleeping pillow, to Jordan a hugger, to Kaiden a super-duper jump-and-spin high-fiver. And for this season of deployment, to all of them I am a Dad-Mom.

At first, I put off doing the special things that Dad used to do with the girls (eating Oreos, going to the Jump Castle playground, going out for donuts, going to Burger King) but I realized that only made them miss him more. So for the next 2 months, I will continue to be all things to all my girls, including an Oreo eating, Burger King loving Dad.

Now, I am not meaning to equate Mark with Christ, but waiting for Mark's return is similar to our wait for our Savior's return. For my girls, I love them like Daddy does, to help them endure until he comes home. For others, I must love them as Christ does, to give them a taste of the glory to come. Being all things to all my girls (and all things to all people) for the sake of their hearts and the sake of the gospel is no easy task and leaves little time for my own agenda. But the blessing of seeing the joy and peace on my children's faces is worth every moment of service.

I Corinthians 9:19-23
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm an F-15

Tactical Discipline -vs- Carpet Bombing
While correcting one of my daughters yesterday, a young friend commented... "Nice Tactics, you are an F-15". I gave him a perplexed look and he said, "F-15, it's a tactical fighter." I replied, "Thanks, but I sure wish I was an F-15E, it has 2 people in the cockpit!" (I am flying solo right now with Mark deployed, but looking forward to his return at the end of July).

Every mom has felt the eyes of a crowd watching her as she attempts to discipline her toddler, the eyes of "oh I am glad that season is over for me" and eyes of "get that kid under control." Sometimes the looks are full of pity, sometimes of contempt, and rarely, sometimes of encouragement. But this young friend, just 11 years old, gave me the greatest encouragement I have had in a while.

Being an Air Force wife I began to think about my various parenting efforts in terms of air-power. Sometimes I am the F-15, a technically advanced tactical fighter, accurately assessing and targeting specific issues. But sometimes, unfortunately, I am more like the carpet bombers of previous wars - dropping a large slew of bomb over a wide swath hoping to eliminate any and all threats.

I can tell my carpet bomber days - when my girls tense a bit as I say their names, or when my 4 year old sounds the air-raid siren ("Shhh, mommy's coming) as I walk past their room. Toddlers don't need carpet bombing, they need the careful, intelligent, directly applied correction of a tactical fighter mommy.

Lord you know my daughters hearts, delicate hearts that while needing training do not need the destruction of ill-applied discipline. Lord please give me wisdom today as I walk alongside my girls. Give me supernatural radar to detect the issues even before they arise. And as I seek to correct, give me the guidance to understand the heart of the issue in order that correction may be properly given.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Three Ring Circus

It has been almost 2 months since my last writing - why? Life is a three-ring circus around here! The three rings are named Kaiden, Jordan, and Emma, and I am the girl walking on the tightrope between all three!

Mark has been deployed now for 46 days (but whose counting?) so I have had to perform quite a balancing act between the needs of each of the girls as well as my own needs (and wants, and cravings...).

Being a tight-rope walker is not easy. If even one step is slightly off, you could plummet to the ground below. Being a mom right now feels the same way. If I sleep in a bit, or am late with the girls snack time, or neglect getting them to bed right away, or forget one piece of the bedtime routine, or forget to follow through on a promise made to them, I am bound to fall of the tight rope!

Sometimes the tight rope act is exhausting. You just want to say to heck with it all, jump off the rope, run to the ice cream store, stuff your face and let the circus animals run wild on their own. But when I do that, I find that the indulgences didn't taste as good as I hoped, and the rest I longed for wasn't so relaxing. And when I look at my three little circus monkeys, I realize that my neglect of them for meeting my own selfishness has only created greater struggles.

The tight rope is actually a blessing. A challenge, but a blessing - and only because I am not in this alone. I am only the high-wire act, but God is the Ringmaster. He knows each step I need to take and is more than available to guide me as I walk.

So how do I survive as a temporarily-single mom of three littles? By walking the tight rope, holding God's balancing bar, and asking him at every moment where my next step should be.

Thank you Lord for the challenge of this life. Without this struggle, I know I would be wandering aimlessly, pursuing only my own self-interests. Thank you for not only requiring me to die to myself, but for walking alongside me through these dark waters. Lord I do fear falling away, I do fear not making wise choices with my time and having my family suffer as a result. So Lord, as I begin this day, please make your voice clear to me, and guide my every step. And Lord, thank you for being the Ringmaster. Thank you for caring for my little monkeys. May you give them the grace to endure my errors!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eggs and a Side of Encouragement!

For breakfast this morning, I had eggs, bacon, oatmeal, and a little surprise of encouragement! Our hospital (Hendrick) places a Daily Bible Verse card on each person's morning tray. I have been wanting to have a verse for Emma, and I think the verse I received today is a perfect match!

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
For the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

How appropriate that a little girl whose name means "God with us" has a verse reminding us that God will be with us wherever we go.

The wherever was the challenging part for me yesterday. Emma had a stressful last few minutes of delivery. The cord was around her neck, her heart rate dropped, and she took a lot of fluid into her lungs - so instead of bonding with us in the quiet peace of our room, she spent the first hours of life hooked to monitors and oxygen tubes.

I know God is with us, but my heart began to wonder if He is with us when I am in one place and my new baby being cared for in another? I knew there would come a day when God would ask me to let go of this little one and trust Him, I just didn't know it would occur in the first hours of her life!

But God was faithful - He provided Emma strength for her lungs to heal, and us courage while she was apart from us. God truly is with us, no matter how little we are, and no matter where we go.
(Big sisters Kaiden and Jordan meet Emma for the first time. She was still in the Intermediate Care Nursery hooked to monitors and an oxygen tube)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meet Little Miss Emma!

Emma Noelle~

The Stats: Born Tuesday March 11 at 10:33 am. 8lbs, 11oz, 19+inches long.

The Name:
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is O Come Emmanuel. Years ago, before babies were a part of our life, I was reading the words of the hymn one Sunday morning. As I looked at the title, I saw a girl’s name within it – Emma Noelle. I thought it would be a great name for a Christmas baby!

Emmanuel means “God with us." Throughout the trials of these past years, a hurricane, moving, deployments, and the loss of a baby, one constant has given us hope ~ the truth that God is with us. His presence through each storm has given us hope and light in the midst of darkness.

Emma Noelle was to be the name for a Christmas baby, celebrating the coming of Emmanuel: the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we understand that “God with us”, Emmanuel, is so much more than a silent night, a baby in a manger, and a sky of angels. “God with us” is our constant peace and joy in time of trial and the hope of all to come.

This season of life has confirmed our hope in the Lord Emmanuel ~ the One who came, the One who is with us, and the One who will come again.
It is with great joy that we welcome our daughter, Emma Noelle ~ a great blessing to our lives and a reminder that God is with us.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Last Baby?

In the middle of a very rough pregnancy day last week, Mark asked me if I was glad that this was my last pregnancy. (Not that it has been officially decided, after all, we thought we were "done" 3 years ago!)

My answer surprised him. If this is my final pregnancy, I am sad. I feel in a way that I am taking myself out of the battle, away from the war zone. That I am turning in my papers and refusing to re-enlist.

None of my pregnancies have been easy, but that has actually been a great blessing. Without the hardships and trials of childbirth, would I be the person I am today? Would I know the Lord the way I do? Would I have forged a faith that is convinced it can withstand anything? Would I have the value system I have today?

I would never ask to walk through the fires of fear, pain, and grief - but I would never exchange what I have gained for an easier road. Somehow, being done with pregnancy, never going through this again feels like the easier road. Should we be done, I have to trust that God will still provide plenty of trials on the new road for me to walk through alongside Him. But for right now the potential turn in the path saddens me.

I fear the easy road, the wide and smooth path. I fear the person I would become in such a life - lazy, complacent, selfish. I want the battle for there is when I am forced to be my best and to call upon the Lord daily for the strength I do not have. I would rather struggle through every day here and rest well in heaven someday than to have the easy path and find I have earned nothing but dust.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Induction Update

We are not inducing on March 3rd.

Over the weekend, I thought for sure we would be ready. But the little one moved back up into my ribs and though she seems big and strong, the induction might be riskier if she is not fully dropped. We have scheduled for an induction on March 13th (the next available date thanks to spring break). I would like to last until the 13th, and those who know me well know just how stubborn I can be! (Not even a hurricane can send me into labor!)

Even though there are a lot of aches, I like these last weeks - making the most of quiet evenings with my family and getting to sleep in and nap knowing that no one in the house really needs me. Life will change soon enough, no reason to rush into the next season. I think I will just sit back, sip some ice tea and enjoy the beautiful sunsets while I still can.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Final Words of Hope

Today I really didn't want to be in church. Pews are just not the most comfortable thing when your belly no longer fits between your knees and your ribs. But I am glad that I went, for today's message was like a perfect bookend on this season of life.

The Sunday after Lia was stillborn, back in December of 2007, our pastor began teaching from Matthew. In our church, a book like Matthew can take years to complete - and in the past 14 months we have traveled through only the first 7 chapters. Verse by verse we have moved along, through the Christmas story, the early life of Jesus, John the Baptist, the Temptation, the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, and the Sermon on the Mount. Today's message was from Jesus' final words in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

I look at my house and the storms it has been through in the past years. With our first child, we endured three moves and a hurricane, with our second an unexpected deployment just weeks after her arrival, with our third a storm unlike any I thought I would ever survive. And yet our home stands, our children our strong, our marriage resilient, and our hope secure.

Matthew begins with the birth of a baby, a little baby that saved the world. Our church began the study in Matthew as I said goodbye to a baby who changed my life. And today, we ended our study of Christ's sermon with His words of hope which endures all storms.

Today was probably the last Sunday before our little daughter is born. And Christ's final words to the people gathered are also in a sense final words of hope to me as this season of pregnancy comes to an end. His final words, encouraging me to continue building my faith and my home on the solid rock, are the same words He has given me throughout this past year as one hymn has continued to come to my mind:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus love and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Greatest Of These...

As a parent, I struggle with wanting my child to be first. The first to walk, the first to talk, the first to read. It is an element of pride that I am sure I will battle constantly in the years to come. Apparently, this desire for first place has even carried into my womb. I am struggling today because I have realized that "Hope" is not first.

I Corinthians 13:13 - And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I have been studying the word Hope for a few weeks now - reading and contemplating each verse in the bible that includes the word hope. When I arrived at the I Corinthians verse earlier in the week, my pride swelled like a mother at a toddler beauty pageant. Imagine the cute little girls, all walking out onto the stage. The pageant host announces, "And now these three remain, Faith, Hope, and Love." My heart beems - my daughter is among the top three. And then he continues "But the greatest of these is love."

It may sound ridiculous, but for a moment when studying that evening, I was a bit jealous. Why does Love get first place - doesn't Paul, the author of the letter to the Corinthians, realize how absolutely amazing Hope is?

Hope is an amazing thing. Romans 5 explains that hope is the final result of struggle, endurance, and proven character. Hope is powerful, it encourages and sustains us. But after the struggle and refining, after the proving of our characters and the growth of hope in our hearts, what then? Then the command is to Love. Only one who has everlasting hope, hope that does not disappoint, hope that does not leave us ashamed, can truly love in the manner as love is described in the rest of I Corinthians 13.

I am thankful for Hope. I need Hope - hope that this world is not all we have, hope that the One who came is coming again, hope that the trials of this life will result in great joy and treasure in heaven. Hope fills my heart and sustains me like food. But Love is what we give to the world. Hope gives me the strength to Love. Love that is patient, kind, not proud, seeks the good of others, and always trusts - that true Love can only pour forth from a heart full of Hope.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Hope? Part 2

Several years ago, I purchased two ceramic crosses for my daughters' room. Kaiden's said Joy, and Jordan's said Peace. I loved to sit in their room at night, rubbing backs and looking at the words, remembering how God had given those words to us.

Also that year, a friend bought me another ceramic from the same store, a heart that said Hope. From the moment I received the gift, it seemed like a piece to a puzzle. It wasn't a cross like the others, and as a far as we were concerned, we were done having children. So I set the heart ceramic on my dresser, not even sure where to hang it in my home.

While pregnant with Lia, I returned to the boutique, looking for a cross that said Grace. But they no longer carried the ceramics, and no one knew the name of the company. Disappointed, I returned home and looked at the heart ceramic, still resting on my dresser. I wondered if I had misunderstood, perhaps Lia's word was Hope and not Grace.

Last winter, following Lia's passing, I spent some time redecorating the room where her and Jordan were to have slept. I hung Lia's quilt and mementos alongside Kaiden and Jordan's. I also finally hung the Hope heart. The thought of hope for the future, whether or not that included more children, brought great peace to my grieving heart.

In November, I stood in the room once again, contemplating how to organize a guest bed and crib into the small space. I glanced at the wall and suddenly saw the two year puzzle completed. Months ago, long before our new little one came into being, I had hung the Hope heart on the wall right beside 3 framed pieces - one for each of my daughters Kaiden, Jordan and Lia. There was "Hope", right beside her sisters. Even before we knew of her, clearly God did and made a special place for her among her sisters.


In grand Tyler Tradition, we proudly announce the T4 Quiz! Kudos to my Aunt Rise who has won all the previous quizzes!

A Prize Package of some of the foods I crave most will be awarded to the person with the most correct answers and to the person with the most creative answers.

Please leave a comment with your answers - or email me your answers at

Entries must be received by March 1st (or before she arrives!)

Good Luck!

1. When (day/time) will T4 be born? (Because of Mark's pending deployment, we cannot go beyond March 16th)

2. How quickly will T4 arrive? (Kaiden was 5 hours, Jordan was 2.5 hours, Lia was 1.5 hours...)

3. Will T4 be a boy or girl? (Duh, but ultrasounds can be wrong!)

4. Will T4 have a full head of hair - if so, what color?

5. Will T4 have blue eyes...... not all babies have blue eyes you know!

6. How much will T4 weigh; and how long will she be?

7. How many Diet Cokes will Mark consume during labor?

8. What will T4's name be?

9. What will Kaiden's response be when meeting T4?

10. What will Jordan's response be?

11. Will Anissa really go natural again with no pain meds?

12. What wacky weather phenomenon will occur in correlation to T4's birth? (Kaiden - hurricane Ivan, Jordan - 90 degree Easter Sunday, Lia- Texas snowstorm)

13. What is the first meal Anissa will have after delivery?

Thanks for having fun along with us! You just gotta find a way to smile when you can no longer tie your own shoes!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Biblical Wisdom for Pregnancy!

I have found a verse that encapsulates my method for surviving the final weeks of pregnancy!

Keep your feet from being unshod And your throat from thirst; Jeremiah 2:25

In other words - wear good shoes all the time and always carry your water bottle!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Everyone asks me, so when are you due? March 22nd? Well that is the official due date. But when you are a high risk pregnancy, due dates do not have quite the same meaning. Because of my previous stillbirth, most doctors would agree that the baby should be delivered as soon as she is within the window of full term (37 weeks). While there are risks associated with an early induction, many feel it is worthwhile to prevent a potential repeat of a stillbirth.

March 3rd is the first suggested date for induction. This is three weeks early. Three weeks my little girl could have inside of me continuing to grow big and strong, or three weeks for something to potentially go wrong again. Given the circumstances of Lia's stillbirth, I am told there is no increased risk for a repeat stillbirth, yet I am encouraged to take on the risks of an early induction for the well being of my baby. To many this is an easy decision, for me it is has been a daily battle.

I feel obligated to give this little girl the freedom to live and arrive in her time and in her way. It doesn't feel right to me to force her into the world a few weeks early because of a fear of something that most likely will not occur. I am being monitored twice a week, and should a problem arise, I would not hesitate to have her delivered immediately. But for now she is healthy and strong. Oh how I wish she could have the same time in my womb that her big sisters had to continue to grow.

In this pregnancy I am living with greater caution, I am reducing the risk factors, we are monitoring her growth and vitality regularly. But these are burdens we take upon ourselves to ensure this little ones well being. It feels unfair to pass this burden on to a little infant having her come into the world before her time.

I am looking forward to holding her, but not on my due date, not on a date when I feel I have had enough waiting, when I have had enough of constantly subconsciously monitoring her every movement. I want to hold her on her due date - the day she is ready to enter this world.

Throughout this little girl's life, I will constantly be challenged to make decisions based on wisdom and not on fear. But on what day does that begin? On what day do I begin to choose to hold this little one with an open hand of faith rather than a tight fist of fear?

Perhaps that day is on March 3rd. Perhaps that is the day, when with an open hand of faith, I place the well being of my little baby in the hands of doctors who feel she is strong enough to be outside the womb. But perhaps the faith needed on March 3rd is the faith to say not yet. I want to make this decision based on wisdom, not on fear.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I Shouldn't Be Baking

My apologies to every person I have not called this week, every appointment I have forgotten, and everything left undone. I am clearly in the final weeks of pregnancy, and my baking fiasco today proves it.

I am hardly a homemade kind of mom! But having a daughter with allergies has forced me to become highly efficient with homemade dairy-free egg-free chocolate cupcakes. And with Valentine parties all week, we needed a batch of cupcakes.

The recipe is simple - dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, combine, mix and bake. The flour was already in the mixing bowl and I measured out the cocoa to add to the flour in the bowl. Measuring cup in hand I dumped the cocoa into the flour - the flour canister that is.

One pound of flour now topped with a third cup of cocoa. And a giggly Jordan beside me very entertained that Mommy made a mistake. Scooping again, and doubling checking the destination, I dumped the cocoa into the mixing bowl. Jordan gave me a big smile, proud that Mommy put it in the right place this time.

So should you see me attempting to put diesel gas in my minivan, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, or attempting to talk on my daughter's Lightening McQueen play cell phone, just look the other way and be thankful I only have a few weeks left!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why Hope? Part 1

I shared in a previous post how I have special words for each of my children. With each child, the process of discovering their word has been unique. For my second daughter, Jordan, whose word is Peace, it all began with a song. For days on end in the final months of my pregnancy, I would wake up in the morning with only the first line of an old hymn in my mind: When peace like a river attendeth my way...

This is the first line of "It Is Well With My Soul." Now, being slightly cynical, I began to wonder if I was about to attend a funeral since that hymn is often sung at funerals and seems to be sung in church just before something awful happens. But while my head spun worries, my heart was at peace each morning when I would wake singing the first line.

From that song and several other confirmations, we came to understand T2's word as Peace, and even chose the name Jordan because it reminded me of the song - when Peace like a River attendeth my way.

For T4, her word also has it's roots in the beginning of a hymn. After Lia died last November, I found myself often searching for hope. There were many doors of potential hope - the hope of holding Lia again someday in heaven, the hope of being a perfect mom to my other daughters and somehow compensate for Lia's absence, the hope of having another child and placing all my dreams for Lia upon her tiny shoulders. Each time such thoughts came into my mind, this one line of song instantly came to mind as well as if to combat my thoughts: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

We sang that hymn in church this morning. As I sang each line of the song, specifically the first two verses, I saw unfold before me the great confirmation of T4's word:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

It is so great a temptation for my hope to be placed in holding my new little one. I am sure she will have the sweetest frame but no child can bear the weight of their parents sorrow. No little one should be called upon to replace the hope lost in death. And in the dark night when my anxiety can get the better of me, once again my hope cannot be in holding this little one. For as much as I desire her to be healthy and well, that has not been guaranteed to us. The only thing that is mine to hold to is the grace of God - a grace that has proven time and again to sustain me and provide refuge in the storm.

My daughter's word is Hope - but not because she is my hope. Her word is Hope to remind us all of the Hope we have in our Lord - a very present help in time of need (Psalm 46).

At the end of the service today, after thinking about the word Hope and how God often helps me to understand His plans and His purposes through song, He gave me a little surprise. We closed the service singing It Is Well With My Soul.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Everything for My Good?

Having finally "conquered" the anxiety of "Hope's" motionless nights, I thought I was on the easy path of this pregnancy and finally on the road to a good night of sleep.

But now a new aliment plagues me - Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Thankfully, mine is just pregnancy induced and should end after delivery, but for now, nights are filled with a burning sensation in my legs and waking about every 30 minutes to change sleep positions or walk around. I have learned a few tricks this week for coping and relaxing, but the condition has not subsided completely.

After the first severe night of RLS, I had a hard talk with God (you know, one of those Job style conversations where you come out realizing you are not as big and entitled as you thought you were). The summary of the conversation was this verse: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Do I really believe that EVERYTHING works for good - even burning legs that keep me up till 4am? I started to think deeper about how this could possibly be for my good. The simple answer was this - during the deep of the night, without the distraction of kids, husband, radio, or internet, my ears work a lot better! In the deep of the night, the things hiding under the surface of my heart are revealed and I am able to actually deal with them. Some nights I have dealt with hidden fears, some nights I have dealt with hidden wrong attitudes and sin.

So I have a new name now for the burning legs of RLS - Refiners's Fire. The burning and discomfort of the night is revealing the true issues of my heart, and refining it. Isn't it sweet that God can make the most of frustrating sleepless nights. I am thankful that nothing is outside of His hand!

Oh, and I would still like to be free of the RLS, but for now, we'll keep working on the burning issues of my heart before worrying about my burning legs.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Already Born

Due to a big mess in a car seat yesterday, we had to do some temporary rearranging of seats in the van. Thinking these changes were permenant, Kaiden asked me where the baby's seat was. I explained that it was still in the box at the house. Here is the rest of our conversation:

Kaiden: But the baby needs her car seat in the van!
Mommy: We'll put it in the van when she is born.
Kaiden: But she is already born.
Mommy: No, Kaiden, born is when she comes out of Mommy's tummy
Kaiden: I say she is born because she is already alive!

At that I kept quiet. Kaiden is right. So often we look at a birth date as the moment when a little one is born. But this little baby girl, though still without a name, is very much alive. It is tempting at times to turn off our hearts and hold our hopes in check until we hear her first cries. We base her existence on what our eyes can see and our ears can hear. Her eyes have already seen daylight shining through my skin. Her ears have already heard her sisters' laughter. Her feet have already danced against her sister's cheek. Though our hearts may be on hold, she is already "born".

Thank you Kaiden for reminding me once again that while March may be the due date, today is the day to enjoy our little girl's life!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Good Update - or an Anxiety Boost?

I had another ultrasound and NST today. The ultrasound measures T4's growth and assess her overall well being. The NST - non-stress test - monitors T4's fetal movement and heart rate to detect signs of distress. All looks good.

I have wondered a lot this month about the effects of all this extra monitoring. Fetal distress and cord failure could happen in a brief hour in the middle of the night - something that twice a week monitoring would never be able to predict. But yet we place our faith and our money in machines to tell us all is well.

Generations ago, every pregnancy was high risk with stillbirths and infant death common. These women had no fetal monitoring devices, just old wives tales about the inner workings of the womb. Yet the women of those generations exhibited and steadfastness of character I only dream of emulating.

So with a good update, I am tempted to once again place my faith in technology rather than trusting the Creator. And a faith in technology is a faith of shifting sand. When the storm rages in the night and the silence is deafening, will such faith sustain me or only create anxiety?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

But What If.......

Over the past few years, through deployments and through grief, I have learned that God is not a God of "what if" He is the God of "what is". Nothing is unknown to Him, nothing takes Him by surprise. He does not contemplate the what ifs..... but I do.

It is a great challenge for me to not dwell in the what if's, especially with so many in my life. What if Mark's flight today doesn't go well... What if he doesn't return from the next deployment... What if this was the last holiday I will see my aging Grandparents... What if something happens to my girls... What if something happens to our new baby...

I can always tell when I begin to live in the land of what if - I become anxious and everything around me because shadowed in gray. If I follow the thought too far, I feel surrounded by darkness. But this is not surprising. You see, God is light and the opposite of Him is darkness and confusion. When I live in the what-ifs, I am not living where He is. God is the God of what is and He has extended to me the grace for this day. To attempt to live beyond that, in the world of if, is to live outside of His grace and His light and therefore dwell in darkness and confusion.

Last week, the first time T4 had a nighttime spell of decreased movement, I was overwhelmed with all the what ifs. And the darkness closed in fast. But following a good checkup from the OB in the morning, I sat with Mark in a hospital cafeteria and made myself look at the "is".... My husband by my side, my children safe, my baby alive, and the grace to cope with the very real fear of losing my baby.

Yes it is appropriate to think ahead, plan and be prepared. But choosing to dwell in the light of God means that I do not place faith in those plans but in God instead. There are times that I think I am in control of this pregnancy - when I take all my what-if fears and micromanage them. But the days appointed for this child lie solely in the hand of the Creator.

I am not to live in what-if, but there are times when God does ask me that very question. He asks, what if it is part of my plan for this child to not be perfect, what if it is part of my plan for this child to have a brief life, what if it is part of my plan for this child to face hardships.... will you still trust Me?

I do not know what the future holds for our little girl. I do not know if I will see her smile, see her learn to walk, or see her walk down the aisle someday. But I do know that the Lord will always give me the strength and grace to cherish each day that is mine to have with her.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God's Encouragement

It has been a long week for me. Almost every night while I sleep, T4 (Tyler #4) just doesn't seem to have enough movement. I can jiggle her various body parts, and switch how I am laying, and yet she doesn't respond. Perhaps she is just a deep sleeper, or perhaps something more is wrong.

I have been asking several professionals for their opinions of what might be happening and how we might be able to monitor her during the night. But even with seeking information and wisdom, I was left in confusion. Adding to my confusion is sleeplessness from 5 straight nights of waking every 30 minutes worried about her.

Finally last night, while contemplating calling yet another friend for counsel, I finally asked the question - how does God want me to handle this?

I lay down for bed and began to work on my latest bible study - a personal study on the word Hope. Last night, my study took me first to Psalm 62. Here are verses 5-8:

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Verse 5 struck right at the heart of my dilemma. Wait in silence for God only - for my hope is from Him! The silence of the deep night is by far the hardest time to endure. I often wait for a movement, wait for a kick, or wish I could hear a heartbeat. But my hope is not in her movement, my hope cannot be placed in her at all - that simply is too great a burden for any little life to carry. My hope comes from God, and in the silence of the night I will wait for God only.

As I went to sleep last night, I committed to not wake in anxiousness, to not be caught waiting for T4 to move. And last night, though still filled with waking was also filled with Peace. Each time I woke up, a song of worship would be on my mind. Not the whole song, but just a simple line. An encouraging reminder that the silence was being filled not with my anxiety but with praise.

Lord thank You for the encouragement of Your word. Thank You for inspiring David to write his heart in song to You so that his words of long ago may be an encouragement to me today. Thank You for filling the silence with Your presence.

Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


With each of my girls, a word has been impressed on my heart in the months prior to their births. My first daughter - Kaiden - is Joy. She was born in the midst of a hurricane evacuation and a cross country move. She smiled the day she was born and she laughed in her sleep at just 2 months old. All the world is a party waiting to happen. Kaiden is the pure embodiment of Joy.

Jordan is Peace. I misunderstood this word for some time. I thought that Jordan would be a peaceful easy baby and usher in a time of calm - instead she arrived in the world as Daddy packed for his first deployment. Jordan struggled with severe acid problems, sleep issues, and anxiousness - a life hardly of peace. But a few months into her life I began to understand the meaning of Peace. It was not that she was a peaceful baby, but that because of her needs she caused us all to slow down and live a simpler, more Peace-filled life. Jordan continues to be a girl of Peace - seeking peace in times of strife and conflict and continuing to seek a simpler, calmer life than her older sister or I tend to live.

Lia is Grace. I learned of Grace not through Lia's life, but in her death. Lia was stillborn, and through the struggle and grief I came to understand the Grace of God as strength in our weakness. Lia's word - Grace - was impressed upon me several months prior to her birth - when all was well. Just like her word was given to us before her birth, God's Grace is extended to us even before we know of its necessity.

And now our new girl. While we don't have a name for her, we know her word - Hope. In the coming days I will share the stories of Hope and how my understanding of Hope grows day by day.