Friday, October 28, 2011

Gram Thompson

Thursday, we said goodbye to Gram Thompson. She passed away suddenly on Tuesday and her children, grand-children and great-grand children gathered to honor her life and give thanks. I loved Gram the moment I met her. We discovered quickly that we had a mutual love for Trading Spaces and for her second grandson and we were pretty excellent friends after that.

We were with her eight years ago when she said good-bye to her beloved husband, just three short months before Micah and I were married. I never told her, but it was as I watched her in those first difficult days after his death that I really began to understand what it meant to devote your life entirely to someone else. She gave all of herself to love her husband and her children well. I pray for God's grace to be the kind of wife, mother and grandmother that she was.

This is my favorite picture of Gram with Lydia. The past few days, it's all I could think about. I hope this is what's happening in heaven, plus a few more people I know Gram couldn't wait to be with again.

(photo by J.C. Carley)

I love you, Gram. Thanks for making such a wonderful son who grew up to make another wonderful son who became an amazing husband for me and an unfailingly loving father for my children. How blessed I am to be a part of your family.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is he your first?

This is the worst question. I was asked this question twice today. It's amazing to watch the face of the questioner go from happy goo-goo baby eyes and the high pitched voice go to sad eyes and low voice when I tell them, "Actually he's our second. We had a little daughter who passed away." I can see what's going on behind their eyes as they scramble for something to say.

Maybe it's my own fault. Maybe I should just say, "No, he's our second" and not mention Lydia, but they always ask the follow up question of, "How old is your other child?" so I end up just saying it anyway. I won't say, "Yep! He's my first!" just to avoid making them uncomfortable.

It's hard getting asked this question but it gives me opportunity to talk about my girl and I love that. The woman who asked in Starbucks said she thought it was awesome that I answered that way. I told her I can't answer any other way. She'll always be my first baby, the sweet girl who made me a mama.

I miss her. I didn't expect that I wouldn't feel sad once we had another baby, so it's ended up like I thought it would. I love Levi. The part of me that was aching to be a mother again is filled - overflowing even. But the part of me that is Lydia's mama is still aching. I've found the more I love Levi the more I miss Lydia. It reminds me of this post I wrote awhile ago. The joy and pain are always together. The pain makes the joy greater but the joy doesn't take all the pain away.

I think I've realized this is just how it's going to be. And I think it's OK. As long as there's an ache in my heart it will remind me what a gift my little man is, how each moment with him is precious, and how he belongs to Jesus. He isn't a replacement for what I've lost, but he is a blessing from my Savior that reminds me of His great love for me, just like his big sister did.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


As the weather turns cool here in CT, I'm so thankful to have this tiny little boy curled up on my chest to keep me warm. We're snuggled right now under the blanket made of Lydia's clothes and my heart is full.

We're adjusting to being home, to having an infant and to once again being a family of three. I'm just beginning to process everything that happened the past couple of weeks - having a baby, being in the NICU the same time as we were with Lydia, watching E say goodbye to Levi, being madly in love with this little man - it's all a lot to process.

Soon there will be pictures and updates and many good things, but for now, we're snuggling and diaper changing and sleeping and saying thank you to Jesus for this sweet little man.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Closer and Closer to Home!

Levi is doing wonderfully! Today he is up to six times eating from a bottle. We've been with him for three and he's done great on all three! We're heading back tonight for one more feeding. If he does well with that and the two overnight feeds, tomorrow he should be up to eating every time from the bottle. Once this happens, we should be able to be discharged! We're hoping Friday or Saturday to be on our way home.

The other piece that still needs to get worked out is our inter-state compact that allows us to take Levi out of Oklahoma. As far as we know, the documents were all sent to CT today. Our social worker says that it should only take a day to get approval. Once that clears, we're legal to bring him home.

Still no news on the birth father front. The social workers are (hopefully) going to speak with him tonight. As I've mentioned before, ideally he'll sign off on his rights on the spot. If he doesn't or they can't find him for whatever reason, there will be a bit lengthier of a legal process, none of which we need to be a part of. We just want to make sure everyone knows that if the birth father does not sign off and we bring Levi home this weekend, we're in a "legal risk" situation, where we understand that the father can contest and we might have to bring Levi back to Oklahoma. No one thinks this is likely, but we're all aware that it's possible. This is often the way adoptions are done, so we're not terribly worried.

Other than that, we're feeling great! We're exhausted and really ready to come home and get settled into life with Levi.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Update!

Levi is plugging along. All of his IV fluids are off and he doesn't need any more blood sugar tests. He's out of the baby toaster and into a regular crib. Today he was up to three bottle feedings. They might go up to four tomorrow, but they might wait because he won't ever eat quite all he's supposed to before he conks out. Normally it's all but 5ml, and he's really doing better than I thought he would. BUT, he still needs to eat all of his food every time before they're going to release him. It could be in a few days...but it could also be more than that. Please pray that he'll figure it out quickly. We're all ready to come home.

E has gone to court and given up her rights. This happened on Friday and it was a tough day for her. We saw her after and, though our social worker says she's committed to her decision, (and said so to the judge), she's still sad. Today when we saw her it was the same thing. As it gets closer and closer to him being out of the hospital it's becoming more and more real to her.

I remember feeling the same way with Lydia. We knew every day was one day less and we never knew when one day it would be over. There's such great fear in the knowledge that a loss is coming.'s wretched.

I know it's different, but I know E is feeling similarly. And it doesn't matter that we love him and will care for him, just as it doesn't matter that Lydia is whole in heaven with Jesus. The knowledge of the good things our children have attained through our loss doesn't take away the pain of them not being with us any longer. Time lessens it, yes, and I want so much to tell her that, but it doesn't take the pain away. My heart hurts for this mama who loves her little boy but knows that letting him go is the best way to love him and her other boys. I am amazed by her courage. Please pray for her.

Our last prayer request has to do with the birth father. We're hoping that tomorrow a representative from the agency will go and meet with him. Pray that tomorrow they will find him and he will sign the paper the terminates his rights. Because then (even though he won't legally be ours until several months from now) he'll be ours. Because really, in our hearts he's already ours and we'd like to keep it that way.

OK. Pictures!

Holding Levi for the first time!

First time bottle feeding!



So chubby. So sweet.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 2

Levi continues to improve! The doctors are steadily backing off IV fluids and increasing his feedings. His blood sugar is in the right range consistently. Soon (hopefully) we'll be able to start feeding him with the bottle. All good improvements and we're loving spending time with him...even though he just sleeps. Apparently, this is what babies do.

Tomorrow E (Levi's birth mother) will be going with the social worker to court to have her parental rights terminated. I haven't said much about her because I don't want to invade her privacy, but people, she is AWESOME. We've gotten to spend time with her and chat and we seem to get along really well. She seems comfortable with us and calls Levi by his name. The social worker says E is really happy with her choice after meeting us, and foresees no problems with the courts tomorrow. Please continue to pray for her. Saying good-bye to your baby is hard. I know the fact that he's healthy and well makes a difference, but she will have her own grief to deal with. Please pray for God's peace.

Again, the one variable here is the birth father. We spoke with the social worker, and the plan is to look him up and talk to him on Monday. Best case scenario is that he hears the news and on the spot signs the paper terminating his rights. Worst case is that he wants to push forward with his rights. In this case, a hearing would be called and he would plead his case before a judge. The social worker said that since he had no involvement in the pregnancy or supporting E or Levi, there's little chance the judge would award custody. But, you never know. Please pray that we would be functioning in the best case scenario.

We would be more worried about this but every time we see him, he's just ours and nothing else really matters. Tonight he was awake and looking at us and it was magnificent.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Levi Vaughn

We met our baby boy today! Things are not what we expected, but don't be alarmed. He is in the NICU, which is not uncommon for babies born of mothers with gestational diabetes (which his mom had). His blood sugar is pretty messed up, and being born three weeks early has his breathing slightly less consistent than they want to see. When we first met him, he was breathing with just a little room air on a nasal cannula.

In the hours spent with him, he has already come off the nasal cannula and his blood sugar has already improved drastically. Unfortunately, because they have to take so much blood for blood sugar testing, there is a line going into his umbilical chord and they won't let us hold him until that comes out. But we've been giving him lots of smooches and holding his hand and making sure he knows we're here with him.

The doctor we spoke with this morning told us it's possible he'll have to be in the NICU for a couple of weeks. Once his blood sugar works itself out and his breathing slows, we'll be able to start to bottle feed him. This can sometimes be a challenge, but we've been helping him suck a pacifier and he seems pretty excited about that. Levi and I talked and we've agreed that he'll improve quickly and we'll take him out of the NICU by Friday :) It is possible that he'll have to be there only days if he improves quickly, so please please pray that he does so we can get him out of there.

It was a little disheartening at first, seeing him there. But it's all so familiar - the sounds, the smells - we've been here before. But praise Jesus, it's such a different story. We feel peace and joy and thankfulness and we love him so much already. Please keep him in your prayers! We will update as we can, but we're spending as much time as possible with him so that he knows who we are.

Here he is. Our sweet Levi Vaughn.


For those who haven't heard, we're in Oklahoma and mere HOURS away from meeting our new little man! The plan is to meet the social worker at the hospital tomorrow at 9:30 (central time) and then we'll meet the birth mother, her mother and our SON!

He was born early this morning, weighing 9.6lbs. We've been told multiple times by the social worker that he is beautiful and "vocal." This, I think, means we are in for it :)

We'll post pictures as soon as we get them. Thank you everyone for your love and encouragement and general elation and prayers for safety. We are overwhelmed and blessed by each of you and can't wait to get him home to meet you all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lydia's Birthday

Lydia's second birthday would have been a week and two days ago. We decided this year to have a party. The hope of the party was to do two things. First, we wanted (as my friend Megan said) to put Lydia on everyone's front page. We wanted her thought of and her name spoken with thankfulness on the day she was born. We thought, how better to do that than by gathering all the people who loved her and who have loved us together?

The second thing was that we wanted to say thank you to the people who walked through her life with us and who have walked through the difficult time of her death and our grief. It was a beautiful night. It doesn't take away the pain of her not being here, but it made us feel so blessed and thankful for her life and for the people God has caused to surround and support us.

Here are some pictures.

After Lydia died, I found a quilt online that was made from a child's clothes. This child was still living and the quilt meant to be a keepsake for him as he grew older. When I saw it, I knew I wanted one out of Lydia's clothes. These aren't the very special things she wore, but they are things she wore often that we loved to see her in. My amazingly talented mother in law made it for us and it's perfect. It's on our couch, ready to snuggle up under on cold nights.

The amazing Megan came for the weekend (and brought her wonderful baby girl) and helped make decorations and provided all around emotional support.

These are the centerpieces she made. Branches and paper flower with beautiful tea lights. They were lovely and sweet and perfect.

I grabbed this old window out of the barn in Maine. I strung pictures of our girl and Micah hung it from the tree. I love how it turned out.

Sugar cookies were favors. I had an elaborate plan to decorate in detail, but when it came down to it, I just did an "L."

No picture could capture the loveliness of our backyard that night. Micah put a spotlight in the maple tree (which we are now calling "The Party Tree") and my brother-in-law Josiah hung lamps purchased from IKEA all through the tree. It was magical.

We gathered rocks from around the yard, grabbed some paint and brushes and put them out on the table. We asked our friends to paint them with whatever they wanted and we are planning to build a planter in the yard designated Lydia's Garden. We'll plant tulips and these rocks will be used to decorate.

Thank you to all of our dear friends for loving us and celebrating our girl, to our families for helping us prepare and execute this whole she-bang, to Megan for being around and helping with everything (despite freakish fever sickness) and Amber for taking photos!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adoption Post-Phone Call Update

Aside from slight technical difficulties, it went really well.

She looked through several profile books and apparently as soon as she saw ours there was an instant connection. The birth mother could still change her mind, but we were assured that once the baby is born, he'll be ours and they won't ask for him back. If, once we know she's in labor, we can make it down to Oklahoma in time, she said it would be fine with her if I was in the room when the baby is born.

She said that her other boys were born early, so we should be expecting that she'll have the baby in the next TWO OR THREE WEEKS.

We got more details but my head is spinning and my hands won't stop shaking. Please don't stop praying.

Pray for:
1. Continued health for E (our birth mother) and that sweet little baby boy.
2. For E's heart as she moves forward, that her heart would be protected and full of peace.
2. Protection of our hearts, should she decide to keep him.
3. Finances - pray that the money we need would become available quickly so we can be prepared with it all when we arrive in Oklahoma.
4. Faith - we want to remember all of the times God has provided for us in the past and know that He will do that again.

I asked our social worker if it was OK now to be more excited and she said (knowing that nothing is final until it's final) YES BE EXCITED!

I need to go shopping now!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adoption Update!

Well, we got a call.

There's a woman in Oklahoma who is due September 21, is having a little boy and wants us to adopt him!

We were told we're allowed to get our hopes up and be excited but we're to be cautious too because she can still change her mind.

There are many details that need to get worked out but we are amazed and thankful and over the moon. We'll hopefully be speaking with her in the next couple of days.

Thank you so much for your prayers of support. Please pray that the logistics of travel and timing will work out, that the money we need will be provided and that grace and peace will be with us and with the mother of our Maybe (BUT REALLY HE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE OURS!!!!!) Baby Boy :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adoption Update, June 14

Well, we sent our book down to Oklahoma and it arrived a week ago. I spoke with our social worker today and they haven't heard anything from the birth mother. She hasn't called or been in contact at all since last week.

This can mean several things. It could mean simply that she hasn't made a decision yet. It could mean that her life has been crazy and she hasn't had opportunity to make a decision. Or, it could mean that she has changed her mind about wanting her baby to be adopted.

Jen (our social worker) said that normally the process will not be like this. Normally, they will just send our book and not tell us that anyone is looking at it so we don't have to wait and worry like we're doing now. Since we had our books and needed to over-night them, she needed to tell us something was happening but she hopes to spare us from this kind of insanity again.

She also told us not to spend time thinking about what happened or why she changed her mind, so of course that's exactly what I'm doing.

So, it's not a 'no' but it's starting to seem a less likely. It's OK. It's not awesome, but it's OK.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Adoption Update!

Our background check cleared! We've been waiting since the end of March and now it is done which means we are officially a waiting family! We got the first copy of our profile book last week and have several more ordered.

When our social worker called, she asked if we could send our one book down to an adoption agency in Oklahoma. There's a woman whose baby is due at the end of June/beginning of July and she is looking to have a Christian couple adopt her baby. We have no details about who she is, anything about the baby or how many other couples she is considering.

We know that this is the first time anyone is looking at our book and it's likely that we will not be selected and will have to go through this whole roller-coaster process again. So...we're not getting our hopes up. We're NOT getting our hopes up.

We're getting our hopes up a little.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Maybe Baby Fund

And now, for a guest post written by one of our oldest friends and Lydia's god-mother!
Dear Friends,
There have been so many times I’ve sat down at my computer to read this blog and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Jen and Micah. They have been so open in sharing both Lydia’s beautiful life and their journey through grief. With every entry there is this renewed yearning within me to do something for my friends, to somehow comfort them with the comfort I have so continuously received from the Lord.

After talking to others who love Jen and Micah, I have learned that I am not alone in this desire. That is why I am so excited to share with you an opportunity to bless them in a tangible way!

An account has been set up to help defer the substantial costs that accompany the adoption process. I have asked Jen to make this accessible on the blog so that those who feel led to come alongside this couple would have that opportunity. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I am so not as eloquent as Jen!
God Bless!

If you’re willing to help Jen and Micah bring their Maybe Baby home, here’s how you can:

1. You can write a check to Micah Thompson and mail it to Church of the Apostles, P.O. Box 320791, Fairfield, CT 06825, ATTN: Micah Thompson
2. You can click on the lovely and brand new “Donate” button to donate with a credit card through PayPal.

We were hoping to be able to have donations sent to the adoption agency,but since the adoption is domestic, there is a chance the baby might come from a different state through a different agency. If that happens, there is a possibility the money sent to the adoption agency in CT won’t be transferable and the money donated would be lost. If we hear differently, we will let you know.

Thank you for taking time to consider giving and sharing in this journey!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adoption Update

Remember a hundred years ago when I told you we were going to adopt and then didn't say anything more about it? Allow me to say some more things about it.

We have finished our homestudy! What this means is that all of our meetings and paperwork and health forms and financial statements have been compiled into one very lovely document put together by our social worker. The only thing that we are still missing is the completion of our background check, which can take a rather long time. We were told not to expect it to be done until sometime in June. Our social worker has come to visit the house and we are working on making a room for our Maybe Baby. That's what I'm calling it because I won't be convinced of it until we've had a baby in our house for probably at least a year.

Having decided to do a domestic adoption, once our background check has cleared, we will submit our Profile Book. This is a compilation of pictures of our life. I'll probably put some pages of it up before too long so those of you who don't live in adoption land will know what I mean. The Profile Book will go to our adoption agency and they will have several copies of it to give to other agencies as well. Once our book is submitted, that's when the real waiting starts.

We wait to be chosen by a birth mother. This could take two weeks or it could take two years. Micah has told me repeatedly not to get my hopes up that we will have a baby soon, but people, my hopes are up. I am trying to remember the lessons I learned before and after Lydia was born and this is what I keep repeating to myself - We will have exactly the child God wants us to have. If it takes two weeks or two years, I know our child is already set in the mind of God. And I don't want just any child. I want the child God has for us. So if Maybe Baby comes immediately or after a long wait, I am confident that it will be the right time for all of us.

That's pretty much it. We're so excited for the day when we can share that we will be bringing a new life into our home but until then, we hope that you will pray along with us for something things:

1. For patience and peace as we wait.
2. For our baby, wherever they are that they will be safe and protected from the time of their conception to the time of birth.
3. For our baby's birth mother - I've been thinking about her a lot. I don't know specifically what has happened in her life that will cause her to give her baby up, but I know those are probably not all good or easy things. I've been praying (and hope you will join me in my prayer) that she will be safe and protected in this time, that she would be surrounded by people who love and support her, and that she would be aware, even if she doesn't know Him, of God's love for her. I'm so excited to meet her.
4. That our background check would be completed soon.
5. That God would provide the funding needed to help us bring our baby home (there will be a guest post later in the week regarding this issue).
6. For wisdom and discernment - we are not without some decision making in this process. If we get chosen by a mother, there is still the opportunity for us to not adopt. Pray for a clear answer when the time comes.

I know there are more things, but I think that's enough for now. Thank you, friends, for being interested and for asking and for praying without being asked.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Year

Before you read this post, I wanted to say thank you to all of you who wrote e-mails, facebook messages, sent notes or simply prayed for us as April 28th passed. As always, we felt sustained and comforted by your prayers and the knowledge that Lydia's life is still a part of yours. A special thanks to our friends Dawn and Ole who remembered our girl in this beautiful way while they were in Germany.


We passed one year since Lydia died. It passed quietly, except for the twenty minutes I spent hysterical because the flowers we bought to put at her grave ended up being hideous. It is the only thing I can give her now and they were hideous. It caused a fairly substantial meltdown, but then the day was quiet. Micah and I spent the day together, watching the video of Lydia’s memorial service, the slideshow we made, videos of her. It was sad and difficult but it was OK. We made it through.

Then, not magically or with any fanfare, but slowly and quietly these past days, I’ve felt something lift. It’s not a lot, but the heaviness feels just a little lighter. We made it through one year. We’ll be able to make it through another.

I feel like I’m finally settling into a place of comfort with my grief. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian has a burden he carries around. By the grace of God that burden falls away when he comes to the cross. I thank God that burden of death is taken away when I look to the cross, but I know that as long as I live I will carry this other burden of grief. When Lydia first died, it was heavy and cumbersome and back-breaking. Now, it’s lighter and easier to carry as I’ve become more familiar with it. I know (at least I hope) that as we move forward it will get lighter and easier, but I don’t think it will ever not be there. Maybe it will get to be a mostly empty backpack slung across my shoulders, or maybe it will be a little wallet that only comes out with me on some days, but it will always be there. I’m understanding that now. I feel like I’m finally learning to live my life carrying this grief with me. And praise Jesus He is there to help me carry it, no matter the weight. How I long for the day when I come to my true home and cast it off forever.

But until then, I will carry on. I will think of her every day and be thankful. I will wish that she was with us wherever we go. I will write her name in the sand on a beach where I wish I could have seen her running around collecting rocks on Mother’s Day. I will let my heart rejoice in the prospect of new things and new life on this earth, but even more I will rejoice that there is a Savior and a heaven and a sweet little girl who wait for me when my days on this earth are done.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

The day we buried Lydia, our bishop’s wife and my dear friend, Erilynne, gave me this. It’s called a holding cross. The angles are skewed and the edges rounded so that it is easy to grip. She held onto it as she struggled through health issues that doctor’s weren’t sure she would overcome. In the moments before we got in the cars to go to the cemetery, she gave it to me.

I don’t remember in detail much about that day. Always I will remember the way it felt as my fingers curled around that cross and gripped it so tightly I had difficulty straightening my fingers when it was time to let it go. It brought Him close on a day He felt far away. It reminded me that I would be with Him one day and this empty, broken part of me would one day be filled and healed.

Today, for the first time since Lydia’s service, I went into the church where we gathered together. I went for a couple of the Good Friday services held there, the cross tucked safely in a pocket in my purse, where it has lived since that first day I held it. I listened as minister’s spoke of Christ and His sacrifice, as they focused today on what the cross means for us.

It’s a holding cross. We hold onto it for dear life on the days we don’t think we can make it through. It brings Him close on days when He feels far away. It reminds us that He has made it possible for us to be with Him, and that one day, He will fill the empty and heal the broken.

Should all else be taken from me, should I be wounded beyond repair, shaken to my core, hopeless beyond words, the Cross stands and I will cling to it. It is unshaken, eternal. It stands to remind me of a love that surpasses my comprehension, that will sustain me though I lose everything and that will one day restore me and make all things new.

I am holding on. On this Good Friday, I pray that you are too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How I Am

People have been asking.

We’re twenty-two days away from the anniversary of Lydia’s death. I think anyone who is grieving a loved one will tell you that the anticipation of days like birthdays or anniversaries are often worse than the days themselves. This has been true of me as we’ve walked through the past 343 days.

I’ve been trying to explain to people why (beside the obvious) I’m having such a difficult time with this day. I think I’ve figured it out. Since the day she died, I’ve been trying so hard not to think about the day she died. It would be far too easy to play it over and over and over in my head. But if I had allowed myself to do that, I don’t think I would have lasted long. Reliving her death day would only bring another kind of death.

So, I put it away. That day and the day we buried her, I put those days away. They’re always there, kind of sadly waving at me from the dark corners of my heart. I look, wave back and keep my distance. But now, they’re coming close. The closer they get the more I can see into them. I see the last things and the empty where there was so much fullness before. I see goodbyes and and quiet that nearly kills.

And I am afraid. I wish that I wasn’t and it’s all well and good to say that I shouldn’t be, but I am. I’m afraid of barely healed wounds being torn open again and of desperate doubt growing again in places that I’ve only recently weeded it out.

And I’m sad. A year is no time and so much time. We’ve barely begun life without our girl but every day is one day further away from our life together. My memories are less vivid now than they were and I will sit and watch video after video of her to remember more clearly how she turned her head to look at me or the sound of her little gaspy breaths.

I just want the 28th to come and go so I can look and say, “I made it through a year. I can make it through another one.”

In these days, I’m so thankful for moments of hope. I do not think it is coincidence that made Lydia’s death day and Easter fall within less than a week of each other this year. Easter is another day I’m eager to get past but the proximity will not let me ignore this one thing: Because He lives, so does she. All of the memories that I’ve been trying to keep at bay, the agony of letting her go and carrying on without her - this is not the end of her story.

And it isn’t the end of mine. There is life for me. There is life for Micah. And hopefully our lives will mean life for someone else. I have hope that our arms will not be empty forever. I have hope that all this love we have to give is not for nothing. And even if these things never come to be, I can still have hope because He is alive.

Unfortunately, staring down this month, hope isn't always my first response. If you think of it, please pray that the hope would make its way through the fear, that a light would shine in the dark places and that as we approach this death day, we hold on to the promise of the life she has with Him.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The New Room

I wrote on my other blog about changing Lydia's room into what I am now calling the New Room. I wrote about it from an excited crafters perspective, but I wanted to write about it from a grieving mama's perspective too.

We had barely passed nine months since Lydia died. We had been toying with the idea of changing it for a while, especially in light of the possibility of a new baby somewhere down the line. I didn't want to bring a new baby into the house with Lydia's room still as her room. Also, my crafting stuff had kind of taken over the dining room, so it seemed like we were getting close to the time.

Then, my friend Lisa was crashing out our house for a couple days and said that if it were easier and she'd be more out of the way, she could just sleep on the couch in Lydia's room. I was unprepared for my reaction, which externally was no big deal but Inside it was all, "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ONE CAN EVER STAY IN THERE. EVER. EVER. EVER. It is HER room!" While I know this reaction may be justified, it surprised me.

I got in bed that night, wrapped my arms around Micah and told him we needed to change her room. Soon. I could feel myself starting to hold on too tightly. It was the last thing...the last bits of her left and I knew that if we didn't do it soon, I wouldn't be able to let go. The further away we get from the time she was here, the less I can remember clearly. Things are getting hazy, and I know that's just the nature of loss, but when I went in her room, I could still remember things. As much as I wanted to hold on to that, I know myself well enough to know that I would make it into a shrine - a holy place where no one else could go. And I could not do that to myself, my husband or any other children we might one day be blessed to bring into our home.

So, that weekend we both had a three day weekend and knew we could get it done. We made a plan. He and I alone would take everything down on Friday night. Then on Saturday, we'd have people over to help us get the room painted and everything set up.

On Friday night, I decided to just let myself feel all the emotions of everything. I allowed in the wretchedness that comes with the remembrance of our hope that she'd grow up looking at these things to wash over me. I remember putting up the butterflies on the wall, thinking that when she was crying I could show them to her and let her pull them off the wall. I could picture her as a three year old, playing on the rug covered in toys. I imagined turning her crib into a toddler bed and calling it her "big-girl bed."

I let myself feel it all. And let me tell you, friends, it hurt. Deep into my soul, it hurt. But we did it.

I got up the next morning, and it was OK. We painted the walls and it was OK. We got the furniture up, and everything in its new place, and it was OK.

I brought back in some things that were in her room, so that all around me all the time I can remember her. Here are some pictures.

Above the bed, you can see I hung back up the butterflies that were in her room.

On the cabinet is the door knob hanger with her name on it. Above my desk are pictures of her.

A close up so you can see how I kept her name banner. It was one of my favorite things from her room, and I wanted to keep it around.

This is my favorite little section of the room. The verse on the wall is the hope of my life and I'm thankful to have it somewhere I can see it every day.

This giraffe lived in Lydia's crib. The shirt it has on was one Lydia didn't get to wear but my mom bought it for her before she was born. It is also a giraffe, but the letters to Lydia's name are the pieces that make up the giraffe. Also, there is the book of Lydia's life that I made.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Today I am thankful for friends and family who help me do hard things. We took down Lydia's room this weekend. We're still in the process of making it into something new, and I will post about it another day.

I'm thankful for a patient husband who will forgive me for snapping at him because he knows I'm not really mad at him, I'm just sad.

I'm thankful for having people in my life who I can ask to pray for me and I know they do.

I'm thankful that our girl got to have a birthday party one year ago today when she turned six months. And for friends who remember why this day means something to us.

I'm thankful for missionary friends in Nepal who remember our girl and wrote her name in the sand on a beach in Thailand.

There are people in the world who remember her and places on the earth that bear her name. For that, I am thankful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The God Part

So. The God part of this story. This part is difficult to write because I'm still working my way back into being comfortable with being near Him. I'm anxious and that makes writing about Him like everything is OK and back to normal feel like a lie. So, just know as I say all of this it is true but it is still a struggle.

After Christmas I began to feel myself coming out of the fog I'd been in since before Thanksgiving. We had begun making changes and plans for changes and I was feeling good about it. Until, all of a sudden, I wasn't. We had decided to adopt, but we lacked focus and a specific plan. It became frustrating and unsettling every time we tried to talk about it, or any time I thought about it.

I knew why. He wasn't part of it. He wasn't part of it because I was unwilling to trust Him enough to allow Him to be. We had trusted Him with Lydia's life and He took her away from us. We trusted him with our plan for a family and were left now with aching hearts and empty arms. All I could think was, "If I trust Him now, what other hurt does He have in store?" Even His blessings can bring can I trust?

I was happy to have Him keep His hands out of our business and just let us take care of everything. Ha. As if He would do that.

I know too much to believe that any true, joyful and lasting thing could ever exist without Him. I was at an impasse. If I trust, I get hurt. If I don't trust, I get hurt.

Still unsure, we cautiously filled out the paperwork, believing that somehow the other pieces would start to come together. As I finished up the paperwork, we realized that in order to apply, we had to send in $25o for the application fee, which we were expecting, as well as $1750 for the home-study fee, which we were not expecting. I proceeded to have a significant meltdown. We don't have money for this. We have to get money before we can even START the process and I want to start now!

We furiously wrote down every cent we had in savings and figured out ways to pull money from every possible place to figure out how to make this payment. We sent e-mails and text messages to our friends who had adopted or were in the process of adopting asking for information on how to get money from people. We looked into adoption grants and loans. We (well, mostly me) were panicking.

Before we went to sleep that night, Micah got a message back from a friend whose family has recently adopted two little girls from Swaziland. His message was helpful and insightful and ended by assuring Micah that they found as they moved forward in His plan for their family, God provided. In my head, I snickered and said, "Yeah..except I'm not asking Him for anything."

We went to bed having a rough plan of how we could throw together a $2000 payment. We were disheartened, but we had a plan.

The next morning, I called a friend who was going to write a letter of recommendation for us and I needed to double check her address. She asked how the process had been going so far and I told her about the panic that had crashed down the night before and how we were scrambling to find $2000 to send in for our initial payment.

There was quiet for a second and then she said, "OK. I'll be over later today with a check."

Stunned, I tried my best to stammer out some kind of response.

"Yep. We'd already decided to give you between $2000 and $4000 and if you need the money now, I'm bringing it over."

I told her I'd have to call her back, hung up the phone, sat down on the floor and burst into tears.

We didn't ask Him for anything. We couldn't. He provided anyway. Our sweet friends who have walked this difficult road with us wanted to be a part of helping us build our family and this was their opportunity. They took it without hesitation.

We didn't ask Him. He provided anyway. I couldn't believe it. I called Micah in hysterics. I had nowhere in all of my categories and ideas about God to put this new information. I called my friend and tried to explain what I knew she already understood.

This made me want to try to trust again.

I can see it. He's bringing all the pieces together, even now as we move forward with unsure steps. He's saving the life of a sweet child from somewhere who needs to be loved and He's saving my life too. The beautiful thing is that I know He's not just doing this for me.

This gift, this adoption it's not just about me, just as Lydia's life and death was not just about me. There are pieces here that I don't see and don't understand but He's fitting them together, making the broken things into something beautiful.

I'd be lying if I said I've been able to keep this perspective in the past weeks. I've still had my doubt and my anger to reckon with. But I saw it. For a brief, glorious moment, I could see it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Here We Go

This is now the fourth time I've started to write this entry. Every time I start I get utterly overwhelmed and can't finish. So, I've decided to break it down into parts. Today is part one and I'm just going to dive right in.

We've decided to adopt a baby. As I type this, there is an application and a check folded neatly into an addressed envelope, ready to be sent off to our adoption agency. Even now, weeks after we've decided to move forward, my heart races every time I think about it.

I've been going back and forth about writing about it here but I've finally come to a conclusion: We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for Lydia. In a very real way, she is the inspiration. Until she was born, I never knew how much I loved being someone's mother and I never knew how amazing Micah was at being a father. Those were gifts she gave to us and now we feel like it's time to give that to someone else. This child, wherever they are now, will be loved exceedingly because Lydia taught us how to love. That is why I want to be able to talk about it here. Because whatever it is, she is a part of it still.

There are some incredible things that have already been happening in the wake of our decision but that will come in another post. Right now, we just want all of you who read and participate in our lives through this blog to know this. We would ask, as we have many times before, that you would lift us in prayer to the Lord as we begin to move forward.

Somewhere in the world (or maybe not even in the world yet) is a little person who is ours. We're ready to find them.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter River

On Christmas day I walked through the woods. I cried and talked aloud to Lydia, to Jesus, to the cosmos in general. I wrote Lydia's name in the snow. It made me feel like the earth and sky wouldn't forget her.

I came to the river. I leaned up against the boathouse dock, closed my eyes and listened. At first, all there was was the sound of my breathing. Then, from somewhere deep in the water I heard a whooshing sound. The river was groaning - singing. It was beautiful and made something in my heart vibrate.

Even while frozen, the river was alive and singing.

In months, when the spring comes, the river will thaw and will be again a hospitable place for things to live and grow. It will move, and the song once in the depths will rise again to the surface to be heard by any who pass by.

My soul is the winter river. There are layers of ice sheltering my heart. Still, quiet, frozen. But somewhere in the deep places is a groaning song. I am alive. I am singing. And the spring will come.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

8 Months, 8 Days

Today our girl has been in heaven as many days as she was on the earth.

Tomorrow she will have been gone longer than she was here.

I don't even know what to do with that, but there it is.