Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pray for Noah

I saw a tidbit on the local news about this local family and their little boy Noah. As I read their blog, I was touched and have thought about them all day. Please visit their blog and pray for this young family. One can only imagine facing this kind of diagnosis with your child this suddenly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Ellie Kate!! (Warning - LOTS of pics!!)

What a weekend!!! Friday started with me in Montgomery. Stewart made sure to sing "Happy Birthday" when he woke EK up that morning :) She spent the day with Juju (a sister from church who keeps her 2 days a week). Juju planned a sweet little party with EK and her "boyfriend" Griffin :)

I made it home that afternoon by 4:00, and was so excited to see my girls!! I had a Gigi cupcake in hand for that night's celebration!

Saturday brought snow and a Roll Tide victory!!!

Sunday was the birthday bash! Thanks to Mimi for hosting and taking care of all the food!! I don't think I could have pulled it off without her!! You're the best Mimi ever!! Friends and family gathered to watch the diva prance around in her tutu telling everyone that she was "tooo" years old (not sure why she skipped one) and "appy day" (her version of Happy Birthday!) Watching her play in the cake was a riot! BTW - Aunt Nana made the cake - AWESOME isn't it??? She liked it on her toes better than anything! She crashed and slept for hours before she could even open the presents, but what a great party she had!!!

WHEW - don't ever say I didn't post pictures :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Then Came the Morning

December 3, 2008 - I remember this night well. Here we were, one year and fifteen days since we delivered our angel. One year and fifteen days since life as we knew it changed forever. One year and fifteen days of depending on God for every breath, thought, and will to keep walking down this path. In that one year and fifteen days so much had happened. We trudged down a path, in a club we never asked to be a part of. I worried with every breath about what would happen next. I mourned not only for our loss, but what this tragedy would mean in Abby's short life - would it scar her forever? Stewart's dad continued to suffer daily with terminal cancer. My grandfather, who I credit for the moral fiber our family is built around, had passed on after a very brief and unexpected illness. Yet through it all, here we sat about to face my greatest fear - the birth of another baby.

How could this be? How did this happen? How were we going to handle what was coming? This pregnancy was nothing but absolutely, perfectly normal. So was Abby's. So was Olivia's. No comfort in the normalcy. We had countless high level tests at UAB, NSTs every other week, you name it. No comfort in every medical professional telling me everything looked and sounded perfect. Here I was. I wanted desperately - more than I wanted breath itself - to BELIEVE and have FAITH that tomorrow would bring our rainbow - the end of our rain. But I couldn't. The Devil had tormented me for weeks that once again I needed to prepare for a funeral. The day before Olivia was born, I believe the Lord prepared me by letting me have the thought of where we would bury Olivia. After her birth, it was actually some form of comfort that God had known and somehow tried to prepare me for this tragedy. Now, it was nothing but torment. The fact that there was space in our family cemetery for Olivia was a blessing then, but the fact that there was also room - not for another adult, but only room for a baby - was again, torture.

Then came the morning of December 4th- it was time. Time to go back to the same hospital, to the same scene of the happiest day and the most horrific day in our lives. I walked in to the sight of our Earthly angel of the day - Kris Jones. For all of you nurses, especially if you work at HH now, she WAS and IS our angel. She was our nurse through most of my labor and delivery with Abby. She was also the supervising nurse who actually delivered Olivia. I arrived at the hospital that night only 20 minutes before she was born, so the doctor did not make it in time. She was calming and compassionate as she talked me through childbirth with no drugs (NOT by choice!), and then she bore the burden of looking up at me and Stewart and telling us that our daughter was not breathing and would not breathe - would we like to hold her? She was the one who lovingly wrapped up our beautiful baby and brought her to us to hold. She cried with us, held us, and helped us know what to do in a situation NO ONE ever expects. And here she was - one year and fifteen days later - waiting for me with a smile telling me that today was the day to have a beautiful, healthy baby girl.

The next hour and a half are a blur. Kris kept us talking, laughing and distracted. She told me everything that was going on and prepared me for everything to expect. She assured me I had the best team. She let me keep that monitor on full blast so I could hear that heartbeat thumping away. Then it was time. As they wheeled us into the ER for the C-Section, the fear and panic was overwhelming. I had chosen an elective c-section because I couldn't bear the thought of childbirth again. But as I laid there and the team began to prep, all I knew was I didn't think I could handle a silent childbirth with no baby crying. As I laid there, Stewart bent down at my head - I know he was just as concerned, but I know right then he was praying for my comfort. He had the faith I couldn't have. He knew a healthy baby was on her way and could take comfort in that.

At that moment, I began to sing. For those of you that know me, I sing when I'm happy, sad, bored - you name it. For the last month, in my efforts to keep it together, I would start everyday in the shower singing the same song over and over. "It's so peaceful in the arms of my Lord. In His presence I am sheltered from the storm. It's so good to have His spirit. It's so good to have His word. It's so peaceful in the arms of the Lord." I could picture the peace in the arms of the Lord. It helped me identify those thoughts that were not peaceful were not of the Lord. Simplistic I know - but that's all I was capable of. As I sang, the surgery began and I didn't even know it. The whole time, there stood Kris on the other side of that big blue sheet telling me over and over that everything was wonderful -everything was perfect.

And came the sound I needed and yearned to hear for one year and fifteen days - my baby cried. MY NEW BABY CRIED!!! If she cried, it meant she was breathing. I couldn't believe it. Stewart asked if I heard it. Kris was jumping up and down, yes - jumping, asking if I heard it. My baby was crying before she was even completely out of my body. SHE CRIED! Kris kept telling me over and over that she was beautiful, she was perfect. And then, one year and sixteen days later, Kris walked to me and handed me a beautiful bundle of breathing, crying, healthy baby girl!!

During my time in recovery, Kris sat right by my side and talked about my 3 beautiful girls. When they came to tell me Ellie Kate had been transferred to the NICU for some breathing problems, it was Kris who held my hand and looked me in the eye and made me focus on the fact that everything was OK. In my mind, Kris is our angel.

For all of the nurses out there - thank you for what you do. Thank you for being God's angels on Earth.

Dear God - thank you for bringing our family the morning. Thank you for the answer to the prayer I was too afraid to pray outloud. Thank you for the valley that made me even more thankful for the precious gift of life.

Next post - EK's PARTY BASH!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Olivia

Two years ago our lives were changed forever by the birth of our angel, Olivia. Nothing can describe the impact of this event in our family. Words can also not describe the amount of love, comfort and grace we have felt from God throughout this process. Words are not coming tonight - it's bittersweet. You can't have rainbows without rain, but the rain is SO hard! I'm thankful for what that rain has taught me, and I am SO thankful that rays of sun are shining on our family now. How sweet is that SON!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One more thing....

Last post for the night.....

Kensley is coming home!!!!

Check out the Praying for Kensley blog. There is a big Welcome Home welcoming event planned. I am counting on friends and family to keep me (and you) updated with pictures since I won't get to be there (still in Montgomery!)

Lots of Fun Stuff!

Playing at the park with friends and a rescheduled class field trip to Tate Farms - Fun stuff!!!

My Baby is Growing Up!!

My baby is growing up!!! Last week Mom and Stewart had to keep Ellie Kate seated as much as possible to make sure she didn't walk while I was in Montgomery!! I finally got the camera out and let her go!! Oh me.....between the 7 teeth (yes, I said 7), walking and all the jabbering that sometimes makes sense it is becoming more and more obvious that our baby isn't going to be a "baby" much longer!!! Here is some of the video - quality is not so hot because I did it with my cell phone so I could upload in Montgomery :) Please ignore my obnoxious voice!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is how I do bathtimes now-through pictures :( At least EK doesn't seem upset by this! Thanks Stew for keeping me in the loop!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stepping Outside the Box

I'm officially outside my box!! I was watching an episode of Oprah today about women stepping outside of their box. These women all had varying stories of life events in which they had focused on other things and become complacent with their own lives. They were using drastic events to step outside their boxes and get perspective. As I watched these ladies skydive, skinny dip, etc. I thought, "Wow - I've never thought about needing to do something so drastic!"

But as I continued to think, I realized that here I was 3 hours away from my family, knee deep in a new career path for which I have NO, repeat ZERO, previous knowledge, and all of this has happened in less than a month. I am ABSOLUTELY outside my box!! Then I started wondering WHY? The answer is simple - God's will.

In reading books, articles, blogs from other people who have experienced a tragic event, there is always a "pre-event" period and a "post-event". There are obvious things that trigger outward "post-event" reactions - holidays, seeing other babies I know are Olivia's age, memories, etc. But our lives are completely changed FOREVER from the events of November 18, 2007. These changes are not always evident, but the makeup, the very character and moral fiber of your being is forever affected by these types of events.

For me, losing Olivia, and then quickly having to trust God through our pregnancy with Ellie Kate forced me to surrender to God's will in my life. I had no choice - I certainly didn't choose the path, so the only option was to give in and try to trust that HIS path was somehow better or more suited for me than the one I would have chosen. Would I have chosen to lose Olivia - of course not. But - would I have Ellie Kate if that hadn't happened - probably not. Would I have the appreciation and first-hand understanding of grief and what it does to you - no. Most importantly - would I truly understand the depths that God can protect you, guide you, and shelter you from the storm - absolutely not!!! Hear me now - I am NOT saying I appreciate and understand exactly why we lost Olivia. All I am saying is that I am trying my best to TRUST that this was God's all-knowing plan for my life.

Also part of this plan, I have to believe, is me getting outside of my box! I have worked for 11 years in education and have 3 degrees to show for it. Yet, here I am training for another career. Why?? In a strange way, it is yet another path forcing me to surrender to God's will. This time, I asked for this path. I have been praying for an opportunity to present itself that I may have more time and energy to focus on what's important - God and my family. I believe this is it. I have an excitement about not only the job I will be doing, but how I believe it will be a positive impact to my family. Don't get me wrong - I'll still be working, but to know that I can take my babies to the doctor when they are sick without major rescheduling, run home for a quiet lunch to refocus my thoughts during the day, sing at a funeral when needed, just go eat in a school lunchroom for 30 minutes to have that quality time with my girls - it is priceless!!

Time and energy are things you can't create and you can't get them back when they are gone. If November 17, 2007 has proven anything to me it is that surrendering to God's will, and not your own, is the ONLY true path to happiness and righteousness in HIS eyes. I am so thankful for everything He has guided us through, and even more thankful for that He is providing me the courage and trust to follow Him outside "my" box!!!

Just a thought - maybe if we ALL got out of OUR box and followed Him, He would lead us to HIS box :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween :)

Hi all! I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend!! We had a busy one. I helped a few others plan a VERY last minute party for the 7 and under crowd from church along with the normal Halloween activities. We didn't trick or treat much this year. I really want to live in a subdivision this time of year so the girls can have that TRUE trick or treat experience. Stewart said next year we'll invite a few friends and pull a hay trailer behind the four wheeler and "group" trick or treat - ONLY IN ALABAMA!!! HA! Here are a few pictures of the girls!

Getting ready to carve pumpkins!
Pumpkin guts!!
Abby playing at the Halloween party!
Ellie Kate and Papaw "supervising" the inflatable slide!
My husband - the goth boy. (Yes - he is a high school principal. Yes - his students did see him. No - I never thought I would ever paint my husband's fingernails black!)
Get it Hannah Montanna!!

Our little flower!!
Check out those cheeks!!!