Saturday, May 30, 2009

5.30.09

We are grieving with hope …

Overwhelmed, grateful, encouraged, blessed, sad, anxious, burdened, peaceful, hopeful … a short list of emotions felt this past year and today, Owen’s 1st birthday. Every first and every milestone this past year was bittersweet … our first “family” vacation without Owen, birthday celebrations without Owen, holidays without Owen, every day life without Owen. Each first and each milestone brought with it a flood of emotions. The absence of Owen is so painfully obvious at times.

We really didn’t know what to expect today, we didn’t know what emotions would surface. Would we get through the day with a sense of peace? Would the day overwhelm us? What we did know is that we wanted to honor Owen’s memory and honor and glorify our Father who has so purposefully etched out this past year for us. While we cannot say that we completely understand His plan or His purpose in losing Owen, we have hope in knowing that although Owen will not return to us, we will go to him (We will go to him, but he will not return to us. 2 Samuel 12:23).

Today, we celebrated and remembered Owen. We started the day with our traditional birthday pancakes. Then, after a storm blew threw this morning, which has significance in itself as "Praise You in This Storm" has been our theme song, the skies opened up to a beautiful, sunny day. We went to the cemetery and released balloons and had a picnic. Jack was a little worried about releasing the balloons as he was wondering if this was littering, but Samuel assured us that the balloons would go to Owen in Heaven. We also had a birthday cake made by a sweet friend. We were going to make our own birthday cake for Owen, but we don’t make Jack or Samuel’s birthday cakes, so it seemed natural to have a cake made for Owen as well.

In the weeks leading up to today it was painfully obvious that we were not planning the typical 1st birthday party for our little guy, I was not painstakingly creating invitations, we were not planning a coordinating birthday cake, nor were we planning Owen's birthday menu. Despite this, we did feel God's hand upon us today as we celebrated Owen and as we reflected on his life and the blessings he has brought to us. We also listened to Owen's Memorial / Celebration of Life service today. During which, our dear friend Jon put together a list of 15 "good things" that had resulted from Owen's short life. Over the past year, while still painful, it is obvious that the list of 15 has grown.

In memory of Owen, we are planning a family vacation to Tennessee this summer where we will drop off a donation at the Hope Clinic. We feel that a part of Owen is there at the clinic. A dear lady, Kaye makes beautiful tiles, and she made us a gorgeous family tile and a tile for Owen. She also made a tile for the Hope Clinic which uses a saying, “There is no foot too small that it cannot make an imprint on this world.” This had been and continues to be our “motto” for Owen’s life. In addition, she used a print of Owen’s feet on the Hope Clinic tile. Over the past few months we have been gathering supplies on the Clinic’s wish list. Thus, we are trekking down there this summer for our family vacation. We will see the tile in person and drop off our donation in memory of Owen.

To those who have so graciously remembered and encouraged us this past year and today, we are grateful. We love you all dearly and praise God for each one of you. And, we will continue to praise God as He gives and takes away. We may not always understand, but we will always praise Him, even in the storms in life.

Sweet little Owen, we love you and miss you ....

Praise You in This Storm
Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You
But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fingerprinting

Jason and I were fingerprinted today … now, before you get the wrong idea, it is all for good.
You see, one of the blessings I have eluded to is that we are currently in the paper chase process pursuing a China adoption. Before Owen, we had talked about adoption, but then, it was our “Plan B.” We would pursue adoption IF we didn’t get pregnant again. Since, we have realized that adoption is not God’s Plan B, nor should it be our Plan B.

God does not make mistakes. And he does not need a backup plan. Adoption was not God’s plan B. You see, Jesus was adopted by his earthly father, Joseph. In addition to Jesus being adopted by Joseph, we can all be adopted into God’s eternal family.

Jason and I had seen adoption to be a second choice after biological children. But, just as God decided that some families will grow through biological children, He has also designed some families to grow through the miracle of adoption.

We are trusting in His plan and His will concerning more biological children, but we do feel that God has placed adoption on our hearts and feel that part of His plan for our family is to expand our family through adoption.

We started the paper chase process earlier this year and are nearing the end of it. Once our dossier is sent to China, the waiting truly begins. The wait time for a little girl from China is increasing every day and is currently a little over three years.

As we are waiting, please join us in praying for the orphans, in praying for the birth mothers who carry these babies, the birth parents who make the unimaginable decision to give these children up, and the other adoptive families who are waiting for their children.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mmmm Monday

I’m not going to make a habit of posting an “Mmmm Monday” regularly, but I couldn’t resist this one. You see, I am always assigned to bring a jell-o to family gatherings. I can’t figure out if my jell-o recipes are that great or if my other dishes are not. I’m hoping it’s the former … and, to my jell-o lovers out there (you know who you are), no, I’m not going to start a jell-o blog. Just trying to retain my title as “Jell-o Queen.”

Patriotic Jell-o

2 - 3 oz. red Jell-o (strawberry and raspberry or black cherry)
2 c. boiling water, separated
1 c. ice water
1 c. half and half
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 envelope unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 1/2 c. cold water
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 can blueberry pie filling
16 oz. frozen, sliced strawberries, drained
BLUE LAYER: Dissolve 1 package raspberry or black cherry Jell-o in 1 cup boiling water. Add blueberry pie filling. Pour into 9 x 13” glass dish. Chill until set.
WHITE LAYER: Heat Half and Half and sugar. Remove from heat; add vanilla and gelatin; beat in cream cheese. Cool, pour on top of blue layer. Chill.
RED LAYER: Dissolve 1 package Jell-o in 1 cup boiling water. Stir in 1 cup ice water and mix in drained strawberries, pour on top of white layer. Chill until set.

Voila! (Can you really say “Voila” when it pertains to jell-o?)

Friday, May 22, 2009

American Idol Junkie

I was cheering for Danny Gokey this season, but was excited that Kris Allen, the “underdog” won. And, doesn’t this just make your heart smile ~ Kris Allen leading worship in his hometown church.

Enjoy …

video

(Please remember to pause the music at the bottom of the page)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tall Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

Seriously, it cannot already be the last day of preschool can it? There can not really be only three and a half short months before Samuel starts 4K at the elementary school? No, it can't be! In just a blink of an eye it seems that these little boys of ours are growing into little men.

Samuel on his 1st day of preschool (September '08)
Samuel with his Elmer the Elephant painting (bottom) (Spring '09)

Samuel on his last day of school (May '09)

Sweet, sweet Samuel, you are growing up too fast!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The beginning ...

I have been pondering beginning a blog for quite some time, since Owen's diagnosis really. But, fear got the best of me ... oh, I'm still fearful, fearful of the time commitment, fearful that my words might be misinterpreted, fearful that my writing may be judged. But, the purpose of this blog is to document and chronicle our family life, a place to honor and glorify our God, a place to share how He is working in our lives.

The past 15 months have taken us on a rollercoaster ride. On January 31, 2008 at a "normal" 19-week ultrasound our baby was diagnosed with a neural tube disorder, Anencephaly, which is incompatible with life. This was our little blessing that was supposed to join his big brothers in filling our home with laughter, in making mischief and in fulfilling our hopes of a house full of children. Life's lessons often remind us that it is not our timing, it is His timing, that it is not our plan, it is His plan. Through the ups and downs of this time in our lives, we found ourselves questioning His timing, His plan. This was by far, the hardest situation that we have gone through.

We were suddenly faced with a decision that two parents should never be faced with. Understanding that, less a miracle, our little one would not live with us here, we needed to decide if we would induce labor early (i.e., terminate the pregnancy) or carry our little guy full-term. In reality, this wasn't really our decision to make ~ there is only One who gives and takes life. Thus, we spent the next four months creating memories with our little guy, Owen Matthew, our "well-born gift of God" ~ Owen was with us as we did our annual hot dog roast / burning of our Christmas tree, he rode the zoo train with us, he listened to bed time stories with his brothers, he was with us as we built him his own bear at Build-a-Bear ... he was with us. We did our best to pack in as many memories as we could while Owen was full of life inside of me.

While we found joy and happiness during this time, we were also moved by many other emotions. We were deeply saddened facing the truth in knowing that Owen would not live outside of me. While I don't know that I will ever say that I am thankful for losing Owen, I am thankful and feel overwhelmingly blessed by the gifts that we have been given through Owen. They are too numerous to mention here in my first post, but I will touch on them as time moves on. The fullness of God’s grace is evident in our lives and has given us hope as nothing else can.

Our little peanut, Owen Matthew, was stillborn on Friday, May 30, 2008. Aside from the defect which took his life, he was perfect in every way. He had his brothers' button nose and their sweet lips. What a blessing for us to have been able to hold Owen in our arms and now, what a blessing, that we can hold him in our hearts.

So, as we are quickly approaching Owen's first birthday, I would like to use this as a place for our heart's ponderings and for journaling the multitude of blessings that have been showered upon us and our family.

And, to the dear ones in my life who have so gently encouraged me over the past year to enter into the blogging community, thank you friends …. love to you.