Monday, October 15, 2012

Seth: Our Made for Heaven Baby

In the shower that morning, the thought first struck me: “What if this baby was made for Heaven?” As my mind expanded on the thought, I wondered: what if this baby was not made to live on this earth? What if this baby was not made to take in his first breath of air? What if this baby, our 7th baby, was a Sabbath Baby, a baby set apart just for the Lord? What if this baby..... Lying on the ultrasound table, the doppler scanned over my baby and stopped. I knew. No heartbeat. Just the form of a tiny baby. The tech referred to him as ‘the evidence of a pregnancy’. I knew him as my baby. The tears rolled. The heart pounded. The ache began. And yet, even then, “this baby was made for Heaven” penetrated the pain. The ache, the deep, raw, gut wrenching ache. From my journal, the day after we saw no heartbeat: “Sorrow and grief, the death of one you love, it is like a fence post that lies in the path of a growing tree. We must grow around it until it becomes a part of who we are. We cannot simply stop growing nor can we move it for God has allowed it to be there and it becomes a part of us and we grow through it. It may cause some scarring and it may prevent us from growing the way we would have without it. But nonetheless, we grow. The death of my precious, tiny baby, it will never go away. It is part of who I am and I will grow around it.” 10 days were spent crying, talking to brothers and sisters, crying some more, knitting a soft, tiny blanket, building a little, tiny box with a cross on it, crying still some more, praying, hurting, rejoicing, deciding on a name, answering questions from little people trying to wrap their brains around it, asking questions to a big God as I tried to wrap MY brain around it. 10 days of waiting. 10 days of cradling his physical body in my womb, knowing full well that he was not there. He had begun his eternity. Solid promises to stand on. His name: Seth. Appointed. Our Baby Seth was appointed for Heaven, set apart, #7. His life was lived in full because it is God, alone, who numbers our days. Not cut short, not gone too soon. Lived in full, to completion, just as God intended right from the beginning. Another note from my journal, written while waiting for my body to deliver his: “Yesterday I was considering where I was and what I was doing when little Seth’s heart beat for the last time. Again, God has given me such assurance that from the moment he was conceived, God had that last heart beat planned, just as He has planned for all my children. My other children, Lord willing, will grow up and live long lives and I may not be there when their heart beats for the last time. But when Baby Seth’s heart beat for the last time, he was sweetly cradled in my warm, comforting, peaceful womb. He went straight from that beautiful sanctuary to the ultimate Sanctuary”. Our family began to prepare for the birth of Baby Seth’s body. I shopped for the softest of yarn and fabric to cradle his little body in (I am here to testify that no yarn or fabric is soft enough to hold your precious baby’s body. None. It simply doesn’t exist. Perhaps only the wings of angels could possibly be soft enough). Craig built a little wooden box with a cross on top. The children drew pictures. Kaleb wrote a song. I cherished the moments I had with his body in my womb, knowing it was all I would ever have of him. In many ways, many, many ways, I did not want my body to let him go. I would never get to stroke his soft, downy head or be mesmerized by his curled up little toes. I would never get to smile at his fuzzy shoulders or stroke his clenched fist. All I would ever have were these moments when my body cradled his until God said it was time. And so, as strange as it sounds, I cherished them. And yet, the waiting was hard. It was right. But it was hard. After a particularly hard day, Craig apologized for ruining my day. With a pain-soaked heart, I responded, “You didn’t ruin my day. Waiting to give birth to a dead baby ruined my day”. I later wrote in my journal: “Baby and death do not belong in the same sentence. Baby Seth wasn’t old and he wasn’t sick (as far as I know). Birth, not death, was the logical next step. But somewhere deep in my heart, I KNOW that something bigger than logic is in charge.” The day before my body went into labor, I cried out to the Lord: “Lord Jesus, rescue me not from sorrow and pain, for You, Yourself, walked with and through those, and more than I ever will. Rescue me, not from death, for death, YOUR death, is what brought eternal life. Rescue me, instead, from despair. I have hope....because of You.” Ten days after I laid on that table at Longview Radiology, the wait was over. The labor pains began. His tiny blanket was still on my knitting needles, waiting to be cast off. His wooden box was ready. All the children were tucked in their beds. I had the night hours all to myself. And my body did what it was created to do: it gave birth to a baby, my baby. Our made-for-Heaven Baby Seth. We held his tiny body, so very tiny. We studied his features: his little hands and feet, his tiny head, his eyes. So fresh from the easel of God, a masterpiece! Tears blurred our sight and we wiped them away. Sobs escaped and we let them. Praise came and we proclaimed the goodness of our God. After his birth was complete, I sat on the edge of my bed and casted off Seth’s blanket. My tears flowed, my heart rejoiced and ached all at once. As the last stitch came off my needle, I had an overwhelming sense: “It is finished”. A tiny blanket, much tinier then any I had ever seen. Not enough stitches...”not enough days, weeks, months, years!”, my heart cried! That overwhelming sense: “It is finished. He lived his life in full. Complete”. I covered his tiny body, tucked the softest, though not soft enough, yarn around him, baby blue just for him. It is finished. The children began to stir as the early morning hours arrived. The oldest came first. They asked to see Baby Seth and we tenderly and reverently showed them. God’s masterpiece! We were privileged, you know. Their tears fell, mixed with a silent, deafening awe. We huddled around him, this precious family unit of ours. We wept, we rejoiced. And we placed the lid with the wooden cross on the box. In church on Sunday, just two days later, we sang: “When the stars burn down and the earth wears out; And we stand before the throne; With the witnesses who have gone before; We will rise and all applaud; Sing blessing and honor and glory and power forever to our God”. The tears fell like a flood. He had gone before. He was home. Heaven was sweeter now. Craig shared with me that we had one down, six more to go. As parents, we labor and pray and yearn for our children to walk with the Lord and join us in eternity. Seth’s already there. One down, six more to go. Several days later I was driving by the lake in our town. My heart was overcome by a desperate yearning for this baby of mine that I never got to know. A yearning unlike any I had ever felt; a desperate, “I would do just about anything to hold him, to know him, to touch him, to sing to him” yearning. It hurt. It hurt like the dickens. And then God’s still, small voice in my heart: “That yearning. Its powerful, isn’t it? Almost takes your breath away. I know. Because that’s how I feel about those that don’t know Me yet. I am desperate to hold them, to know them, to touch their hearts. So desperate that I stopped at nothing to save them: I gave the only Son I had to do it. I KNOW that desperate longing. Its how I felt about you before you came to know Me and trust Me. And its how I feel about them. You, walking in this valley right now, just got to share in my pain. But your longing is for Baby Seth’s life here on earth. My longing for you, for them, is for eternity. Can you catch just a glimpse of My heart?” I was floored. Truly. And I praised the Lord for Baby Seth’s life and what He was teaching me through it. During this walk through the valley of grief, I learned the value of simply crying with another. My mom and dad held me on the front porch one evening, not saying a word, just crying, joining me in my sorrow, in my pain, missing their grandson as I was missing my son. Our pastor and his wife, who have at least two babies made for Heaven waiting for them, showed up on our doorstep one morning with a box of doughnuts for the kids and arms for me. Tears rolled down their cheeks as they hurt right along with me. The most precious ladies in the world, ladies who were a part of my growth group at church, sat around a table with me, listened to me recount the events and made no attempt to even wipe the tears that soaked every cheek in the room. They didn’t try to cheer me up, they didn’t try to ‘there, there, it will be okay’, they just simply felt my pain WITH me and praised the Lord WITH me as He propped me up with His promises. A couple of dear friends, having babies waiting for them in Heaven, walked the road with me, answering questions, giving practical suggestions, and simply crying with me. I have a new understanding for those who have gone or will go through a miscarriage. We hate to see people hurting. We really do. But oh, the healing power of coming alongside and joining in the pain! Its profound. Six months have passed. Today would have been Baby Seth’s due date. The lead up to the day, and the day itself, was much harder than I had anticipated. Because I am so sure, so absolutely certain, that he lived his life in full, just as God had intended, I assumed this day would be just like any other. Assumptions are foolish and as a friend wrote just today, “grief has no rules”. Just as Baby Seth was made for Heaven, my heart was made to love my children and want my children. That’s the mother-heart God has given me. And so the tears have rolled down my cheeks and my heart feels sore, perhaps a bit bruised. All day the hymn that our youth worship team has been practicing lately is on repeat in my head: “Standing on the promises I cannot fall;
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call; Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.” It may come as a shock, but I would not undo Baby Seth’s death. I would never, in a million years, choose it. Ever. But I wouldn’t undo it. I know the powerful comfort of the Lord like I have NEVER known before. I know that His truth is a rock-solid foundation like I have never known before. I know the sanctity of life like I have never known before. I know the yearning heart of God for His children like I have never known before. I know a peace that passes understanding like I have NEVER known before. I have always been deathly afraid of losing someone I love; like keep me awake at night, break out in a cold sweat, kind of afraid. It took the death of my baby to make me not afraid of death. As a sweet friend, having also gone through a miscarriage, said, “Its worth it, isn’t it?” Yes, it is. I will forever be grateful that God chose ME to be the vessel of an eternal soul, a baby made for Heaven. I got to cradle his little life until Jesus ushered him into Heaven. It was while nestled in MY womb that his heart beat for the first time....and the last time. Our whole family has been and continues to be profoundly impacted and blessed by the gift of Baby Seth. If you ask our children how many kids are in our family, they will always say seven. He is included in nearly every family portrait our girls draw. Even Jacob, who is far too young to understand anything that went on, will occasionally say, “Baby Seth...awwwwwww”. While my heart will ache for the baby whose soft, downy head I never got to caress, my heart will also praise God for the gift of Baby Seth, our made for Heaven baby.

Friday, March 11, 2011

She's Here

Blossom And Branches Birth Announcement
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Saturday, December 4, 2010


I still don't even feel old enough to have traditions that are my very own! Nonetheless, after 14 years of marriage and nearly 11 years of parenting, they have snuck in without me even noticing. I'm so very fond of them! Here are a few of my very favorite Christmas traditions:

* 'Twas the Night Before Christmas:
Actually, for us, it usually falls on the eve of Christmas Eve and it began long before we had children. Craig and I began sleeping underneath the Christmas tree, snuggled up beneath warm sleeping bags, truly the coziest place in the house. As children came along, we nestled them down with us. As MORE children came along, they squeezed us out of our original spots and claimed the place underneath the evergreen as their own.....We now fall asleep near them, cherishing the soft glow of the Christmas lights on their cherub-like faces. This remains one of my very favorite of all traditions. Someday when we live in a bigger house, or we have less children in our home, Craig and I will return to our original places underneath the tree. But for now, its one of the most precious sights I see all year long, my children lined up in a row, nestled down in their sleeping bags beneath the Christmas tree. You really ought to try it sometime! That place beneath the tree....its nearly magical.* Our Christmas Books:
I'm not even sure how this tradition began but over the years, we have collected a handful of children's books related to Christmas in some fashion. I keep these books in a basket and they ONLY come out at Christmas time. The children have so much fun looking at and reading these books. Often, they have forgotten about them and so its like opening up a new gift each year. We've got "Hannah and the Manger" (one of Hannah's personal favorites), Eloise Wilkins' "The Christmas Story", Jan Brett's "Gingerbread Friends", Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman's "Mortimer's Christmas Manger" and another by the same authors, "Bear Stays Up for Christmas", Susan Wojciechowski's "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey", and even an I Spy Christmas. Some of them have been given as gifts, some of them were scores at the local Goodwill and some of them just seemed to appear. I have tried hard to weed out 'silly' books and keep my stash limited to books that really pertain to the birth of Jesus (though I must admit that "Spot's First Christmas", a book given to Kaleb when he was 2 years old, has kept its spot in the Christmas book basket if for no other reason than sentimentality). I enjoy this tradition along with the children, their little (and not so little, these days) bodies snuggled up next to me, reading the stories they've heard for years now and cracking open a new one here and there that has earned its place in the beloved basket.

*The Christmas Parade:
Complete with hot chocolate and a yummy snack of some sort, bundled up almost to the point of uncomfortable, I line them up on a curb downtown and we watch the Christmas Parade go by. Always at night, the lights and the music are spectacular and we do our best to stay until either gloved hands are finally frozen or Santa wraps it up with a mighty "Ho, ho, ho" that echos against the dark, winter sky. The children look forward to this every year, and I will readily admit that I DON'T because almost every year Craig has to work that evening and its a lot of hard work to get the gang bundled, loaded, unloaded, shuffled, nourished, safe, loaded, unloaded, and unbundled all by myself but I do it, nonetheless, because who could say no to these beautiful faces?!?! (Sadly, for them anyway, we had to miss it this year because Noah had a whopping headache and you just can't do something like the Christmas Parade when you're down a player.)

* O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree:
One last tradition, and truly one of my very favorites, and then its your turn. Our parents have continued a tradition that they both started with us when we were children. Each year, they give each of us a Christmas ornament often pertaining to something eventful that happened within that particular year. When one of them learned to ride a bike, they received a bike ornament. When one of them took ballet, played soccer, showed a chicken in the county fair, etc, they received a coordinating ornament. One year, Sarah got a goose because one of her nicknames is Goose. The year our first daughter was born, Craig got a cigar with pink details on it. When I was the mother of just two small male children I received an ornament that said, "Mothers of boys work from son up 'til son down!". Opening up the ornament bin and placing them on our tree is truly like reading the pages of a family journal. Memories come flooding in, not only for me, but now also for the children. The little girls wonder where 'this one came from' and the big boys smile with delight, "Oh I remember THIS one!" It is my hope that these historical accounts in the shapes of motorcycles and little rubber boots and turtles and ballerinas will be passed down, along with their stories, to generations to come.

So there are just a few of my favorite Christmas traditions. I'd love to hear some of yours! I really would! Either share a few of them with me in the comments or better yet, use this as fodder for your own blog post and leave me a note telling me that you've blogged about them and I'll go read it! Its always fun to hear other families' traditions and it'll warm your heart to ponder on them for a few minutes!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Short Explanation

Well, now that things are officially private, I'll clue you in on my reason for making the change. A few weeks ago, I noticed that two new readers were 'following' my blog. I didn't recognize their names as friends of mine, thus checked out their profiles which led to checking out their blogs. One reader was from Malaysia, one was from the UK and both appeared to be Islamic extremist women who made it clear that they felt very strongly about their beliefs, one of them being that Americans, specifically Christian Americans, were an insult to their faith. Um....yeah. So maybe the TSA isn't into profiling but I AM! I have no idea how they found my blog or why they were interested in following it and I wasn't going to stick around to find out. Call me paranoid, but I suddenly became very uncomfortable with Islamic extremists from half way around the world knowing my children's names, my husband's name, what they looked like, etc. The "Pollyanna" part of me wonders if just maybe they were interested in Christianity and were there out of curiosity. But the large majority of me just felt very uncomfortable.

So there you have it! Now things are private and I can continue as before:).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Going Private

I'm going to go private with this blog so if you would like to continue reading it, please send me your email! Thanks:)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recent Adventures

The boys had a WONDERFUL time recently at Tree to Tree Adventure Park. This was a birthday gift to my husband, who can be very difficult to shop for. After all, you can't really expect your mother-in-law to go to the local U-Pull-It to find some funky part of a transmission for your Suburban, can you? These are the types of things that would be on Craig's wish list, if he had one! Anyway, the gift was a HIT and Noah and Kaleb enjoyed it as well. They are all planning and dreaming about the next time we can go! And just for the record, us girls kept our feet firmly planted on the ground:).

And just for your viewing pleasure, I present to you a nearly 8 month old Jacob! If we loved this little Bubba-Stinky any more, we all just might explode.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending an Above Rubies retreat in Turner, Oregon. Nancy Campbell's message was more timely than you could even know. She spoke about the tactics the enemy used to try to deter the people from rebuilding the temple (from Ezra and Nehemiah) and how the enemy uses the same tactics today to try to prevent Christians from building families that seek to glorify Christ. Things like discouragement and fear and accusations and doubts. The list of 10 things was so very applicable to life as a wife and mother. Satan hates families, he really does. This weekend encouraged me to recognize the tactics of my enemy. He is sly and cunning but when exposed to the light of Christ, he is also powerless! Anyway, my friend took some sweet pictures from the retreat but I can't figure out how to download them so if you'd like to see them, you'll have to visit my friend Emily's blog!

And just a quick update: I'm now 22 weeks along and I cannot believe how fast this pregnancy is going. Just had a prenatal last week and Sweet Baby was doing wonderfully! I often look at Jacob and am amazed that at this time next year, I'll have another baby (Lord willing) the very same age as he is now! And you'd think by now I'd have this figured out, but I can't believe I will be able to love this new little one as much as I do the Fantastic Five! It just blows my mind! I love all of them so VERY much and it seems impossible that I could ever love anyone else as much as I love them. But then.... that precious life emerges and I hold him/her close and there I go again, falling wildly and madly in love. It truly is amazing! A mother's heart really is never full!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A VERY Thought-Provoking Post

If you are not familiar with the blog, Generation Cedar, you're missing out! This post, especially, has my wheels spinning. Very, VERY thought- provoking.....

Divine Appointment: Babies are a Part of the Gospel Picture