What we do know.

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There is a lot we never got to learn about Keller. We don’t know if he preferred rocking or bouncing. We don’t know if he was cuddly or liked his space. We don’t know if he was silly and giggly, or a serious observer like his sister. We don’t know his favorite book, toy, TV show, color, animal, blanket, song…anything really. It’s odd having a son you don’t know.  I guess “odd” is a more polite way of describing something that is often “infuriating”. He’s our boy, and we want to know him. We want to know every little thing about him. We want to take that knowledge and provide a beautiful and safe life for him.

While there is a whole world of things we do not know about Keller, sometimes though, it’s a good practice to focus on the facts that I can and do know. I DO know that Keller liked to move. I felt him move for the first time the morning of March 13, 2015. I know because I text Nathan QUITE excited. It’s the best part of pregnancy. If you are a hopeful mother praying you can one day feel a tiny baby moving inside of you, I am praying for you. They are the movements of creation and they are spectacular.

He wiggled always. If he was still for more than 3-5 minutes, I’d get worried. And so I’d check on him. I’d scratch all over my belly, and he was SO ticklish. He would go crazy every single time I scratched my belly. It’s special knowing that despite all we don’t know, I know Keller was very VERY ticklish. I got to experience tickling my little boy and feeling him moving all over to get away from my tickling fingers. I’d really love to feel that again.

Keller’s life holds so few memories. I hold so tightly to what we do know. Each memory is precious and cherished. I guess this is a call to work and live as presently as you can. Soak in the moments. Drink them up. Again – redeem joy! Redeem joy in the mundane things. Redeem joy in a fetus kicking you in the ribs. Redeem joy in a toddler asking “why why why WHY???”. Redeem joy in piles of laundry and dirty dishes. Redeem joy in difficult days on the job. This isn’t easy. Joy is often in the “unglamorous”. In the moment, it may not even be joyous, but hindsight will want to hug those memories so tight and relive them again and again. Especially if and when the mundane is snatched away or threathened. You won’t always succeed at this. I don’t – even now. But when you catch a quick glimpse of just how tiny your whining toddler’s face is – breathe it in and thank God for tiny faces. Give all the thanks and shout Hallelujah!

This video isn’t much. Just my pregnant belly morphing and jutting out in odd places. But if you can, watch it. Because I’m a proud mommy. Because it’s a video of our son alive and moving. It’s what we know of Keller and I want you to know him too.

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Baby Brother.

4.27.2015

I cry every time I watch this.

It was such a rush finding out his gender. “CRAZY!” was all we could say. Having a boy? Wild!!

Isn’t he handsome? Look at that nose. He had my nose. And those toes? Stop it.

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Again – this was fun news to share. Fun conversations to have, phone calls to make, texts to send. Shared joy is awesome.

Watching Mary begin to grow into her role as big sister to a baby brother was soul warming. We talked about Baby Brother Keller constantly. She kissed my belly and chatted with him. Let me just say that one of the hardest things in all of this is Mary not having her baby brother. I hate it. We all hate it.

We went out the next day to pick out an outfit for Keller. We had fun looking through all the little boy clothes. We decided to go with a robot onesie and navy pants. Solid newborn fashion choice.

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We still talk about “baby brother” all the time. It’s always difficult, but beautiful, innocent, and tender. It’s hard to have a baby brother you can’t see. It confuses a poor toddler’s heart. It confuses her mommy’s heart too.

Love you baby brother. Love you so much.

 

Seasons of joy.

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2.6.2015

We got to share our good news with the world – Baby #2 is coming September 2015!

It’s fun to tell a big joyous secret with those you love most. It was fun telling Mary. We waited until the day we went public to tell her, because there was a high likelihood of her pointing to my belly and saying baby.

I started showing at about 6 weeks with Keller. I mean OBVIOUSLY showing. We told everyone when I was 8 weeks – mostly because there was no possible way I could keep it a secret any longer. When I am pregnant, my body very quickly proclaims it to the world.

It maybe be silly, but getting a flood of “notifications” of others sharing in your happiness is really really fun. Every time you check your phone another person has congratulated you on the new life growing inside of you – SO fun.

It is such a blessing to rally around joy. It is such a blessing to have a community of loved ones celebrating a new soul. New life is incredible. It is creation. It deserves awe and gratitude. It is to be cherished and protected.

So thank you. Thank you for recognizing and sharing in our great joy that day.

And please – redeem joy. Darkness will come. In the seasons of joy, live presently and drink it up.

Tiny Heart.

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1.26.15

There he is! That little dot is really him. It’s really Keller. And you could really see his little heart beating. Really truly our son. Really very much alive.

Our first appointment was filled with illusions of grandeur. I envisioned an ethereal moment. Nathan and Mary would be snuggled up on the chair. I would get teary eyed as we saw his tiny heart thumping. Nathan would gently smile. Mary would point and say “Baby!”. Our first tender moment – all 4 of us.

Nope.

We had to wake Mary up from her nap in order to get to our appointment. This was followed by 15-20 minutes of screams. Books and a few fruit snacks later and we were composed enough to make it into the doctors office. This didn’t last very long. Poor 18 month old daughter must have thought the blood pressure cuff was somehow torturous to Mommy because she went bizerk. Nathan had to take her out to the car. Poor Daddy didn’t even get to come into the room.

But I still got teary eyed when I saw his tiny heart thumping. Butterflies fluttered up inside my throat. “It’s incredible isn’t it?”, my doctor said. Absolutely.

I text Nathan to let him know I was finishing up and would be outside soon. “Ok. Just don’t judge me.” That was his response…..

I went out to the car (keep in mind the date – January – pretty cold) and Mary was stripped down to her diaper still sniffling. Apparently after trying countless methods to calm her, he asked, “Are you hot?” Calms down. Head nod. “Do you me to take off your jacket?” Head nod. And so on and so forth. But hey. It worked.

I like this story. It shows love and beauty and family in the less than picture perfect moments. And I really love that I got to see Keller’s tiny heart thumping.

A prayer for my son.

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A prayer for our 2nd baby  written  1.14.15

Dear God,

Thank you so much Lord for this baby. So quickly my heart is filled with such huge love, joy, thankfulness, and infatuation. You are so good. Lord my prayer is that you hold this baby in your almighty and protective hand. That you keep my child alive and healthy. May you grant our baby a beautiful life. A life filled with deep love and care. A life surrounded by your love. A life where Jesus is spoken of so often because His love and goodness is in all of our hearts and overflowing. I love you Lord. I love this baby. May our child find our home to be a place of solace and joy always. Lord, I just want to shout my thanks and praise to you. May the joy you have granted me not waiver. May I trust in you throughout this pregnancy, delivery, and years to come. I plea with you to protect our baby in my womb and grant them a wonderful, healthy, and service filled life out in the world. Make our baby to know that you are good all the time. I love you.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

“Lord my prayer is that you hold this baby in your almighty and protective hand.”

“A life where Jesus is spoken of so often because His love and goodness is in all of our hearts and overflowing.”

“May I trust in you throughout this pregnancy, delivery, and years to come.”

“Make our baby to know that you are good all the time.” 

Amen and amen again.

Oh me Oh my. Let’s pray now.

Pregnant

And so, we trusted. January 7, 2015 we discovered our tiny child was growing inside of me. I called Nathan the very second I found out. I felt immediately connected. I was protective and overjoyed instantly. I went out to the grocery store to buy eggs, berries, avocado, and tomatoes because I had another baby I needed to feed and feed well. I think I just felt absolutely twitterpated. From that moment on, we were parents of two. We made certain each of our babies were cared for and loved up. My heart feels achey writing this post. I wish I could say more. I wish I had a million memories to share of this day. Keller’s life was so short, but it was very much a life. A big, powerful, love filled life. A life that we were told about on January 7, 2015. From that moment on, boy you have rocked our world. You are loved son. You began and ended knowing nothing but love. And that love has spread and crossed rivers and states and seas – all because you lived. And because He lives – I can – even when doubt rises up to my chin – face tomorrow.

Stronger.

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December 31, 2014. This is our first picture as a family of four, and we didn’t even know it. I love the joy growing with a family brings.

I set a mantra for myself for 2015: “You are stronger than you know”.

I sat down intending to write about the poetry of choosing this mantra without realizing it would be the most difficult year of my life. I thought I would write how God has indeed proved I am stronger than I ever knew. And then I listened to Stronger (Zoe Group).

There is Love
That came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victorious

Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm
And through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

(Lyrics by Hillsong)

We played this song during Keller’s memorial service. It comforted me throughout my pregnancy, our labor, and in the wake of losing Keller. Thank you Lord for placing this hymn in my heart.

And now, as I sit here almost a year after losing Keller, this song brings comfort to me in a completely new way. God was not showing me that I am somehow stronger than others, or even than my own perception of myself. God was showing me that He is stronger. He is stronger than death. He is stronger than anxiety. He is stronger than OCD. He is stronger than depression. He is stronger than fear. He is stronger than panic. He is stronger than chaos. He is strong than this world. More than I have ever known or ever will know.

 

Interval Training.

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I love the simplicity of this picture. It was taken August 4, 2014.

Nathan had just been informed that he had gotten a job that would move us across the country to Northern Virginia. This began Round 1 of “interval training” in trusting in the Lord and His timing. I confess that I did not trust God prior to 2014. I feigned trusting God. I even sometimes believed I trusted God. However, I only trusted God as far as I could make perfect sense of everything around me. I only trusted in what I could sort out in my own mind (which was typically proceeded by hours, days, maybe months of crippling worry).

We wanted to have another child. We knew we would be moving. We had no idea when that move would be. It could be 5 months. It could be 18 months (it was).

We decided to trust. The Lord would provide. He would provide regardless of the timing, the location, the season – all we had to do was trust in this truth. Throw our trust up to God and know for certain that He’s got this. This trust is some of the hardest work I have ever done.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.*

Romans 8:28 ESV

(*Some would say that things did not “work together for good”. It did. That’s why Jesus is awesome.)

This was Round 1, and the Lord has been training us in trust over and over and over the past two years.

You make beautiful things.

All this pain

I wonder if I’ll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make me new, You are making me new

You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

(Beautiful Things by Gungor)

Nathan and I are taking the next month to write about our son Keller.

We will celebrate 1 entire year since he was born into Heaven on September 15, 2015.

There have been several times along this journey that I have used the phrase “my love song to Keller”. This is just a part of that song. I pray my entire life becomes a love song. A love song to our son. A love song that honors his short and beautiful life. A love song that surrounds his life with goodness and light, rather than darkness and bitterness. A love song to our overcomer Jesus Christ. A love song to the One who makes beautiful things out of the dust. A love song to the ONLY One who can make beautiful things out of us.

Our story isn’t exceptional. We aren’t unique because we have met death. Loss fills the lives of most we meet. But if we can point those in the pit,  those in the darkness with no touchstone, to the Light – Praise the Lord -Hosanna.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

(2 Cor. 1:3-7 ESV)

Each day we will share a piece of Keller’s life. We want to mourn, laugh, worship, and celebrate with you – our dearest friends – and with you – the ones whom the Spirit led to this space because you needed to know you aren’t alone and there is indeed Good News.