Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time To Take Down the Christmas Tree

Zoe at 9 Months

Zoe reached 9 months on Christmas Day. That's when she also really started crawling. So many things to get to under the tree!

Zoe is a very good-natured little girl, and draws comment from everyone we meet on how happy she is. So far I have been very lucky because she has been quite content to sit and explore her toys. Now with her new-found mobility she has become much more determined to explore her world instead. She has started to four-point crawl, and is working on pulling herself up. I love how it's in her nature to learn methodically, trying and trying again until she gets it. That virtue will take her far.

Her favorite place to explore is my open dishwasher, and it keeps her occupied while I'm in the kitchen. (she must get that from her father...) She is also quite passionate about her nasal aspirator and will cry her eyes out if she gets a hold of it and you try to take it away from her. Bathtime has become like an act from Sea World! Splashing, crawling, shrieking, and twisting around - even with Sabrina's help it's quite the event!

We finally dropped Zoe's crib today. She is not a restless sleeper at all and will always be in the same place you lay her down. And it hasn't occurred to her yet that she could get to a sitting position from her back, so we hadn't felt a sense of urgency yet. But with how she's progressing over the last few days, we knew it was time. What a big girl!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Healed

I like to look back at my posts from the same time in previous years, just to see where I was at back then compared to where I'm at now. When I looked back at December 2008, to December 2009, and thought about where I'm at now in December 2010, I rejoiced.

The first Christmas without our babies was hard, and that's to be expected. Everything was still raw and we were still so confused. Last year had its hard places, but I encountered a turning point in my grief journey. This year, those raw places have been healed.

I wrote last year about the season of Advent:
The Advent season is about preparing your heart for the coming Saviour. I used to think it was more about fixing what was wrong about myself so I would be presentable for His arrival. I realize now it's about recognizing what it is in my heart that needs to be fixed by Him.
and since then I stopped trying to fix my grief and allowed the Healer to do it. He showed me that He can't be anything but good and that He can be trusted with my precious babies. He has enabled me to be patient and wait for the day where we will be together again, in all our fullness.

I love this time of year. I love coming again to the end of another year, often weary and usually burnt out, and remember that I have a Saviour, one who came to bear my burdens.

a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices...
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zoe at 8 Months

Our 8-month-old Zoe is a busy little girl that is content whether she is playing with her toys, exploring the house, or having a snuggle. She is very busy sprouting teeth right now and has her two bottom ones and three of the top incisors. I think the fourth top incisor won't be long in its appearance.

I think Zoe and Nicholas have the same peaceful happy temperament, which is a blessing considering Sabrina is about 3 kids rolled into one, and Olivia was looking like she would follow in her big sister's footsteps. Zoe is mobile by scooting on her bottom and reaching and pulling for things. If you put her on her tummy she will push herself backwards. If you put her on her hands and knees, she rocks and rocks and looks like she is thinking about crawling. My prediction is she will start crawling just in time to pull down the Christmas tree. I think she is able to crawl and pull herself up but is taking her time because she enjoys wherever she's at.

Zoe was quite taken with the volume and sound of her own shrieking for a while but has now moved on to singing and saying "ma ma". I'm going to choose to believe that she's actually saying the word. Just like when she was smiling at only two weeks. Zoe also eats quite a few solids and is an enthusiastic eater, which is a lot of fun.

I can't say it enough - what a blessed time we are having with our baby Zoe! In conversation recently with Sabrina, even she said, so matter-of-fact, "Everyone loves Zoe!" She is so proud of her baby sister.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Remembering Nicholas

It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years already since we spent a cold November afternoon saying goodbye to our son. It's been an amazing journey full of unspeakable sorrow and unexpected healing.

Nicholas, I love that we lit a candle for each day you were with us. Whenever I light a candle on a cold winter evening, I think of you and know that you are in a much better place than we can even imagine. But I still miss you like crazy. I would have liked to be a mother to you much longer than I had. And then I remind myself that I just need to be patient and wait for that day when we will all be together again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Journey

This journey has not at all been what I've expected. I'm surprised at where I've ended up. And I look forward with eager anticipation to what is still to come.

I am well. I am happy! I can stand before you today and tell you that I am the happiest I have have ever been. And that is because of God's goodness.

I can't explain to you why my son was here for only a short time. I can't tell you why his twin sister had to leave just after he did. But I can tell you that God is good. And that He heals the brokenhearted. And that it's true that mourning does turn into dancing in its time.

And that it's OK.

I was hesitant to write this post. I was fearful of being judged for being a bad mother for flourishing after the deaths of her children. But where's the gift in that? Where's the hope in that? Truth is, I know that this story is not finished yet. It's like not reading the third part of the Lord of the Rings. If you end at Frodo and Sam's desolate journey into Mordor, you would think it was a horrible story. But we who have read to the end know that because of their desolate journey, there is great reward.

I have a Book that tells me the end of this journey. It is beautiful! And I get to see my little boy and little girl again. I believe it with all my heart.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Food for Thought

I came across this excerpt from Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb on a new blog I've discovered and I think it's very timely, considering that November is such a time of remembrance.

We Christians are an impatient lot. We insist on gathering grain before it grows. We want to see flowers before spring and fruit before fall. When a brother or sister is going through a tough time, we insist that the Spirit’s work be obvious. Unless they speak of their trials from a spiritual perspective, we tend to apply pressure more than we dispense grace. We rarely believe that life is hidden in the barren tree. Let a friend express his exasperation with a four-letter word, and immediately we’re more concerned with his language than with his agony.

No farmer goes to the orchard in winter to pick apples. Christians do it all the time. And when the fruit isn’t there, we walk off in disgust. The good farmer patiently waits with his basket, knowing he will soon fill it with delicious fruit. …

Two unwritten rules eventually surface in our response to one who hurts. First, mourning has a time limit. … At some point, we insist on victory. Second, we think there’s a proper way to mourn. Ugly battles should remain out of sight. … Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope. When brokenness is disdained, where the real story is never told, the power of God is not felt. Where brokenness is invited and received with grace, the gospel comes alive with hope.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven
Ecclesiastes 3:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiates 3:11

I am so aware lately of the passing of time. Sabrina has just turned 8 and Zoe is 7 months old! The twins would have been 3 by now. On a quiet, rainy morning recently, playing with who may be the happiest baby ever, I asked my husband if we could have another one. He promptly said "NO" and then what I thought was quite wise, "It's time now for us to move on as a family." I asked him what that meant, and he replied that it was time for us to go out and travel and do things together. Without being tied to an infant's demanding schedule.

I'm like Peter, when on the mountaintop with Jesus and Moses and Elijah, wanted to set up camp and stay like that as long as he could. Please let my babies stay babies, and my kids stay kids, and my skin stay young and firm. (ha!) Haven't we all wanted to build tents and camp out in those places we want to last forever? I'm starting to realize that we live in a constant state of grieving what was and being thrust into what's next, only some things are much harder to grieve than others. We as a culture have been sold the illusion that you can hold on to what you have as long as you want, but we all know that's unnatural.

Is this the acceptance stage of grieving? When you are so past the way things were that to stay there is unnatural? Where you can say, that's how it was, but this is how it is now, and it is good. And don't even ask me about what it is going to be like, because who knows? And when I have my moments where I sorrow for what was, I am grateful that I can now tenderly embrace it and then gently put it back where it belongs. In my heart.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zoe at 7 Months



Zoe has been hard at work practicing all day...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Have/Had

I've written before about the difficulty I was still having in navigating the question "How many children do you have?" It comes up quite often, especially as my circle is being widened and more time has passed since Nicholas and Olivia were with us. Most people who have lost a loved one have lost parents, siblings, friends, or family members and are not usually asked about them in passing conversation. If you have lost a spouse you can be defined as a widow or widower. There is no description for a grieving parent.

In response to the question asked of me today, I responded that we have 4 children - Sabrina and Zoe who are with us, and twins that passed away a couple of years ago. His reply emphasized that we had twins and at the time I thought his use of "had" instead of "have" was insensitive. But I think I need to think about this some more. I really don't have twins anymore. Their beautiful spirits left this earth almost 3 years ago, and what I have are photos, keepsakes, and memories.

My heart does not want to leave out Nicholas and Olivia when I talk about my children. But I think I can finally find some resolution to this by changing a simple word. I have had 4 children - I have Sabrina and Zoe, and had Nicholas and Olivia. By God's grace, I've come to accept that, and acceptance is a peaceful place to be.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Zoe at 6 Months

Here is Zoe, trying out a banana. She has been fascinated with watching us eat and has been enthusiastic about trying new foods. I'm excited about the things I've been reading about Baby-Led Weaning, where the approach is more about adding foods to an infant's breastmilk intake, than about replacing milk or transitioning from a liquid diet to a solid diet. She loves to explore a chunk of pear or banana, gnawing off some to taste, and squishing the rest between her fingers. And it's so much less pressure than our society's traditional approach, with spooning in cereals and purees and hoping they get enough to eat.

Zoe is also close to being able to sit up on her own! She now likes to play propped up with her nursing pillow and explore her world from this new perspective. Could her eyes get any bluer??

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Zoe at 5 Months

Need I say more?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August is SMA Awareness Month

I hate SMA. That should go without saying, but I wanted to say it. When Nicholas was given a "preliminary" (!) diagnosis of SMA, Corrie was the one who researched it. I looked on a webpage or two, but didn't go very deep. I didn't want to know.

I still don't want to know.

I have not entered into the community of SMA. I have not raised funds for SMA research, I do not follow SMA blogs, and know just 2 families who have experienced the loss of a child to SMA, and only because they live in Winnipeg as well and were introduced to me through mutual friends. I recognize that this is out of avoidance, and that it has been a coping mechanism. I also recognize that it is not healthy.

I get angry when I think about SMA. Once, when we were watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition they profiled a family who had two children living with SMA. I got so angry and upset I couldn't watch. I can relate to families whose children have passed away, but am riddled with guilt when faced with families who care for their SMA children 24/7, incredulous that Type I cases can live past 2 years old. Wondering if we could have managed it. Exhausted by their limitless energy to not only provide nonstop intensive care for very frail children, but to raise funds for SMA research as well.

So, needless to say, thanks to my new friend Kristen, I discover 2 1/2 years after being introduced to SMA that SMA awareness not only has a month, but a ribbon too. Ivory, to represent the innocence and purity of this horrible disease's victims.

The problem is, I don't want to be aware. I don't even want to acknowledge that this stupid disease even exists. And I don't know what to do with that.

What I am grateful for are the many who labor tirelessly for SMA awareness, who raise funds for SMA research, who don't let us forget that it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and that it must be stopped. For those precious people, and for my precious babies, I will wear the ribbon. I will be aware.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zoe at 4 Months

Here's Zoe playing with her toes. She can get them into her mouth too, if she wants to. If we ask "Where are your toes?" she holds them up and grabs them. I don't think infants are supposed to understand language, but I'm just sayin'...

She's settled into a good routine, and is awake a lot of the day, full of smiles and wanting to explore her world. She usually only complains if she needs a change of scenery or is getting hungry. What a delight our Zoe is! I am overwhelmed by God's goodness every day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Balance, Compromise, and the Art of Letting Go

I relate a lot to Peter. He was impulsive, headstrong, opinionated, and probably a little rough around the edges. He was also the rock upon which Christ chose to build His church. What I relate most to was his enthusiasm. What he was into, he was all in. When Jesus washed his feet, he asked Him to wash the rest of him too. When Jesus walked on water, Peter was the only one who would get out of the boat. He was too proud to realize that he needed Jesus' help and boasted that he would follow Him anywhere, only to deny Him a short time later.

Looking back, I can see that's been my approach to life. An insatiable thirst to know the truth. To do what's right. To change everything to make it right, usually under my own strength. To always have the answer to everything, and rebuke those who choose a different way. To follow hard after Jesus, no matter what the cost. I know God loves my heart, and He made me the way I am. I'm just continually learning to submit that back to Him for refining.

My lifestyle over the last few years has not lent to a lot of quiet time. "Be still, and know I am God" has had to be contained into manageable 1/2 hour chunks. Until now. God has blessed me with a content baby, and I have not changed much of my household routine except to not go to work. I have had a lot of quiet time on my hands. And reached some new perspective.

I have spent most of my time up until now agonizing over whether I am doing things right. Do I dress modestly enough? Am I providing good nutrition for my family, especially my children? Have we made a mistake setting up our lifestyle so I have to work? Why can we not get the hang of good money management? Should I still be holding Zoe for naps or start "sleep training"? Can I eliminate the chemical use in my home? Can I reduce our garbage output? What about choosing fair trade options when I shop?

And this is just the tip of my iceberg, my friends.

As I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts on breastfeeding, I think He made our breastfeeding relationship the way it is to slow me down. To put me on the couch in a "time out" for a season. And I'm starting to see the fruit of it. I can't explain how, but I started to realize that there are a lot of things that don't matter. I mean, they matter, but they can't ALL matter to me. I had the revelation that I am exactly in the time I am supposed to be, the culture God wanted me to be immersed in, and instead of fighting it, I need to learn how to live a God-honoring lifestyle in the midst of it that would be a breath of fresh air instead of a cloud of oppression.

I am learning the art of letting go. I am seeking balance, and in the quest for it, I am learning appropriate compromise. For example, I would love to have completely homemade snacks in my daughter's lunch, but I just can't manage it and keep a healthy balance. So everything in her lunch is pretty much bought, but carefully chosen. (and some just for fun) I don't love it, but I can't kill myself trying to make it perfect. I discovered the other day that if I go with the flow with Zoe and don't try to force things I think she "should" be doing, they evolve under gentle guidance. Case in point, she is napping peacefully in her crib right now. By God's grace, and not by my effort. Even regarding my appearance. In my concern for modesty and confusion over whether it's right to enhance what God has given us, I have been reminded that God loves beautiful things. I could rest in the reassurance that is good and right to seek beauty, as long as you are not using it to define your worth.

In my journey, grieving has been a process of self-discovery. A refining fire. I have learned so much about how I think about myself, God, and others through what has surfaced since we discovered we were having twins 3 years ago. God is moving my security from the prison of self-righteousness and perfectionism to the solid Rock of His truth. And I have Nicholas & Olivia to thank for that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not So Angry Anymore

After I wrote my previous post, I glanced out the window and was comforted by this:

This engraved stone was a gift from our friends on the twins' 1st birthday. I think it's time that I started the memorial garden that I've been thinking about since then. That way, I can plant something new each year on their birthday.

Angry

I think I'm angry. But I'm not sure at whom and for what. I know some of it is directed at myself.

My perennial deficiency at organization and event planning makes me angry. I was left trying to figure out at the last minute how to honor my babies on their 3rd birthday. I ended up doing nothing because I was overwhelmed and frustrated. As their mother that tears me up with guilt.

The loneliness of all this still makes me angry. How does one know how to walk this out when no one you know has gone through it? What if the ones who have gone through it are at different stages of their grief and you still can't relate?

Having to explain my story makes me angry. I know this one's irrational. But it's still awkward. And that's my own hangup and God will work with me on it when He thinks I'm ready.

Seeing other people get to raise their twins makes me angry. This one's even more irrational. And selfish. I lift this ugly one up to God whenever it surfaces. But let's face it, I've always liked being the center of attention, and I really liked being a mom of twins. Yes, I'm still a mom of twins, but now who's going to know?

Not being able to see Corrie and his boy together makes me angry. They would have been so cute... I'll bet Nicholas would have gotten some kind of cool battery-powered Jeep or something like that this birthday. Not to mention the loads of Tonka trucks and dinky cars that are noticeably absent at our house. Corrie is a wonderful father of girls, but Nicholas' absence is a hole that will never be filled.

I could go on and on but it only makes me feel worse. Sometimes I get tired at the amount of things I need to accept, to let go, to lift up to God for healing. But He never does, and for that I am grateful. The anger is a reminder that I am bearing a burden again that I was never meant to carry on my own. His grace really is sufficient and is an ever-present resource to draw on when I'm in over my head. And as a grieving mother, I will always be in over my head.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We Remember You

The twins' 3rd birthday kind of snuck up on me. As I was running around trying to complete too many errands yesterday I got blindsided by a hidden pocket of frustration that I didn't think was still there. The utter futility of trying to celebrate in any kind of traditional way a birthday of children that were no longer here.

So I recognized it for what it was, got my stuff done, and spent some time pondering what I needed to do with this birthday. I waste so much time either trying to do things perfectly or the way they "should" be done. I waste so much time trying to avoid people's judgment of whether I've done things the right way or not. I was going to buy some balloons to release but it didn't hold any meaning for me any more. I would be doing it to tell people that's how I remembered my kids today, on their "would-be" 3rd birthday.

What also complicates things is that it's Corrie's birthday too. They now go hand-in-hand. But I realized this morning that this is in fact a gift to us. Because of Corrie's birthday, we already have the support of family and friends around us. We don't have to try to make a special effort to remember Nicholas & Olivia on a day all their own and because they share a birthday with their dad they will not be forgotten.

We will always remember that joyous day on July 18, 2007 when we were blessed to have Nicholas & Olivia join our family.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Twins-Who-Would-Be-3

I'm now heading into territory with Zoe that I didn't really have with Nicholas & Olivia. The first three months with twins was so hectic that if you could get them fed, napped, and clean then you were doing well. Then Nicholas got sicker and sicker in his fourth month, and I spent that month in the hospital with him, missing out on what would have been my only opportunity to spend time with Olivia before she got sick.

Zoe is growing and developing daily. She is trying to roll over, wants to sit up, can raise herself up for long periods of time when on her tummy, and is starting to play with toys. She's so much fun! But my only point of reference now is Sabrina, and since her infancy was seven years ago already, I'm finding that I'm looking back at her photo albums to supplement my unreliable memory.

I'm sad that Nicholas & Olivia are being passed by already. They will be babies forever for us here on earth. I get the same feeling when someone asks me how many children I have. When I answer "four" they make such a fuss about how busy I must be that I feel it's dishonest if I don't clarify that my twins-who-would-be-3 are no longer with us. Then their focus turns toward Zoe because she's here and so cute. If I don't answer "four" then I feel guilty for leaving them out.

I know they can't be left behind because they have gone on ahead. Either way, they have still left a toddler-sized hole in our family that will never feel comfortable.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Musings on Breastfeeding

I discovered today again that my thinking is really messed up. As we have approached and passed the 3-month mark, I've been venturing out more, only to be pulled home to feed Zoe. One of the big perks of breastfeeding for me was how it was supposed to be easy and convenient. It is to a point, but I am much more comfortable feeding Zoe at home. I think I've mentioned before that oversupply has been our issue, and I continue to struggle to manage the "abundance of my provision". It just does not lend to simply popping baby to breast mid-conversation, mid-meal, or mid-outing.

As I was mulling over what to do next to make breastfeeding more mobile, I was struck by the thought "Why?". I like the peaceful closeness of our times on the couch, sometimes in prayer, sometimes with book in hand, sometimes watching TV. And it's only going to be available to me for a short while longer. I think I've been putting myself on a timeline again. That I "should" be out and about now that it's been 3 months already. More concerned about what people might be thinking about me being at home than about what Zoe and I need right now. Messed up, right?

I think God arranges these situations to teach me a better way to live. Not having breastfeeding come easily or naturally has given me the simple gift of enjoying this time with my precious Zoe. How long will it take for Him to cleanse from me this disease of busyness, of accomplishment, of needing to "do" to feel worthy? It amazes me that I have to continue to give myself permission to enjoy this time of sweet togetherness with my family.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zoe at 3 Months



Zoe gets busier and busier! She loves to bounce and sing in her doorway jumper. I won't apologize for the length of this video because I could watch her all day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Corrie spent his Father's Day cleaning out the branches in our back yard from cutting down a tree yesterday. Sabrina loves to be his helper. They're like two peas in a pod - you can't see it in the picture, but they're both in their shorts and rubber boots (to stomp down the branches). How cute!

Daddy being a "mobile" for Zoe. They're spending some quiet time together while I'm in the kitchen. I love to hear them having conversations - she always has lots to tell him.

Sabrina, Nicholas, Olivia, and Zoe are so blessed to have such a great dad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zoe Speaks!



Zoe loves to talk to her bug friends in her mobile...

Zoe at 10 Weeks


The pretty blue scarf has become a sort of "blankie". Zoe likes to hold fistfuls of it and wave it around and cuddle it to her face. Already a flair for the dramatic?

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Shoes

I came across this poem on a blog I've been following about a brave little boy who passed away 10 months ago. Nicholas was in a room beside him in the PICU. This poem describes so well what it is like to walk through life as a grieving mother.

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Author Unknown

Zoe at Two Months

Doesn't this picture tell it all?

Zoe is a happy, busy baby. She is growing at an excellent rate - about 1/2 lb per week. She weighs about 11 1/2 pounds now and is stretching out her 3 month clothing! She is so interactive in what's going on around her that I'm actually having to find things for her to do - something I wasn't expecting at only two months old. She is fascinated with her big sister and the two of them get along very well. I'm grateful for how good Sabrina is with Zoe and it's come in handy often. She holds her head up so well and shows such an interest in being upright that we tried her out in the exersaucer the other day. She was so excited at being able to plant her feet and push herself up!

I am so aware now of the difference between Zoe's development and Nicholas' & Olivia's development. There was a natural instinct to protect the twins, to swaddle them and bundle them up and hold them close. Zoe wants to explore her world and lets us know that she wants to be put down to kick and move.

Does having Zoe here so alive and strong make it hard to remember Nicholas & Olivia? Not at all. It feels more like they sent her to finish what they started.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hallelujah!

We finally received the good news yesterday to confirm what we have believed, hoped for, and prayed for all these long months. Zoe does not have SMA.

God be praised! I smile every time I think of it.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) John 10:10 AMP

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Aren't my kids the cutest??☺

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Dance

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
Isaiah 49:15


I've been thinking a lot about this Scripture over the last few weeks as Zoe and I have been learning our breastfeeding dance. Lactation experts call it a dance because even though it should be the most natural thing that should come to a mother and child, it is actually a learned skill that needs to be practiced in the context of a relationship.

Once you get your rhythm established and your milk comes in, there's no way you can forget about your baby. You
need her, as much as she needs you. There's no amount of pumping that can replace a nursing baby. When it's been too long between feedings, there's a sense of urgency that develops and I cannot rest until we're together again. I love that God uses this as a picture of the relationship He wants with us. He needs us as we need Him.

Compare to feeding with a bottle. It gets the baby fed, but it is not the ideal. The baby doesn't have to work nearly as hard, and does not reap all the benefits that could be received through a breastfeeding relationship. It's an alternative that can never fully satisfy. I wonder, is that how I'm relating to God? Am I looking for something easier that meets my basic needs but doesn't go any deeper than that? How could I not want to enter into deeper relationship with the one who needs me as much as I need Him?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Zoe at 6 Weeks

Our little Zoe continues to grow in size and strength. She's getting lovely little fat rolls on her legs and a double, if not triple, chin. As a mother, I love that because my job is to fatten her up (at least for now) and keep her happy. She has transitioned from a happy, peaceful newborn to a happy, busy baby. She coos and talks and makes all kinds of sounds. And she gets very loud very quickly when she can't get to eat as quickly as she would like.

Here's the view I see of her most of the time:
She is in my arms right now, in fact, as I type with my left hand. She definitely has periods where she likes to be put down to kick and stretch, but I sure do enjoy how she snuggles in too.

This is the view of her that the rest of you would be likely to see at our house:Zoe likes to be up on your shoulder where she can lift her head up and look around. And, yes, you are seeing her smile here. She smiles all the time, and has been smiling since she was a couple of weeks old.

We're finding that our kids all resemble each other so much that both Corrie and I are mixing up names and reusing old nicknames. "Sabrina- Livvie- Zoe- Whoever you are..." I think she'll have those same deep blue eyes, but where Sabrina's are captivating, Nicholas' were deep pools, and Olivia's were so bright, Zoe's seem to dance. She's going to be full of life, just as God promised.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ask

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7

"
...You do not have, because you do not ask."

James 4:2

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18: 7-8 (Parable of the Persistent Widow)


I've been thinking a lot about my friend Misty's response to my last post: "You are allowed to hope and pray for a healthy baby." I've been lifting up to the Lord that I've been struggling with how to pray for Zoe. His response was a reminder in my heart of the verse "ask, and keep on asking".

I realized then that I've been trying to pray "perfect" prayers. Ones that are perfectly in line with God's will. They've been open-ended and wishy-washy, "Lord, let Your will be done" prayers without the asking for the daily bread, or acknowledging that He is Father. It's another form of that insidious self-protection that I've been working through since Nicholas & Olivia died.

Sabrina has no problem asking for what she wants and needs. Repeatedly. As an imperfect, human parent I get frustrated sometimes because I can't meet her needs and expectations. But God is our perfect parent. He can handle the repeated requests, and when it's time to lay them down, He will tell us.

I've been reluctant to pray for a healthy baby because I don't trust that I'll get my prayer answered. It didn't get answered before. Twice. Why, I don't know and choose to accept that I won't know until I see Him face to face. God is not human and His ways are not our ways. What's been burning in my heart lately is needing to go deeper in seeking an understanding of God's character and His love for me. I've been thinking so much about Job and his ability to say "I know that my Redeemer lives" even in the face of losing all his children, his fortunes, and his health. What kind of relationship did he have with the Lord before all that happened to make him so rock-solid in his understanding of his Father?

So I'll ask, and keep on asking. And I will seek, and keep on seeking. And knock until the door is opened.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Overanalyzing

I knew before Zoe came that I would struggle with overanalyzing her. Looking for clues, hints right from the beginning that would show that she had SMA. I gloried in her vigorous movements, her strength, her ability to breastfeed right away. I loved her first yell, and how she kept yelling until she got what she wanted. I praised God for His mercy and kindness at such a precious gift.

I looked for tongue fasiculations while she slept. I kept testing her reflexes. Kept asking people if she looked and acted like a "normal" newborn. Tried to read their faces to see if there was something they weren't telling me. Then the 2nd week newborn sleepiness set in, and I was almost undone. Her belly breathing looked suspicious. She wasn't waking up for feeds. She wasn't crying anymore.

God met me in my paranoia through the Internet and led me to a number of websites that reminded me that all the things I was seeing were typical newborn behaviour and once she got past her sleepy stage I would be wishing it came back. And they were right. Zoe continues to grow in vigor, growing stronger not weaker. Because the onset of SMA can manifest later, "all of a sudden", we did request a genetic test for our peace of mind. But I am at peace regardless of the test.

To be honest, I am disappointed in myself. We are called to walk by faith, not by sight. I am at peace because I am seeing signs of the healthy baby that I believe God promised me when she was conceived. I should be at peace just because God led us to have another baby and no matter what happens He has promised to work all things out for our good. I am grateful that He is meeting me where I'm at and continuing to reveal Himself and His nature to me through this.

It is so hard to reconcile "healthy baby = gift from God" when my Nicholas & Olivia were gifts from God too.

Zoe's Third Week

I love that Zoe is so much her own person but also reminds me so much of Nicholas, Olivia, and Sabrina.

This week I have been discovering the depth of my determination, and Zoe has been discovering her world. She is so strong! She holds herself up when I put her to my shoulder. She can lift her head and tries to crawl when on her tummy. She moves and kicks and squirms so much when put on her back that she needs help settling down when it's been enough for her. She nurses so well that she has already gained a pound from her birthweight, when average breastfed babies have just regained their birthweight.

No test results yet, but we are still believing that they will confirm what we already know. And knew in our hearts before she was even here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zoe's First Two Weeks

Zoe is laying all snuggled in my arms, smiling at me as she drifts off to sleep. If you could describe her in one word, it would be "content". She sleeps well, feeds well, has lovely alert periods where she likes to look around and move and kick. She really only fusses when she's hungry, and if she had a choice between eating and sleeping, she'd rather sleep. We had to spend a few days waking her up every two hours to eat because you could see that she knew she was hungry but didn't want to wake up to eat. Now she's easy to wake up again and wakes up hungry!

She has already surpassed her birthweight and as of yesterday weighs 7lb 4oz! Breastfeeding has been going well for Zoe, but for me it has been quite an adjustment. Her purple mouth in this week's pictures will tell you that we've been using gentian violet to treat some trauma caused by her enthusiasm and my inexperience. It's been painful but is almost healed, and seriously, is so worth it! It is wonderful not to mix formula or mess around with bottles. This has been a huge answer to prayer, something I've longed for. I love that I can feed her whenever she wants and it's always ready and so good for her.

Yesterday during our midwife visit we put her down for some tummy time and she was lifting her head and trying to crawl across the blanket. I don't think she knows she's only 2 weeks old. My guess is she's trying to get big and strong so Sabrina can play with her. Sabrina's trying to be patient, and enjoys snuggling with her and playing with her when she's awake. She's also very helpful and would even change diapers for me if I would let her :o)

Zoe had a consult with Genetics on March 31. The doctor's clinical assessment was very encouraging and if we had not had the family history would have had no indication that a blood test was needed. We asked for the blood test for our own peace of mind, and for Zoe to learn about her carrier status when she's ready to have children of her own. We hope, pray, and expect the blood test to confirm what God is already showing us - that Zoe is a healthy, happy baby. We won't know the results for another 2-4 weeks.

Zoe's been to our chiropractor a few times and nurses better, lays on her back more comfortably, and can turn her head to both sides. She's even been grocery shopping, and came with me to get Sabrina some new shoes. Most of the time, we are content at home for now, resting and healing and getting the hang of this breastfeeding routine. I expect us to be going out and about more and more over the next few weeks.

I can't think of a better way to spend my 35th birthday other than to have Corrie and Sabrina home with me for the day too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Zoe Grace


Our long-awaited Zoe Grace was born on March 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm after a very short and intense labour. She burst into the world with a yell and captured our hearts, just as we knew she would. She weighed 6 lbs 12 oz and is 19.5 inches long. She continues to be a testimony to God's amazing grace.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Short Threads

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

A dear friend reminded me recently of how much fullness Nicholas & Olivia brought into our lives in such a short time. It was so nice to be reminded of that.

We don't know why God brings some of us through quickly and others not, but our days are measured by Him even before we are born. Each one of us is born with a unique purpose, even those who live only hours, days, or months. I find that comforting. In a world that feels out of control, there's Someone who is weaving a beautiful design, even out of a chaotic mess or the most desperate of circumstances. I've heard it compared to the underside of an elaborate tapestry. From the back, it's a complete mess. From the front, it's a masterpiece.

And the short threads are just as important as the long ones.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All is Well

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

So, you know from reading my posts over the last few weeks that I had been struggling with anxiety. Have you been wondering how I'm doing now that Zoe's arrival is so close?

All is well. Really.

I shared with you that I had been battling thoughts about whether God would "continue to make an example of us" and that "He took my other babies, why wouldn't He take this one too?" Friends, if you have noticed anything about my blog, it's that I seek to know who God is because I have learned there is nothing else to believe in. So, I've been lifting my fears up to the Lord, asking Him if He's really like that.

He's not.

God met me just in time, through a recent coffee date with a dear friend. In conversation with her, I was able to hear out loud what these thoughts sounded like and something rose up in me immediately, saying, "that doesn't sound like God". Furthermore, she asked to hear the story of Zoe again, and in the retelling I remembered the exhilaration we felt when we made the decision in faith to try again and the joy overflowing in us when we knew we were having our Zoe, our promised little girl.

Anxiety around Zoe's health has not plagued me since. I can't explain it other than I remembered God's grace. I believe that she has a very special destiny on this earth, just as Sabrina does, and as Nicholas & Olivia did. Just because Nicholas & Olivia's lives were short does not mean that God was not merciful, or faithful, or loving. He cannot act out of His character. And that comforts me. I also cannot forget how He has carried us through saying goodbye to our dear babies and the healing of our broken hearts. A person cannot bear that much sorrow in their own strength and still emerge whole.

So, right now, all is well. I am at peace. SMA is one of many risks that I choose not to dwell on - not out of denial, but out of recognition that I am not in control here. Friends, I choose daily to rest in the sovereignty of God and His promise that He will work out all things for my good because I seek Him. He gives us exactly what we need when we need it, and covers it all with His amazing grace.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

38 Weeks and Counting

Here we are at 38 weeks...just for comparison, here's me at 38 weeks with the twins


(It's the same pink shirt - I just have a little more room in it this time.)

Do you think she's excited?


A lot of people have been asking or commenting on how excited Sabrina is. She's already planning Zoe's birth-day party. But with Sabrina, there's always a reason to party.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is This Your First?

"Is this your first baby?"

"Well, no, it's actually my fourth..."

"Oh wow! You must be pretty busy! How old are your other children?"

"Umm, well, Sabrina is 7 and I had twins 2 years ago, but they passed away."

"Oh. I'm so sorry" {awkward pause}

Why doesn't this conversation get any easier? Why do I find it so hard to find a comfortable way to acknowledge all my children? I need to practice a script. Maybe it should go like this:

"Sabrina is 7 and my twins Nicholas & Olivia would be 2 1/2. They're in Heaven now."

I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Declarations

Thank you for allowing me to share my recent struggle with you. Ever since I brought it out into the open, I have been feeling vigorous strong movements from Zoe again and a real sense of peace and well-being. Thank you for continuing to lift us up in prayer!

I feel the need to continue to fight back and make some strong declarations. I hope and trust that you will join me in speaking these things over my life and over the big things you're dealing with in your own lives.

God is good. I do not believe that He "took" my Nicholas and Olivia. We live in a fallen world that is subject to free choice by imperfect people inclined to sin. The Scripture refers over and over again to how that has even affected creation. We live in a world of natural disasters. Wars. Children who get sick and die. That doesn't change the truth about who God is. What it does do is push me to run to the only One Who can save us. Friends, there is no one or no thing out there that can save you other than Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to end the curse forever. Without the hope that He brings, there is only despair, because we certainly do not have it in ourselves to fix a darn thing on our own.

God is love. Perfect love casts out fear and leaves no room for it. If you do not know the perfect love of God, seek to really know it with all your heart and mind and strength. Once you have a revelation of how much God loves you, your perspective changes dramatically. Think about how a child will rail and fuss at a parent when the parent makes decisions from a higher perspective. All the parent wants is trust from the child that they know what they're doing and that they're making decisions out of love for the child. Until the child lays down what they want and looks to understand what is going on, the child continues to have an unfair perspective of the parent and what the parent is trying to do. God cannot do anything outside of His love, for He is love.

God is sovereign. God is still in control. But, for the time being the Enemy of our souls has been allowed free reign in this world because we let him. Every time we make a decision out of self, every time we succumb to temptation, every time we seek something of the world over the Kingdom, we let the Enemy win. And in God's infinite patience with us, He lets us continue to make the choices we make because He wants us to turn to Him in love and not as robots. Friends, do you know that you can lean on God's sovereignty by laying down your efforts and turning those mountains in your life over to God for Him to move? He is mighty to save!

I know the circumstances of my testimony don't line up with what you would expect from these declarations. Well, if God was so good and so loving and so sovereign, why did He let my children die? I have sought to know Him well enough to get to the point where I don't need that question answered yet. If He can't tell me now, then I don't want to know because I don't have the capacity for the answer. But I do know there is nothing else, no one else, who can satisfy and so I cling to the only One who saves.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fighting

I've realized recently that it was easier to believe that Zoe will be strong and healthy earlier on in the pregnancy, when vigorous movements were common and the due date was far off. Now that we're in the final month and she's getting bigger and running out of room, I've fought anxiety each time movements don't seem to be as strong. I've also fought thoughts like "God took your other two, what will stop Him from taking this one" and "Whatever lessons needed to be learned from Nicholas and Olivia, what if they still need to be learned from Zoe?" and "God can really make an example of you this time if Zoe is sick too".

The key word is fought. I will not receive those thoughts. I will stand and fight. I remind myself that I don't deserve a "bad" outcome, but I don't deserve a "good" outcome either. God's grace is not about deserving or earning. There's nothing I can do or say or fast or pray to earn God's favor. It is a free gift, mine to receive.

I can trust. I can seek a deep understanding of God's goodness and His unfathomable love for me. I can immerse myself in the power of His Word and remember He is an amazing God who loves to come into situations where the odds are against us and show Himself mighty to save. I know that just believing in something doesn't mean that it will happen. But I do know that my job is to believe, and rest in the truth that God is sovereign, and that He is love.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:18, The Message)

Father God, please give me a deep revelation of your love so that there is no room in my life for fear.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

mom_of_4 at home

A while ago I wrote a post about my other blog. It was started, then lay dormant again for a while, occasionally posted to but waiting for me to engage into it fully. I think that's begun.

I won't say that my thoughts are turning more to home now that I'm going to be on maternity leave soon, but that I have more room for thoughts about home and balance and lifestyle. Also, with the recent "crossing of my Jordan" that I've experienced, I'm feeling more release to embrace this next chapter in my life, and along with that to focus on this other blog.

I also wanted to tell you that if you have already taken a peek now and then at "mom_of_4 at home", I have changed the domain name today to http://mom-of-4athome.blogspot.com if you can't find it any more. I had started it under the domain name of momof3athome.blogspot.com and once I discovered today I could change it I did so that it included Zoe too. ☺

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

I've been rereading the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp. I read it when I was expecting Sabrina and used many of the techniques in it with her. He discusses a theory of a potential 4th trimester outside the womb, where a number of babies need to be surrounded with a "womb-like" environment so they can finish their development by their fourth month and be ready to face the world. They should actually be considered more like fetuses and should not be expected to be able to cope with life outside the womb as well as we want them to.

The techniques work. When I had the presence of mind to finally use them with Sabrina (and modify my expectations) our world got a lot more peaceful. I used what I could remember with Olivia, but I was focused on surviving and hadn't even considered bringing the book out again for review.

As I reread it again, I remember how hard it was for little Livvie to adjust to life outside the womb. She was so tiny and so unhappy most of the time. I wanted to go out and do things, to enjoy them both, to be able to console and soothe her. I didn't have it in me physically or emotionally to give her everything she needed when she needed it. But as the magical 3-month mark passed, she filled out, became interested in her surroundings, and was a much happier little girl. Unfortunately, by then I only got to enjoy a short time of it until I went in to the hospital with Nicholas. By the time I could reconnect with her, she was already showing signs of SMA.

If I had known then what I know now, maybe I could have helped her enjoy her first three months too. The part that shreds my heart is that three months was half of her little life. Half her life spent fussing and crying and inconsolable. I did the best I knew how, and I am grateful for the patience that I did have, but as her mom I wish I had done better.

Lord, I thank You for the time I had with Livvie. I thank You for giving me what I needed to be her mom. Forgive me for not being open to Your leading, and in receiving that forgiveness, I trust You to cover this broken place with Your grace. I thank You that even though three months was a large part of her earthly life, it is an infinitely tiny part of her eternal life. Lord, You know how much I love her and wanted the best for her. And as You know my heart, she now knows my heart too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Comment Moderation

I just wanted to let you know that effective immediately I have turned on comment moderation, which means that if you comment on my blog, I will have to approve it first before you can see it on the post.

The only reason I am doing this is that it appears that my blog has become an unfortunate target for spam comments and I want to head off anything offensive before it even posts. I pray that this can be resolved by Blogger so that you can have more freedom in your comments again.

Thanks,
Lisa

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Moving Forward is not the same as Moving On

My mom and sister-in-law came out last weekend to help us move Sabrina into the twins' room and set up Sabrina's old room as Zoe's room. It was a blessed weekend - we treated Sabrina to a room makeover that's much more in line with her personality. Zoe's room looks wonderful and fills me with joy every time I walk by it. We also spent a couple days scrapbooking and I was able to give some honor and space to the last of the items I had saved to remember.

Now that we actually have moved rooms, I think that I need to clarify something here. Moving forward is not the same as moving on.

Moving on implies that you are leaving someone behind. Moving forward brings them with you.

The hardest part about my grief journey has been overcoming a need to do it right. Has it been at the right pace? Do I look right as a grieving mom? Have I remembered my children in the right way? What I've appreciated most is that usually people do not offer any input other than to affirm wherever I'm at for the moment. Usually. But it's the occasional comment - I'm sure meant well - that sends me back into a tailspin and I get defensive because I did not fit into their expectations of where I should have been by now. But God is so good. He reminds me that my journey is for me and Him alone, and I do not need to receive anything that is not from Him.

I loved having a room for Nicholas & Olivia. It was a tangible way to keep them part of our family, to give them space. It was a room that was visited by myself and others when they wanted to reconnect with our babies. I offer no apology for keeping it as their room for as long as I did. I had no motivation to "move on" from them.

I also love that Zoe is coming. And that God in His infinite patience, gently led me through a process of moving forward that makes room for our little one without leaving anyone behind. I was never worried about making room for Zoe. She is full of life and her arrival is highly anticipated. I was more worried about my three other children. Sabrina, my oldest. She went through everything with us and has emerged a loving girl with a beautiful spirit, despite all our parenting mistakes along the way. Nicholas & Olivia, my twins. I fight to make sure they are remembered because that's my job as their mom.

Friends, if you have not gone through the painful stuff because it is too hard, I fear for you. And if you think that I'm better off now because I've "moved on" from the painful stuff, I grieve for you. What you've missed out on is a precious opportunity to let God heal your broken places and make you whole.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vote for a Cure

Friends, there is an initiative happening on Facebook where you have the opportunity to help the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation raise $1 million to fund promising SMA research. A cure is closer than you think!

Please go to this link http://VoteForSMA.com and lend your support to this cause before January 22. The Chase Community Giving campaign will give $1 million to the top charities based on your votes. It's quick and easy and is a way to lend your support to those families touched by SMA.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Remembering Olivia

Early in the morning 2 years ago today, we watched the winter sun come up through the big windows in Olivia's hospital room as she took her last breaths with us.

But that's not what we remember most. Bright blue eyes, little fat feet, how tiny she was when she was born. Her determination.

Our Olivia Hope, our little Livvie, without the hope that we clung to after you left us, we would have never survived. I know that you know how much we love you and remember you. You would never let us forget!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Making Room

We live in a three-bedroom house. One bedroom for Sabrina, one bedroom for Corrie & I, and one bedroom for the twins. Their room is actually the best room in the whole house, south-facing, spacious and bright, tucked away in the back corner, a warm sunny yellow room. And still set up just the way it was when Nicholas & Olivia were here.

I never meant for it to be a memorial, or to remain untouched. It has been Sabrina's favorite room to play in, sometimes a temporary storage room, but always Nicholas & Olivia's room. I confess there was still even some of Olivia's laundry in the hamper that needed to be washed and put away.

Until Corrie's mom came for a visit, I hadn't really considered a change. We had a baby's room all ready. She asked me how we were going to get ready for Zoe and it didn't really hit me until then that in order to make room for Zoe we needed to move Nicholas & Olivia out of their room. That was the last place in the house that still represented to me that they were still a part of the family. I had always thought that I hadn't tackled cleaning out the twins' room because I didn't need to, and never really knew what to do with it. Now I know that I hadn't done it because I didn't want to move them out of their room.

God has been so good to me over this holiday season. As you can read in some of my November and December posts, I've had some ups and downs. Adjusting to this new reality was part of it. But once He reminded me that it was OK to move forward, that it wouldn't dishonor my babies, I've been able to approach making room with some anticipation. Sabrina is going to move into the sunny back bedroom. She has a connection with the twins and has always gravitated toward that room. I don't have to kick Nicholas & Olivia out, because they will always be part of Sabrina. Zoe will be welcomed into Sabrina's old room. We will paint and get it ready just for her, knowing that her older brother and sisters would be happy to share some of their things with her, as well as adding some new things that will be her own.

I spent a sunny, peaceful afternoon going through Nicholas & Olivia's things today and making a memory box for each of them. I marveled at how tiny Olivia's clothes were and remembered how cute Nicholas looked in his overalls. I went through cards and letters and was reminded of how much love and support we have received over the last couple of years. I made a space for their most precious keepsakes in our bedroom.

We are making room for where God wants to take us next, and are at peace with it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome to our 2nd annual New Year's letter! It was a whirlwind Christmas season for us this year, with getting ready much later than usual and the cold weather keeping Corrie busy. But it was also rich with blessings and time with friends and family.

New Year's combines two things I love: starting new projects and coming up with ways of doing things better. This year our theme is "Trim the Fat". We have come out of our 2 year inertia and are looking around at what needs to change and what needs to be simplified. We want to be ready for whatever is coming up next for us.

We will trim the fat in our budget. We have been impulsive and passive for too long, and we want to be in a place where we can not only make decisions out of a place of freedom, but be ready to bless others out of the abundance that God has given us.

We will trim the fat in our diet. Corrie and I have seen the effects of neglecting our health this year in more ways than we like, and have committed to making some better decisions in this area. Again, being impulsive and passive have put us in a place where things need to change.

We will trim the fat in our "stuff". Both Corrie and I feel very strongly that we have too much stuff and will not only be simplifying what we keep, but committing to be very careful about how much more we bring in. We do not want to have more stuff than we have time and energy to maintain.

We will trim the fat in our time. We want to focus on the things that are important, like building relationships and keeping strong family ties. We will guard against those things that steal our time, and ensure that anything that we commit to is from the right motives.

Praise God! He has brought us through a dark place and has taught us many things along the way. I am very excited about 2010. I feel the need to prepare for a new season of blessing and coming up higher in what God wants for us. And we get to meet our little Zoe soon! Thank you all for your love and support as we have been learning how to live as the family that God has made us. We wish you all the best in this new year!