Sunday, December 23, 2012

7 Months, 19 Weeks, and Freedom

I thought I would go ahead and post now as I know I won't have time to post with Christmas festivities starting tomorrow!  We are currently in snowy, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho... Winter Weather advisory for tonight, which definitely means more soft, fluffy snow in the morning.  Definitely my idea of Christmas morning.  Don't get me wrong, the rest of the year, I am ok without snow, but there is just something about having Christmas morning white, that makes the holiday seem so much more... right!!

December 25th marks 7 months since we lost Grayson.  Unbelievable... I still can't believe that our little boy isn't here to experience Christmas with us.  How I was looking forward to having a little boy to buy trains and cars for!  However, I do know that he is going to experience the BEST Christmas ever!!  I mean, the King we are celebrating down here, is the King he is running around with up there!! What an amazing and beautiful picture!!  I know that my Jesus is holding him oh so close.  This picture definitely makes it easier, but it still hurts so deep.

My pregnancy is going great, so far.  My last two appointments have gone as expected and I am not showing any signs of an early delivery.  My cervix has stayed the exact same length, so far.  Our next appt is on Jan 31st.  This will be the last one to check my cervical length and then, the hope is, that all appointments after that would be "normal", which is still much more than "normal"!  Every 4 weeks to the high risk and every 4 weeks to my regular ob and every 4 weeks to my endocrinologist... Which averages about 1 appt every week and a half! Whew... exhausting just thinking about all of it, but it is certainly worth it!!  So physically, everything is going great.

Emotionally... still a roller coaster.  I am 19 weeks and 1 day.  We lost Grayson at 20 weeks and 5 days... So that is right around the corner.  And that leaves my heart feeling so anxious, especially while I am not at home.  In some ways, this part of the waiting feels like I am counting down the days until I have to say "good-bye" to Kinley instead of counting down the days that I will say "hello" to her in person.  And this leaves me feeling pretty heavy.  I am praying against all of these feelings.  Part of this time has been so good because I am cherishing the time I have with her... no matter how long that may be.  It causes me to stop and really enjoy the kicks of my sweet baby girl.  It causes me to really take time for her, praying for her and anticipating God's plan for her life.  However, I have to daily choose to turn her over to Jesus and trust Him because, right now, this is NOT coming naturally.

During this season, I want to experience true joy.  My whole family is ready to see me experience true joy again.  My mom told me that my whole family wants to see that... and until they do, it stops them from experiencing it fully.  I don't want that.  I don't want to be the thing that holds my family back from experience the true joy that Christ offers us.  Hoping that it will come with time and with God's grace.  As I have said, I know that this joy only comes from Christ, so I choose to place my whole heart in His hands, in hopes that He will answer this prayer!  Please pray with us!  I want to experience this joy during this hopeful Christmas season.  I want to experience the freedom from these feelings that Christ offers.  I don't have to be bound to this...  As the song says:

My Chains are gone,  I've been set free
My God, My Savior has ransomed me
And life a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing Grace

He has already released my chains.  He has already set me free.  He has ransomed me.  And it all started this season over 2000 years ago.  Lord, let us experience joy, rest, and hope in You this season!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kinley Pearl

Recently, I was talking to a friend about our daughter's name, Kinley Pearl and where we got it from.  

As I shared in the last post, we loved the name Kinley and had it picked out awhile ago (it was our girl choice before we knew Grayson was a boy).  Kinley means "fair warrior".  A warrior is someone who is trained in combat or warfare.  I love this in light of all we have been through.  I feel like she is being my warrior.  She is fighting for me... fighting for my hope.  She is a constant reminder to me of the battles we face every day in trusting Christ.  Bottom line, we believe in an invisible God.  And that never becomes more apparent than when you have been through tragedy.  You are having to trust in someone you cannot see... and that, in and of itself is a major battle.  Fortunately, God is gracious enough to allow people to show His love and grace in tangible ways.  The rest of these 5 months are going to be a battle, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  In a lot of ways, I feel like I am fighting everyday.  Fighting fear of losing and burying another baby.  Fighting sadness.  Fighting the sin in my heart that causes me to not fully trust Christ with this little life.  Fighting my brain as I have started feeling her kick and then don't feel her for awhile... and fighting the worry that comes with it.  Fight, fight, fight.  I am exhausted, but Kinley is a warrior.  And the only person she is able to learn this from is Jesus... who is teaching her exactly how to fight... and it is unadulterated and perfect.  She is helping me fight every day.

And Pearl is after my sweet grandma.  I'll have you know that when I called and told my grandma we were naming our little girl after her, her immediate response was, (in her Minnesotan accent) "Oh, honey, are you sure you want to do that?".  I immediately responded with a "yes", but her response just made me giggle.  She really can't believe that anyone would want to name their kids after her... such grace and humility.  We could ALL learn from her!  

A couple days after I shared this information with my friend, she sent me text asking me if I remembered what we learned in school about where a pearl comes from... and went on to explain.  Now, this came back to me as she was telling me, but I hadn't thought about it AT ALL with picking out the name.  So a pearl is created because of an injury.  It is created when a foreign object like dirt gets into the shell of an oyster by mistake.  This causes the oyster to be irritated.  In order to protect itself, it covers the intruding object with a mineral known as nacre.  It continues to do this for several layers over several months and years, eventually forming a pearl.  So you see, a pearl is something beautiful that is created from an injury.  But it takes time for this healing to take place and for beauty to be the result.  Jesus is the nacre... and He continues to cover this injury and hurt over and over again.  I think it is pretty cool that God gave us this name (a couple years ago) and reserved it specifically for this little girl.  And He gave us this name without us even thinking about the physical process it takes for a pearl to be created.  Because Kinley will be just that... our pearl.  Our something beautiful that has come out of an injury and something that hurts so much.

Her name gives me hope, gives me joy and gives me peace.  All because of the meanings associated with her name... meanings I never even considered when we picked her name.  I mean, really, how cool is our God?  That He allowed this name to be for this child?  Only Him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pink or Blue?!

Life around the Woodward house has been busy, to say the least.  I have been really overwhelmed with this pregnancy.  I think that I just have so many emotions surrounding it that I tend to just shut off all emotion... and then I am pretty numb to it all.  And then, it comes out as frustration at times.  And then I just cry because I don't feel like myself.  I have really struggled with being super excited about it all.  Don't get me wrong, we are definitely excited about having a baby, but I am still grieving a lot.  We just passed the 6 month mark of having Grayson and giving him to Jesus and that is NOT that long!!  On top of that, (and this may be TMI for some of you) but since last December, I have only had 1 period!! And that my friends is A LOT of hormones!!!  So if you see me, and I just randomly lose it, please remember that!!  Please just remember to keep me specifically and my heart in your prayers.  I am in a place of feeling like if I am too happy, I am not remembering Grayson and if I am too sad, then I am not being happy about this baby... and neither one of those is true.  My prayer is just that Christ fills my heart with joy again.... TRUE joy!  Within the context of true joy, I can be happy or sad because joy comes from the heart and isn't a wavering feeling!  And true joy only comes from Jesus and trusting in His plan for me!  So, please join me in praying for joy, amongst the continued health of me and this baby!!


Ok...Moving on!  I don't know why, but I was nervous about this appointment.  I think I was afraid that they would find something wrong that they had missed before... And we had to wait for a good hour and a half before going back to see the doc.  Once back there though, God immediately relieved this fear as the doctor did the ultrasound, measuring head circumference, skin thickness, length of bones in arms and legs, length of feet, etc.  Everything was PERFECT!  The baby is right on track.  He showed us the little face.  What a sweet little face!! And what an active little thing!! The baby was moving non-stop, just like Collins was at EVERY appointment!!  I just smiled contently watching the screen as I saw this little life moving away inside me.  What a surreal moment.  It is every time, but this time, even more so given the circumstances.  He then moved on to tell us whether Collins and Grayson were going to have a little sister or brother.  I had my suspicions, but I had pretty much kept those to myself!! :)  At first, the umbilical cord was in the way, so he went to looking at the other things and came back.  Then he came back to look again, and the cord was still in the way.  I said "come on Jesus, please let us see!"  And the next time he went to look... We got a really good look!!  And we found out!!!  Watch the video below as we announced to my family the news!



video

DON'T CHEAT... WATCH THE VIDEO!!!






















So, the candy that fell was all different colors, but the suckers were all one color!! :)


PINK!  It's another sweet baby girl!!


Now, let me just share with you, we felt that no matter what we heard, it was a little bittersweet.  We really wanted a boy because that is what we lost, but we really wanted a girl because we didn't want to feel like he would "replace" Grayson.  But we have trusted that God knows our hearts and our emotions and would give us EXACTLY what we needed, so we couldn't be more excited that He choose to bless us with a beautiful baby girl! And last, but not least, her name.

Kinley Pearl Woodward

Her middle name is after my grandma, one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet and someone who has demonstrated Christ to me and our family for many, many years!!  We pray that she grows up to be much like my grandma!

Well, that's it for tonight!  Sorry to keep you waiting!! :)  Again, we covet your prayers for my joy, our hearts and the continued process of healing and for the on-going health of me and sweet Kinley!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Expecting Blessings

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about expecting suffering (click here to read about it).  As I said in that post, we, as believers, should not be surprised by suffering.  In fact, we should expect it.  Christ Jesus suffered much in this world.  In contrast, we should also expect God's greatest blessings.  And that is just what the Bible tells us to do.  Hebrews 11:6 says "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."  So you see, as we earnestly seek Him, He rewards us. And James 1:17 says "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." I love that verse.  Everything good that we experience in life comes from a good God who DOES NOT CHANGE.  Doesn't that bring such comfort?!  While most people we know change day in and day out, we have a God who is consistent and doesn't waiver in turning our hearts towards Him.

Damon and I have been in a time of suffering.  And it has been the hardest place we have ever been in.  We have had to continually turn towards Christ and look to His face to find peace and comfort.  While walking through this time, we have also been expectantly waiting a time of blessing.  But as Hebrews says, blessings only come as we earnestly seek Him.  So that is exactly what Damon and I have been doing.  There are several things that we have been praying specifically for:
  • That we honor Christ with Grayson's life
  • That each of you learn more about who our God is by hearing this story that God is writing for the Woodward family.
  • That God would redeem the month of May for us.
  • That we would TRUST Christ with His plans- no matter what that looked like.
  • That we would remember that our God is sovereign.
  • The God would bless us with more babies... and quickly.
  • That we would not be fearful.
  • We would continue to be parents to Collins who let her see who Jesus is.
We know that Christ was capable of all these things, so we entered a time of expecting blessings... and waiting.  And on September 4, we got an answer!  This is the card that I gave Damon that day.


We found out we are expecting Baby Woodward #3!  We knew we wanted it to happen quickly, but we had NO idea that God would bless us that quickly.  Our first appointment was September 25... 4 months to the day of losing Grayson.  As you can imagine, we were pretty nervous for this appointment.  We earnestly prayed that we would hear a heartbeat and I even made them assume my due date was a week later so that we would be safe.  We went in and heard the best little heartbeat! :)  Much to my surprise, I was just 6 weeks along (I thought I was more like 9).  And they gave us a due date of May 18, 2013.... Just one week before Grayson's glory day!  Our prayers had been answered... We asked God to redeem May for us and in our minds, this was redemption at it's finest!


So as of Saturday, we are 12 weeks pregnant.  How am I feeling?  Nauseous most days... which I am thankful for!  I didn't feel sick with Grayson at all so I think God knew that I needed to feel a little sick to have some peace.  And EXHAUSTED!  Hopefully, now that I have finished the first trimester, I will start to feel some relief!  Emotionally, I am nervous.  I am overwhelmed.  I am scared.  I really haven't gotten too excited... I know that sounds crazy, but I think that I am just protecting my heart.  In love.  I am already so in love with this baby.  This baby does not in ANY WAY replace Grayson and what we lost, but this baby is a blessing and we are so thankful for this life.  As we go through the next 6 months, here is what we are specifically asking for prayer for:
  1. That God would allow us to bring this baby home in May.
  2. Health- My health and the baby's health.
  3. Our hearts.  That God would calm our fears each day- especially as we approach week 20.
  4. Trust- that we would trust God with this baby's life, just like we have with both Collins and Grayson.
  5. Joy- that we would really be able to let go of the fears and experience pure joy!
Here is a picture from when we went and shared the news with our little boy.  We know that he will be the best big brother to this new baby... I mean, he is an angel watching over each of us and what more could you ask for in a big brother?! Or in Collins' case, a little brother! :)


I can't end this post without saying thank you to all of you.  I know that so many of you have been praying for us each and every day as we have walked this path.  And those prayers mean the world to us... And we have felt them.  We see the face of Christ as we see how you all, our Christian family, have rallied around us.  We wouldn't be here without you.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you.  You will never know the love we have felt as you guys have grieved with us and now rejoice with us.  We love you all!

"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pretending

Some days I definitely feel like I am pretending.  People ask me how I am doing and my response is that I am doing well.  But honestly, I am pretending.  I am so overwhelmed.  I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I am overwhelmed with how to live my daily life and still remember Grayson.  I was talking to my mom a couple days ago and somehow it came up that I was really sad that Collins will never know her little brother and that our future babies will never know their big brother.  And then we started talking about his birthday... and she said, "as the years go on, the date will always be special, but you won't celebrate it them same way".  And I just started bawling.  I don't know why, but the thought of not celebrating my son's birthday each and every year breaks my heart.  It makes me feel like I would be forgetting him... and I don't ever want to!  I KNOW that I won't... but, she was right.  We will move on.  And as the months and years pass, it will become easier.  I know that Grayson won't ever have his feelings hurt that we don't celebrate him with a big party, but I do.  It hurts my feelings... it hurts my heart.  But reality... he isn't here.  He isn't here and isn't going to be here.  Most people will never know him.  I am only 27 years old and the people I meet over the next 50+ years won't get to know about this little boy who forever changed my life.  Sure, they will know about him if I tell them, but, that's it.  Just word of mouth.  How can a life so short change my life so much?  I mean,  I guess that is true of all of us at some point.  We all die and then the people after us don't know us, but why is that so much harder with a baby?  Because they never really got to live life... And I talked about this before, but I grieve the dreams I had of having a little boy.  I had images of him playing baseball with his daddy.  I had images of taking two kiddos to Minnesota over Thanksgiving and introducing Grayson to the family for the first time.  I had a visions of two little kiddos at Christmas this year.  And all of those dreams died along with Grayson.  And each day, I have to work through something different.  Now, I know this is a season.  I know that it will get easier as it goes, but right now... today... it just sucks.  Totally and utterly sucks.

But can I just reiterate this truth, that I am reminded of daily as I grieve Grayson?  God has my back. :)  He knows exactly how I am feeling today.  He knows each and every day and what I need to get through the day.  He feels my pain as closely as anyone can.  He too lost a Son... and had to witness not just His son dying too early, but the most horrific death on a cross.  It wasn't fair for God either.  BUT He choose to do that for me because He loves me just that much.  Yes, THAT MUCH!  Incredible...

So as a reminder (as much to me as anyone else), there is nothing that you are going through that God doesn't see.  My God loves me.  And He loves you... More than we could EVER imagine!!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10,000 Reasons

It has been almost a month since I have let you into my world... Not intentionally.  I honestly haven't had time to sit down and just write out my thoughts... which, honestly, have been pretty convoluted these days.

As the days go on after losing Grayson, I am starting to realize how different my life is looking.  He was due on October 7th.  Appropriate in so many ways because we have a lot of 7's in our family.  My birthday is December 7, our anniversary is January 7, Collins original due date was February 7 (it was moved back) and Damon proposed to me on May 7. On that day, we went out to see him for the first time.  We went out and sat by his little grave site and just smiled talking about the memories we have of him.  I didn't cry.  I cried earlier that day, but I was at peace when we went to visit him.  We brought him some beautiful blue hydrangeas.  Don't ask me why, but for some reason, I was very insistent that we had blue hydrangeas at his memorial service.  There has never been anything significant about those flowers to me, but I wanted them and wouldn't settle for anything else.  So now, they have a VERY special meaning. And I love that they grow in people's yards and I get glimpses of my little boy everywhere!

After visiting him, we dreamed about future babies and our life.  In no way will Grayson ever be replaced, but we so want to have more little babies.  You should see the joy that spreads across Damon's face when we talk about more babies.  He seriously is the best daddy!  We also decided that we wanted to celebrate the little life and joy we have in Collins.  So we decided to celebrate!  We went to the Pumpkin Patch!  She loved it last year and she loved it even more this year.  It was a sweet time with my family... just remembering Grayson and celebrating his life, Collins' life and more lives to come.  Our God is really soo good to us.

As I was reflecting on all of these thoughts this morning, I started to cry.  Both tears of joy and tears of sadness.  There is a huge part of me that just doesn't think this is fair. I should have a two week old demanding my attention right now.  How I long to hear those little cries.  And the tears of joy come from knowing exactly what Christ did for me.  Because of that, I don't have to hide my tears of sadness and frustration.  He has already counted all of them.

Music has played a huge role in my life lately.  Play the song 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman and I will cry EVERY time.  This is the song that was playing the Sunday morning at church after losing Grayson and I sang it with all my heart.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord O my soul,
O my soul.
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name.

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord O my soul,
O my soul.
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name.


This is my prayer as we continue to move forward with our lives "Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes... For all His goodness, I will keep on singing, TEN THOUSAND reasons for my heart to find!".

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good.

My whole life, I have thought I was a pretty good person.  I have lived a pretty good life and lived by the "laws" that I felt like God had given us.  I didn't drink before I was legal.  I have only kissed one man, my husband.  I was a virgin when I got married.  I didn't do drugs, I didn't smoke.  I went to church every week.  I led Bible studies and small groups.  By mine and everyone else's account, I had it together.  And I was living a good life.  I thought that other people saw Christ in me because of these "good" decisions that I had been making.

When we lost Grayson, I was caught off guard.  I honestly, at points, thought "Lord, I lived a good life and made good decisions and my life looked different from those around me and I thought I was pointing others to you.  So why did you take my son to point others to you through me?  Was that really necessary?"

So as I have processed Grayson's death, I have felt God tugging on my heart.  I have felt Him saying to me "This wasn't for everyone else.... This was for you."  And not in a mean, malicious way.  A loving, compassionate, "I did this for you, Lindsey because I love you."  And at the beginning, I had times where I wanted to yell back "This isn't love!  This isn't nice!  You took my son away from me!  And I didn't deserve this... I was following your laws!"

And over the last couple months I have realized just that.  God didn't allow Grayson to go to heaven because He wanted to use me to point others towards Him (what an arrogant thought).  Now, if He chooses to use Grayson and me that way, I will be eternally grateful.  But more than that, He has used it to mold and shape me to be more like Him.  I have realized that much of my life, I was upholding "laws", but God wasn't my primary reason for doing that.  It was for my reputation.  It made me feel like I had it all together.  This has lead to me questioning every part of every decision I have ever made... And asking the question "Where was God really in that?" and "Was I really doing what God called me to or was I just following MY rules?"  In one day, I feel like my whole life completely changed.  I am a completely different person.  In fact, there are some days when I just feel plain lost.  You can ask those who know me best.  My whole person has changed.  Maybe not in what I do every day.  Maybe not in super noticeable way, but my demeanor, my thought process, my level of grace.  THIS is what God has been doing.

God used Grayson to mold me to be even more like Him and to show me just how real He really is.  Until this point, I believed in Christ, I was a Christian and desired to serve Him, but it all felt "out there".  I had never felt that I really "needed" God until losing Grayson.  I "knew" in my head that I did, but at times, I felt like I was doing just fine on my own.  I felt like it was my job to be "good" so everyone could see Him.  I felt the need to be perfect.  I have since realized that God never required that of me.  He wants us to reveal our imperfections so that He can shine brightly through them.  Grayson and his life have revealed some major imperfections in me and my faith.  And my hope and prayer is that God has shown brightly in those crevices.  If that doesn't happen, then this whole life is all for naught.  And I refuse to let my son's life go to waste because I am too scared to let others see my imperfections... especially when I have a God who is ready to come through for me anytime, anywhere.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Change

Change... It is a word that most people find pretty scary.  Usually when you go through a change, it means you are rather uncomfortable for a period of time.  The dictionary describes it as this:

"to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)  
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone"

This week, in Bloom (my moms of kids Bible study), we were talking about marriage.  We were asked to look at however many years we had been married (for us, we are approaching 7 years...unbelievable!) and then graph out each year in a line with how satisfied we were with our marriage over those years.  Mine, much like everyone else, had it's ups and downs.  Looking down at the graph I had sketched out, I started to think about why I was so satisfied with marriage some years and so not satisfied others... And it occurred to me that the years that I was MOST satisfied were the years that we, as a couple, went through the biggest changes.... whether those changes were good or bad!

  • Year 1:  Got married. I had never lived with another man before.  And then 3 weeks after that, I got really sick and was in ICU.  There was definitely change that year.  We were forced to rely on God in, not only the transition of being married, but having someone else primarily caring for me when I was sick.
  • Year 3:  We bought a house and moved everything we owned.
  • Year 5:  We had our first daughter, Collins.
  • Year 6:  We had our second child, first son, Grayson and buried him in the same week.

Some of these changes, were (in our eyes) good things.  We choose them.  We wanted that change.  In year 3, we wanted to buy a house and we welcomed that change into our lives with our whole hearts!  Year 5, we had Collins.  This, too, was an exciting change and one that we were prepared for!

However, year 1, and year 6 were, again in our eyes, not good changes.  It was not ideal to be in ICU 3 weeks after being married... and watching Damon question how to best take care of me.  And year 6, we had unexpected change with losing our first son, Grayson.

But what I want you to see is that, whether the changes were expected and exciting or unexpected and hard, I was MOST satisfied with my marriage then.  Why?  Because, it is during the times of change, times of being uncomfortable that we really allow God to work.  I was reading an article the other day by Nancy Ortberg, and she said "the difficult parts of change are most often where God lives".  When we go through hard changes, we realize that He is all we have and all we are ever guaranteed in this life.  In years 1 and 6 of our marriage, God showed up BIG!  We were forced to not only rely on Him, but determine, yet again what we really believed about Him.  And THIS will satisfy the soul.  And when then soul is satisfied, your life feels full.

She also said, "Change includes loss. And any loss that we experience moves our hearts closer to surrender."  Can I just tell you that my heart has never been so surrendered to my God than it has in the last 4 months.  I have always loved Jesus and wanted to follow His plan for my life, but there is a part of me that was still holding on... There was a part of me that couldn't let go of everything.  And after losing Grayson, my heart fell at the feet of Jesus... every stinking piece of it.  It is a BIG change.  And that change is scary and a bit uncomfortable at times, but why would I want to be "what it would be" if left alone?!  Without change, we become stagnant.  And that, my friends, is what I call a boring and unfulfilled, unsatisfied life... And I am NOT willing to settle for that!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Expecting Suffering

Do you expect suffering?  Or are you surprised by it?  I  know that often times, I find myself surprised by it... and why?  Jesus clearly lays out, on multiple occasions that, if I truly love Him and strive to serve Him, there will be suffering.  1 Peter 4:19 says "So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.".  John 16:33 "In this world, you will have trouble."  Jesus clearly explains this us.  So why are we so surprised by it?

Paul is a great example of someone who not only expected suffering, but rejoiced in it.  He was imprisoned.  He was beaten.  But, he got it.  He understood that his life was miniscule when compared to the plan that God had.  And because he got it, God used him in a mighty mighty way.  Mary got it.  She understood that losing the respect of the men and women around her was nothing compared to the joy that she would experience being the mother of Jesus.  And she referred to herself as a servant.  She got it.  And God used her in a mighty way!

I hope I get it.  I hope that I daily realize how small my life is.  May I daily submit myself as a servant to God.  I want God to use me in a mighty mighty way.  And the only way He can do that is by me expecting suffering. And then rejoice through it, knowing that God is going to do something big and mighty, something that only He can.

I am so glad that those verses don't just end in suffering.  Jesus continues on by telling us to "entrust our souls to a faithful Creator" and to "take heart because He has overcome the world".  Praise Jesus that He takes on my suffering and that He knows every tear that has fallen from these eyes.  And that one day, there will be no more.  You see, we are not supposed to be surprised by suffering.  When sin entered the world, so did suffering.  It wasn't God's initial design, but because of sin, evil does exist and therefore suffering exists.  I can not fathom what it will be like in heaven when there will be NO MORE sadness... NONE!  I will not have to cry another tear over hurtful words, friends moving away, or losing my son.  We will be in FOREVER happiness!!!  Can you even imagine?!  What a GLORIOUS day that will be!

Until then, I think it would be in our best interest to expect suffering.  Don't be surprised by it.  Instead, let's rejoice in it.  And let God use us in a MIGHTY way!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

He Can Handle It!

Today marks 3 months since Grayson's birth and I am only about a little over a month away from what my due date was.  And today, my facebook status says it all... more than anything, I just want to be pregnant again... I would LOVE to be pregnant with Grayson, but since that isn't a possibility, I want more than anything for that pregnancy test to be positive with another little baby.  I know this may seem crazy to some people, but we really want another baby as soon as we can.  My prayer was to get pregnant this month so that I could have another May baby and that God would redeem the month of May for me this next year.  Doesn't appear that is going to happen and it is definitely disheartening. 

I had a moment with God yesterday.  I yelled and told Him how angry I was.  I was angry because other people were having babies around me and announcing their pregnancies and I wanted that to be me.  I was angry because what I had planned and wanted so badly, isn't coming to fruition.  (Side note:  PLEASE don't tiptoe around me if you are pregnant... I LOVE to celebrate with you all and LOVE that God is blessing you with babies... I truly get excited, but some days, it is harder for me than others!).  I mean, we wanted our kids 20 months apart.  I wanted another baby before Collins turned two.  I had this all planned out in my head and Grayson fit perfectly into this plan.  And honestly, fear has set in.  What if I can't have more babies?  What if I lose another one?  What if something happens to the baby I have?  Just because I have lost one, doesn't mean that I am guaranteed the next.  It sometimes feels like I gave it all to Jesus and He came in and wrecked my plans.

But... and this is a big BUT... I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT THAT GOD IS GOOD.

He tells me in 1 Peter to "cast my anxieties on Him because He cares for me".  So He can handle my feelings of anger and frustration yesterday and today.  In fact, He desires for me to share those thoughts and fears with Him.  HE CAN HANDLE IT.  I can be totally honest with Him because He already knows.  And He has felt those same things watching His ONLY Son die on the cross for me.  HE CAN HANDLE IT!

And I do have hope.  He promises me that He will give me the desires of my heart... Now, I know this doesn't mean that I will get everything I have ever wanted.  What this means is that if I am truly following Jesus' plans for my life, my heart's desires will be God's desires.  These aren't selfish desires to get things of the world.  These are desires for eternity.  So, my prayer remains this.  I would love to have more babies and will pray endlessly for that to happen.  But (and this is really hard for me to say), more than that, I want Christ to be glorified in my life.  Whatever that may look like.  And I will look forward to eternity when I will see my sweet boy again and where God promises me in Revelation that "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

Amen and AMEN!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Questions and 18 months!

Damon and I both had our first encounters this week with people who didn't know we lost Grayson.  It definitely caught us both by surprise.  I mean, how do you answer someone who says "How is that little baby growing?" with genuine excitement?  Or someone who randomly asks about our tattoos?  I HATE making people feel bad.  I hate that people right away apologize for asking.  Please, if you are asking, that means that you care about us.  And I LOVE that!  And I LOVE talking about him!  And we wouldn't have tattoos if we didn't want to be reminded of Grayson and God's grace every day!! 

With those times though, I know there are times around the corner when people will ask, "How many kids do you have?" or "When are you thinking about #2?".  And I will have to answer... and I have been thinking about how to answer that without making it totally awkward... followed by silence.  Just what should my answer be?  I don't really know...  Anyone who has gone through something similar, I am open to suggestions.  For now, I have decided to say, "Well, I have 2 kids.  A little girl, Collins who is 18 months and a little boy, Grayson, who is in heaven."  Or something along those lines.  I love saying that Grayson is in heaven because, even though it may be followed by an awkward silence initially, it opens the door to sharing about Christ!  And for some reason, when people hear you have lost a child, hearts are softened (and so far in my experience) more receptive to hear what is to follow.  Which for me is a story about my GOOD God!  When people ask about when we are thinking about #2... I think about saying "Oh, we think about him all the time!" Hehe!  Not sure what people would think, but it is the honest truth!

On another note:  I CANNOT believe that my precious baby girl just turned 18 months!!  We are officially closer to 2 than 1 now... and that is UNREAL!!!  She is such a ham and I just love her to pieces.  I swear, losing Grayson has definitely made me a better mom to Collins.  I am better learning how to cherish every moment I have with her and not let the dishes (or an unmade bed) get in the way!  And who wouldn't want to miss out on the laughs this little girl brings!! She really is a funny girl! :) My current favorite photo:


Some of her favorites right now:
  • Food- Anything... though the last couple of days she has been asking for hotdogs... :)  She loves her snacks and knows where they are in the cabinet.  She runs over and points and says "snaack snaaack"!
  • Words- Animal noises mostly... she knows puppy, kitty, rabbit, lion, octopus, rooster, monkey, birdie... and grandpa.  See the video! :)

 My dad clears his throat all the time, so she started copying him! :)  We think it's pretty funny!!
  • She loves to give hugs and kisses... and she usually says "awww" when she hugs you!
  • She loves her books!  She has an animal one that she loves (cause she knows all the sounds) and she also loves "A Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Clifford"!
  • She loves her friend Henry who comes to play with her a couple days a week.

  • She LOVES her Grandpa (my dad) whom she has taken on calling "Papa".  She seriously knows when we are coming around the corner to their house and starts yelling "Papa, Papa!!"
  • We had to turn her carseat around... you are supposed to wait until after they turn 2, but she is seriously so long that her legs were all scrunched up... I waited as long as I could, but she just looked pitiful back there!!  She loves being able to see everything and face forward now.
  • Even though she doesn't completely understand what happened with Grayson, I think she totally grasps the things that were his and represent him in our house. For example, the monkey below is one of the things that we had brought to the hospital with us.  We have several of them, but every time that Collins sees it, she says "Baby" and hugs it and says "Aww"... And she does the same with my tattoo-- though she doesn't hug it! :)   Also, whenever I play the song "Glory Baby" by Watermark, she looks at me with really wide eyes and starts crying.  No other song does that.  Just that one.  It's like she knows that something is sad about that song.  I love that her sweet heart is sensitive to losing Grayson, but also glad that she will never "really" know what happened.
 

  • She doesn't really love her toys... I mean, she gets more joy out of pulling the off (help my OCD heart) the shelf than actually playing with them.
  • She LOVES being outside! She says "side, side" all the time and cries when we have to bring her back in.
  • She absolutely adores her daddy!  He makes her laugh more than anyone and seeing the two of them together just melts my heart to pieces.  She hears the garage door open about 5:30ish and says "Dadadadada" and starts running for the door and literally, jumps into his arms!  It is the sweetest thing ever!
  • She is stubborn... and determined... She may or may not get this from me! ;)  She will literally sit with the buckle of a seatbelt, grocery cart, life jacket or whatever and work to get it fastened.  As soon as she gets it fastened she says "Huh-pooh" which means "Help, please" for us to undo it so she can start again.  Comes in very handy while shopping-- entertains her for a good half hour!!!
  • She has good manners... She says "Thank you" and "pooh" (please) all the time!
  • She is good at using the two signs that we have taught her, more and all done. :)
  • She loves going to bed and never cries when we lay her down.  When we say "Let's go nu-night", she repeats, "Nu-night, Nu-night", picks up Elly (her elephant) and Manny (one of Grayson's monkey's that she inherited) and heads that way.  She usually puts Manny and Elly in the crib and then tries to climb in herself!!  It is pretty cute!
  • And last, I can already see her working out what is right and wrong.  I know that Jesus is already working on molding her heart.  I can only pray that Damon and I help point her in the right direction.
Collins Reese, you are complete blessing to your mommy and daddy and so many other people!  I thank Jesus every day for you and for letting me be your mommy while you are here on earth and for letting me take care of the most precious gift!  I love you sweet girl!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Memorial Service

I realize that I talk a lot about Grayson on this blog right now, but I don't want to forget anything... So, I haven't told you guys about his memorial service.  It was so incredibly special.  I still can't believe that I had to plan a funeral for my baby boy, but God definitely gave me the strength to do it and even make it more special than I thought possible.  Let me preface this post by saying this:  I know that not all of my friends were invited.  I wish you all could have been there, but honestly, at this point, I wasn't ready to face everyone.  I just couldn't handle too many people.  It was very small- only about 50 people total.

His memorial service was Tuesday, May 29 at 1:00 in the afternoon.  Before getting there, I was actually in pretty good spirits.  I was able to calmly get ready for this event.  I was excited to be able to celebrate Grayson's life.  I think that God's grace and peace covered me that morning.

Damon's dad and some of our dear friends, Keith and Shannon and their daughter, Brooklyn were all here with us and prayed over us before we left the house.  When we arrived, my family was already there.  As soon as I saw his little casket, I started bawling... It just isn't natural seeing this little tiny casket.  As people arrived, I felt so much love and support.  I would cry with every hug... it meant so much to have all the people care so much about me and my family.  John O'Leary, who leads a men's Bible study for Damon and several other guys did the service.  He did an amazing job.  We had talked with him the night before and told him that we really wanted for people to hear the hope we have.  Yes, it is a tragedy, but I didn't want it to be all sad.  Actually, we even told everyone not to wear black.  We had everyone wear light colors, white, khaki, etc.  It seemed fitting for an innocent life.

John shared some words about how we were feeling and doing and focused on several verses that we had picked out for him.

Shortly after Grayson died, Stacey Hammons wrote a poem for him.  It is so sweet.  It is called "For Grayson" and was in the program I made for him.



A life so small, so brief, yet a life
First learning of you, we were elated
But hesitant to tell, so we waited
Our time alone with you a gift to treasure
Sharing with others brought such pleasure
A life so small, so brief, yet a life of memories
On a rare sunny day this winter
You gave us a picture to remember
A strong and beautiful beating heart
You lit up our world from the very start
A life so small so brief, yet a life complete
Another secret we had to tell
With blue balloons at the big reveal
A son, a grandson, nephew, little brother
All you would be to so many others
Dreams of your bright eyes and big smile
Collins leading you around - at least for awhile
A life so small so brief, yet a life that blessed
Sorrow now for the memories we will not have
Seeing your talents and hearing your laugh
We will miss out, but not knowing this life so brief
Would leave us as less than we were meant to be
Because of Grayson we will remember 
That pain and joy often come together
That each moment is precious and sweet 
And that all our lives are small and brief 
Because of you we know what it means 
To love so deeply that nothing seems  
To be left, we are poured out 
As God has loved us without a doubt 
No love is greater than parent to child 
We are thankful for this short while 
The gift of you we will not forget 
We wish we still had you yet 
Now you are safe in the arms of our Lord 
The only One who could love you more 
Our sorrow is such sweet pain
 We know our loss is heaven's gain

My dad spoke too.  It was the sweetest thing you have ever heard.  He talked about how he couldn't wait for a grandson and how he would have dreams about him calling him "Papa" and playing with him.  I still can't believe that he held it together!

We finished by releasing baby blue balloons and listening to "Glory Baby" by Watermark.  It is a moment that I will never forget.  After the service was finished we brought in an ice cream truck come.  I mean, what better way to celebrate a little boy's birthday than with ice cream?!  Not to mention, it was SOOOO hot!! I was seriously drenched with sweat!!

It really is a sweet memory.  Man do I miss this little boy, but today, I am cherishing the sweet times I had with him.  I sure love him with every piece of my heart.  The hole doesn't ever go away, but God is filling in where only He can.  I have faith that God is using Grayson and loving him in heaven!

I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures from the service.

 Our last picture as a family of 4.

Collins kept pointing and saying "Baby, Baby".  It was really sweet!

 My family at the ice cream truck.  Such a sweet memory.  
I think we are going to have to do this every year on his birthday.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heavy Heart

Today,  I just had to sit down and cry.  It was two months ago that I met my little boy and said goodbye.  My heart is heavy.  I see all the pregnant people around me and while I am so excited for them, I just want that to be me.  I want to still feel little Grayson kicking away... It just hurts and I am exhausted.  I don't know that I have yet to fully recover from everything.  The reality is that life has to keep going, but my body and heart just went through the toughest thing yet and a part of me wants to just stop... and sleep... and be alone.  Pray for me today.  I really am just so tired...

"Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life."
Psalm 119:49-50

Happy 2 Months, Grayson.  Mommy loves you.  My heart aches for you.  Jesus, give my baby a hug for me today.  Thanks for taking good care of him!

Friday, July 20, 2012

8 Weeks and Blessings

This week was good. I had my last "test" this week.  My doctor wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything that we missed that was wrong that would have sent me into labor like that.  Everything came back normal.  I am torn over this answer.  The human side of me wants an answer and wants to know why my body did what it did, but the other part of me, is so glad that something wasn't wrong.  I am so glad that my body should be able to have more babies without any complications.  I know there is no guarantee, but my doctor really believes that it shouldn't.  So, that's good news.  His last words to me before I left on Tuesday were "Well, I will see you again when you are pregnant!" with a huge smile on his face.  What words of hope!! Brought joy to my heart to know that he has faith that he will see me again, carrying another little life! Eeeek!

Today marks 8 weeks since we said goodbye to Grayson.  It still feels very surreal.  I still, at times, have a hard time believing that I won't be bringing a baby home in October.  It still makes my heart sad and I think it always will.  As I have continued to read the book "Anything", I am challenged by Jennie's words.  God is constantly pointing me towards Him through this book.  Funny how this book isn't even about grieving... Yesterday, I read the following statement: "On the other side of the pain is freedom, peace, joy, hope, the loss of control, and it was how I was made to live."  WOW!  If I keep giving everything to Christ, I can enjoy those things now.  And you know what, I am finding all of those.  I am finding freedom in releasing control.  I am finding peace in my past and future.  I know that God is in control and that gives me peace that passes all understanding.  Each day, I am finding more and more joy.  I have a beautiful little girl who is so fun to watch and play with.  Her little life is showing me what unrestrained joy really looks like.  I have a husband, who despite my stupidity and stubbornness, loves me unconditionally.  I never worry about him leaving my side.  I have a God who loves me exactly where I am.  I know I will fall again and try to hold on to things that I need to let go, but He will never let me go... and that brings me GREAT joy!!  Hope... man, I have hope in tomorrow.  Even if tomorrow doesn't go as planned.  I have hope because God has made me some promises.  And I know He is going to keep them... He is my refuge and strength and present help in time of troubles. (Psalm 46:1)  He gives me strength when I am weak. (Isaiah 40:29)  He is a faithful God. (Deuteronomy 7:9) I am promised eternal life. (1 John 2:25) He promises that no one can take away my joy. (Psalm 16:22) He has promised me everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)... And the list could go ON and ON!  There is so much hope in a life focused on Christ. All these things cause us to lose control. And when we lose control, we allow God to work in ways that we never imagined!  And this is how God created me to live.  Wholly dependent on Him.  Life is just better with Him.  Then, I can really and truly enjoy the blessings that God has given me.

A handsome hubby...

Sweet baby girl...

 A great family... (my bro is MIA in this pic)

A great house, a great job, overall, good health... I really have LOTS to be thankful for.  I hope you can look at the blessings God has given you.  Even if  you only got to enjoy them for a short time, like our little Grayson!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Not-so-New Kind of Normal

I am not really sure there is any such thing as "normal", but I am sure of what my "normal" is, or rather, what it was.  My "normal", before Grayson, consisted of working on Mondays and Thursdays and being a stay at home mom the other days of the week.  I also watch a little boy, Henry, a couple days a week.  I have small group on Wednesday nights, Community Group on Tuesday nights and my hubby has bible study on Monday nights.  We usually try to go out together on Thursday or Fridays.  And we hang out with family and friends on the weekends.

That aspect of my life hasn't changed.  Which is weird to me because I feel as though my whole life has changed and that my daily life should reflect that.  Ultimately though, Grayson never came home, so I didn't change my daily routine.

I came home and my days continued on like "normal" on the outside, but so not normal on the inside.  And somehow, I wanted my outside life to reflect what my inside was feeling.  But how am I supposed to do that?  I don't want to cry all the time, though crying is good and necessary.  I don't want to give a false sense of "life goes on" because while life does go on, it doesn't go on in the same manner it once did.  I didn't want to be happy all the time because I do have times when I am overwhelming sad, but I wanted to be happy because I have so much joy-- even in my sorrow! Like this song by Darrell Evans...

Though the sorrow may last for the night,
His joy comes with the morning!


I have sorrow, but I also have joy and I wanted my "new kind of normal" to reflect that.  So what does that look like?

It's really simple actually.  Live like Christ.  That is all that I have to do.  Live like Christ.  Be willing and open to share my life with others.  Be willing to share my joy, my pain, my happiness and my sadness.  John 13:15 says "I have given you an example, that as I have done, so should you do."  And what did Jesus do?  1) He loved God, the Father and did His will, no matter the cost.  2) He loved people.  He did these two things while still doing life.  Jesus worked, he was a carpenter.  He ate dinner with His friends.  He took care of His family.  He laughed, He wept, He got angry, He even grieved.  He did all these things.  And He should be my example of how to move forward in my "new normal".

So for me, I keep going to work on Mondays and Thursdays and staying at home the other days of the week.  I keep watching Henry a couple days a week.  I keep doing my small group on Wednesday nights and my community group on Tuesdays.  Damon keeps going to his Bible study on Monday nights.  We keep going out on dates.   We keep hanging out with friends and family on the weekends.  We do all these things while 1) Loving God the Father and doing His will, no matter the cost and 2) Loving people.

If I do these things, I don't have to worry about my life looking normal... because it isn't normal... it never has been normal... and it never will be normal.  If my heart isn't normal, and believe me, a true Christian life is anything, but normal, my life will reflect that.  Even if my routine stays the exact same.

I feel God is doing something in my life and in my heart.  I feel Him...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Questions

Today, I woke up and I couldn't stop thinking about Grayson.  Sometimes, you just can't help but ask questions.  I would be lying to you if I told you that I hadn't questioned God in the last 5 weeks since Grayson's death.  You better believe that I have questioned Him several times.  Today was one of those days.  As we drove to church, I was overcome with questions of why.  Why couldn't I have made it until this week?  He would have been viable.  Why didn't I notice I was dilating?  Why did God choose Grayson to go home?  Why did it have to happen to me?  I often times just want to go back 6 weeks ago and stay there.

So today, as God so often does, He spoke right to me at church.  We were talking about the good life.  We talked about how the good life, as a believer, means that our sole joy is in the law of the Lord.  That, when we live in His will and in His plan, we have the good life.  If we really believe that, then God is good no matter the circumstances and that He loves me desperately.  Bang.  I mean, whack me over the head!  Like I said in the last post, I truly believe that God is good, but some days, I struggle with it.  Because, let's face it.  I am human and am putting my faith in a God that I can't physically see.  But just as I cross bridges and trust that they are going to hold me up, I also am going to go through this life, trusting that Jesus is walking right beside me...  And even carrying me when I am too weak to walk on my own.  I posted a quote awhile back and it is so true. Oswald Chambers says "Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand."

So the question remains, do I have faith?  Do I have confidence in God's character? Can I trust Him though I may not have a full understanding.  The answer, without a doubt, yes!  So like, Abraham did with Isaac, I will take everything that is precious and dear to me to the alter, ready to sacrifice it, if that is what God asks of me.  Because ultimately, God sees what I can't.  He sees beyond the here and now.  And thank God He does.  Thank you Jesus for never letting me go, even when I stray and question your perfect will.

We ended with the song "None But Jesus" by Hillsong.  And I sang these lyrics with everything in me because I know them to be true in my life.  I have seen it.

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

And I pray that I live out the chorus:

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

So instead of going back to six weeks ago and staying there, I move forward, ever so slowly, but trusting in Jesus, every step of the way... It's all I can do!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jealous of Jesus


I have been thinking about what to write for a week or so now... How do you go from my last post to this... A post of pure excitement to one of heartbreak?

The answer?  With God's never-ending grace and mercy.  It isn't easy and God never promised me that it would be, but I share it with you because it is all I have of Grayson... and my hope is that his story gives you insight into just how great our God is... How loving and compassionate He is... and how He is carrying me, Grayson's mommy, at my weakest moments.  This is a long story, but I hope it is worth the time.  I know it is worth every minute of me writing it out.

One month ago, yesterday, on May 25, 2012, Grayson Scott Woodward was born, at almost 21 weeks gestation, into the arms of Jesus at 9:44am.  He weighed just 12.6ozs and was 10 1/2 inches long.  He was the most precious and handsome baby boy I have ever seen... and he looked just like me.  We got to spend several hours with him, loving on him.  I will be eternally grateful that God gave us that time, just to see his little face, his hands, his feet... all just precious.  And as we saw him, you better believe that we saw the face of God!  What an amazing testimony to our Savior!!  Collins also got to meet her little brother.  She stared at him and kept pointing at him saying "baby, baby".  My family got to be there and hold him as well.  I know that they will forever cherish those memories.  The day was very bittersweet, to say the least.  It was the hardest day of my life, but as I have said countless times, we are so heartbroken, but resting in the fact that Grayson is with Jesus.  He knew his days before we even knew he existed.  That, however, does not take away the pain.  My heart aches for memories that I will never have with my little boy, my belly aches to feel him kicking again, my arms ache to hold him.  Let me share with you Grayson's story from the very beginning.

This story starts back on January 24th when we found out we were pregnant!  We were so excited because it had taken us so long to get pregnant with Collins, but God granted us another baby after just 1 time of trying!!  We told our families pretty immediately, as well as, some of our closest friends.  We were so glad that God was giving us the chance to be parents of two!  I made Collins a "Shh... I have a secret... I am going to be a big sister" shirt!  We put it on her and had the family over to see who would notice!  It took most my family a little while to notice, but Auntie Kat noticed right away and said "SHUT UP!" Ha!  Everyone was so excited! We skyped Damon's family and they too shared in our excitement!

The next weeks, I was busy planning Collins' first birthday. It was so hard to keep the secret to myself with everyone coming over, but in my heart, I wanted to wait until after our first doctor's appointment.  That appointment came 2 days before Collins turned one.  We had flown Damon's mom in for the party, but were also excited for her to be a part of this appointment.  We didn't tell her we were pregnant until she got here.

When we went to have the ultrasound done, the tech got really quiet.  She asked me if we were sure that we had our dates right and I said "yes", I am sure.  And she said "Well, this isn't exactly what we expect to see at this point, but I will let Dr. Sellers tell you more".  Our hearts sunk.  We cried.  We just knew something was wrong.  Dr. Sellers told us that it appeared that I had a blighted ovum.  Which, basically meant that my body acted like it was pregnant, but there was no baby.  I had the sack and everything, but there wasn't a baby inside.  He told me that I would most likely miscarry in the next week, but wanted to set me up with another appointment in a week in case that hadn't happened and discuss our options then. I bawled.  I remember just saying "There is no baby... there is no baby..." And I cried and cried.  However, the next day, as I did some research, I began to get hope.  I started to think that my dates were off, but I didn't want to get too hopeful and be really disappointed.  The whole week, I had the song you learned in VBS "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's NOTHING my God cannot do" stuck in my head.  I really believed that when we went back, we would hear a heartbeat!  And sure enough, on February 21, we heard the most beautiful heartbeat!  We cried tears of joy!  The tech kept saying "This doesn't happen... we don't ever see this happen..." and I kept saying "God is good.  He is soo good!"

Because of that scare, I cherished every moment of this pregnancy.  I loved loved loved talking to him and feeling him kick.  I just loved being pregnant.  God was definitely gracious to me by not allowing me to be so sick (like I was with Collins) so I could really enjoy being pregnant with Grayson.  I really believe it was a special gift.

On May 1, we found out that we were having a little boy!  We were so so excited to have a little brother in the family.  It is the first boy in our family since my brother, Landon.  And Damon is the only boy with 3 sisters and 2 step-sisters, so everyone was ready to have a little boy running around again!  And I was excited to finally pick a name and decorate his nursery.  I think I said this in my last post, but I definitely wanted to use the name Grayson.  I loved it from the moment I heard it!  Damon needed a little convincing, but as we talked it over, we decided it was the perfect name!  We decided on Scott as his middle name after my dad.  We had them over and told him what we had decided.  He cried (I told you, a lot of girls, he is in touch with his emotional side!)... and was so honored.  I couldn't think of anyone else that I would rather my son be named after.  We began to pray for Grayson Scott by name and that he would live up to the legacy of my dad's name... That he would be a man after God, obedient to what God called him to, someone who loves his wife and family well.  We began to dream about what his life would look like.

Since about April, I had been reading the book "Anything" by Jennie Allen.  It begs the question, "Would you really give God anything?"  As I read, I felt challenged to offer God everything I had.  I began by giving Him my house...then my time...then my finances...then my marriage...then my husband...then Collins... and then Grayson.  I knew that all of these things ultimately belonged to Him anyways, so, in my mind, I was giving Him what was rightfully His.  However, it was hardest for me to give Him Grayson.  I hadn't even met Grayson yet, other than the kicks in my belly... I think because of our scare in the beginning, I was always worried that someday, I would find out he wasn't there... and I was scared.  But, reluctantly, I gave God Grayson.  I prayed that He would give me the honor and privilege of being his mommy, but wanted whatever God's plan was for my life and Grayson's life.

In my heart, I think I always knew that God was going to take Grayson home before I was ready.  I was never truly confident with this pregnancy.  I was hesitant to share we were expecting him, I was hesitant to share that he was a boy, I was hesitant to buy his bedding, buy his little monkeys... I couldn't explain why and didn't share these thoughts with anyone.

And when my friend, Joanna, lost her little girl Meryn on May 8 at 23 weeks gestation, something about it resonated so deeply in my heart. I had no idea why... well, actually, I think I did, but didn't want to give way to my biggest fear.  I kept thinking about how I would respond if that happened to Grayson in a couple weeks.  I was just a couple weeks behind her in my pregnancy.  I began to pray, quietly, that I would honor God, no matter what happened...

The week of Grayson's birth, I felt great!  Other than a few contractions early in the week, due to a UTI (totally common during pregnancy), which I was on medicine for, nothing was out of the ordinary.  I was told by a doctor that feeling a couple contractions while having a UTI was normal, but keep an eye on it.  I was diagnosed with that on Friday and by Monday, symptons sub-sided and I felt totally normal again!  On Thursday night, I went to bed about midnight and felt great.  However, at about 1:45am, I woke up and didn't feel good at all...  I thought I was going to get sick.  I felt my belly get tight, but again, thought that was fairly normal as I thought I was going to puke.  I got up and went to the bathroom, got a glass of water and laid back down, trying to go back to sleep. I also said a little prayer that if this was something I needed to get checked out for, that God would make it really obvious.  Well, by 2:00am, I was in some pretty good pain and felt like I was contracting.  I woke Damon up and told him that we needed to go to the hospital to stop these contractions. (I had to do this 3 times with Collins, so this wasn't abnormal).  I even changed into jeans and a t-shirt to head out.  He asked me if I could drive myself, and at the time, I probably could have, but something inside me said "no, I think you better go with me". So we called my sister, who lives 3 minutes away to come and stay with Collins the rest of the night, anticipating that we would be back in a couple hours.  By the time we reached the hospital at 2:30, I was in the most intense pain of my life! I was sweating bullets and couldn't hardly stand anymore.  I literally felt like my whole insides were going to explode.  Mind you, I got to about a 9.5 with Collins before I got an epidural so had experienced pretty good labor, but this was not your normal labor pains.

As they admitted me in, a nurse checked me and said, "I want another nurse to double-check and see if she feels what I think I felt."  I knew that wasn't a good sign, but was in too much pain to process much of anything.  The other nurse checked and said "you are already fully dilated... 10cm... we need to get you to a labor and delivery room, but I am not doing anything else until we talk to Dr. Sellers because your water hasn't broken."  The nurse tells Damon that it looks like I may have to deliver.  Damon immediately calls the rest of my family.  They get me to the delivery room and bring in the perinatologist (high risk, baby doc) to do an ultrasound.  They find Grayson who is kicking away and has a strong heartbeat, but he is way low.  Just an FYI, most of this next part was retold to me because I was so out of it, at first because of the pain, then because I had 3 doses of stadol... at about 3:30am, Dr. Sellers comes in, with tears in his eyes and tells us what is happening.  For some reason, my cervix completely dilated, but I haven't had enough contractions to actually deliver Grayson.  However, his sack had already fallen part way through.  Now normally, they would try to get it to go back in, but Grayson got his feet stuck down in the part that had fallen through with his umbilical cord wrapped around his little legs.  If they were to try and push it back up, it would have cut off all circulation to the umbilical cord, killing Grayson.  So, I was told that I would have to deliver my baby boy and that he was too little to survive.  I asked them to please try and push him back up anyways and he said that he would if he could, but there was no chance of Grayson surviving either way.  As a mom, this was the hardest thing for me to hear... afterall, he was still alive.  I could feel him moving this whole time.  Dr. Sellers cried the whole time... what a blessing he was as a doctor.  What doctor cries with you, holds the hands of your family and prays with you?!  God couldn't have put a better man in this room.  Again, God's goodness showing through.  I was told that I would have to spend the next several hours in labor, they were going to give me pitocin to make me contract because I wasn't having enough contractions.  I still, at this point, never cried.  I told you, I was completely out of it and in way too much physical pain to process anything.  I fell asleep as they gave me the epidural and when I woke up, it all came to a halt and I lost it.  I cried harder than I ever have in my life.  Those moments, where it all sank in... I knew I was going to lose my baby boy.  I knew that Jesus was going to be holding him before I ever would.  And those moments, they hurt, they sting like nothing has ever stung before.  There was a hole that was formed in my heart then, that will never truly be filled this side of heaven.  At about 9:30am, I felt the need to push.  Where you get the strength to call in your doctor and tell him you are ready to deliver your baby boy, knowing that the end result was his death, when I could feel him kicking still, I know only comes from strength outside my own.  He came in and asked me if I was ready and I said "ready as I will ever be" with tears in my eyes.  My family, along with Dr. Sellers, tearfully prayed over Damon and I and they quietly left the room, with the exception of my mom and sister, Abby.  Dr. Sellers told me that, Grayson would likely pass away while I delivered him.  I truly believe, at this point, God took over my body and gave me peace to do the best thing I could do for little Grayson and pushed and at 9:44am, he was born. It was a moment that I will never ever forget.  I looked at him with tears in my eyes and smiled.  And said "I am so jealous of Jesus right now because He is getting to hold my baby boy."

The next several hours were spent holding Grayson, taking pictures, putting his footprints on everything we could find, grieving, questioning and praising God.  There is a part of me that wishes you all could have been there and seen him.  You CANNOT deny God when you saw his little face.. his fingernails... You CANNOT.  It is impossible.

As I went to go pick up the book I had been reading, there was a part of me that wanted to throw it back down and never pick it up again.  Jesus asked me if I was willing to give Him anything and I said yes.  He took me up on it.  Would I do it all over again?  Yes.  Jesus, you can have anything!!

I could not imagine a little over a month ago how my life would change, but I would not change it for one second.  Do I long to hold him again?  Absolutely!  Will I hold him again? Absolutely!!  And until then, my Jesus is holding him safe and sound.  And little Grayson will always be a part of our lives.  He has changed my life.  He has changed how I view Christ, how I view Jesus and His death on the cross, he has changed how I view my kiddos, he has changed how I love my family, he has changed how I worship, he has changed everything... And I wouldn't change anything.  Jesus died for me.  God WILLINGLY gave up His ONLY son to die for me.  That has taken on a WHOLE new meaning through losing Grayson.  I wouldn't say that I was willing to give up Grayson and it is the hardest thing I have ever done, letting him go.  God has been so faithful.  He is soo good to me and I am blessed beyond imagination to be called "Grayson's mommy". 

Grayson Scott Woodward, I love you and miss you terribly.  You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. You truly have lived up to the middle name given to you.  You were obedient to Jesus and I know you heard, “Well, done” when you saw Jesus!!  Thank you for changing my life!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pregnancy Update and Gender Reveal

What a LONG weekend!!  And the week catching up has felt just as busy!  We had my sister's lingerie shower at my house on Friday night and then left on Saturday to go to Memphis and celebrate the Bachelorette party overnight there.  Let me just tell you, I stayed out until 1:00am... a FEAT for me... especially being 17 weeks pregnant!!  And pregnant on Beale Street... bahaha.... It was quite the night.  I think I may have been one of the FEW sober people there!! :)  It was a blast though and so glad that I got to celebrate my sister's last couple weekends of being single!  We returned late Sunday afternoon and I was definitely pretty worthless the rest of the night... as well as the following day!! My hubby is the most supportive hubby I could ask for.  He not only took care of Collins all weekend by himself, but had the floors cleaned and house picked up when I got home!  What a blessing!!! I wouldn't trade him for the world!!!  Ironically, I didn't take any pictures with Abby while we were in Memphis, but here is one of my other sis and I! :)
I can't believe that we are already almost 18 weeks along!!  This pregnancy is FLYING by!! I am still feeling great, which is amazing!! I mean, don't get me wrong, I definitely have my days that are more rough than others, but I am chasing around a VERY active 15 month old... Let me just tell you, if you haven't met Collins, that she might be the MOST ACTIVE 15 month old I have EVER met!!  She is like a mini version of her daddy...  They both could go go go all the time and the more people involved, the better.  I mean, she literally only sits when she is going down for a nap or bedtime... The rest of the time, she may sit, but she gets up about 3 seconds later!  Here is a recent picture of the little goober... What a ham!

We went to the doc on Tuesday morning and found out what we were having.  But most importantly, found out the baby is healthy and strong and perfectly on schedule!  I am measuring 2 days ahead of schedule, which is PERFECT!!  :)

I guess we can get to what you guys are all checking this blog for anyways... the gender reveal... I apologize for the delay, but we wanted to let our families know first and also reveal the name to them before we let everyone else in on the fun news!! :)

So here it goes... Here is Collins waiting at the doctor's office to find out if she is having a little brother or sister!! :) She was pretty excited either way!!  And so were we!!!

I made a box... see below... and it was filled with either blue or pink balloons!!
And then we videoed away as the family watched... Sorry about the movement in the video... I think my sister was a little excited to find out... and she gets a little wild moving around!! :)  Don't cheat by scrolling down... the video is WAY more fun!! :)

video








So... those balloons were BLUE!!! It's a BOY!!!!!!  Collins will have a little brother come October!!!


His name will be Grayson Scott Woodward. We just loved the name Grayson!  So different, but strong.  We knew we wanted his middle name to be a family name... So, Scott is after my dad.  When we thought about qualities that we would like for our son to have, we thought about many qualities that my dad has shown us.  I hope that our son can be half the man my dad is... That would mean he is a REALLY good man.. one who loves Christ, serves his family above all else, works hard and loves his wife more than anything.

We are so blessed... I can't even begin to imagine the craziness that my life will take on in October, but I couldn't be more excited.  God has given us the privilege of being parents to TWO KIDDOS!!  Unbelievable... Thank you, Jesus!!