Never Again

Joe and I were listening to a sermon recently by a pastor named, Samuel Rodriguez. The sermon was entitled, “Never Again” and really spoke to us both on so many levels. He talked about the story of Noah in Genesis 5:32-10:1. One point he really touched on was the promise God made to Noah in the end, where he says,
“Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
The phrase “never again” resonated with me so strongly. For days, I would hear it over and over in my head, wondering what God was trying to say to me through it. In the scripture, Noah and his family had just come out of a storm. Though it was rough at many points, and even leading up to it they had to deal with issues, they made it out unscarred and then God gives them this great promise, “never again.” I could not help but to see the parallels in my own life and see what God was saying to me through this story and phrase.

We have talked so much about having more children and to be honest, I go in and out of fear when it comes to it. Clearly, this journey has not been easy for us so far. I am always tempted to worry about something horrible happening to us again. Lately, when those thoughts arise I hear the voice of God so clearly saying “Never Again!”.

I learned a few things from the scripture and that sermon about Noah that we can all apply to our lives and the storms we endure:
Noah was obedient… Despite the naysayers, despite the doubt he must have felt at some point, and despite any limitations and obstacles, Noah was obedient and as a result his family and future generations were blessed.
Noah was prepared for the storm… He worked hard for many years building the ark, despite the obstacles. He prepared his family for the storm. Likewise, we must be spiritually and physically prepared to endure whatever comes our way. The week leading up to Nia’s delivery Joe and I were both studying Job. Throughout the entire process, those scriptures kept coming up in my mind. Because of that preparation, my heart was different, my prayers were different, and I never doubted God’s plan in that moment.
Noah praised and worshipped God when the storm was over… Many times we like to shout that “we made it!” when we get out of a storm and forget who the glory is supposed to go to. The full verse quoted above actually reads, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (Genesis 8:20-21). Noah’s praise was pleasing to God and led him to make that wonderful promise.
The ark landed on a mountain… As a result of the storm and the height of the waters, the ark was raised high above the earth. Sometimes your storm will leave you on higher ground in life spiritually, physically, and mentally.

I am looking with excitement towards the future, not just in terms of growing our family and having more children but in everything. When that fear does creep back up I will just pray those very words that have been floating around in my head and heart for the past few days… Never Again! And I will watch as God fulfills His promises!

One Year Later

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This past weekend marked exactly one year since we learned that we lost our daughter Nia Audrey. Nia was stillborn on April 5, 2013 and it was and still is the most horrific thing I have ever had to endure. The blessing is that we endured it and we are here a year later able to share our experience and testimony. I honestly have been thinking about this post for a few weeks. So many emotions have overcome me in these last few days that it was hard for me to focus enough to sit down and write this post. I have come to realize that blogging and sharing with you all is therapeutic for me. It is apart of my healing process and an opportunity for me to continuously give God glory for what He is doing in our lives.

For a long time, I wondered what God wanted us to see or learn through that experience. I wondered why He allowed us to go through such pain. I wondered how He was going to use what we went through to help others. I still do not have the answers to those questions completely but I do know that Nia was purposed. I do know that if she did nothing else in her short time with us, she changed me. Not only did she make me a mom, but she made me stronger and wiser. Nia gave me a testimony. Through the loss of our precious baby girl I learned what it felt like to suffer. I learned what it meant to give up something and someone that meant so much to you without a choice. I learned how to truly press into God.

I spent much of last summer in tears. I would lay on the floor in the nursery or the living room and just cry out to the Lord. I begged Him to hear my cry. I asked Him to heal me from the inside out. I asked Him to make me stronger. I asked Him to let me smile again, to feel joyful again. I asked Him for total and complete restoration. I discovered that He is so merciful and full of grace. He gave me all of that and more. I found my healing in writing and sharing my story. I found my healing in His word, in the stories of women in the Bible who struggled with pregnancy or the desire to bear children, in the stories of the many men and women who overcame major obstacles because of their faith and trust in God. I found my healing in the face of my firstborn child.

I saw firsthand how Nia’s birth into heaven changed the people around me. I saw my family come together. I have heard the testimonies of healing and breakthrough in the lives of those who heard our story. My relationship with my husband is stronger and our bond deeper. And the love I feel for my son, Nehemiah is powerful. As a result of Nia I will be a better mother and wife, most importantly I will be a better disciple of Christ.

Nehemiah coming into our family has been such a dream come true. Joe and I decided early on that he would always know about his big sister, Nia. When we got pregnant so soon after Nia many people seemed concerned that we were trying to replace her. Anyone who has gone through what we have knows that replacing Nia with another child is impossible. We already speak to him now about his big sister, how she is his guardian angel, and how she changed our lives for the better. He will grow up knowing all about her and the impact she made in her short time with us.
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So, this past weekend Joe and I celebrated our firstborn. I am going to try my hardest for it not to be a time to go back to sadness too much, but to instead rejoice in what this past year has meant for us. I will always miss my sweet baby girl. I will always wonder what her eyes would have looked like, what her cry would have sounded like, what kind of voice she would have had, if she would have been tall like her dad or petite like me. I am choosing to find peace in knowing that she is in heaven with the best daddy there is.

Happy Birthday Nia Audrey! Mommy, Daddy, and Nehemiah love you and miss you so much!

Preparing My Heart

Our son’s arrival is less than a month away. Naturally, we are so excited and of course there are some moments where we are afraid. I realized that I am still mourning and healing in many ways from the loss of Nia. At the same time, I have a little man coming very soon and I need to prepare. I have written previously about the nesting that most soon to be moms experience in third trimester. The nesting that involves preparing the house, decorating the baby’s room, deep cleaning the home, etc. And while that is certainly going on over here (poor Joe as my parents would say), I saw that I needed to prepare for my son in another, very important way. I needed to prepare my heart.

I read so many stories and articles on moms who lost a child to stillbirth and how they felt when their next child was born. I have to be honest that some of it scared me. I suppose that is why my doctors tell me to stop googling stuff! Some of the articles and forums were full of mothers sharing how they felt detached from the new baby, how they experienced severe postpartum depression, or how they kept seeing the child that they lost instead of the child currently in their arms. I read those articles and my immediate response was “O, surely that will not be me!” I just assumed that I would feel different than these women. As I continued to think about it, I realized that I need to prepare my heart to receive this blessing and I had to do more than just say that I would not feel how they felt. But I had no idea where to start. Of course, I started googling for articles on preparing for a new baby after a stillbirth, but I was not finding what I felt I needed. The articles that were popping up were all about the childbirth experience and going back to the hospital. So, like I should have done from the beginning, I turned to the word of God.

I needed to first rejoice in the beautiful miracle happening inside of me. To stop fearing what could happen and what did happen and truly rejoice in what God was doing now. I saw that in Psalms 127:3,
Children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward.

I needed to gain strength and courage from God in preparing to become a mother again. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 2:9,

My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

I also needed to allow myself to get excited about the pregnancy and my son. I used to feel like I had to in some ways suppress it because I did not want to get too attached. I was living in fear and not enjoying a moment of the pregnancy. I had to let all of that go, trust God and get excited! I had to allow myself to feel joy when I saw his little face and body during the ultrasounds, to feel excitement when he does those belly shaking moves, to sing songs and talk to my son with joy and hope, and to share my feelings with those around me.

And, I needed to pray for my son. I quickly noticed that initially all of my prayers were geared around one thing, fear. I would pray that the pregnancy would go well and that I would not have to endure what I endured previously. I would pray that my son would live. I got so caught up in praying for my fears that I forgot that this is the child that God promised me. While, I still pray for those things, particularly in moments where I feel weak and afraid I tend to focus most of my prayers now on his life. I thank God for his life, I pray that he will grow to be a strong man of God, I pray for his future, I pray for his wife and children. I also pray that God would continue to equip Joe and I to be the parents for him and all of our future children that God has called us to be.

Amazingly enough, focusing on not just preparing our home, but also on preparing my heart for my son has given me so much peace. I know that we are bringing him home and I want to work to make sure that my heart is ready to receive such a wonderful blessing!

I’m So Happy For You!

                         “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

That scripture hit me like a ton of bricks one day. It definitely felt like the world kept moving even though I was down  and out last Spring/Summer. People kept having healthy babies, getting engaged and married, buying houses, etc. They were living life and from what I could tell they were happy while I was at home feeling miserable and unable to walk on my own. It used to bother me so deeply when someone would text me or call me and tell me that this person just had their baby and how adorable they were. Or that someone else had just purchased a home and it was beautiful. I would hear of how this person or that person was expecting and the entire family was so excited. All I could think of was how I once felt like that. I envied their innocence. You see when nothing bad has ever happened to you in a particular area it is so easy to be almost child like in your excitement. It is also very difficult to get that feeling back once you have experienced the other side.

So what is a girl like me to do? I was so hurt and heartbroken but I felt horrible that I was not able to truly be happy for other people. Then I realized that I did not want their house or baby. I wanted my baby and she was gone. I realized that just like I have my burdens and heartaches, so do others. Finally, I realized that if I continued like I was that I would be an ugly person on the inside. So I prayed about it. I prayed that God would grant me peace, that I would be able to be happy for my friends and loved ones without considering myself, that I would learn to be selfless in my thoughts and actions towards others, and that I would learn to be a better friend. I wanted to be able to rejoice with them. I then started praying for my friends. I prayed that they would all bring healthy babies home, that they would never experience the pain that I felt as I buried my first child, and that those children would be blessed.

I always wondered why I was surrounded by so many people who were having babies at the same time! I mean it is like non-stop! But it is such a blessing and has enabled me to grow so much in so many ways. I am thankful to God for granting me peace and for blessing my friends with healthy babies. I am looking forward to next month when you all will also be able to rejoice with me as we bring our baby boy home!

Pregnancy Update

Well, I do not do many of these at all. But I decided to do something different this week. This coming weekend we will be in month number eight and officially in the homestretch. I can say that I am truly excited and believing that we are bring this baby home. I still have moments of extreme fear or flashbacks to what happened the last time. But we are trying so hard to remain faithful and continue believing God for His best.

From day one, my mother has called this baby the Promised Child. He is my dream come true and truly an answer to my prayers. God does not make promises He does not plan to keep so I try to also keep that in mind when I am having a difficult moment. Other than those moments, things are going great! We are entering the phase where we have so many appointments due to our last experience. So I get to see my baby weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, which I love! We also get updates on his weight which is kind of exciting. I had no idea last time how big Nia was and was shocked that my little body could produce an eight pounder! This time they are monitoring his weight closely so I am not sure that he will grow to that size in the womb. At 28 weeks he was almost three pounds so I am excited to see how much he weighs next week.

This baby is also super active. I have never seen or felt some of the acrobatics he does daily, but I love every second of it. Even the movements when he rocks my belly so hard it hurts. I still consider those movements sweet reminders that my God is faithful.

So as we continue our journey through this pregnancy I just ask for your support and prayers.

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It’s About the Journey

I am sure we have all heard this said many times, “It’s about the journey, not just the destination”. I know I have and at some point it just started to blend in with all of the other quotes that you hear out there. Now, that quote is real to me. I see so much better now that everything that has happened in the last year has been a part of this new journey we are on. And while I do not always understand things when they are happening I am learning to be thankful for God’s faithfulness through it all.

This week we took, what I feel was a major step in moving forward. We finally packed away all of the baby girl clothes and accessories as we prepare to bring our son home. I thought for some reason this would be a simple task because I have been so excited to shop for boy clothes and shoes. I was definitely wrong and did not expect to experience the emotions that I did. A few weeks ago, we took down some of the wall hangings that were specific to Nia but packing the clothes was a completely different experience for me.

We were in Wal-mart purchasing the bins to put the clothes in and before I knew it, I was crying right there in the middle of Wal-mart. We came home and I went in the room with Joe and we went to work and the tears just started to flow once again until I found myself sobbing. Joe asked if I wanted to stop and take some time, but I did not want to delay it anymore. I am completely committed to preparing both my home and my heart for my son and I know that this is just a part of the process or the journey. I think the thoughts just flooded my mind as I placed outfits into the bin. I thought about how excited I was to hang everything up and organize them by size. Or how I used to picture her in certain outfits and try to think of clothing that I had to match them. I used to create hairbows to match her outfits because I decided that my baby girl would always have a hair accessory. As I packed those clothes away I also had to flush those feelings out.

I feel better now that it is done and there is no longer anything hanging over my head. We are truly, wholeheartedly moving forward and preparing to bring our son home. And I know that this was just another part of our journey and another piece of our healing.

Baby J Gender Reveal!!!

A few weekends ago we had a gender reveal for our families for Baby J. We chose a football theme and sent out evites a week in advance. Our guests were supposed to pick a team color (blue/green for Team Boy and pink/yellow for Team Girl) and wear that to the reveal. Most of our guests were trying to be neutral with their clothing but we had a score board and made them vote. Unfortunately, I do not have a decent picture of the score board but the votes were split basically right down the middle.

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We planned the reveal around the UGA v Auburn game, which we lost (insert sad face) but we essentially just watched the game and ate until the reveal. We used cupcakes to do the reveal. After calling around to a few cupcake shops in the area I realized there was no way that we would pay more than $15 for a dozen of cupcakes. Actually, $15 is a bit too much for me. So, we went to Publix and purchased cupcakes that had not been frosted yet. We also picked up some frosting and food coloring. I just cut out a triangular shape from each cupcake and stuffed it with the correct color and then put the triangular piece back in and added frosting to the top. It was very easy and not that time consuming. The best part is that it cost like $10 total which is way less than the $30 that every shop wanted to charge us.
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Finally, it was time for the reveal and we were so excited to share with everyone that we are having a baby boy! We are not planning to reveal his name until he is born but we still welcome suggestions! (Unless your name is Korey… we got that name suggestion enough!)
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Our first baby was obviously a little girl so having a boy this time is special in so many ways and it is helping to make the experience a little different. Although, it is not any easier mentally. I do spend a lot of time thinking of how I am going to change up the nursery and searching for cute boy clothes! I never knew how hard and how much more expensive it would be to find cute boy clothes! I like when baby boys look like little men so button downs and polos are definitely more pricey than tutus but I am loving every minute of it!

Thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers! Please keep them coming!

Sweet Reminders

Sometimes I feel nervous, anxious, or sad about my current pregnancy. I still have moments when I struggle and waver in my faith. In those moments I try to not think about what happened and to think about the amazing little blessing inside of me instead. I thank God for where we are today, instead of fretting about yesterday. Often, God will give me a sweet reminder to shake me out of that state, my baby will move inside of me. I absolutely love feeling this baby move. I enjoy every second, sometimes I even close my eyes wherever I am and relish in the moment. This pregnancy is already so different from my last. I feel this baby move more frequently and powerful at this stage in my pregnancy. I am currently 20 weeks and have been feeling movement for over a month, but not little flutters like people typically describe. I feel full on movement. I am excited for this baby, for this promised child as my mom likes to say. And I am thankful to God for every movement, big and small.

Joe likes to pray 2 Samuel 7:28-29 over our family and I want to pray that scripture over your home today as well,

28 “And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. 29 Now therefore, let it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue before You forever; for You, O Lord God, have spoken it, and with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
I thank God for the sweet reminders of His goodness, mercy, and grace everyday, the big and the small! And for His promises that will always hold true!

P.S. We know the gender of the baby and I am so excited to reveal it to you all! Come back soon for a post covering our gender reveal!

Taking Another Step

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So we took down some things in the nursery that were Nia-specific. While I was pregnant with Nia, we did some projects that either contained her name or first initial and for the longest I refused to take anything down. I kept telling myself that I would take it down soon, or when we find out the sex of this baby. This weekend that all changed. We were at a meeting for church and were praying with a group of people specifically for this pregnancy and this baby that I am carrying. While they were praying over us I felt something release inside of me and the tears would not stop flowing for the longest. They were speaking things over us and encouraging us with the very words and scriptures I have said to others and even to myself throughout this time, however, things were different this time. I needed to hear it from someone else in that moment. I needed that love and support to get past that moment and to move forward in my healing process.

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Two things stood out to me most from that night. One of the ladies praying for us and speaking over us told me to not stifle the life within me with the pain and hurt from Nia. That struck me hard because I really did think that I was doing right by this child in every way but I realized that I was not. There were some things that I needed to discontinue right away. I needed to change my mindset yet again to prepare for what God is doing now and what He is about to do. The second thing that stood out came from someone at the meeting who I have not really spoken to for more than five minutes total. She came to me and said that the Lord had laid some things on her heart and she began to quote some scriptures as well and then said that I needed to be bold during this time. While I still do not fully know what that means right now, I do know that there is a reason for the words that were spoken to me. I do know that there is a reason why these two things stood out to me. So… it is time to start preparing the nursery for this baby! I am so excited because I love decorating nurseries! I already have a color scheme for this one (it will only be slightly different). Aside from preparing the nursery I am also preparing my heart, mind, and soul to bring this baby home.

Well…

It’s my birthday!!!  I am so grateful to see another birthday. But I want to be honest and say that I have cried off and on today for at least an hour. This year has been interesting. I realize that I always tend to reflect on the past year on my birthdays. This year I lost an aunt, daughter, great-aunt, and great-uncle. I have gained a new church family and new friends. I have a wonderful job with a supervisor who truly knows God and has my best interest at heart and co-workers that are encouraging and supportive. Joe and I have been pushed to a new level in our marriage and have learned that we are truly life partners. I have gotten to know God in a more intimate way and I can feel myself changing as a result. My family as a whole is closer and stronger. Finally, God has blessed my family to still grow despite the losses. Joe and I are expecting our second baby and we are so thankful for God’s hand over our lives.

For the longest, I wanted to keep this pregnancy a secret. After my mom and others kept asking me why I was not telling people I took some time to pray about it and really consider why I felt how I felt. I struggle with anxiety, worry, and stress regarding this pregnancy. I realize that I miss the innocence that most pregnant women have when they are pregnant and have never suffered a loss. I miss how I felt with my last pregnancy. Everything was so exciting and new and beautiful! Now, things just constantly worry me and I have to fight daily to control my thought life. I wanted to keep it a secret so that I could protect myself somehow, so that I could protect the people that were hurt the last time. I saw that this was not possible. I realized that God could not get the glory if I did not share my full story. So I am letting go. We pray daily (almost constantly) for this child and pregnancy. We pray for his or her life while they are in the womb, and that his or her life would glorify God when they are out. We pray that God’s hand of protection will cover him/her for life, that they will grow to truly love the Lord, and that he/she will have a servant’s heart.

So… as a birthday gift… I am now asking that you all would also intercede on our behalf. Thank you for supporting us through everything and we look forward to celebrating with you very soon!