Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When Tragedy Strikes

It's not that I'm trying to forget. It's simply that this doesn't define me. At least not now in my present state. For awhile it became a joke. "Oh, I don't have (fill in the blank) because it got burned up in the fire." How could that ever be a joke, you might wonder, but at times you learn to find humor in the things that may be most tragic. Otherwise you may crumble. 

The reality is four years ago today a house fire destroyed a home and all its contents. In many ways I had already detached myself for more than a year from what had previously been my home. 

Oh yes, there are still memories from that house. The place where my knees wore a spot in the carpet pressed down in prayer daily as I wept tears pleading with the Lord. So many desires of my heart. So many moments just Him and me. 

It housed the room that would become a nursery, themed with Noah's ark representing the faithfulness of God. There was a hallway where my son took his first steps. I find the memories seem to be attached to special moments and people rather than a structure and an address. 

I couldn't see at the time in the midst of the ashes and mess how this would all work out, but I have said it before and will continue to make it publicly known that God does work everything - every single thing - for our good. The tragedy I was in was mich bigger than a house fire, and even that, even the heartache and heart break He saw fit to redeem and restore. 

I know someone right now trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after their own house fire. I know someone else struggling to know if their marriage will even survive. I know another fighting and clawing for every single ounce of hope in what seems like a desperate situation. I know what it's like to walk through tragedy. I also know what it's like to live with uncertainty, fear and anxiety. I also know what it's like to experience the mighty and sovereign hand of God working and holding you in the midst of your tragedy. I am living proof. You've seen it and read it and watched my story unfold. This blog was born out of that very fire four years ago for the sole purpose of proclaiming the goodness of a redemptive God. 

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

Sunday, April 26, 2015

12 Week Update

By the end of this week, I will enter my second trimester. Every single day I praise and thank God for the miracle He's creating. 12 weeks is the typical time when people make their pregnancy announcements. Obviously we haven't followed the general "standard" and neither time do I have any regrets. The outpouring of love and prayers surrounding our family and this baby are too many to overlook and I'm thankful for each one praying for us and Baby Wright.

So here's a little update, in case you were wondering:

12 weeks today, Sunday, April 26. Due (on or around) November 8.

We've had 3 early ultra sounds, one at 6.3 weeks, one at 9.2 weeks, and one at 10.3 weeks. Each one showed baby measuring right on time with a strong heartbeat between 150 and 165. 

Our next ultra sound will be sometime in June (around 20-22 weeks) and yes we WILL be finding out the gender. 

According to the pregnancy apps Baby Wright is now the size of a lime and will reach the size of a plum or apricot by the end of this week (Michael thinks it's hilarious that it always compares to a fruit). In case you need a more specific measurement, about 2.5-3". The most amazing thing is how the apps report a fully formed human-like baby with reflexes and perfectly formed fingers and toes. The astounding miracle of God and His creation is mind blowing. 

As for my size, I've gained 4 lbs and if you saw my earlier Facebook post you'll know the bump I'm sporting is mostly from eating my weight in chips & salsa at La Carreta. Make no mistake, it IS happening. I cannot wear my regular pants, at least without a little rubber band engineering (I also had to convince Michael I didn't just come up with this age-old trick on my own). 

I'm starting to experience less nausea, at least not all day long, but have had to learn the hard way that just because I feel like I have an appetite doesn't mean I can handle a full meal. The changes that happen to the body during pregnancy are also mind blowing. You may have also seen posted that so far I've had two pregnancy cravings: one isolated night when my dear husband went for ice cream at 9:30 at night and the other when I consumed Jersey Mikes four times in a week. 

Eli continues to ask for one of each gender. We have confirmed - 3 times - there's only one! This week he's most recently asked for a brother, although that is going to require a lot of compromise because Michael's boy name contributions are, well, too horrendous to even mention!! 

I promise this blog won't be taken over by all pregnancy updates and baby announcements but for now we appreciate you reading and mostly you praying as we continue to count every day as a blessing. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Miracle

Even as I lay here I am so nauseated that I can't stand up. Nor could I enjoy any part of the celebratory birthday dinner for my husband tonight. Yet I've never seen anything more beautiful. There's a little white mark that looks as if it might be protruding from its eye. That is my precious baby's little hand that was just waving back and forth as if knowing we were watching. Yes, there were tears. And quite truthfully there was an amazing sense of peace. 

I've struggled with anxiousness and worry and fear. Totally normal after a loss, I suppose, but convincing myself that this wasn't the same story and God is sovereignly in control has often eluded my overwhelming anxiety. The thing is it's all out of my hands and if you've ever read my blog before you know I openly admit my struggle with control. So what does that leave me with? Simply put, trust and faith. If I've learned anything these past weeks it's truly to cherish each moment. Each nauseous moment. Each exhausted moment. Each sign of life. I've witnessed first hand how quickly life can change and I've also seen how the only thing that can get us through any amount of tragedy and heartache is faith in an Almighty God. Gratitude all the time. In all things. No matter what.

And even as I post this photo I know full well the pain it may bring to someone's heart. I've felt that pain. The unfulfilled longing of empty arms, the heart wrenching conflict of trying to find joy for the miracle we're experiencing while experiencing the sting of praying for your own. Please know I don't want this image to hurt you in any way, but rather be a symbol of hope in a God who hears and answers prayer. 

You've watched my journey unfold through the posts of this forth telling blog. If you've missed any of it, let me suffice to say this: My God is good all the time, in all things. He is the Redeemer of despair and the Healer of brokenness. He is Creator and Master over each and every detail of our lives, even when it doesn't make sense. 

I am rejoicing. I am giving Him praise. He alone deserves the glory. He alone has proven His miraculous wonders, even when He moves in ways we cannot understand. He is the Giver of life, but it is up to us to choose how we will spend our breath. Let me live that I may praise You! 

Give Thanks!

Natalie shared this photo this morning. The meaning is so true. No matter what, God is good.

We claimed it. In faith we prayed. We asked God specifically for a miracle. For complete healing and restoration. What has unfolded has been the direct answer to prayer - watching God miraculously work and be Jay's ultimate Healer. We give thanks and praise to Him for His mighty works!!!

Jay's surgery went much quicker than expected - less than 2 hours when they were predicting 3-6 hours long. Jay has begun the long road to recovery. As his family continues to hold, this is a marathon, not a sprint. But already signs of life, of his personality and of the Jay they knew before that fateful Easter night are already being seen. Jay even told his surgeon "Thanks for fixing me." He's making great progress and his family is confident that God has been protecting him and holding him this entire time. 

Thank you for praying. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for asking and trusting God for a miracle. His family is feeling your prayers. His doctors and nurses are too. I couldn't overlook the opportunity to give thanks for the favor that God has truly granted for this precious family. 

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:10b-11


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pray for Jay

I shared our joyful news just over a week ago. I talked about the moments that I am attempting to cherish. Little did I know that hours after our celebratory announcement life would be drastically changing for dear friends. All in a single moment, a 12 year old boy would suffer a massive seizure and stroke caused by a brain aneurysm. That same boy is now facing a second brain surgery tomorrow and life altering changes that his family still cannot know the full extent of. Their journey will be months, maybe years, stemming from one single moment that has changed everything.

Tonight I am calling all friends, every prayer warrior, anyone reading this to #prayforjay. The stroke caused massive damage to his brain, his personality and has altered who his family has known him to be. Tomorrow's surgery may be a complete restart for his brain, or it may be what snaps him out of this trauma. Regardless, we're asking God for a very specific miracle: complete restoration and healing for Jay.

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:10b-11

This verse came to mean so much to me during the adoption of my son. I often remarked that he was the direct product of many people's prayers being heard and answered. Because of him, we rejoiced. We gave God all the glory. I turn to this verse again and I ask you to join in praying for a miracle. I implore you to set your hope on the God who delivers, who heals, who helps us in our time of need. I invite you to take part in the amazing story that is still unfolding so that you might experience His favor being poured out when we see Him answer. I call upon you to give thanks and worship Almighty God when He answers. We have set our hope on a Sovereign and Faithful God and the prayers of many being lifted up tonight and tomorrow are the songs of praise He longs to hear. 

Please join us in praying for Jay!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Egg-citing News!

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

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
                           Psalm 139:13-16

Every single day I thank God for this miracle. Every single day I say a prayer and ask God to allow us to meet this little one face to face. Every single day I know full well that nothing is for certain but each and every day is a day I have been chosen to carry this child in my womb. Every day I know is a day that Creator God is fashioning the unformed body within me as it takes shape and changes daily. Every day is a day God had already planned before one of these days could ever come to pass. Every day that I cannot see or know or even feel the miracle taking place inside me is a day I am reassured this little one is not hidden from Almighty God Himself. Oh how I praise him for He is fearfully and wonderfully putting together this miracle in my womb. 

They measure pregnancy by weeks but I can tell you for me, I measure this pregnancy by moments. It's the moments of nausea and the moments it lifts. It's the moments I fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion and the moments I lay awake in the middle of the night restless. It's the moments I journal thoughts to my unborn child or the moments I utter prayers to my Father. The moments pass us by too quickly and are often not even remembered unless we pause within them and make a point to embody the moment to its fullest. For this moment, I will pause and give thanks. We cannot give enough thanks...and this Thanksgiving we will count our abundant and overflowing blessings as we welcome this little one into our home. Baby Wright already has a place in our hearts. 

Will you join us in praying for this baby? Thank you for sharing in our joy!

The Easter Bunny Must Die

It's Easter. Resurrection day. The day Christ conquered death, paid for our sins and made a way for us to have eternal salvation. I'm sorry to say but it is not the day the Easter bunny came or baskets and eggs were delivered. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Cadbury and Reese peanut butter eggs more than most any other candy any time of year. I just hope the Easter goodies aren't mistakenly taking over the rightful place of the cross. 

With 8 presentations of the Living Cross between these two weekends, there's little time for extras. Still it is an amazing opportunity to engross myself in the reality of this season. I've enjoyed celebrating Easter and the traditions our family holds. We had a huge lunch last week on Palm Sunday and brunch out today. We dyed Easter eggs. It was a near disaster. The kids we're fighting over whose was whose and which stickers they wanted to use to decorate. We had an Easter egg hunt. Another near catastrophe. Something about he got more than me and she has the one I wanted. There were Easter baskets - some candy and trinkets, a Lego set and some m&m's, a few fun things but nothing over the top. But it was made clear no bunny delivered the basket besides mom and Mr. Mike (and one from Nana of course). There was even a trip to see the Easter bunny. Why? Purely for the traditional picture. They weren't even in their Easter best. Autumn refused to wear a dress and Eli had on his played-in outfit from school. Nevertheless we got the expected picture and they each got a coloring page so everyone seemed happy. 

I don't judge you or your children for their belief in the bunny delivering goodies. Just last month my son came home and asked if we had a leprechaun. Excuse me, a what?! No, we don't have a leprechaun, nor is he bringing a pot of gold or any other gifts. Seriously??? His childlike wonder in Santa and our fun little elf doesn't exactly extend to the Easter bunny. Even Autumn noticed the bunny was brown this year yet before had been white. 

I don't mean to offend but the Easter bunny needs to die. At least in all the glorification we've given it and the overflowing baskets of gifts that resemble Christmas morn. We've sensationalized the bunny and in our pagan attempt to align with the world's view of the holiday, we've promoted this fictional character over the cross. My friend's young son, an old soul we call him, asked his preschool teacher "Where do the eggs fit into the Easter story?" Good question. Oh yes, we have symbolic resurrection eggs now. But it does leave one to ponder - how do the eggs fit into the story? Or the bunny no less? We've created an expectation of what the holiday should be and somehow replaced our children's knowledge of the cross with what they hope the bunny has brought. It should be fun. It should be light hearted. It should be a celebration of family and life. Not one of candy and ham but one of Christ's love. Not one of bunnies and baskets but one of an empty tomb and the conquering of death. Not one of gifts and trinkets but of THE gift of eternal life, our sins paid for. The Easter bunny didn't die for us. Jesus did. Let's celebrate Him!