Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I have written a couple of blog posts in the past about the loss that Denis and I experienced in January of 2009. For any readers that may not have known, our loss was rather sudden and of course unexpected. To save you from a long and emotional back story, I will just highlight the details you may need to know in case something is mentioned later on that might not make sense unless I let you in on a few events. On January 11, 2009 we kicked off our annul 21 day fast at our church. That night I had a dream. A very vivid dream that I was pregnant, and that in my dream I was warned that if I went forward with this fast my baby wouldn't survive. I woke up Monday morning and I couldn't shake this horrible feeling. I happen to have some pregnancy tests on hand, so I thought to myself, "Just take one. You'll feel better knowing for sure one way or the other." So I did. Low and behold, 2 beautiful pink lines started back at me. Without another thought, I ran into the bedroom and shook Denis awake. I know I had the goofiest grin on my face as I shared the news. It was one of those moments I had only ever imagined in my head, and now it was really happening. We made plans to meet for lunch that very afternoon back at the house and I took yet another test (cause I'm crazy like that) and in a matter of a lunch hour, we had a plan. A plan to save money. A plan to tell our families around Valentine's Day. We made plans. Big plans.
That night our big plans came crashing to a halt. I started bleeding. Nothing too alarming, but I knew something wasn't right. The bleeding worsened so we went to the doctor the next day and our fears were confirmed... our baby hadn't survived.
It wasn't until after Norah was born that we made the news of our loss public. I had been asked to be in a video for Mother's Day in 2010. It was then that I first spoke of our miscarriage. Even though it was very emotional for me, I knew it was something that had to be done. Because there was this very real piece of me that believes that talking about that first little life I had living inside of me was the only thing that kept my baby's memory alive. The pain is still very real. But the pain is my reminder that my child did existed. That there is a part of my heart that will never be owned by another. No one could ever replace that loss... that space is forever reserved by the child who first made me a mother.
A few months after the miscarriage I begged God to show me if our baby was a boy or a girl. I don't know why this was so important to me, but I was desperate to know. I've never heard God speak audibly before, but He does speak to me. But every time I pursued Him about this particular subject, I "heard" nothing. It was around my birthday in 2009 that I had another dream. Another very vivid dream about our sweet baby. In this dream my baby lived to breath it's first breath. It was a beautiful baby girl. She had the most beautiful face I had ever seen. She even had a name. Maria. Moments after I heard her name spoken I woke up, my pillow soaked with tears. Now. I am not saying that the Lord gave me this dream. I am saying that only 2 dreams have ever been had about my baby. The dream about being pregnant with her, and the dream revealing her gender and name. And to me, that says something.
Maria: the Hebrew meaning is "Bitter"
In order to complete her name and bring "closure" to the meaning, I gave her the middle name Alison, meaning "Sweet." (My older sister's name is also Allison)
For the last 3 years, on October 15th I write a letter to Maria. In each letter I dream about who she would be and what she would be doing. She would have been 3 this Fall. I tell her about her sister and about her daddy. I tell her all my secrets. She is one incredible secret keeper. I talk to her about my fears and my struggles and my thoughts about the future. Last year I told her to make sure she took special care of Anthony Jr, Malia and Nathan D'Imperio. (The sons and daughter of a great friend of mine). I ask her questions in hopes that one day she will answer them all. Every night I go to bed, turn my bedside lamp off and I glance at my Willow Tree Angel of Remembrance that sits right next to my bed. This is the tangible object that I have dedicated to her memory. My sweet Maria watching over me as I sleep. Each night I secretly hope she will visit me once again in my dreams. But even if I never dream of her again here on earth, one day I will get the chance to hug her and squeeze her tight and laugh ourselves through eternity.
It was 7 months after we lost Maria that Norah was conceived. She was part of our healing. I think often about the fact that if Maria had been carried full term, Norah would never exist. It hurts my mind to try and wrap my head around a world with no Norah Kathleen. I miss Maria everyday. This is why her name means "Bitter Sweet." The taste of losing her will always be bitter. But her short life saved mine. In losing her she showed me that there is nothing in this world that I wanted more than to be a mother. She opened up the doors and prepared the way for Norah. Every life has a purpose. Maria must have fulfilled hers in just 6 short weeks before Jesus brought her home. Her purpose, to restore hope to my world. It's crazy that it took such a vast amount of pain to bring me hope. I think Dillion Lovall said it perfectly though... "He makes broken lives beautiful."
Mommy loves you Maria. So does your daddy and your little sister.
Until we meet, I will always remember and never forget. Not ever.
Friday, June 15, 2012
I could also compare it to going to the eye doctor to get your eyes checked. When you go to the eye doctor, what is one of the first things he/she does? They dilate your eyes. While you are with the doctor, this is no big deal. You are in a dark room and he/she is trained to keep you comfortable and safe during your exam. It is only when you leave that you can sometimes feel disoriented because your eyes are suddenly extremely sensitive to life outside the examination room. The whole reason the doctor needed to dilate your eyes in the first place is so that he/she can get a better look at what is happening below the surface. But the effects of this check-up can at times remain even after the exam is over.
This pretty much sums up what it feels like to go through my own "spiritual eye exam." These occasional (ok, sometimes quite regular) exams ensure that my vision remains clear. Because if left unchecked for too long, I may not even realize that I'm missing the road signs that the Lord is placing so clearly in my path ahead, pointing me in the right direction. As much as I dread the discomfort of these exams, I long for the clarity that comes with them. For clarity brings confidence. And with confidence comes boldness and courage.
I love reading and re-reading Psalms 119 in the Message Translation.
Verses 1-8 says this:
You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You're blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him.
That's right—you don't go off on your own;
you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
keeping to the course you set;
Then I'd never have any regrets
in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I'm going to do what you tell me to do;
don't ever walk off and leave me.
I LOVE this: Oh that my steps might be steady, keeping the course you set. THEN I'd never have any regrets...
That is the kind of life I long for. No Regrets. No need for Do-Overs. If I'm honest, there are plenty of things I'd like a second chance at. But that comes with being hopelessly flawed. But I don't want to get to a place where when I take a good look at my surroundings and I wonder "How did I get here...?" I want every step of my journey to be marked by God. I want His fingerprints to be everywhere. Then I can't possibly have any regrets. It may not look exactly how I had planned, but just imagine how much better it will be...
I feel my life is in mid "shed." I feel the old skin falling away so that new skin can surface. Is it enjoyable? No. Do I wish I could just pick at it and pull it away faster to expedite the process? Heck yes! But wouldn't that just cause unnecessary pain and possibly even scars?! So I will remain patient. Allow this "shedding" to take place in it's own timing. Because even though the skin underneath may look the same as the old skin doesn't mean I haven't changed. It means I'm growing. And that is a beautiful thing.
Friday, May 04, 2012
I read a quote this week that said this:
The success of God’s plans are not dependent on my ability to execute them.
He will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my accomplishments. He is bigger than that.
-- Jon Acuff
I don't know about any of you, but I am eternally grateful that God is bigger. The knowledge that God is simply bigger is what propels me forward. I no longer have to feel like I am not good enough or that success only comes when I am recognized for it. No shiny medal or flowery speech will equate to the words "Well done my good and faithful servant." "I press towards the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God." (Phil 3:14). I press on. I am determined for the Lord to know that He can count on me. That I won't quit when the going gets tough.
Today I feel like my head has found the surface and I can breath again. Today has offered me hope. Today I don't feel so afraid. Today I don't feel so alone. Today is a new day. Today, like everyday, I have been assured that goodness and mercy are my companions. (It's just not everyday that I like to address that they are there...following me like the faithful companions they are.)
I was listening to a CD that a friend gave to me. The song "Faithful God" came on. I immediately recognized the song that was recorded by Gateway Church a few years ago, but it was a song I hadn't heard in a while. I let it play and as I listened to those familiar words I began to weep. Right there at my desk. Tears spilled out. Tears that brought such sweet relief. I want you to take a minute and read through the lyrics to this song...
When I cry, do You hear
I believe every tear
Is caught up by a faithful God
So I will cry until You come
Cast my cares into Your arms
I can't see past this storm
But I'm counting on a faithful God
You hold my life secure
All my days are Yours
My God is like a fire defending me
I believe You still heal
And demons still bow
I'm convinced there is power
In trusting in a faithful God
So I will praise till You appear
And set Your foot upon this shore
I declare that every foe
Is subject to my faithful God
I know that You are mine
And I am Yours, I am Yours
I know Your faithfulness
It will endure, it will endure...
Here is a link to listen to it on YouTube. It is worth the 9:02 minutes it will take for you to listen to it... I promise.
I plan on letting this song sing over me again and again when those days come that I feel overwhelmed, alone, tired, afraid or defeated. Because the truth is "You hold my life secure. All my days are yours"
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Speaking of South Africa. I will say that being away from my daughter for 13 days in a row was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I cried every night for a week straight leading up to the big "goodbye." Since I have been back home, being away from her for any period of time is difficult. When I drop her off in daycare now, I feel a tightening in my chest that leads to an intense longing to see her again. Most days I find an excuse to go and see her, but that usually ends badly...for both of us.
As Norah slowly creeps up on her 2nd birthday I am noticing just how rapidly she is changing and growing. I have finally come to grips with the fact that Norah shouldn't be wearing 18 month clothes anymore... getting out her 24 month clothes means I have to admit that she isn't a baby anymore. In two short years this little human being has developed an incredible ability to increase my ability to love. 11 years ago, when I finally gave into my heart and let myself admit that I was completely in love with Denis, I never thought I could love more than I did in that moment. That 11-year-ago love would be put to shame if it ever met the 11-years-and-growing love that I feel now for my husband. But this love that I feel for Norah has caught me completely by surprise. It holds such great power. It was that power that caused me to cry every night leading up to Africa. It is that power that causes me to leap to her rescue every time she falls or even looks like she might fall. It is that love that makes me want to kiss every boo-boo (even the fake ones), wipe every tear, buy every new toy, do something "one more time" just cause she asked, and it's that powerful love that makes me finally believe that punishing my child really does hurt me more than it hurts her! I love that girl more than I will ever be able to show her or tell her. It makes me doubt my ability to love another child as much as I love her. I know that when that day comes ( a day that will not happen in the next 10 months or less) that that ability to love another little child will be awakened. There is a whole lot of love stored up somewhere that is kept just for them.
As Norah is growing, so are her opinions. The other morning she was with her dad and he was attempting to get her dressed. About 3 feet from where they were sitting was a little blue basketball. Norah wanted that ball. Norah did not want to get dressed. Do you see where this is going? Yeah... it immediately became a situation. As I watched this battle of wills unfold, I attempted to become Denis' ally. So I told Norah, "After you get your shirt on, you can have the ball." "Norah, if you just sit still and let daddy get you dressed you can play with the ball." "Norah! you could have been playing with the ball for 5 minutes already if you would just put the shirt on!" I didn't say I was a good ally... In fact I'm pretty positive I didn't help the situation at all. But it made me think. How often is that the way we are with the Lord? Isn't that what happened to the Israelites? They saw what they wanted and tried to take it before they were ready. I could write an entire book on how many times I was distracted by what I wanted and tried to take it while God was trying to wrestle my will down and get me ready to actually have what He was saying I could have but only when I was ready. And we wonder why at times the Lord doesn't let us see what He has even though we pray to see a "glimpse" or a "piece" of His bigger plan. Because he knows we can be so distracted by that "blue basketball" or that "land flowing with milk and honey" that we will become impatient with His attempts to prepare us for it.
Speaking of preparing. We are in full swing of prepping for our Easter service! I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this year at The Father's House we are only having ONE service! ONE BIG CELEBRATION! We have rented out the Blue Cross Arena and for the first time since I have been on staff we, as an entire church, will be under one roof! I want to cry just thinking about it. When Denis first told me that it was being considered he said "Ok, I want your first reaction. Ready? Easter: Blue Cross Arena." I said "Yes!..... NOOOO!" The "Yes!" was because how cool is that!! The "NOOOO" was because what a huge risk that is for me to "get it right." Yes. I know this isn't about me. Not even a little bit about me. But I felt like... oh gosh... I could mess this up real bad...and in front of 10,000 people. But again. Not about me. Not even close. So I immediately went back to "YES!" and I have been insanely excited about it as the vision and plans seem to unfold right before us. I am so incredibly thankful for the my pastors and leaders. They are running hard and are determined to make Jesus' name more famous in this city. I am humbled to play a part.
This Saturday I am going to see Hunger Games in the theater. I would embarrass myself if I actually went into detail about how much this excites me. I am crazy about this book series. I am going to see it with my "Net." I think the fact that I get to spend a few hours with them is what I am MOST excited about! (That and Panara... and popcorn... and PEETA!) ok. I'll stop now.
After becoming a mom and having a little family makes me realize just how incredibly lucky I am to have been raised by the most incredible woman and man on this earth. And how lucky I am to have 3 incredible siblings. If everything in my life where to suddenly get turned upside-down. If every friend I had walked away...my family would be there. No questions asked. I am so incredibly thankful for them.
April is a big birthday month for me. Not only is it my birthday month and Norah's, but so many of my friends and family. I am excited that Baby K will soon be added to that list! I asked Gracie today "Is mommy having a girl or a boy?" she said "mommy's havin' a baby" I asked again "but is it a brother or a sister?" "It's a baby" she said. What a smart little goo she is :)
For the first time in I don't even know, my husband is upstairs in bed before I am. So I am going to hit "publish" and join him. Thanks for letting me ramble. Sometimes a girls just gotta ramble.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
* WARNING: This blog post may appear to be dramatic, emotional or perhaps plain silly to some. And if you feel that way, that is perfectly fine. But if you cannot resist the urge to make fun of my dramatic/emotional/silly side, you may want to stop reading now. If you choose to continue reading and still find this post to be, shall I say again, dramatic, I only ask that you please keep your comments to yourself. Thanks :] I appreciate that.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way.
This past Friday, I packed up my car and my Bean and we heading to the Southern Tier to visit my parents for the holiday. I arrived at lunch time after a fabulous drive with Norah thanks only to Blue's Clues! (Norah's current favorite) A few hours later, I was standing in the kitchen when my phone buzzed. I looked at my phone to see that Denis has sent me a picture. I picked up the phone to see what it was and it was then they my heart stopped briefly. I had a mini freak out, which Rachel witnessed, and so she obviously wanted to know what I was holding back tears. So I told her. The picture that Denis sent to me was a picture of himself... dreadless. He had been talking about cutting his hair for a while now, but I suppose I didn't quite believe he would actually go through with it! Well...he did. Much to my apparent surprise. His long dreaded locks. Gone.
It was only hair.
So why did I cry?
Well... because if hair could talk, those dreads could tell you about every moment of our life as Mr. and Mrs.
You see, the last time that Denis had his hair cut was the morning of our wedding. Soon after that, he decided that he wanted to grow his hair out and have dread locks. He spent the next year growing out his hair, then shortly before Mike and Rachel's wedding he had the locks put in. And they have been growing ever since. I used to tease him by grabbing the ends of his hair and saying "Hey, remember the wedding? You were there..."
If his dreads could talk, they would tell you about how while we were saying our vows, Denis said his first, then when it was my turn he chimed right in and said "I Rebecca..." and the place burst into laughter.
They would tell you that our very first fight in our marriage was over me putting the jelly knife into the peanut butter. (who knew that was frowned upon?)
Or that our very first Christmas together was spent being snowed in our apartment with no food or bed.
And they would also tell you Denis and I have very different feelings about feet :]
If his dreads could talk, they could tell you about the 6 different places we have lived in the past 9 years.
They would be able to tell you all about the hours and hours we have spent in the car together traveling to Philly, to Pittsburgh or to Allegany. All the laughs we shared on those car rides, the dreaming we did, the fights we had, or about all the times we got lost and didn't ask for directions!
They could tell you about our vacations. ( The one to Jamaica was extra special since the natives thought he was a rasta and tried to sell him drugs... sometimes those dreads were trouble)
If they could talk, they could tell you all about our highest highs and our lowest lows. About the joy we felt when we saw those two pink lines for the first time, and the sorrow we felt when days later those two lines became one again.
They were there when Norah breathed her first breath. When she cried her first cry. When she made us a family. Norah used to hold a handful of Denis' hair when she drank her bottle. She would laugh when it ticked her face....
It has seen us through our entire marriage up until last Friday. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset that he cut it, or wish he hadn't. When I saw him for the first time I felt like someone had put me in a time machine and sent me back to 2002. He looks like the man I feel in love with almost 11 years ago. Hair comes and goes. Lord knows I change mine all the time. I guess I was more attached to the dreads than I thought. Or at least the history they held. But I am, and always will be, a firm believer that the best is yet to come. There are higher highs to be had...and probably lower lows. It doesn't matter who are what is around to see those moments. What really matters is the moments are waiting us. And no one else can live them for us. They are ours to have. Ours to hold. And ours to remember.
So if hair could talk, and I am well aware that it can't. It would say "Goodbye. Go live your beautiful life."
Consider it done.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Even though there was so much there that Norah was just to little to do or understand, she still played her little heart out. She was hilarious every time we left a room or activity. She would throw a fit and cry like we were robbing her from her greatest joy. She didn't understand that we were talking her to even more fun! We worked our way right through the Museum stopping to play in almost every room. I think that next summer we will get a membership. She will be the perfect age to really go and enjoy all the Museum has to offer. I love that we have a such an amazing place to visit here in Rochester. We will definitely be back! Here are some pictures of our fun afternoon together as a family!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Love is like owning a Dog
By Taylor Mali
First of all it's a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York
So think long and hard before deciding on love
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you are walking down the street late at night
you have a leash on love
ain't no one gonna mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do on it's own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with it's needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn't like being left alone for too long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things in it's passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for too long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad love bad. very bad love.
Love makes messes
and leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs a lot of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose.
Not so much to cause love pain,
but just to let love know to never do that again.
Sometimes love just wants to go for a long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds you around and around
until you are wound up and can't move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away, and love will bring them back
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, and lots of it.
And in return love loves you, and never stops.