Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jay Can Make a PBJ

Jay didn't like what I made for dinner the other night.  He asked for a "samich".  I said he could have a peanut butter sandwich if he made it all by himself.  So he did!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby #4 is in the arms of God

Friday, May 4, 2012

Baby #4 is in Mommy's belly!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We got some pictures of everyone at Hilton Head.

Say, "Cheese!"

 Say, "Cheese!"
Say, "Karen's Pregnant!"

It was great fun telling the Cronin family that we were pregnant!  Getting excited about having a baby next January.  Talking about how we probably won't be traveling this Christmas.  Looking forward to next weekend when the Culpepper family would come visit for Ben's birthday party and we would be able to tell them the same way.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We went to our church's annual outdoor service, featuring many baptisms - one of the best days of the year!  We got to tell a few friends about Baby #4 afterward, who were all so happy for us!

Jay called Morgan, "There's a baby!" he said.  "Where?"she asked.  "In my mommy's belly!"
Ben learned to point at my belly and say "Baby!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

I wrote this journal entry:

I truly want to love Baby #4. But I'm too afraid to commit. Last time I committed with my whole heart and when Baby #3 died my heart crumbled. Can I handle that again? YES! Of course I can, because I know what it is to be pregnant and I know what it is to miscarry and I know what it is to have life with my child and I know what it is to have life without my child- I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation; whether listening to my child sing scripture or digging a grave for my lost baby...

I can't finish that statement the way Paul does.  I want to so badly.  And that makes my body shake with weeping.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I got out of bed and discovered that I had miscarried.  The tears poured.  I called Shamus.  So many questions.  Are you sure?  Were we pregnant?  How do you know?  Did you call the doctor?

We went to the doctor that afternoon.  "Yes, this was another miscarriage." said the doctor.

That night I began putting my heart on paper.  So much fear.  I wanted to love the baby but now it was too late.  Already gone.  Gone.  But I am still that child's mother.  I will always be that child's mother.  It's part of my identity.  Shamus's wife.  Jay's mother. Ben's mother.  Baby #3's mother.  Baby #4's mother.  Each new relationship redefines my identity.  Who am I becoming?  Do I get to choose?

"It's okay, mommy.  Now Baby Number 5 can come live with us,"  says Jay.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I cried this morning.  Before church.

Peter preached on Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These verses are just before Paul says this: 
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

That's the secret I wanted to say I knew last week.  And I couldn't.

We sang.
"I'll set my gaze on God alone,
and trust in Him completely,
with everyday pour out my soul,
and He will prove His mercy"

I cried more.  With Shamus.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Who am I becoming?  Do I get to choose? I am becoming more like Christ.  I get to choose.  My identity is primarily defined in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  When my child in my womb dies, I get a choice.  To become angry, bitter, discouraged, depressed.  Or to become more like The One Who Died For Me.  To say, "Your will be done."  The One who gave everything to love everyone.  The One who knows that many will reject Him, hate Him, yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  

Oh, to love like Christ!  Do not be surprised if Shamus and I commit "too early" to loving another baby.  Do not be surprised if we "get too excited, especially after miscarrying twice".  Do not be surprised if we "put ourselves through pain" if we miscarry again.  Our hopes are UP!  Hope, that is.  For hope does not disappoint! 
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

If we miscarry again, we can rejoice.  Which is not the same as being happy.  We can rejoice in the midst of deep sadness.

Can I say that I am content in any and every situation?  I can say that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed and reborn and growing to be like Him and saved from eternal punishment, no matter what my situation.  And that brings joy every time I say it.

Every good and perfect gift is from above.  A child is a good and perfect gift.  If God puts another child in my womb, it will be like Christmas morning when you're 7 years old!  A gift!  The one we wanted most!  

We know that we will struggle with anxiety and fear apart from a particular miracle.  But we will refuse to struggle with love.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ari's Visit

Ariadna came Friday to spend the night! We went to Refresh at church on Friday where we got to worship with other women and to be encouraged by a beautiful testimony of how God pursues Christ-followers with his steadfast love. We were inspired and ended up spending a lot of time discussing how to share the gospel.

On Saturday we woke up to pancakes made by Shamus and Jay, full of sprinkles and chocolate chips! We played with the boys and then did some gardening together. It was such a joy to work in the gardens with Ariadna. She helped so much!

English is her second language (and French is her third!) and she had never learned the words ”rake” or ”mulch”.

Shamus: ”We need to rake the mulch today.”
(which sounded like ”we need to something the something today”)
Ari: ”What is mulch?”
Karen: ”It's on the bed.”
Ari:  :?
Karen: ”the flower bed!”
Ari: ”And rake?”
Karen: ”it's like a shovel but it does this: *raking fingers through carpet*”
Ari: ”that sounds so funny-rake the mulch! I'm glad it's not upstairs on your bed!”

Turns out the word for rake in Spanish is rastrillo, which also means razor. All I could picture was a wife trying to rake her husband's shaving cream off his face. Also funny.

After gardening, I put Ben in his new big boy bed. Teaching him to stay in the bed took a long time. So long that I fell asleep doing it! Ariadna and I got to visit a little more and we actually remembered to take pictures!

I'm so blessed to have Ariadna as a friends and sister in Christ. Jay thinks we should go visit her in Alabama. I agree.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baby #3 was not born

Today is Thursday. Thursday is when my OB is on call in the hospital. My due date with Baby #3 was February 24, 2012. My doctor doesn't like her patients to carry a baby 42 weeks. Today was the last day. The last possible day that Baby #3 could be inside my womb. She would have to come out. Except she had already left months ago.

On Thursday, December 4, 2008, I woke up at 5 am to call the hospital to see if there was a room available. 11 hours later, I was holding our firstborn, Jay. That night, I drank a Double Chocolate Fudge milkshake from Steak 'n Shake.

On Monday, May 3, 2010 I had an OB appointment to check on Baby Ben, who was late like Jay. The doctor told me Thursday, May 6 I would be induced. But then she switched days with another doctor so we changed it to Friday. On May 7, 2010, I woke up at 5 am and called the hospital to see if there was a room available. 6 hours later, I was holding our second child, Ben. That night, I drank a Double Chocolate Fudge milkshake from Steak 'n Shake.

On Thursday, March 1, 2012, I woke up at 6 am. I went back to sleep because I didn't want to remember that I didn't have to call the hospital that morning. That it didn't matter if there were a room available. That no matter how many hours went by, I wouldn't hold Baby #3.
I woke up at 8. I went to the park with Jay and Ben. I talked and laughed with my friends. We ate lunch together. We talked about how we can be godly mothers. We watched our kids run and climb and throw dirt. I bought the kids fancy lollipops and gummies shaped like hot dogs and hamburgers. I smiled. I took the van to the high class car wash where they even vacuum the space where the sliding door's wheel rolls. It always has cheerios in it. I sang Philippians 2:14-18 to a catchy tune while I waited for the van. I went on a date with my husband. I cried because we weren't at the hospital. We held hands in the car. I ate sushi and thought it was delicious. I held Ben and we laughed and laughed for no reason. I read books to Jay and he asked me questions about the pictures. I didn't drink a Double Chocolate Fudge milkshake from Steak 'n Shake. I cried.

On Thursday, December 4, 2008, God gave us Jay. On Friday, May 7, 2010, God gave us Ben. Two miracles. On Thursday, March 1, 2012, God gave me rest, fellowship, wisdom, laughter, entertainment, His Word, order, romance, and peace. What would you call those things?

When I cry about losing our precious daughter, I remember who God is. I remember that He is holding her along with the rest of His children. When I cry, I cry on God's shoulder. That is called Comfort. You might have had comfort before. But you can't have Comfort unless you have Christ. And I have Him. So I have everything.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Goodbye, child of ours

On June 5th, God put another child in my womb. On August 4th, that child died. I want to tell you the story so that you can understand our hope. Unfortunately, "hope is born of suffering".

"Held" by Natalie Grant

"Two months is too little"
We were so exited to find out that we were pregnant with our 3rd child!! We had Jay, our 2 year old, tell our families that 'There's a baby in mommy's belly'. It is so much fun to share that news and watch everyone's faces light up with joy and surprise.
From the moment we found out, I was imagining life with this child. I thought it was a girl because my pregnancy was so different. I started thinking of girl names. Every time I put Ben, our youngest, in his crib, I told him that he was the baby for now and that I had the tiny baby in my belly. I imagined cradling our little girl and how light she would feel in my arms compared to Ben and Jay. Jay called our child "Baby #3" because that's what Shamus called her when he talked to Jay and prayed with him. Because that was one of her names, I don't think we can call any other child "Baby #3". If God gives us another child, it will be "Baby #4".
You may think it sounds ridiculous to feel so upset about losing an unborn child that we have never met. You may think that it wasn't even a child. You may think that we are overreacting. If you have never experienced this, it will certainly be hard for you to be compassionate. I am not looking for your compassion though because I have my Heavenly Father's and He is more than enough - that is what this story is really about.

"They let him go
They had no sudden healing"
I went in for an ultrasound at 13 weeks to check on a small cyst. As "Mandy", the technician, started looking for the cyst, she passed over our child and I saw our baby lying on the bottom if my womb, and I knew in that moment that our baby had died. "Mandy" immediately noticed how still the child was and started checking for blood flow. This being my third pregnancy, I knew what to look for. My baby stayed white while my veins and arteries became red and blue. She checked for a heartbeat and looked at me with pain in her eyes and said, "Karen... I'm not getting a heartbeat." "I know." And the tears came. She still had to find the cyst and check that everything else was okay in terms of my health. I was so weakened by sadness but God gave me strength to stop crying and lay still so she could finish. After she found no problems, I called Shamus to tell him. He answered and only heard crying. I managed to say "It happened." I wasn't sure he knew what I meant, but it felt impossible to say the word "miscarriage". I kept crying and couldn't get control. I closed my eyes and breathed in and finally said "I had a miscarriage", and the sobbing continued. I managed to tell him I was at the doctor's office and to please come. He left work right then.
"Mandy" was still in the room with me and just said through tears, "I didn't expect this at all." I was still crying but God's Holy Spirit, who lives in me and every other believer, empowered me to say "Can I pray with you?" I prayed without crying and told God of His character, which honestly was not my initial thought in that moment.
Romans 8:26-27 says "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." In my experience, the spirit intercedes through words as well.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says "But he (God) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." I am not strong, but the Lord is and he graciously gives us His strength.

"To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling"
We prayed for Baby #3's health every time we prayed. Sitting down for a meal is hard because the prayer is now "Thank you, God, that you are holding Baby #3." At night when I pray with the kids before bed, I always thank God for each of our children, including Baby #3. I often cry while praying with Jay and he just says "Why mommy crying? Jesus holding Baby #3. Baby #3 all gone." He has defined "childlike faith" for me. Mark 10:15 says "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it". The day we found out about the miscarriage, Shamus was explaining again to Jay what happened. He said "God decided to keep Baby #3. Jesus is holding Baby #3." Jay said "Oh." From that moment, that has been reality for Jay, no questions asked. If only I could read God's word and simply say "Oh." and believe all of it. God has worked a miracle in me over and over in the way He has given me faith to believed His words. There is so much that I still doubt, like His sovereignty, and it comes out in my sin of anger when things don't go as I had planned. God, however, has freed me of that sin in this situation. I have not felt any anger toward God or anyone else through this. On a normal day, I struggle with this sin every time something doesn't happen the way I want it to. Isn't God so good and faithful to prevent that sinful thought pattern that is so natural?!

"Who told us we'd be rescued What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares"

God never tells us that we'll live without trials. In fact, He tells us the opposite.
Acts 14:21-22 says of Paul and Barnabas "They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said."
What has changed is our perspective. We live knowing that Christ died for our sins, when we should have died. We live knowing that without His sacrifice, we could never get to God, never be heard by him, never be His children. We live knowing how weak we are compared to the almighty God and knowing of our desperate, constant need for him. What has changed is simply how we view nightmares. Outliving your child is certainly every parent's nightmare.
This nightmare happened suddenly with no definite symptoms. At the beginning of this pregnancy, I considered the possibility of a miscarriage because two of my friends had miscarried shortly before we found out we were pregnant. I was afraid that it would happen to me and that I would struggle with my faith. The night before my appointment, I weighed myself and noticed that I had lost a pound. It was the first trimester, though, and it's very common to lose weight because of the nausea that most women experience. I suddenly got worried that I had miscarried even though I knew this wasn't a symptom. I looked online to see if it was even possible to miscarry without symptoms and I quickly discovered that it is. I was in tears with worry and I asked Shamus to pray for me.
The next day I went to my appointment feeling nervous. Before I went in the room to get the ultrasound, I prayed that God would give me strength if I had lost the baby. I told him I couldn't handle it on my own and that He is my strong tower and shelter. The Holy Spirit was preparing me to focus on the truth in the midst of a trial.

"We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair"
Thankfully, God tells us why nightmares happen to His children. James 1:2-4 says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." "Anything" refers to my faith, not my belongings.
Romans 8:28-29 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters" God's purpose is for me to become like His son - to be sanctified. This, like every trial and every test of my faith, is an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. I prayed that God would empower me to use this opportunity to see how I am not like Christ and how to become more like Him.
One thing I've begun to experience is giving God my burdens and taking Christ's yoke. Matthew 11:28-30 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"
If I give God my burdens - wondering if I caused this miscarriage, trying to blame myself, worrying that it will happen again, the reminder of our mortality and that anyone in my family could die at any time - He will give me rest. If I take Christ's yoke, which is trusting God at all times, and learn from Him, I will find rest for my soul. I must learn from him, though; to be gentle and humble in heart. To recognize that I am not in control ever is to let go of my pride. Christ's yoke of always trusting God may seem heavy and difficult but if I let go of my sin of pride, it becomes easy.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"
I was held from before I experienced the loss of my child. Christ lives in me because God gave me the gift of faith to accept salvation. The Holy Spirit gave me guidance to be focused on God and His character when everything fell. God's loving arms are around me all the time and I haven't felt alone in a long time - since before I became a believer in 2006. Isaiah 41:10 says "So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Not only have I felt God's presence when I am seemingly alone, but I have plainly experienced being held by Him through others in my life. The people in our shepherding group willingly put aside their plans and burdens and have served our family in many ways and continue to do so. Our families and friends outside of this group have shared our sorrow and shown love even when it meant they would sacrifice their time, plans and energy. The elders at our church shepherd many hundreds of people and have been praying for us and have called to share their love and encouragement. Thank you, everyone, for your love. We praise God for all of you.
You have been a reflection of the love Christ showed all of us when he sacrificed perfection in paradise to come to this earth and suffer. He willingly stopped on the roads he journeyed to serve people throughout His ministry on earth. He sacrificed everything when he willingly bore our sins and died in our place a horrible death on a cross. His sacrifice was the greatest sacrifice in history, with the greatest rewards - the reward of peace with a holy God who cannot tolerate sin and has become our Father; the reward of guidance by the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins and empowers us to repent, who guides us and encourages us; the reward of becoming more and more like Christ while we live on earth; the reward of truly becoming like Christ when we leave this earth; the reward of eternally living with God in an exciting and perfect life with no tears or pain or death and a life full of praise and serving God.

"This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows"
Praise the Lord that we have not experienced bitterness or hatred, no anger or distrusting God.
"The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow"
Our grip on our burdens must be loosed. We must let it go and give it to God. Our friends and families have willingly followed God's command to "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn". (Romans 12:15) When we shared the good news that we were pregnant with our third child, they all rejoiced with us. When we told them of our loss, they willingly mourned with us by choice. They could have chosen not to hear our story, chosen to pretend that all is well by avoiding the topic. They have done the opposite, which has helped us mourn the loss of our baby. Thank you God, for tears that we can cry to express our pain - that we don't have to internalize pain and prolong it, but that we can process it. Thank you God, for an example of how to mourn:
Psalm 6:6-9 says:"I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
The LORD accepts my prayer.
David was not expressing sorrow because his child had died, but we can learn from his prayer how to be sorrowful and still honor God.

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"

"If hope is born of suffering"
We are suffering because our child died. She is dead and we will never hold her, kiss her, chase her around the house, or tickle her. We will never see the sweet look in her eyes when she smiles, but we are confident that she is being held and loved by our Heavenly Father and that his arms are far better arms than our own. We know that she never suffered and that she never will, and that brings us much comfort, and soon I know we will have joy in that thought.
We are praying that God will give us another child, but our hope does not lie in that gift. Our hope is in Christ alone. Romans 5:3-5 says "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Our hope is in God, who takes care of us, who never fails us, who never leaves us, who can never die. Nothing can separate us from His love, as Romans 8:35; 37-39 says: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
If those things cannot separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, then we are certainly not going to be separated from His love. What a hope we have!
"If this is only the beginning"
Surely this is only the beginning of our suffering on this earth. And the beginning of our journey of hope.

"Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior"
Can we not persevere through this trial in the name of hope in our Lord Jesus? Can we not withstand the test of our faith? We are powerless to do so, except that the power of the living God lives in us, constantly strengthening us, helping us, and holding us. "What shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32)
We are told here that God will "graciously give us all things". If I had chosen which gifts to receive, I would have chosen to receive the baby that died in my womb. By God's grace, He spared my child and us from whatever suffering he knew would come with that child. Maybe she was not physically able to survive on this earth. Maybe she would reject the love of Christ for her entire life. I don't know why she was taken from us by the Giver of good gifts. God clearly tells us that it is because of His grace and mercy, and we know God intimately because of Christ and He is a good God. We can easily trust his decisions because we know of his amazing character thanks to His word.
So the answer is YES! We can wait for our savior, because He empowers us to do so!
"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held"

Thank you, God, for holding us and never letting go. "You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, "Lord, blessed be your name!""

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Grampa was a family man

Posted by Picasa

Grampa was a dancer

Grampa was the best dancer at our wedding. And Gram could keep up with him no problem.
Posted by Picasa