Our November Baby: When grief and peace kiss.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t grown spiritually at all since becoming a mom. Actually, usually I feel dumber. Mushy-brained. I think back on my “glory days” and my ability to sling theology better than my seminary husband (his words, not mine!). Now on my best days, I can maybe remember the sermon from Sunday or the psalm I read that week, but can’t remember the last podcast I listened to or non-mommy book I read. Sometimes people use those big words that used to roll off my tongue so naturally, and have to really think about what that word means. I about gave up caring about sanctification all together until recently, when God revealed all that he was doing in the silent, mundane days of quiet faithfulness…

I experienced my second miscarriage in March. I was about 7.5 weeks along and we had JUST announced the pregnancy to EVERYONE that week. After my first miscarriage (in 2011), I didn’t want to keep my early pregnancy a secret. A life was a life and I wanted to celebrate my tiny, tiny babe in a pro-choice world that typically doesn’t acknowledge pregnancy until a heartbeat is heard or a bump emerges. I wanted to share that there was nothing to be afraid of. I knew that if I were to suffer a miscarriage, it would be an opportunity to share the hope I have and that women don’t have to feel ashamed or pretend that their baby didn’t exist. God answered my prayer and I was not afraid when I saw the first signs of loss. This being my second miscarriage, I knew exactly what to expect: I knew those lower back contractions beforehand, I knew what I would see during, I knew how I would feel after. There was so much calm surrounding the birth of this tiny, lifeless baby. I was able to focus in prayer, pleading and trusting that the Father was holding my child safe. I felt so honored that God allowed me to witness life and used me to bring another into the kingdom. There was just so much peace and so much assurance. Since I have two children, sadness was definitely different this time. Instead of grieving the unknown, you grieve the known. I knew the laughter and the sound of their voices and the sweet snuggles and all the milestones: things I would miss out on with this little one. But God was so good and comforted me in the sadness and has continued to be good to me since. I realized how Jesus has been growing my dependance on him and my faith in his word over the years. He shepherded me into a response that was so different than my response 3 1/2 years ago, and I am so thankful. Everyday, the Lord is continuing to align my heart with his and giving me a deep-rooted hope in his promises. It’s getting me thru each day way more than the definition of “Expiation” ever did. Praise God.

“Its been 11 days since we lost our November 2nd baby. Grief makes the days slower I think, so it feels longer than 11 days. But to the rest of the spinning-round world I’m 9 weeks pregnant. We still get lots of “congratulations!” or comments on the need for a minivan, and I entertain them for a second, saying “Thank you,” because I genuinely am so thankful for their celebration. (In an age where most of the world won’t attribute life and value to a baby the size of a blueberry, I praise God for the joyful response we got at the announcement of our teeny tiny babe.) But of course I have to gently correct them and assure them not to feel bad. How can you know to be sensitive in this sort of situation? And I assure them that we are doing ok, but usually there is so much more that is encompassed by the words, “we’re doing ok.” I want to tell them how we are so thankful for the life that God created and that we witnessed. I want to tell them how honored I feel that, even though I don’t get to be “mommy,” God used me to add another to the kingdom! I want to tell them how empty we felt when we dug a small hole to bury the one we were so excited to meet. And how we mourn not experiencing the joys of raising him or her. And I want to share how so many grieved with us. Watched our boys. Provided us with meals when I felt too numb to cook. Because its really true: we celebrate in community and we mourn in community. And I want to say how so very thankful I am today. Next Sunday is a reminder that our savior stands in victory over death and none shall be taken from his hand. Even my tiny blueberry is safe because of the Firstborn’s sacrifice. What is sown in weakness, is raised in the power of God! And so as I pack away the few special items I got for baby in the earliest days, I remember my hope, and its not here. And I remember my sovereign God, who is so good to me. Come and see what the Lord has done for us!” (March 29, 2015)

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Will- 11 months

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Hello, sweet 11-month old! I’m starting to get a little emotional now that we arrive at the dawn of your 1st year of life…1. I can’t believe how fast time has gone! Is this how it just “is” with each subsequent child? I can’t even fathom how you are almost walking, when yesterday you were barely able to sit up on your own! And 2. I can’t believe I made it. There were many breakdowns, but many many moments of God’s grace giving me supernatural mama strength to get thru each day. This year has been super challenging to my idol of order and control–and for that I praise God and thank YOU for helping me die to myself and live more in freedom with God. You have truly blessed my life. But…before we get ahead of ourselves and become all sappy, let’s live in the moment! You are 11 months old! Hooray!

This month you have become more confident standing, and have started walking! You can walk across the room if you are steady enough! I can’t wait to see you and Jackson walking around and playing together! You also love climbing. Today you climbed thru the window of the cozy coupe and up onto the kids table to get to some cars you had your eye on!

You are still eating everything in sight and starting to nurse less. I have tired most types of food with you and you do a great job chewing and swallowing! You have 8 teeth with more on the way, so that definitely helps! You specifically love applesauce pouches and cheese right now. We have also started trying sips of regular milk–which you love. I plan to wean you when we go to Florida after Christmas since there will be less opportunities to nurse anyway.

You sleep 8:30-8 pretty consistently and nap twice a day (10:30-11:30am, 2-4:30pm).

Your first word was definitely “da-da,” but since you learned “ma-ma” you say it non-stop. Definitely a mama’s boy and a SNUGGLER. Still love being held, nursing, and being in the same room as me at all times.

You love Jackson and would follow him anywhere. You want to do exactly what he is doing, especially playing with his trains or eating his snacks. Unfortunately, Jackson bosses you around and pushes you down A LOT. I can’t wait for you to be a little bigger and able to stand your ground a bit more. But other than the normal brotherly squabbles, you guys really love eachother. Jackson tries to teach you new things, like what things are “no-nos,” and how to drink from the water cup in the bath, and you guys laugh at each other a lot.

Can’t wait to celebrate you this month as you enter into your second year of life. You are such a sweet sweet boy and I adore you!

Miscarriage: Three Years Later: When the Pop-Up grief comes.

Around this time of year, I always think back on my miscarriage and God teaches me new things as the years go on. The past couple years I have felt a lot of peace and thankfulness, acknowledging and praising God for the life that he created! And thankfulness for Christ, the firstborn heir of God! By the will of the Father, Jesus was born a healthy baby, and according to that same will, He was sent to die unjustly on the cross for our sins. The sovereign hand of God over Jesus’ life and death brought every child after Him the hope of eternal life! I have hope and assurance that my child is flourishing the perfect watches of God.

This year, however, I am feeling some grief pop back up. Three years since the loss of my first baby, I have had the privilege to be a mommy to two babies. Seeing how deep my love is for them makes me mourn the love I’ve lost for another baby, and will never know in full. I will never hear the first giggles or the funny mis-mashed ramblings of first sentences. I will never lie in bed with them when they are having trouble falling asleep or cheer when they learn the bear crawl. The list of “nevers” will go on and on.

But in this season, I have been encouraged also. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 explains that we can only have partial knowledge of why God allows suffering and tragic events to happen. “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, as God has always known me.” God knows me perfectly, and even if I don’t fully know why things happen the way they do, I can take heart in the promise that I will not only know God and His ways perfectly someday, but also that it will make perfect sense.

The Day of peace will be a good day for all of us.

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Will- 10 months!

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And just like THAT you turned 10 months! What? I mean, when Jackson was 10 months I was already printing birthday party invitations…but you!? You still seem like my little baby!!

But you growing so fast! Not sure weight and height this month, but you are wearing (and slightly growing out of) 12-18 month clothes. You are beginning to stand independently and walk behind anything you can push (the ride-on car, grocery cart toy, a trash can…) You are also cruising FAST and can get to Jackson’s toy or snack in no time. Needless to say, Jackson has become very territorial and often pushes you over or screams, “No, Will!” when he sees you making your move. You love Jackson so much regardless and want to do EXACTLY what he is doing.

You have a hard time going to bed with him in the same room. You will lean over the crib and entice him to be disobedient and climb into your crib. You laugh, he gets your paci, its a win for everyone except mommy and daddy. Some nights we have to put you to sleep in the pack n’ play until Jackson is asleep and we can transfer you back into your room. Otherwise you have been sleeping great: Most nights 9pm-8am. You still wake up in the middle of the night or early on occasion, but those nights are becoming farther and fewer between. You also take two naps, 10:30-11:30am and 2-4 or 5pm.

You are eating SO much this month! Last night we went to Chipotle and you literally ate a whole side of corn, side of white rice, and side of black beans. You still love baby food pouches and some solid food favorites are pancakes, carrots, roasted sweet potato chunks, pb&j’s, cheerios, blueberries, macaroni & cheese, meatballs, and Chick-fil-a nuggets/waffle fries! You also surprised me with your ability to drink out of a straw cup, and you try to steal sips of Jackson’s milk often! Now you have your own water cup.

You actually had to drink you breast milk from a straw cup all last week! You weren’t nursing and I wasn’t sure why. You wouldn’t take a bottle either. I thought it could be weaning or teething. Two days later we saw what seemed to be a large scab on the roof of your mouth. Upon further inspection and with a lot of freaking out, we discovered a perfectly-sized googly eye wedged up into your palate. We had to use tweezers to pry it out. It was super traumatic. But luckily you are happily back to nursing and have probably forgotten all about it. And I have been on a mad search to figure out where that googly eye came from…

We love you, Will! You are aware, curious, strong, and happy! You love being around people, especially mommy. It’s a sweet time being your mama, little man!

Will- 9 months (a little late)

1621750_2906871837634_7131904158446790886_nWill! You are changing so much and growing into a very loud and mobile little boy! Its still hard for me to believe you are 3 months away from being ONE. Now you are cruising along furniture and eating most anything I put on your tray. You also have 7 teeth! You are very eager to be like Jackson and are only interested in all the toys he is playing with. Currently, your favorite toy is the balloon we got Jack for his birthday. You love to drag it around by its string and yank it around. We went on lots of wagon rides and trips to the park this month. You love swinging! We also transitioned you out of your infant seat and into your convertible seat since you are so long! Clothes are tricky- most of what fits you are toddler-esque shirts and pants. You still move around more easily in onesies, but its hard to find them in the 12-18m size!

You are sleeping 9pm-7am or so. You take a short morning nap and a 2-3 hr afternoon nap. You haven’t been fighting bedtime as much as you were last month and usually you fall asleep without much crying. You are still nursing 6-7 times a day, but also eat 3 meals a day with the rest of us! You love baby food pouches, peas, blueberries, cheerios, cut up pasta, sweet potatoes, apple slices, and muffins. You definitely take after Jackson with having a “snack radar!” Whenever someone is eating, you want some too!

I am excited to see you begin to stand on your own this month, I think you’re so close! I love you, sweet Will!

Jackson- 2 years! (a little late)

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Happy 2nd birthday, sweet boy! You bring so much joy to my life and it is so fun seeing the person you are growing into! God has given you such a bold, brave spirit. You have never met a stranger and you certainly demand the attention of a room! While your will is difficult for me to steward and shape, I have no doubt that God is helping me raise you into a very gifted leader. My prayer for you is that you would use all of your confidence and drive for good and not evil; to bless others and lead them to the King. I love you, Jackson!

Here are a few favorites this year on your birthday:

Favorite food: Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets with honey
Favorite snack: fruit snacks
Favorite drink: diet coke (When he gets a sip of mommy’s)
Favorite toys: cars/choo-choos
Favorite song: “The hot-dog song”
Favorite books: Click-clack-moo, 100 words books, “Punkin” books
Favorite movies: Planes
Favorite show: Leapfrog Phonic Farm, Mickey Choo-choo Express
Best friends: Ana (Eliana) and Sam
Comfort items: blankie
Routines: Sleep til 8/8:30, long afternoon nap, no more paci, begging for snacks morning til night, loves watching shows, content to play by himself with toys, and loves to make Will laugh.
Fears: Diaper changes
New skills: riding his balance bike, swim lessons, and saying 2-word phrases

Will- 8 months

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I can’t believe you are 8 months old! Time is flying by! Now you are crawling, pulling up to stand, and even trying to climb on things! You love playing with all sorts of toys and you are always laughing at/with Jackson. You don’t like to be ignored, and you are VERY vocal when you want our attention. I can tell you are wanting to catch up to Jack so badly! You guys are going to be awesome friends.

You are sleeping 9ish to 7ish. Sometimes though, you wake up at 8 or 8:30 when Jackson does. I love mornings like that because I wake up to the sound of you laughing and squealing across the room at each other! So fun! You also take 2 naps: one is 45 minutes, the other is 2-3 hours. Since it has taken us so long to get you sleeping through the night well, I get anxious if we don’t do parts of your routine. Every night you get a bath, lavender oil, rice cereal, and nurse. I stress out about whether you are too hot or cold and check on you a few times before bed to make sure you’re not up against the wall of the crib or in an uncomfortable position. I know all that sounds crazy, but because you are a lighter sleeper, I am always worried something will wake you up. Hopefully as the months go by you will become a more consistent sleeper and I will be able to relax! Room sharing has been fine, but you still take your afternoon nap in my room in the pack n’ play.

You have been getting really good at eating/picking up puffs and yogurt melts. You also like to eat soft breads like pancakes, steamed carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, and any kind of cookie/gram cracker. You love the majority of squeeze pouch flavors. I would like to try more foods with you this month, but you still struggle with chewing and gagging. We still nurse 6-8 times a day with no signs of my supply dropping or you losing interest. You are growing like a weed though!…Already wearing 12-18 month clothes! Very long and heavy!

Teething has been hard. We borrowed an amber necklace which seems to help a bit, but you still seem so uncomfortable lately which is sad. Currently you have your two top and bottom front teeth.

However, despite the occasional grumpy day, you really are such a happy, content baby! You are so sweet and I love being your mama! I can’t wait to see you continue to grow and change this month!

Conceal, don’t feel: the mantra of an overwhelmed mom.

“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them see…” -Frozen (Duh.)

I’ve realized lately that this has become my subconscious mantra while caring for my children day in and day out. One is teething and crying, pathetically following me around with his new crawling ability. The other is crying for snacks or gummies or juice or “t.t.” (television) for the 80th time since he has woken up. I love my kids but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in these moments! In an effort to respond with patience, I have swung the pendulum to the far left and have resorted to simply suppressing. Any frustration, any stress, any anger I feel, I just push it down, take a deep breath, speak quietly, and wipe their tears. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

Yes, my kids needs are met and their mom is not an emotional mess, but I have become an unfeeling shell. Naptime rolls around and I can barely think. So I’ve been sewing. It allows me to escape and avoid any confrontation to deal with the whirlwind of my morning and the issues in my heart. I go to community group and listen to women confessing and working through their sin or pain. When it comes around to me, I don’t have anything to say.

“How are you doing?” they say.

“I don’t really know,” I say.

So many of us are simply trying to keep it together. If we let ourselves feel too much, we may just flip out! (And let’s be honest, this always happens eventually, am I right?) Yes, we may be remaining calm in the face of toddler tantrums, rush hour traffic, financial burdens, or constant annoyances of a spouse, but by what power? In those moments of self-control are we relaying on the love of Christ and peace of God? Or are we relying on our own strength to make it through the day? What role do our emotions play as we live out our days as women of God?

I don’t know the answer to that one (if someone does, let me know!), but I do know that I need to feel. Romans 8:12-17 says that in Christ, I have received a spirit of adoption by which I can cry out “ABBA, FATHER!” I no longer have to be a slave to the anxiety and pressure this world brings. I no longer have to suppress my feelings and turn headlong into self-sufficiency. I can cry out in utter dependance on my savior. And you know what? It’s going to be a lot more messy and raw and my kids/husband/friends may see me turn to puddles…but its worth it. Here’s why:

1. I will enjoy communion with my God and the peace that is offered though the cross as I plead for His mercy and help.

2. My kids will see my need for Christ. I am flawed and broken. I am not a superhero with bags full of fruit snacks. As they see me looking to Jesus and repenting of my sin (to Him and to them!), may they too be drawn to the sweetness of Christ.

3. I will become less guarded to share my struggles with other women. Instead of being an emotionless shell who feels alone, I can draw comfort and truth from my friends who long to see my soul resting in the gospel.

4. God is glorified as I boast in my weakness and allow Him to carry me along by His grace.

Maybe you are having a day where you feel quite “put together.” Remind yourself that it is God who put you together in the first place and sustains your very life. Are you like me, and feeling overwhelmed today? Boast in God’s power to use you despite your weakness! Jesus died on the cross so we would have free, unmerited access to the grace and strength God supplies. So moms, as we serve our families with these provisions of God, we are declaring to the next generation and those around us:

 “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.” (Psalm 71)

Look to the finish line, friends. God is able to make all grace abound to you, in all things, at all times so that you can make it through this day and to the last days with His help (2 Cor. 9:8). So in the face of tantrums or weariness or bitterness, look to back to Christ and look forward to the finish line. With tears and trusting, we know God is with us and He is faithful.

in-SYNC::a current day life reflection.

Sunday a sweet spiritual mother to me asked this very pointed question: “Do you feel in-sync with God’s plan for you?” This was a perfect question to still the chaos in my heart.

As Kevin and I continue down our path together, it’s easy to look around and feel like we’re doing it all backwards. Many of our friends are “Dinks” (duel income, no kids). They are paying off student debt. They are buying homes with 2-car garages, backyards, and rooms to fill with babies. Most of the people we know have taken this route before starting families. And when they finally do have children it seems so perfect. Most days I covet that. Most days I long for the 2-car garage with the Honda Pilot and the fenced in backyard and the 3.5 bedrooms. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to have by the time you have kids?

As a young mother, life is always changing. By God’s grace, kids keep coming and kids keep growing. For us, we LOVE our babies and want more kids! Soon! I assume a lot of people might think we’re wild and reckless. We live in a small apartment, drive small cars, have one, decent income, and a large student loan to pay. God has given us exactly what we need for this time. But what about, Lord willing, if the next baby comes? Or if someday we listen to the call to foster and adopt!?

My desire for stability and my entitlement stems from my upbringing and seeing the ways my parents “did things in the right order.” I always had a suburban yard to play in and a bedroom of my own, and so I expect that for my own children. This desire also comes from seeing how others around me are doing it. And what about the “American Dream” mentality that the pottery-barn-kids-culture throws at me everyday? These are loud voices! So loud that some days I freak out and go Zillow-crazy looking at houses we can’t afford and wearing Kevin down with the weight of providing for all my high expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a few women in my life who I look at and they make me believe that…”Hey! I could fit 3 car-seats across the back of a Corolla!” Or…”Hey! I can totally triple-kid-room-share!” But those moments are far and few between.

I have a feeling I’m not alone. In fact, I have married friends who are doing things the “right way” and feel burdened under the pressure of not becoming an “old mom,” and friends who wonder if God’s plan for them is marriage at all. I have other friends who have been longing for years to be overseas and aren’t yet. We are all struggling against the out-of-sync tension!

But are we? And who’s plan are we out-of-sync with? God’s or the world’s? God’s or our peers on instagram? God’s or christian culture’s? There are so many voices telling us the godly path and the foolish path. These voices may be equally loud, but God’s voice is the only one that can lead us to true rest. For me, God is my true consistency and stability that I long for. Even when we, Lord willing, get a beautiful home someday, it is merely a tent; a shadow of the stability that is to come. I am not ahead of God’s plan for me and I am not behind of God’s plan for me. I am right where he wants me. He has provided for my young family thus far, and will continue to give us exactly what we need.

And when I forget this and freak out and go Zillow-crazy? It’s called NORMAL! Praise God he understands my normal, wandering soul, and calls me back to the rest and peace that only he can provide.

Will- 7 Months!

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(Originally written on the 2nd, but we have been without internet!)

Happy 7-month birthday, Will! This month has been so fun with you! You just started crawling and confidently sitting on your own, and you are developing a hunger for more “solid” food than just baby food and mashed up food. You also started sleeping in the same room as your brother, except for during afternoon nap. You have seemed to grow up so much this month! We love your laid back, smiley personality! Everyone who has the opportunity to watch you tells us how easy and sweet you are!

A few milestones:

-Sleep 9pm-7am to eat, then fall back asleep in mommy and daddy’s bed til 8 or so. You roll over onto belly to sleep.

-2 naps ranging from 45 mins to 3 hours. Still training you to extend both naps to over 2 hours. (Still take a 3rd nap occasionally depending on how long the 2nd nap is)

-Loving most baby food flavors and combinations. You also like picking up and gnawing on fruit, vanilla wafers/graham crackers, breads, and corn on the cob!

-Favorite toys: Any of Jackson’s toys! You also love the exersaucer and any toy that makes noise.

-Baths are stressful for Mommy! You can’t sit up in the tub very well, but when you’re laid on your back you flip over and still have trouble remembering to keep your head up.

-Crawling is the new hobby. You love to be on your hands and knees, slowly inching trying to get to your toys. You have also almost learned to sit from that position too.

-Mimi bought you a real crib so that you would have more space! Mommy loves having her room back!

-6-12 month clothes are getting TIGHT!

 

Can’t wait to be on the move with you this month, Will! Its so fun to witness you grow and learn!