Thursday, April 3, 2014

In Love: One Month and Counting

When Ethan finally settles into a nap, not in my arms, I feel a frenzied decision making fight go on in my head:

"Hurry...should I shower? take a nap? play with Thomas? write on my blog? Hurry!!"

By the time I make a decision and put a foot in that direction sweet boy tends to make his grunting noises calling me back to stroke his wrinkled forehead...he very rarely cries, such a good baby. Everyone calls him "sweet." It's the truth.

He calms down as his eyelids flutter a few times before closing again..."Now what was it I had decided to do?" The dryer buzzes me to come remove the hot clothes before wrinkling...because I don't iron. I don't even know where the iron is...maybe it's in that closet I need to organize...Wait, what was that? Thomas is ready for lunch. Where did the morning go? What did I accomplish?

No worries, I loved on my kids and the rest will wait...as it all tends to do every day, each wondering "When is it my turn for attention?"
 
Rocking in his swing with his head cocked at an almost scary angle, our blue-eyed one month old is making quiet little humming noises. I hear Thomas's wooden blocks clanging as he builds what his imagination calls to him, and my blog wins my attention...for this quick, stolen moment.

I'm in love with these three kids like nothing I've ever experienced. Having Ethan has put me even more in touch with the special subtleties of each of our children and how they are growing. I have been been bitterly reminded of how much I do not remember from baby Thomas at Ethan's age. I tried to never think about what I missed during my grieving in Thomas's baby days, but it's staring me in the face each day...so I have to process it. That is a good thing. Processing. Instead of being depressed about missing those chunks of time in my memory, I am embracing Ethan's time now. Thomas's time now. Caroline's time now. And it is beautiful.
One of Ethan's newborn pics with lanningphoto.com
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." 2 Cor 2:14

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ethan George King: What's in a name?

Ethan George King born March 4, 2014  8 lbs 10 oz 21 inches
As I type this I'm 39+ weeks and so close to having this baby boy! I want to say how wonderful I'm feeling and how the third time is such a breeze...but I can't. I'm tired, achy and waddling. I don't want to sound ungrateful or negative, but this blog here is for me to document our life and it should include ups and downs and everything in between. I've noticed lately I've tended to post to this blog after I've wrestled through an issue/circumstance with God and found some peace or insight. And thank goodness He provides that! However, it may paint a picture of myself that isn't wholly accurate. Not that I'm narcissistic enough to think anyone really ponders that deeply over my posts, but I'd like to think our kiddos will read these someday and learn what our family has gone through and see how we relied on God through the hills and valleys.

So I'm about a week away from meeting baby #3, if he decides not to come on his own. I won't be posting this until he arrives, so here's his name...after much contemplation...are you ready? Ethan George King. (When I post this I pray there is a precious picture of baby Ethan at the top of this post and I'll already be saying that I can't remember life without him!) And it's true! He's here now and we are so in love with him! He's such a wonderful baby already! I will post his birth story in a new post ASAP.

There it is! Ah, if feels so good to type it out! When we found out he was a boy Tyler and I both were drawn to the name Ethan quickly. It means "solid, enduring, wise." Then we found out it was #3 most popular boy name for last year and we decided to go back to the drawing board. (There are four Carolines in C's 1st grade!)

 We both loved "George" for his middle name after Tyler's grandfather. He is Tyler's dad's father and one of 9 children!
George Leroy King during WWII

I also thought it was cool that there will be another George as the King of England one day thanks to William and Kate across the pond.) but I digress...

Then toward the end of my ladies' bible study in the fall we were studying the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore and in the homework it talked about Psalm 89 being written by Ethan the Ezrahite. Once I read the psalm I felt it was confirmation of our son's name. Tyler agreed that it felt like Ethan was his name all along. 
The psalm starts off praising God for His faithfulness, the next verses remind me of the book of Job when he writes about all God has created, then Ethan doesn't shy away from exclaiming his frustration when it seems God has left them, but at the end he praises God "forever, amen and amen." It's a psalm I don't remember reading before, yet speaks to our life and what a relationship with Him feels like to me. He took all my pain, questions and uncertainties during very dark years and He stayed faithful to me (and I to Him, all the while questioning Him.) He not only stayed faithful and provided peace for us, but heaped blessings on us with first healing of my heart, then with Tyler and now baby Ethan. It is good to remember the dark and the light. Thank you, God for this blessing.
Caroline and Thomas meeting Ethan for the first time!

Psalm 89 by Ethan the Ezrahite (vs 1-8)
"I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”[c]

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

38 Week Update: A Struggle

This has been a very challenging post to compose. I have to admit I've been struggling lately. A precious friend went in for her 38 week appointment to find that her baby had gone on to heaven due to the umbilical cord around her neck. You can read her blog here as she journeys through this unimaginable grief. Not only is she grieving the loss of her daughter, she will have surgery next week to remove her thyroid because of cancer that she discovered early in her pregnancy.
It's just too much.

It seems every single day there are more stories of suffering families and heartache that are brought to our attention. Social media can be a blessing, but it can also be overwhelming. It allows countless messages of encouragement to be sent our way when we need them most. On the other hand we learn about many stories of those we wouldn't necessarily know and their horrible circumstances which is difficult to separate from once I see their grief, but grateful to pray for them. It just makes it hard for me to separate from others grief and then post a "Woo hoo, look at our great news" update when it's sandwiched between so much loss for others.

I've been talking with God about it for a couple of weeks now after getting my friend's news. I'm still working on the answer to my issue, but what I'm sensing after getting to talk to my grieving friend face to face and after much prayer is that we MUST celebrate the good times. We must sensitively share the blessings in order to encourage others, give thanks to God since every good thing comes from Him, and for our own record of "good times" so when the winds of grief blow back in our direction, again, we can remember that it's not always dark. So we can remember time marches on and brings joy once again if we allow God to heal those hurt places. I must remember.

So I update our blog with our good news we have to share right now. All the while not taking it for granted and praying for those that are in a place of fiery trials. We all have our times...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die...
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Ecc 3:1,4

I LOVE love LOVE when "strangers" approach me and tell me they have prayed for me. Right now when it happens I point to my very blossomed :) stomach and say "Look at what your prayers accomplished! New life! New joys that I didn't know I would experience again! Thank you for being a part of this!"
 
My last post said I gained 12 pounds...ha! I'm up to around 25 now, so I should have known not to brag :) Our doctor said sweet baby boy was breech at our 36 week apt. We were to try a "version" the following week, but after much prayer (and serious contemplation of doing handstands in a pool) we were shocked and delighted to see on our next week's ultrasound his head down and ready to go! Huge relief and PRAISE! We are now trying to be patient and wait on our little guy's arrival. I'm cherishing feeling his movements, being taken care of so well by Tyler, and our kids talking to my tummy to their baby "brudder fwiend" as Thomas calls him. We have two weeks until the official due date. We like the idea of a March baby, but my sore hips and back are voting for February. We finally chose a name after much deliberation, but we've decided to keep it a surprise for now. There's time for monogrammed burp cloths later, right??

Life after loss is so much more intense, sweeter or more sour depending on the situation. It's hard to take it in. I'll never understand this side of heaven why God allows awful things to happen to all of us, the people He loves so much. However, I do understand He is faithful in restoring joy. He promises it. And our perceptions of reality are so finite that it must be freaking mind blowing in heaven! He continuously whispers to us as we toil on earth,  "Just you wait, you'll see one day. It's all worth it..." He reminds us to endure this race by the blessings we receive while we are here. I'm counting each one of them today. I pray you are, too. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

5 Years Today. Still Grieving, Still Growing.

It's been five years today on this 5th of January. And as I look outside the snow is blowing and there's about an inch of snow. I have to imagine if it looked like this outside 5 years ago he might still be here today. It's the days that look "normal" outside but below freezing that are the dangerous ones. Just a hint of precipitation on a bridge is all it takes. It's all it took.
Outside my window right now. Beautiful, yet scarred from past storms...
I don't want to sound depressing this morning, but if it makes people think a bit before heading out to drive on those "normal" cold days, then it could save lives.


We've actually had a great week. I never know how or when grief is going to intensify so leading up to days like today makes me a bit nervous. Add the weather to the mix and I'm a bit unpredictable emotionally.

However, if you've read much of anything I write I like to remind myself and anyone who will listen how faithful God is! He provided again this week by allowing an awesome opportunity for our sweet kiddos. A Northwest Arkansas magazine named Peekaboo asked us if we could do an update article (Click for article) on our family since the last one in 2010 and feature Caroline and Thomas on the cover!

Link to Peekaboo Jan Issue
http://issuu.com/peekaboomag/docs/jan14b/1?e=9472683/6179921 
 It was so much fun to let 3 Monkeys Children's Boutique dress them in fancy clothes and see how much they enjoyed the experience of going through a photo shoot with Sweet Portrayals. Even on of Mr. Culp's former student's was working and recognized us and it made it all the more special to catch up with her and hear about her soon to be graduating from college with double majors. I love hearing from his former students and I've even had a few become my own students in classes at the University of Arkansas. Another student messaged me yesterday and said her husband works with the Fire Marshall who cut Thomas' seat belt from him and prayed over him at the accident scene. It's hard to relive that, but it also makes me want to tell everyone how powerful prayer is. It may not have the outcome we desire at the moment, but it effects the future and we are a product of those many prayers sent for us. THANK YOU.

 The magazine hit the stands this week and I can tell so many people have been praying again for our family. I've felt so much peace and the messages I've received have been so encouraging and full of love. We can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. There was also an awesome surprise from God inside when I opened the table of contents...My dear partner-in-grief had her update included as well! And look at our smiling pictures! It reminds me of that children's song "God's fingerprints are everywhere, just to show how much He cares..." 
Link to Kimberly's Update    




We are so excited about the arrival of our baby boy in about 8 weeks or so! I've felt really great except for some lower back pain so I can't complain too much : ). We LOVE feeling him do his gymnastics in my belly each night. The kids faces light up when he says "hi" by kicking them! I definitely had a Christmas miracle when I found out I passed the three hour glucose test!! I failed it with Thomas and had to prick my finger five times a day and count carbs all while intensely grieving...so I had a lot of anxiety about the test and the results. Praise God that I passed this time, but I've also been reminded of how important it is to keep exercising and eating healthy! (A bit hard during the holidays!) I'm measuring a couple of weeks ahead, but had only gained 12 pounds at my last appointment. I'm sure that will change now that Christmas has happened! Speaking of Christmas, we had a wonderful time at home this year and spending tons of time together as a family. Having Tyler as a husband and father has been like Christmas every day of the year. He seriously was meant to be a dad and husband and we are so blessed to share his love.
We are definitely savoring every moment, and as much as humanly possible not taking each other for granted. We will spend today as a family drinking hot chocolate and snuggling under blankets enjoying God's gift of family. Family can take on so many forms and changes over 5 years, but it is a remarkable gift however it may look today. Thank you for being a part of our journey through life and we are anticipating so much increased joy this spring. Spring is coming y'all...

(From "Spring is Coming" post in February 2010)
My new favorite quote came from the same post of Kimberly's I mentioned above. She read it in the Arkansas Children's Hospital newsletter and shared it:
"Courage does not always roar- sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says I think I will try again tomorrow.
"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's a....

Profile of Baby Boy King
BOY! We found out several weeks ago...the perks of being "elderly" as a pregnant woman is lots of ultrasounds :) It was very obvious and 100% certain that he is a boy! No, we don't have a name yet, but we are taking suggestions! We tried finding names on the UA Senior Walk on the way to the ugly loss to South Carolina Saturday, but we found the majority are Williams and Johns...and a Buford. William and John are already taken in our family, so I guess for now it's Buford. Or Thomas 2. (Thomas is adamant we name his little brother "Thomas.")
Pumpkin Patch fun--notice Caroline's idea to make a heart over her baby brother. :)
Precious cousins!
 We are about to go to our Level II Ultrasound in about an hour from now. We have no reason to think there will be any problems, but I don't think anyone goes into an ultrasound expecting to hear about problems. God provided a great bible study for us to be working on during this "out of our control" time of our lives and I was reminded in it this morning that He will provide. Period. No matter what the outcome of today...or what tomorrow holds. He will provide.
Wouldn't you think I'd know that already? After all we've been through these past five years? A worst fear realized, and yet, He provided. And continues to do so.
My precious friend Kimberly and I have been known to talk quite a bit about how there isn't a "quota" on suffering this side of heaven. We've had awful, terrible things happen to us, and we know we aren't immune from other hard situations in the future. Anyone that knows me can vouch that I'm mostly a glass half-full person, so it even surprised me when I read in last week's bible study (Psalms of Ascent) something I should have already been focused on. I knew it was worded in the way it was, just for me: God's mercy knows no quota.
That's the flip side! And what a wonderful side it is!  He won't suddenly think I've gotten enough grace, it's endless! Thank the Lord! So whatever comes our way in the future will be covered with His hands. He will heal us again, He will provide again. and again.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
 his mercies never come to an end;   
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

 ******************************************************************************
Update! The ultrasound went fabulous. God provided our sonographer to be a gentle, godly man who Tyler and I have known his family for years. Such a blessing. We could see our little guy squirming all over the place. (It was also the second time someone told us we will have a busy boy on our hands!) I didn't want to freak anyone out by crying through the whole thing, but that's what I felt like doing. Each time he'd move to another organ to check out, I would be so tense, barely breathing...thinking about a friend's baby I personally knew who had problems with whatever organ we were looking at and imagining how the parents must have feared hearing about the problem. He would tell us it looked good and instead of releasing the tears, I'd gear up for the next area we were looking at and it would start over again...by the end I was exhausted. So thrilled, but wanting to cry, sleep and praise God. I did all three eventually, but not until after Tyler left town with work and I tended to our sweet 4 year old with croup and a fever. Life keeps going, no matter what else is going on in the world...
Sweet kiddos pretending to sleep while C reads to T.
It wasn't until later that I reflected on the reality of those precious parents, my friends, enduring their tough ultrasounds or nightmarish doctor's visits, but instead of picturing them there, I purposely pictured them in their day to day lives as I know them now. Yes, they still have fear and grief to deal with daily, but they are another testament to God's faithfulness. These parents are so much fun, full of joy from the Lord and some of my loudest encouragers! I am blessed by them. 
I have been told from more than a handful of people that they wouldn't have survived what I have been through (losing my husband while pregnant.) It's simply not true, I want everyone to know we can survive anything...it may hurt, a lot, but God's promises are true. We don't just survive, we will thrive! God turns our mourning into dancing in order to encourage others to stay on the path! Y'all we are just a blip on the timeline of humanity. We can do this. It takes God's family and His Word to get us there, but we can. No matter the arrows thrown our way, there is beauty to withhold and joy to be reclaimed.
His big brown eyes melt me. (He sure loves his chocolate milk by the way!)
 I am relishing my children. Caroline and Thomas are such joys in our lives that words really do fail me. It annoys me that I can't seem to capture what I want to about how much I love them and what gifts they are to us. I've noticed for at least for a few months now, every day, I can look at them as they are talking and take myself out of the moment and see them as if I was watching them on video in 15 years, and how I would long to have that exact moment back to re-live again because of how precious they sound and look and act. It's almost too much. So instead I zap myself back in the moment and really take it in. I look them in the eyes as they talk to me, making a memory imprint of how they sound, smell, feel, and act. The moments are all fleeting, the days run into weeks that run into months, before we even have time to turn around it seems. So I'm doing the best I can to savor. To enjoy. To love them.
And then our family will grow to five. More to love, more to do, more to embrace. Thank you God for the blessings of today and tomorrow. Thank you for the promise of a future all together forever. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Creation


Can you believe this is our baby three weeks ago?! Amazing.
"Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 MSG)

I wrote this post the day I found out about our sweet #3. I'll post another update soon since it's now 10 weeks later! We are due March 5th, so I'm about 14 weeks along. The outpouring of love and support is overwhelming and precious to us. I do not take any of it for granted. Almost five years ago I wasn't able to announce baby Thomas to the world, so this is super sweet and emotional for me.
Prayers are always appreciated!

Holy Cow. Oh Dear Lord. Are you kidding? Dear Lord.

All of those proclamations were uttered a lot and in differing orders this morning as my doctor delivered the news.

How fitting that this morning during the bible study we are working on (Gideon by Priscilla Shirer) was all about becoming a new creation. How we are not how we used to be now that we've encountered Jesus, so (as she says, and I agree) we shouldn't act or react like we used to...

And not only am I new creation because of my relationship with Jesus, He's blessed us with another creation from His hands. 

Dear Lord.

I've only received the news about two hours ago so please don't judge me. but, DEAR LORD! A third child? A sibling for Caroline and Thomas...Thomas will be a BIG brother?? What!?

I know what you are thinking, and just like I told the receptionist after she congratulated me then quickly asked if I was all right by the shell shocked look on my face...I know how this happens, I've had to kids already, but Oh My Lord!

And yes, Tyler and I prayed, fretted, decided against, prayed some more and finally rested in the decision to let God decide for us...we just didn't think it would be so flipping soon! Oh my.

So here we are. Tyler will get to experience morning (or all day) sickness, exhaustion, irrational crying, food cravings, not to mention what I'm going to go through :)
  
But in all seriousness, we are completely joyful and humbled. For me to know the highs and lows of pregnancy and be able to share that with Tyler and experience it with him is a true gift from God. One we do not deserve, but that God has provided and entrusted for us.
Tyler and I started our own relationship shocked at God's plan and how soon it all seemed, yet how right we knew it was by God's grace. And we've found ourselves again in the same place. Shocked at God's plan and the quick timing, yet we know it's right by God's grace.

We are no strangers to fear, loss, mourning and joy...we are not naive enough to think this next season of our lives won't hold the same experiences, but hallelujah we know that our God provides what we need for today, this moment, and that He will never let us go.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 NIV

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer's Fruit

Half way through an absolutely stunning summer. 

What's special about this summer, you ask?

This one is different.
 
First day of Kindergarten/Last day of Kindergarten

 I've had my first born back in my life all day and night! Although, Tyler and I keep the kids on an early bedtime schedule to keep me sane, and so he and I can have reconnect time (i.e. popcorn and Netflix) "Don't mind the sun, kids, just pull the covers over your heads!"

We have spent our days swimming, visiting friends and family, taking late afternoon naps, watering our blossoming tomato plants and just plain enjoying each others company. It has been marvelous. Seriously, it has been blissful.


I absolutely love how our bible study on Gideon started out with the verses in the bible all dealing with summer and how it relates to where we are in whatever "season" we are in right now in our lives.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near." Mark 13:8

"He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame." Proverbs 10:5

In the past, I am not sure I really allowed myself to enjoy life. Yes, I do think I'm an optimist and I really try to take in moments, savoring them, but it was to the point of squeezing the life out of them!
 I was so worried I wouldn't soak it in "enough" 
I destroyed the actual peaceful, joy of the moment. 
 I also would fret during or soon after that I shouldn't be enjoying something since so-and-so is suffering right now and life's unfair. There is a place for empathy, but not to the detriment of our own lives.
Staci Coston Photography

I'm really taking to heart there are sowing times and reaping times for every single living human. And the sowing and reaping does not happen at the same time for everyone.

I'm soaking in the blissfulness of this reaping season.

It is just as important to God that we grab a hold of our summer fruits He's provided and drink in their flavors. When we do so, we are able to reach out to others from our abundance and have the energy to share and be the hands and feet for Jesus. We will also be full, ready, and rested for our own next season of sowing. 
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;
for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." 1 Tim 4:4-5 (NASB)


"And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." Ecc 3:13

Much love to you all and I pray you can claim your fruits this summer!   - Bonnie