4 years…

Four years ago today I heard the term “Trisomy 18” for the first time in my adult life. Four years ago today we started a journey that began with a crash course in genetics. Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) are the 3 most common genetic abnormalities – the last 2 being not compatible with life. I remember it like it was yesterday, my heart was pounding so hard that my vision was pulsing. Remember that song about wearing sunscreen where the guy just gives advice the whole time? He said the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never cross your worried mind and blindside you at 4p.m. on some idle Tuesday. Ours was August 2nd, 2013, an idle Friday at 9a.m. but blindsided nonetheless.

This year is different and I can finally see some of the long term fruit of our grief. A little container of vaseline they gave us for Wills’ lips at the hospital has an expiration date of 6.1.17. I wore it on my own lips for probably a year after he died. Every night I would put it on before bed and think, will I expire before this little jar of vaseline? I honestly doubted that I would make it. Grief is so immovable and heavy and permanent. Yes, you learn to move forward and you navigate the trying waters but it’s always there. I cannot emphasize this enough – you are the same person, but you are eternally different. I cannot go back to who I was before Wills, nor would I want to. But I’m not going to lie and say sometimes I don’t envy her. She had it pretty easy and didn’t even know it. But life isn’t about easy is it? Then I come full circle and I thank God for the story He has given us. While we were in the thick of it with Wills, someone said you are either coming out of something hard, in something hard or about to go through something hard. That’s a tough pill that quite frankly at the time I wanted to spit back out at them. But if you can choke it down, it sobers and steadies you.

A few things we’ve learned in life after the darkest valley…

1.) The mundane is where character is forged. Embrace it. Hard things with God do change you but I guarantee you He has a slow, steady work He wants to accomplish too. Yes, the season of having and losing Wills changed us drastically and practically overnight. But I still had a lot of heart issues lurking around – still doing heart work with my counselor, friends and family and it’s so worth it. But mundane. I think if Walt hears me say: “for the sake of being honest and loving, I’ve got to say…….” one more time he may kick me out of this house!

2.) God directs. When Wills was here, we had to make a lot of decisions. We would get alone, pray, talk, reason and then decide. We still do that and He is still faithful to lead us.

3.) God STILL speaks. Sometimes we want God to write on a billboard to us. However, I read this the other day and it blew my mind. One of his most recited sentences (among women) is when He tells Martha that she’s worried about many things and that Mary has chosen what can’t be taken from her by choosing to sit at His feet. But guess how all of that happened…… It was only when Martha took her frustration to Him, that He responded. He did not initiate the interaction!!! He didn’t pull her aside and say look Martha, you’re troubled, sit down, let me rub your feet and scold Mary for not helping you. However, He was 100% available and responded in truth and love to her when she brought her frustration to Him. He responds to us too – when we SEEK HIM!!!

4.) Other children don’t replace the child that is gone – makes me think of Jesus being the shepherd that leaves the 99 to go after the 1. He understands how special each life is and now I do too. All 3 of my kids each have my whole heart in their own way. I miss Wills as much today as I did the day after he died.

5.) We’ve traveled a lot (for us). Would any financial advisor have told us to go to Disney World for 8 days last May? Nope. But we splurged and went while Fenley was still super into princesses and we had the best trip that we still talk about probably weekly.

6.) We’ve learned to ABIDE. We both try to read and pray daily – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Jesus said apart from Him, we can do nothing. And we can attest to the times when we are most dry spiritually, that we are most irritable relationally.

That’s all for now. Wanted to write to honor Wills in this season of remembering for the Bowie house. And to give God all the glory for the marvelous things He has done. And to officially report, the vaseline expired before me ๐Ÿ™‚

Lauren

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Merry Christmas!

Trying to read through the Christmas story S L O W L Y this week so I can marinate in it a little bit. I’m on chapter 2. Ha! But it’s proving SO full of treasure!!!

Today I sat down for a quiet minute and picked back up where Mary visits Elizabeth. They’re both pregnant. They’re both seeing God’s hand at work in their lives. They’re both in awe. And they’re both probably trying to keep their pregnancies quiet. Mary was engaged and pregnant and that was just a recipe for a scandal back in Jesus’ day. And Elizabeth was well past her prime and I’m sure most of her friends were grandmothers already. Friends, can you even imagine the joy these two shared when Mary went to stay with Elizabeth??? I mean pregnant-with-the-Savior-of-the-world-Mary walks in and Elizabeth’s baby boy LEAPED in her womb and was filled with the Holy Spirit.

I know how much fun it is to be pregnant with a friend. My buddy Kelly and I were pregnant with our youngest baby girls at the same time – and it was like a crash course in getting to know each other and so much FUN and still is – an instant bond over the babies we carried and are now raising. Throw in that Mary and Elizabethย didn’t have social media, texting, doctor visits, FB support groups, tons of buddies, etc. They were a God send for each other! ย The joy they shared visiting over their pregnancies must have been tangible!!! And the call of God on both of their son’s lives brings me to tears thinking about it.

As soon as Mary walks in she breaks out into a little narrative BRAGGING ON GOD. I read it three times and highly recommend it. It’s Luke 1:46-55. I read it out loud – home alone with babies sleeping ๐Ÿ™‚ and I just wept!!!

At about verse 51 Mary starts into this detailed list.

“He has… He has… He has… He has… He has… He has…

just as He promised…”

FRIENDS. HE HAS. If there is a raw spot in your heart, could you sit and let that sink in?

I don’t know about you but I’m a lot like my 5 year old who currently has a “wish list” on our fridge. No longer her Christmas list as she knows that ship has SAILED. But a dang wish list now. We’ve spent every dime and then some that we budgeted for Christmas. She’s going to have more than she knows what to do with as it is. But still making another list……………………it’s all in this house, it’s all wrapped or hidden, it’s all waiting for her for Christmas morning, it’s all prepared for her, it’s all perfectly picked out just for her. But she’s still making that next wish list. She gets a pass because she’s a kid. I don’t have that excuse though.

How do we forget so often?ย HE HAS. He has done. He has come.ย He has loved. He has finished.

What more could we want?

Praying and hoping and reading for a more sober heart, prepared for His goodness and light, looking and waiting and watching and knowing that He does GOOD THINGS and HE HAS already done the very best thing by sending His son to be with us.

I have a lot of crutches – my health, my husband, financial security, my healthy kids here to name a few. But it was Jesus that said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It. Will. Not. Be. Taken. Away. From. Her. The one thing needed – we can’t buy it, we can’t adopt it, we can’t birth it, we can’t manufacture it, we can’t fake it, we can’t attain it, but we can receive it and abide in it and share it.

Merry Christmas friends! Hoping you get some time to be alone and quiet and choose what is best for you this Christmas and the year to come!

 

 

Confessions of a Millennial

Well. I did not realize until tonight that I am actually a Millennial. I make the cut off by like a month and can testify to many of the terrible characteristics – idealistic, lazy, entitled, impatient. I’ve actually poked fun at Millennials. And then tonight while I was going through my nightly routine, I listened to a video about Millennials and was like hmm this sounds a lot like me. Yikes. Anyway, half way through the video and after googling what the generation Y/Millennial cutoff is I thought: “No way, I have more substance than this.” So I exited my Facebook app, went to my worship music and felt this little whisper to play one of my tried and true favorites.

Be Still My Soul by Kari Jobe.

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain….”

Mmm. Hurts typing those words out. But as I pressed play my heart went back to my life over 3 years ago. I listened to that song nearly every night. Pregnant with a son that was not well. And a mama that was not well either. I had walked with God but still had so many questions. Am I the only one? To have been saved since I was 5 yet still wrestling with the big questions? Surely not. And now on top of all my original big questions, I now have to face questions like will he die while I’m still on the operating table? Will we live in the NICU for 8 months? Will we pursue surgery for him if he needs it? Will he die in surgery if we pursue it? Will I flat out lose my mind in grief? Will my marriage fall apart because we are going through all of this before we even celebrate our 4 year anniversary?

And in the midst of all of these questions – the big ones I had had forever and the new ones that scared me half to death – Jan Moncrief sent me this song. And it soothed me and challenged me. And I would listen to it and the questions would not go away BUT there was a peace and confidence that came as I began to really seek Him with my questions. There was a mustard seed of faith that started to take root as I asked.ย And although I did not get the black and white answers I wanted and I did not get any answers quickly – I did get a sense that it was all going to be okay.ย And that through FAITH in Him alone, we would see Him move mountains in us and through us.

All that to say, tonight, as I heard that song again and on the other side of the road from many of my original questions, I hear it and have the BIGGEST smile on my face. I understand the cross of grief and pain and I bore it patiently and I still do – to Him be the glory. And I know He’s on my side. I don’t wonder anymore if He’s safe. I don’t wonder anymore if He is actually going to come near and never leave me or forsake me. I don’t wonder if my faith is misplaced or misguided.

I feel like a huge piece of the puzzle of life here – is to keep asking questions. God wants us to learn and grow. How can you grow if you think you know it all? Be vulnerable and needy and hopeful and honest with your questions. Let cynicism die and let hope breathe. Just go ahead and get your hopes up in Him.

Y’all. To say He eventually answered my questions is an understatement. I’ll never be able to put into words what He did for my heart and our life here. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. Wherever you find yourself – take your stuff to Him. He is so worthy. And I know He may not (probably will not) give you clarity on your timeline, but trust me that His clarity is worth the wait. And until then play this song on repeat in a bubble bath with tear stained cheeks from ugly crying. Not speaking from personal experience of course ๐Ÿ™‚ haha.

Felt like I needed to write this tonight.

Also shout out to my counselor who I got to see today – he’s coaching me and teaching me and I highly recommend finding a few safe places this side of Heaven where you can unpack things God is showing you. Every time I leave his office I grin the whole way home! It’s pretty awesome.

Update on the fam:

Fen loves Kindergarten. I love who she is growing up to be. She keeps me light hearted and laughing. Shopping for an almost 6 year old is FUN as evidenced by my Target cart today. ย Emerson is walking everywhere and has about 3 or 4 words that are barely distinguishable. She’s cuddly and gave Walt a big sloppy kiss tonight! Walt is moving into an office next month. He’s been out of our bonus room for 3 years. So proud of him and all of his humble hard work. God provides through him and I love watching that relationship grow. I’m helping Walt and tending to the girls and our house and per my counselor today, working on turningย my never ending homemaker duties into a spiritual discipline where I am serving the Lord and not griping about these people who mess up this cute house I keep trying to fluff!!!

I’m gonna go watch This Is Us now ๐Ÿ™‚

LB