These Days…

I’m thinking it’s time for an update. An Emerson update. A Fenley update. A grief update. A Lauren update. I read through some old posts the other night and oh my goodness, it made me so teary eyed and nostalgic and happy. So I really want to keep this whole blog thing going for my own sake.

Emerson Ruth (a.k.a. Emmyru, Emmy, Emmyroof, Emer) — this baby is a dream boat. 26 pounds, 31+ inches and off the charts in every category at her 9 month check up. She is a LOAD to carry. Not that I workout with weights but if I did, I could skip the upper body altogether lugging her around. I love it though. She poops through her diaper to her carseat about 4 times a week. She sleeps through the night. Baby food is our only solid food right now, simply because her mother and father are terrified of said angel baby choking. Her favorite foods are carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and anything mixed with any kind of fruit. But especially bananas. I am still nursing her and it’s so sweet. However. I think I may have to have an “I’m Done Nursing!!!” party when she reaches a year… lactation cookies NOT allowed. Champagne will be the ticket to get in. We took her to DisneyWorld a month ago and had a blast. BUT we were ALMOST in the red zone for a chaotic trip — she has really come alive since Disney. She’s almost on the move and I cannot imagine taking a baby on the move to Disney. OMG. All that to say, Emerson is so many answered prayers wrapped in one adorable chunky roly poly body. We love her and feel complete with her as our caboose. I cry regularly over her life and all that it entails — we all do, come to think of it.

Fenley Grace (a.k.a. Fennybooboochild, Fen, FenFen, Fensterella) — this child is hilarious and amazingly smart and has a killer memory. She is full of life. Sister loves to talk, loves her baby sissy, loves her daddy and loves her mommy. Fenley had a blast in DisneyWorld. She complained minimally and was not scared of one single ride. Oh wait. She was scared of a ride that wasn’t actually a ride — It’s Tough to Be a Bug — she actually said after it was over: “Mama, why did you get a FastPass for that ride?” Haha. Girlfriend has a mind of her own and is already pretty set in her ways. Which I have to respect — because I’m the same way. We butt heads a good bit because little Miss FenFen wants to do things one way and I want to do them another way, and you can imagine the rest. She lets me win about 50% of the time. Kinda kidding. She is starting K5 in the fall at the public school near us — she is pumped and so are we. We will be getting a raise and the school is LITERALLY half a mile from our house. And the school so far has been AWESOME. And they have school buses. Not saying she will ride it frequently but Hallelujah it’s an option. She gets in bed with us every night between the hours of 11:45PM and 6:00AM — gently taps one of us and says “scoot over” — pretty sweet. We are crazy about our funny, strong willed, bright, beautiful Fenley girl and hope and pray we are not totally flubbing this whole parenting/instilling values thing.

William Lamar/Grief (a.k.a. Wills, sweet baby Wills) — oh grief. What are we gonna do with you? Rocking along having a “perfect” (yeah right) life and then BAM. We get a diagnosis that changes everything. He would be 2 now. A perfect for us baby boy that we had the privilege of parenting for 15 days. He changed everything. Every. Single. Thing. Do we still struggle and wrestle? Duh. But geez. Things are just different. Was explaining to some friends — Disney was fun BECAUSE of Wills. Why? Because when you have had a child in your home that rocked your world and other people’s worlds yet he was on oxygen support and a feeding tube and never left this house after he got here — that stuff goes deep down and doesn’t let go. And when you have a healthy baby afterwards (which I highly recommend — if it’s not in the cards for you, PRAY FOR IT ANYWAY – don’t you buy any lies that tell you it won’t happen for you — I’m  mad at the enemy just typing this out. Don’t you go believing that God doesn’t over deliver. And if His delivery looks different than what you had in your head, then check yourself in His word and GO WITH IT). Wait where was I? Haha. Oh yeah, and when you have a healthy baby afterwards and get to lug that chunky healthy baby all over the southeast, you get a deep down grin that NOTHING CAN STEAL. Treasure stored where it CANNOT rot or rust or decay. I. KNOW. THE. ONE. WHO. HAS. CALLED. ME. TO. THIS. LIFE. AND. I. CHOOSE. TO. TRUST. HIM. And THAT my friends is what has made all the difference. He has made Himself known to me over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and I will never stop talking about it. Psalm 9:1 “To be sung to the tune: The Death of the Son. I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all of the marvelous things You have done.” God has made the sweetest season of my life the one that required me to bury my son. I miss that season. I would do it all over again.

Lauren Masa (a.k.a. Mama Bear, Mama, Wifey) — I finally started seeing a counselor. Something I was overwhelmingly AGAINST for many many years. And then God 100% opened the door and then confirmed it. My counselor is teaching me how to guard my heart and take better care of myself – mainly my heart. Proverbs 4… guard your heart, for from it flows all life (basically the verse, ad-libbing here). I’m learning a ton and am thankful. He is encouraging and apparently I need a lot of encouragement. Which I am learning to be okay with. God made us to be encouraged by each other, not torn down or criticized. I’ve had more than my fair share on the giving and receiving end of criticism. But am noticing patterns and getting healthier I hope. I had a blast in Disney. It was an absolute homerun — in the parenting department, in the missing Wills department, in the relishing life department, in the marriage department. All of it. I really feel like God knew we needed some margin time away out of town and made it a really sweet trip for our family of four. And it didn’t hurt that we went with some of our best friends, the Davis’. They were around before our life got turned upside down, during (her chicken spaghetti sent me into labor with Wills) and have steadily been there after. I hope we are half the blessing they are to us. Dru has particularly been really patient with me in our friendship and encouraging and that makes my heart smile. I was having REALLY bad anxiety two summers ago at the beach (approaching Wills’ 1st birthday) and we were at dinner with them and she saw the worst of me and just loved on me through it. We all need more people like that. To sum up my days: changing diapers, carpool, feeding my family, baking, contemplating real estate license to help Walt, cleaning, planning imaginary family trips, looking at Wills’ pics and getting reality checks, reading, going to my counselor, binge watching Blacklist and New Girl, trying to diet, and trying not to be so hard on myself. I’m thankful for this season, it’s a sweet spot for sure.

Sometimes after I leave my counselor’s office, I am a bit too introspective. So I take it to the Word. Have been reading in Matthew… Jesus was so awesome. He loved. And He loved in truth. He wasn’t soft or cushy yet was so compassionate and warm. He healed people. He really changed people. He didn’t pretend we were all great. He knew we were sick and that’s why He came. Why do we try to say we aren’t sick? What’s so wrong with saying I’m screwed up by (fill in the blank) and Jesus saved me and is now sanctifying me. What a great life purpose. To just be saved and in the process of being sanctified and say to other people: “Hey! I know the answer to that doubt/fear/anxiety/shame you can’t quite shake!!!” I don’t think Jesus cares if you ever leave your zip code (sorry, David Platt). Sometimes He told people to GO HOME and share the Good News. The church is not some place where we get to pick and choose what happens or doesn’t happen, what’s okay or what’s not okay. We are simply faucets of whatever He’s doing — and you cannot possibly know what He is really up to without being in the Word. Jesus said ABIDE in me and I will ABIDE in you. What. A. Promise.

Thanks for indulging my little (long) update… please message me on here if there is any way I can pray with/for you or talk through anything at all – anyone that knows me knows that few topics, if any, are off the table.

Lauren

Below… just some random goodness in the form of photography!!!

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Mama loves a selfie

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Sweet days at home while big sister is out and about

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Selfies with these two cuties are the BEST

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Napping in Destin on the way to Disney… couldn’t NOT take a pic

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Love these two kiddos

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Dinner in France, of course!!!

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Not Paris, France but hey, I’ll take it!!!
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We love Mickey!

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Fenley’s pose just slays me!!!

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Fen and her fairy godmother

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The quintessential Disney pic

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I may or may not wash this mug daily so I can reuse it the next day 🙂

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Currently my favorite Wills pic that reminds me to GET A GRIP and chill out about life in general and just keep on keepin on 🙂

 

Not Just Yet

Where’s the warning for “birthday approaching grief”? Geez. Had no clue how intense it would be. It’s a completely different grief coming up on the one year birthday mark. Something about this just cracks you wide open and all of your heart just gushes out onto the floor in a puddle. Or manifests itself in an adult temper tantrum where you actually chunk your plastic garbage can up against the door frame and it breaks. Then you have to tell your husband why your mini under the sink garbage can is inside the larger garbage can. Can’t make this stuff up. Complete miracle that we have been on the same page the past few days… when I get misty eyed, he does too. When he feels encouraged, so do I. When I cry, he cries and vice versa.

Grief will humble you. You’re rocking along, owning this whole “life” thing… talkin’ with Jesus, baking, parenting, joking around… then out of nowhere, a tidal wave of the deepest ache the human heart can know. Have found myself in a crash course of relearning everything I’ve known to be true to this point.

Stumbled across a post by Ann Voskamp earlier. About giving thanks for the meager and unlikely. And how the apostle Paul “knew that which didn’t look like anything good might yield good, all in the hand of a good God.”

It’s not a question of why. Or even how. It’s not a debate in theology… all that is fine, and sure, it entertains the brain and makes for some enlightening conversation from time to time. But really it’s just a question of Who. Who made me? Who carries me? Who loves me? Who aches when I ache? Who loves my son more than I do? Who put me here, in this generation, for a purpose? Who says I can do all things through Him? Who says this is all worth it? The Who of life is what life is about… Who calls me to love, and Who calls me to forgive… and then equips me to do both.

It’s gotta be God. It’s gotta be scripture. It’s gotta be about Him.

Does that mean that all you do is sit at home all day and read and pray and analyze God’s hand in your life? Nooooo. Some days, maybe. But no. He has equipped us to do life here. You can underwater a plant, and you can overwater it. Get your “water” and “manna” everyday. Then go do His work He has given you.

I thought for sure we would be pregnant by now. Really thought another baby would be so healing and necessary at this point on my grief journey. But God has given me just a tid bit of insight… As we approach Wills’ first birthday next Friday, He wants me missing one little boy in particular who rocked my world and changed me forever. God’s in no rush. I wanna be poppin’ babies out or pickin’ orphans up til the doctor says no more c-sections and Walt tells me no more room under this roof.

God’s call doesn’t always happen over night. In the last year, I have wanted to: sell our house, build a house, renovate a house,  redo our house, open a bakery, start a non profit, have another baby, go to nursing school, open a commercial kitchen, go to work full time at Baptist hospital, could go on and on.

And God has said… “Not just yet”. To EVERYTHING. Time to heal baby girl. Time to marinate in my Spirit. Time to learn some lifelong lessons here. Time to dig up some copper from the valley of the shadow of death. Time to find that He alone is enough. Time to slay some lies and shine the light on some darkness I’ve believed and held on to for too long. Time to let humility take root and tear down pride. I’ve learned so much in the last year that I really can’t even comprehend it. Pure grace and gift from the Lord my God. That He would meet me here and teach me and comfort me and really introduce Himself to me again. Just wow. Chills and teary eyes as I think of His love for me this last year. Not an easy year, but so necessary.

So I would say if you find yourself with lots of closed doors, let God meet you there and ask Him about Who He is and what He is up to… sometimes He’ll give you a lil insight 🙂

This time last year I didn’t know the marvelous unfolding that was waiting for me. Death? Yes. But who doesn’t die here? Beauty in death? Only my God can script that. I’m thrilled to be a steward and a mama bear in this story.

Lauren

In celebration of the best normal we had for 15 days… here are some pics. Happy Birthday Week Wills Bowie!!! Your mama misses you!!! If you enjoy a cupcake in honor of Wills this week, will you shoot me a picture via email or text? laurenmasa@icloud.com. Would help make my week just a little bit sweeter.

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New Normal

I have officially talked Walt into letting me decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. I must admit I am pretty excited about decorating and the approaching holidays… Walt has said he thinks this will be the first holiday we have ever REALLY celebrated. I agree. And we are doing things a little different this year with our little family. Starting some new traditions and intentionally savoring what Christmas is all about. I read an article the other day about removing Santa from Christmas and I went on a tangent to Walt about how we should eliminate Santa from Christmas and all these other lofty thoughts… And my simple country boy replies with, “We both grew up with Santa and we love Jesus.” Well said, Bowie, well said. So needless to say, we are keeping Santa but will be worshiping Jesus 🙂 and remembering Wills and relishing Fenley and each other.


Fenley has requested a mircophone, a unicorn and a sleeping bag. Really? She makes me laugh. 

So Friday is my postpartum check up. Bittersweet. I don’t want to be finished with the physicality of having Wills. Confession: I’ve thought about calling to reschedule to buy myself another week of expecting one more appointment where Wills is the reason I am there. Just know if you see me in Kroger Friday afternoon, don’t question the amount of cupcakes in my buggy. Just smile and wave… In all seriousness though, I do grieve the end of my appointments. I miss being pregnant with him and I am going to miss having appointments because of him. Prayers appreciated for Friday morning…

On a really uplifting note…some legit guys that Walt went to college with all went in together and blessed us tremendously. We went to dinner with one of them this week because he had something to give us but couldn’t open it until we got home. Well, antsy pants me opened it the second we got in the car. Tears flowed the whole way home from both Walt and me. Inside was a gift card to The Alluvian for an overnight stay, with the romance package, a couples massage and dinner at Giardinas. I mean really. The cool thing is I turn 30 in January and I had been hoping to spend my 30th at The Alluvian before we got Wills’ diagnosis and was trying to figure out how to budget for a getaway. When we found out Wills’ condition all of that went on the back burner obviously. And look what God had in the works…thank you, legit guys, for splurging on this tired couple… We are so excited and more than ready for our getaway. Marvelous. 

Our new normal is constantly changing feels like. A few big changes. A few small ones. A few fun ones. A few not so fun. All in all, life feels like an adventure now. With God really calling all the shots and us asking for wisdom and perspective and endurance and joy. He knows our hearts better than we do. Who better to shepherd us? I told Jan Moncrief tonight I am having trouble finding words to describe where my heart is (which is rare for me!) but started thinking… who needs words when you have the Creator of the universe intimately acquainted with where you are? So again…I muster every ounce of faith I have and rest in Him. Glance at one picture of Wills Bowie and I’m reminded…”Oh yeah, just do now, in faith and trust. And keep your eyes peeled for marvelous.”

We are having another NICU reunion Monday (“Hi, my name is Lauren Bowie and I am a Baptist Hospital stalker”). Taking them a chocolate cake. Apparently our favorite neonatologist likes chocolate 🙂 I wish I could make sure he always has a chocolate cake at his disposal. Words aren’t enough for that doctor. I know this isn’t 100% true but I like to think it’s somewhat true maybe…that God moved him here from Birmingham for us 🙂 his heart certainly made us feel that way. I know Wills will be in his receiving line when he gets to Heaven. Hopefully with some form of Heavenly chocolate…

I’m thinking I’ve rambled enough for tonight 🙂 good night…
Lauren