Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year of Blessings

Many of you received my family's Christmas letter for a review of this past year, but here are some additional thoughts I have regarding 2007. . .

. . . I began a blog for no particular reason but it quickly became a way for me to write about my daily trials and blessings for all of the many hats that I wear.


. . . Through my blog, I am better able to see the Hand of God at work in my life, both in the present and the past. This has helped me to grow closer in my walk with the Lord.


. . . I have been able to encourage others, which is an awesome by-product of having this blog.


. . . I am able to express myself better through writing than I am in person.


. . . The bond between my sis-in-law Jenn and I has been strengthened because of blogging.


. . . I have been humbled because of various circumstances that happened to friends and acquaintances this year, and I appreciate my family so much more, particularly my husband and children.


. . . I learned that life with 3 children is not the end of the world, but rather it is the beginning of a whole new set of experiences.


. . . I learned that duct tape inside of a dryer only gets stickier with each use.


. . . I learned that the pipes in a toilet bend in an elbow curve.


. . . I learned that cell phones, especially modern ones, will flush down a toilet.


. . . I learned that it's possible to have sight and not see, have ears and not listen, have a heart and not love. I also learned how I need to change, and am working on implementing those changes.


. . . I learned that my husband's favorite candy bar is Hershey's Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.


. . . I learned that it's easy to stray in my walk with the Lord. Daily I must determine to walk with Him.

. . . I realized I have 2 favorite books: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. I read both several times this past year, and enjoy them more with each read.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Julian's World

In the wake of the phone incident, I have been busy washing towels and scrubbing the kids' bathroom- every square inch of it! No fear, my dad got himself a new phone, the toilet is back in place after 2 days off, and the stench from the drain hole is finally subsiding. Only 5 more days until my dad goes home; pray nothing else happens until that time...

On a more serious note, I have been thinking of and praying for a little 4 year old boy who lives in Texas. He is in his final days of battling brain cancer, and I have difficulty bringing myself to read his daily updates. I know soon I will click on his care page and the update will tell of his passing. I have been following his story since the fall and although it's difficult to explain, I sort of feel like I know his family. I guess perhaps it is because he is close in age to my Th, and his mother Mimi has pictures posted from before his cancer; Julian was very much a boy like mine. His care page depicts Mimi's thoughts and feelings regarding the entire situation, and I am encouraged and amazed by her strength in the Lord. I selfishly pray I never have to experience a situation similar to hers, although I guess in some ways I know what deep grief and loss feels like because of my miscarriage. I know there are some who feel like a miscarriage is not the same as losing a child, but I don't care. To me, pain is pain and grief is grief regardless of the cause.

Julian's Care Page is titled Julian's World.

Registration is required on this site to view the pages, but it's free and I highly urge you to do so. If anything, Julian and his family are a good dose of reality, and we all need that every once in a while.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where's My Phone?

Below is a video of an event that occured yesterday in my home involving my dad and his phone. . . enjoy!

video

Monday, December 24, 2007

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Technology

I use the Kraft website weekly to plan my menu and then daily to follow the recipes when preparing supper. I run like a crazy woman back and forth between the computer and the stove. TJ has been after me for a while to replace my cookbooks and many recipes with a more modern digital version. I have been reluctant to change because, well, our desktop computer isn't that far away from the kitchen and I have a lot of hand-written recipes. I find it difficult to see the necessity of typing them into a Word document to save in a digital format. But, as usual, TJ had a solution: he removed my cookbooks and replaced it with a laptop that sits on the counter next to the stove. For my other recipes, he has a machine at work that scans the document and saves it in a digital format, meaning he can email it to me to save to the laptop. He finished the laptop Tuesday, and this weekend I have really put it to good use as I baked Christmas cookies. No more sprinting to the computer desk or sifting through pages of recipes searching for a specific one. I love my laptop; but, of course, I'll never admit that I should have agreed to the change sooner! :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday on Ice

Last week, I received free tickets for ice skating at the outdoor rink in downtown Charlotte, along with free skate rental and hot cocoa vouchers, followed by tickets to watch the Charlotte Checkers play a hockey game as part of the WBT radio station’s celebration of Veteran’s night. It was awesome!

Driving in downtown Charlotte is easy compared to a city like Chicago or New York, but nonetheless we made a few wrong turns and had to drive around the block in order to get into the parking garage. I am the navigator while TJ is the pilot (like our airplane talk?); however, he gets nervous driving in places he’s not familiar with. He was also driving fast, making it difficult for me to read street signs. Once we passed the garage, he was a little upset that I didn’t see it before he passed it (sorry, I try my best to read at 40 mph!) because, of course, the next intersection we came to was a one-way street. After much arguing discussing we got back to where we needed to be and found a good spot to park.

We made it to the rink, ordered skates for TJ and Th, and got laced up. I was a figure skater growing up and still have my old skates. TJ dug them out of our shed for me to wear. I have not skated since 1998, living in California, and was a bit nervous at how well I would do. I am happy to report it is much like riding a bike; one never forgets! I had no idea they made these cool U-shaped bars that the kids push around to help keep them balanced. In my day, parents had to hold their child’s hand, and the next day required a trip to the chiropractor because their back was permanently bent at a 45 degree angle from trying to keep the child on his feet.

At first Th was hesitant, and truth be told, TJ and I left him to fend for himself the first few times around the rink as we both worked out the kinks. Th eventually got used to the skates and was able to push the “walker” quickly. Of course he fell a few times, one of which he landed on the end of the bar and bruised his tailbone, but overall he enjoyed his skating experience and I am glad he was able to go with us.

After skating we walked right next door to the rink and ate some pizza at Fuel Pizza. It was a really neat place as it was all about vehicles and gasoline and full of memorabilia. We sat next to an old fuel pump that Th insisted belonged in a gas station and not a pizza place, but once our food arrived and his mind was focused on eating, he dropped the subject.

We ate, then headed to Ovens Arena to watch the Checker’s game. We drove there, paid for parking, parked the car, and headed to the Arena. Just outside the door, TJ took the tickets out of his pocket to hand me mine. He read it aloud: Charlotte Checkers versus Columbia Inferno, Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Saturday, December 15, 2007, 7:30pm. Bobcats Arena?! We were at the wrong place! Duh, TJ!!! How long have those tickets been in your pocket and you’re just now reading them??!!

We waited to get a parking refund, loaded back up in the van (time is now 7:20pm), and headed back to Uptown to find where we need to be. Of course, as I wrote above, TJ gets nervous driving in unfamiliar territory, and of course neither of us has ever been to Bobcats Arena nor knows where it is located. Ugh! After some good navigating on my part, we arrived at the arena (there were no directional signs, just so you know) and again pay to park. We made it inside the building just as the National Anthem was playing! Th had a great time. He was so excited and it was nice to spend time alone with him. He felt so grown up accompanying me and TJ on a “date night”!

I have never been to a professional hockey game and was surprised at how violent it is! There were probably 5 fights in the first quarter (I still don’t understand why it’s called a quarter when they only play 3 of them) but it was entertaining to watch Th as he watched grown men fist-fight. I sort of felt like I was at a boxing match, but I guess that’s one of the draws to the sport.



Th skating with the bar. . .
TJ. . .

Me. . .

Al and Stacey, radio hosts on WBT, and us. . .



Monday, December 17, 2007

Homesick?

I received Christmas cards today from 2 very special people. Both are friends of ours from California, and both have had such a huge influence in my decision to go into the field of Special Education. They were both on our Special Olympic Swim Team (again, I haven't yet gotten that far in the writing of my life) and have been a part of our lives since 1999. They are definitely worth sharing about, and hopefully I can find some digital pictures (my Special Olympic years were well before I ever had a digital camera!) to share.

Michael and his mom Pat are both brave people. Michael was born with Down Syndrome, and he has 2 other siblings (a brother and a sister). The children are grown and married, except Michael. Michael's father passed away quite a few years ago, and Michael requires constant care. Pat and Michael lived down the street from us when we lived in our apartment off base. It was nice to be able to stop by for a visit anytime I was so inclined. Pat was a probation officer, but as Michael aged and grew progressively more dependent on her, she had to quit working. Pat is now in her late 60s and Michael is in his mid-40s. A couple of years ago Pat informed me that Michael has severe dementia. Obviously the older he gets, the worse his dementia becomes. It breaks my heart because he doesn't remember us, and even more sadly, the impact on our lives that he made.

The other card we received was from our friends Dick and Carolyn, and their family. They have 4 children, and Dawn, their 3rd born, was born with Down Syndrome. TJ and I still laugh at some of the sayings she had, and just the other night we had a good laugh. Dawn and another good friend of ours named Kendra used to affectionately call us "Chicken Nugget" when they saw us. We never understood why (it was part of the humor of their mental ages- at the time, the chronological ages of both girls was 15 but mental age was closer to 6 or 7 ). Anyway, Carolyn enclosed a picture taken from their oldest son's wedding this past summer. I can't believe at how much older everyone has become. Their family is originally from Marion, OH and Carolyn gave me some dates as to when they will be in Ohio next summer. I hope to coordinate something as we would LOVE to see them again.

My dream vacation since we moved here was to take our children back to California to meet the families who had such an impact on our lives when we were away from ours. I loved the athletes on my swim team dearly, and spent many hours outside of the pool realm with them. The athletes and their families knew TJ well before my own family did, and they were with me for 8 months of my pregnancy with Th. We moved just before he was born in 2002.

Thanks for the memories Pat and Carolyn, and thanks for the updates! We think of you all often!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Letter

Below is the draft I typed up this afternoon to use as our family's annual Christmas Letter. I keep going back and forth as to whether I should send this. I'm not really sure why, I guess because most family members like to read an update on our family and how things have changed, which this is, but on more of a spiritual level. Anyway, here it is in all its glory. . .

2007

This year the Lord has really revealed Himself to us through various situations, and I feel compelled to share what TJ and I have learned as a result.

Life can change in an instant. The Lord has proven that to us by the circumstances surrounding some people that TJ and I know. I do not know why any of the following life events happened to these specific people, but I do know they were God-ordained and He will be their source of strength (Isaiah 41:10).

I will first begin with our friend Mark. Mark had cancer, and he was fighting for his life. But, to most people he appeared healthy and never complained about his situation. He instead turned to the Lord in prayer, and appealed to his church family and friends for their prayers, too. One Monday morning in July he was out shopping with his 15-year-old daughter. He felt dizzy and nauseous, and could no longer talk. He began fumbling with his keys and as they left the store, pointed across the street to the hospital. She drove him there and he was life-flighted to another hospital where he later died. The cancer had unknowingly spread to his brain and the tumor ruptured, causing him to stroke. He left behind a wife and 5 children, as well as a host of other family and friends, TJ and I included. Mark was a true man of God and wonderful example as a leader, husband, father, and friend. He exemplified Christian living and set a high standard for others to follow his lead; however, he was very humble in his living and, honestly, most of what he taught us we learned after his untimely death. I often think of Mark, remembering how only a few months before we sat on our patio laughing and joking while Mark and TJ grilled burgers and hot dogs during our Sunday School get-together. I remember how the Sunday before he passed away he inquired about my dad’s upcoming visit, and he encouragingly patted me on the shoulder as a sign of friendship and genuine interest in my life. There are countless other ways Mark has touched our lives forever; but, in an instant, he was taken from this earth to live with his Savior Jesus Christ.

In September I received news that a friend of mine from the MOMS Club had been rushed to Duke University to undergo brain surgery. All summer Carrie had been experiencing headaches and was told they were caused by sinus problems. Thankfully she persisted in searching for an answer and doctors at Duke found a massive tumor on her brain. Suddenly her life was changed, as were the lives of her husband and almost 2-year-old son, along with her close friends and family. I immediately went to God’s Word to help get perspective on this situation, as Carrie is my age and her son and Ta are friends. I focused on 12 promises of God and studied the Scriptures, reminding myself of God’s presence and faithfulness (Hebrews 13:5) no matter what the situation. I emailed out those promises to encourage others in the MOMS Club, and we held a prayer vigil for Carrie the day she underwent surgery. I have witnessed miracles and received answers to prayer before, but none like this: Carrie’s tumor was benign and the surgeons were able to remove it in its entirety! She has made a full recovery with no side effects. Nevertheless, her life is not the same as she better appreciates the gift God has given her by extending her years on this earth. Lord willing she will live to watch her son grow old and have children of his own.


In early November another friend of mine in the MOMS Club experienced a similar situation to Carrie’s. Michelle had not been feeling well and went for some tests. In an instant, Michelle’s life was forever changed. The tests revealed colon cancer, and it has since spread to her liver and brain. She is scheduled to begin chemo in early January, but her prognosis is not very good. She has only a short time remaining on this earth, and I have been praying for her and her family since receiving the news. She, too, has 3 children, all boys, ranging in age from 11 to 5. My heart hurts for her but I know God will use this for His glory (Romans 8:28-29), even though in my finite mind I am not able to understand God’s plan for Michelle.

Finally, today we received news of a fellow church member. He has been working out-of-town and was involved in a head-on collision this morning. He is in a coma at a hospital in Indianapolis. His wife and daughter have flown to be with him and we are awaiting further news. How quickly their lives were changed! But, just as God has been with them in the past, He will continue to be with them now and in the future (Heb. 13:5).

This Christmas season, we pray that each of you would come to know Christ in a personal way. Christmas is so much more than gifts to each other and to your children; it’s celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is God’s greatest gift to us. I am sharing, because as in the above examples, our lives can change in a flash. One day we will all appear before the Lord, and since we do not know when that will happen, I pray you stop and think about your standing before Him. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to accept God’s gift of Salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~John 3:16

Monday, December 3, 2007

Because of Travis

Today marks the 4 year anniversary of my miscarriage. I have not gotten that far in the writing of my "life journey", but because this day is both the worst and best day of my life, I want to share with you.

Thanksgiving 2003 was spent visiting family in Ohio, although it was only myself and Th. I don't remember why TJ stayed in SC, but he did. While I was gone, I began to spot. I phoned the doctor and was told it is/was normal to spot around the time I would normally have my cycle (I was almost 9 weeks pregnant). The nurse I spoke with said to make an appointment the following Monday if the spotting didn't stop. I planned to go anyway because I was fighting a severe cold and needed some medication.

The spotting never increased, but it didn't decrease, either. I also remember not feeling pregnant- you know, the exhaustion, the nauseousness, tenderness in the chest- I did not have any of those symptoms. I also remember thinking it was weird that my pants weren't feeling any tighter, either. Granted I wouldn't have been in maternity clothes that early, but I should have felt bloated.

I returned home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I didn't spot at all that day, and began to trust what the nurse had said. The next day we drove to my in-laws for a birthday party. We were gone all day, and got back home about 6pm that evening. My in-laws live about an hour and a half away, and I needed to potty as soon as I got home. I ran into the house to go while TJ got Th out of the car. I screamed and he came running in. I showed him what I had seen, and we immediately drove to the emergency room.

Once there, I had some blood work done. The doctor did not do an ultrasound (looking back, I don't know why) and after a few hours, I was released and told I may or may not be having a miscarriage. I needed to make a follow-up appointment in the morning with my OB doctor. My heart was crushed and I was confused. I barely slept that night.

The next morning (Monday, Dec. 1), I was still bleeding pretty heavily. I called the doctor and went in to be seen. I met with the nurse practitioner, Robin, and she had me go in right away for an ultrasound. The technician showed me on the screen where the baby was, and I immediately felt relief. I was okay! She attempted to find a heartbeat, then asked me some questions. The baby was measuring 5 weeks, and I was now 9 weeks. Could I be off on my dates?

When meeting again with Robin after the ultrasound, she said I needed to have more blood work taken and would have to come back in the morning. She wanted to compare my hCG levels to that taken from the hospital (when you're pregnant, your levels double every 48 hours). Basically I still did not have a definitive answer as to whether I was having a miscarriage. In my heart I knew the answer, but I would not allow my mind to accept it. I kept telling myself everything was going to be okay.

The next day (Tuesday, Dec. 2) I went back for the blood work. I would not receive the results until the next day, so I had to make it one more day before I found out if this baby would survive this pregnancy. That evening, and it is as real and vivid now as the night it happened, I sat on the couch upstairs in the playroom. I watched TJ and Th playing together, and I had severe cramping. I knew then that I was losing my baby, and I cried silently to myself as I watched them together. My heart was breaking and my world was crumbling around me. TJ, always being positive, told me to stop worrying because I didn't know for sure, but I did.

Th was sick that night (I had shared my cold with him) and woke a little after midnight crying. I usually got up with him by myself on the rare occasions that he woke in the middle of the night, but this night TJ got up with him, too. I used the opportunity to go to the bathroom, and just as TJ was walking in the bathroom to get Th a tissue, I pulled my pants down and the baby literally fell on the bathroom rug.

I immediately began to cry as this was the confirmation I had been waiting for all week, but especially the past 4 days. TJ calmed Th down and got him settled in bed while I just sat on the bathroom floor crying my heart out. I don't really know how I felt. I know how I felt after, but that specific point in time, I'm not too sure. TJ held me, and then we called the doctor.

The doctor on-call that night was horrible (he later delivered T.G.). He told me I probably did not miscarry but rather it was just a large clot. No, Dr. M., you don't understand. I see arms and legs, and little tiny hands; I KNOW this is my baby! The doctor told me to pick up the "clot", flush it down the toilet, and come into the office first thing in the morning. Regrettably, I did as he instructed.

When I went in on Wednesday, I again met with Robin. It was very quiet and somber as the technician performed the ultrasound, which only confirmed what I knew deep in my soul. I had miscarried, and then I flushed my baby down the toilet because some pompous doctor told me to do so! I was horribly mad and sad. I had so many questions as to why it happened, but all I could muster was a "Why?" and "Was it because of . . . ". I succumbed to just crying in Robin's office as she quietly sat there and allowed me to. As I got up to leave, she hugged me and said to come back in a couple of weeks to ask my questions. I needed some time to let it all sink in.

I was in shock, yet I had known for 4 days I was not going to be delivering a baby in July 2004. However, that did not lessen the hurt or pain I was experiencing. On top of my loss, I had to deal with telling everyone. Family was the worst. I gave that job to TJ. He did a great job- he really hadn't shown any emotion about the miscarriage anyway. Don't get me wrong, he was sad, but nothing compared to what I was feeling/experiencing. I listened as he made the calls, and I could tell the reactions of those on the other line by the conversations that took place after receiving the news. I know it was my loss, but my pain was made worse by listening to those phone calls. I felt like my world had stopped, and I couldn't understand how everyone else could still be living while I was in such pain. To this day, I am still amazed at how much my heart hurts for that baby, and I can feel the emotions of that day deep into my being.

I only knew one other person who had experienced a miscarriage. It was none other than my friend Chelsea. I called her and she immediately knew what to say. I so wish I could have had her with me. The feeling of isolation I felt was overwhelming. I know I keep saying I was in so much pain, but I really was. The deep sense of loss is overpowering. I cried uncontrollably for a long time. I was mourning the baby, the unrealized dreams, our "incomplete" family, all the things people don't realize they think about when they're pregnant until something happens. Chelsea knew how I felt. Chelsea understood me more than my own family, my own husband. And she was in Ohio and I was in SC. Alone. Locked in the bedroom crying on my pillow.

Relationships were strained after that. I was embarrassed to see anyone in the family because of a comment made by a family member. Something to the effect that if I got pregnant again, maybe the next time I wouldn't get sick. Like my being sick had caused the miscarriage. I realize the absurdity to that statement now, but then I didn't. I honestly had no idea why I miscarried and definitely blamed myself. I reasoned I had given birth to a healthy baby once, it had to have been my fault if I didn't do it again. I avoided family at all costs, and Christmas that year was very difficult. I did not feel any joy, any reason to celebrate. I was angry at the world because life continued despite my pain, and I didn't like it.

I met with Robin a few weeks later. I asked her about the possibility that something was wrong with me. She gently rebuked that option and said matter-of-factly that the only person who knows what happened is the Lord above. That statement angered me because if it was me, I could do something to change so I could have healthy children. If it was God, pregnancy was totally out of my control.

Now, here is where the Lord begins to heal my broken heart and shape me into who I am today. This is where I begin to understand that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Up to this point, I felt I was being punished; I had taken one of God's children 8 years earlier (almost to the day), and the Lord, I irrationally thought, was taking one of mine so I could understand the pain I caused Him.

I had planned to be a SAHM whenever I had children, but because of various life circumstances surrounding Th's birth, I was forced to find a job. I did, and I loved my job. I worked at a community college in downtown Charlotte, and I was very happy. My boss was a retired Army Sergeant and we got along great. I enjoyed my coworkers, and the job was relatively easy. Of course some days were stressful, that is to be expected, but overall it was a fun job and I felt useful.

However, I missed being with my baby, especially when he started doing all of his "firsts" at daycare and I missed being there to see them. On top of that, he became sick and was sick often that first winter. I missed a lot of work, and the stress of having to call off (again!), plus recently moving to a new house in a new town, not feeling 100% confident in the new daycare, and the added drive time back and forth to work began to take its toll. My miscarriage sort of confirmed my desire to stay home with Th. I was willing to sell our brand new house and move into a box if it meant I could stay home. I just had to be with my baby, especially because at this point in my life, I was not going to have any more children. I couldn't bear the thought of experiencing this kind of deep pain again.

So, the first blessing out of my miscarriage was that 2 weeks before Christmas I turned in my resignation. My boss was unhappy to be losing me, but completely understood, as did my coworkers, especially my friend Cindy. I returned after our Christmas break and finished out the month of January. As of 1 Feb 2004, I was officially a SAHM.

As I mentioned above, we had just recently moved into the house in which we currently reside. I knew no one, and knew nothing about the area either. I began to look for groups to become involved with, and came across a group called MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers). It is a Christian-based group, and I attended a couple of meetings to see if I liked it and fit in. I did, and I did. I met some wonderful women in this group, and I can see the Lord's hand in this all, especially now.

Through MOPs, I met a woman in my small group who belonged to a club called the MOMS Club. She lived in a different town than I did, but informed me there was a group in my town, as well. She gave me a website, I contacted them, and joined about 2 weeks later. I have been a part of the MOMS Club since Feb. 2004, and I can't imagine my life without the friends I've made in this Club. They have supported me through so many life situations that I wouldn't have wanted to face alone. TJ has made friends of the spouses through this Club, and our children have great friends through this Club.

Besides getting involved with the MOMS Club, another woman (Susan) from MOPs put me in contact with a woman (Heather) who attends Harvest Baptist Church. Now, a man (Bob) TJ worked with had been inviting us to attend this church since we first moved in October 2003. This gentleman was an older man, and I told TJ I didn't want to go to a church full of old people! When Susan said her neighbor Heather attended Harvest, I knew it was God trying to tell me something. The Lord definitely wanted us at Harvest since He was using Bob to invite TJ and Heather (through Susan) to invite me. I was willing to try it out, and we have been attending ever since. Just a quick blurb about Bob. Bob, of all the people TJ and I know, actually touched me the most when I miscarried. The day TJ told him the news, I guess he said something to the effect of "My wife had a miscarriage." Bob replied to TJ, "No, you both had a miscarriage and I'm so sorry for your loss." When TJ told me what he said, I began to cry because finally someone else understood the overwhelming pain I was feeling. I later found out Bob really does understand my pain. He and his wife lost their only son a few years back. He was killed by a drunk driver. He had recently been married but did not have any children. Bob was devastated, to say the least. Bob and his wife have become very close family friends, sort of like surrogate grandparents to our children.

To recap, my miscarriage allowed me to become a stay-at-home-mom, I joined MOPs and received my beloved Mom's Devotional Bible, I joined the MOMS Club, and we began attending Harvest. On top of all those many blessings, I have met so many other women through my church and the MOMS Club who have all miscarried. Not only that, but I have had a couple of friends miscarry, and because of my experience, I knew exactly how they were feeling and how to better minister to their needs.

So you see, sometimes great pain causes blessings we are not prepared for, nor able to see, when we are going through trials of various types. Before I miscarried, I thought my life was in my hands and under my control. God used a miscarriage to bring me back to Him, and I praise Him for that. I was a very selfish, ungodly person a few years ago. I still am selfish and ungodly at times, but I have changed so much since this experience. I have learned so much about God through all of this, and that is the most important thing, I believe. I would definitely suffer again if it meant I received those same blessings, because to me, the blessings far outweigh the pain. There's an old adage, "pain is temporary", and it really is, especially when one turns to the Lord, our God of Comfort.

To help with my grief, TJ and I named our baby Travis after the Air Force Base we met at. To this day, every Christmas we place a poinsettia in our church to honor him and remember what God has done in our lives through him. Travis is our miracle baby, because if not for him, I would not be where I am today spiritually, and the same for TJ. Because of Travis, TJ got saved. Because of Travis, I had 2 more beautiful, healthy children. Because of Travis, I can relate to and encourage other moms when they experience similar circumstances. Because of Travis, TJ would not be the spiritual leader of our home, nor the father and husband he is today. Because of Travis, I would not be the mom I am today. Because of Travis, I would not know or love the Lord like I do, and that is a scary thought. Thank you Lord for my miscarriage.