To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

31 Days

As I was cruising through my Facebook feed one day, a friend and fellow loss-mom posted a link to her blog, asking what her audience would like to read. Piquing my interest, I dove a little deeper to see why she was asking. This is how I came across the 31-Day-Challenge. If this doesn't have, "Val you have to do this" all over it, then I don't know what would.

The premise is: you choose a topic, and you write - every single day of October - about it. Two sentences, two pages - doesn't matter. You just write. As someone who is generally shy and stonewalled in the way of being wordy (I kid...obviously...), I had a bazillion-and-three topics swimming in my mind. Therefore, I did the same thing my friend did. I turned to my audience for help.

On my Mind Mumbles Facebook page, I posed the same question, and got some wonderful answers. Initially, I thought I would settle on personal growth, and even made a cute little button picture for it. As I read through the answers that were appearing, however, (and kudos to Ali for being in my head and also suggesting growth), I had a different idea.

I don't think I'm breaking or even bending the rules, because they're pretty broad. I do think I'm taking a little bit of creative liberty with my choices here, though. I've chosen to write about....drum roll...."soul food."

No, this won't be about food at all. No recipes, no Trim Healthy Mama reviews, no fried chicken. This will be purely about food for the soul. Whatever gives it depth, whatever lifts it up, whatever the soul needs to be grounded in its faith-roots, is what I will be focusing on each day. 

Beginning October 1st, and every day for the entire month, I will be writing about something with which to feed the soul. My soul. Your soul. If you have any ideas or interests, feel free to go to that same post on my Mind Mumbles Facebook page and add your topic. I just might incorporate it with the rest. 

This post you're reading now will be my link-up post, and each day, I'll edit this to make my list linking to that day's post. Follow? Speaking of following, if you don't yet follow my blog - it's really simple. You can subscribe and receive posts via email by adding your email address over there in the right side panel. You can also sign up as a follower, and you of course can "like" the Mind Mumbles page on Facebook to get all the updates and questions in which I seek your counsel. 

And because I'm super proud of my first-ever button creation, here's what it looks like. I don't want to brag or anything, but I just might be a creative genius.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Little Man's Little Issue

I am so tired. Also, be forewarned: poop.

Last night I was a tangled mess of nerves, anxiety, and restlessness. My heart was heavy knowing Little Man was going to have to be under anesthesia, and I wouldn't be able to be by his side. I bathed him, fed him (an entire feast of milk, as he downed more than he has ever consumed at one time before), and gave him extra long snuggles and cuddles. He was completely indifferent, passed out asleep in my arms. I didn't get to bed until way later than I intended, and had an alarm set for 1:30 a.m. Little Man wasn't allowed to eat after 2:00, so I wanted to make sure he had something before the cut-off. My alarm went off after I had been sleeping for about an hour and 45 minutes. I got up, started the dishwasher (whoops, forgot to do that before bed), and fed and changed Little Man. He slept through the entire thing, but he ate, and I was grateful. He spit the bottle out of his mouth, full and satisfied, at 1:59 a.m. How's that for obedient? I crawled back to bed and was wide awake. Wide. Awake. At 2:00 in the morning. All I wanted was sleep, and it seemed to be avoiding me. Finally after 3:00, sleep came. My alarm sounded again at 5:00 a.m. I pushed the snooze once, but needed to get up and get going. 

Aside from having little to no sleep, I haven't been feeling the greatest. This morning I felt even worse than I've felt previously. I'm not sure if it's an ear infection (wouldn't that be something) or a sinus infection, but I'm positive I have crud in my head that does not belong in my head. And no, I'm not being metaphorical. This time.

When I had everything we would need gathered together, I went in to Little Man's room to change his diaper and get him in his car seat. He woke up when I picked him up from his crib and was giving me the biggest good-morning-mama! grin imaginable. I smiled back and thanked God for some already answered prayers. I prayed he wouldn't be hungry after 2:00 a.m. and would sleep soundly until it was time to go. Those had been answered. We got to the hospital just after 6:00, and I had to wait at the desk to check him in for his surgery. Once checked in, it was almost no time at all before we were called back. Little Man was smiling at the nurses, gnawing on his fingers, and drooling (*shudder*) on my arm. We received lots of comments on how adorable he is (duh...) and settled in to a pre/post-op room while we waited. Right at 6:45 he realized he had been up for well over an hour, and maybe it should be time to eat. I couldn't feed him, and had to let him cry. I did my best to soothe him with rocking and his pacifier. All things considered, he was a total rock star about it. Almost 30 minutes later, they were finally ready to take him back to put tubes in his ears. I kissed him goodbye, sat down in the chair, and tried to stay positive. I thought I would take a snooze, knowing that after he had tubes put in his ears, he would immediately undergo an ABR hearing test, and therefore would be a long while before I would see him again. A snooze never came, as there were several young patients who were very vocal about their unhappiness being in the hospital. 

Eventually, the doctor came in (who, by the way, goes to church with us - thank you, Jesus!) and told me the tube procedure went very well. Then, he told me, "But your son has significant hearing loss." My heart sank. Little Man had fluid in his ears, which apparently is pretty common of preemies. We were hoping his failing the hearing tests was because of that. Once the fluid was removed, however, his hearing did not improve. It's like having cotton in your ears. You think you'll just take the cotton out and the problem will be fixed. When that's not what results, however, you realize the cotton was never the issue. In Little Man's case, the fluid was not the issue with his hearing. The next step in his journey will be getting fitted for hearing aids. 

It wasn't until the doctor started talking about Little Man being accommodated in school that the reaches of this issue really began to sink in with me. I was thinking of the immediate effects, and he was educating me on the long-term plans. Soon enough, the audiologist came in to explain a little more. The doctor excused himself to follow up with other patients, and that's when the tears came. (Surprise, Liz, I cried...) Is this the end of the world? Absolutely not. It just weighs heavy on this mama's heart when I can't fix everything for my children. I've spoken openly about my own hearing loss, and while we didn't think it was a genetic issue, it may very well be. I know the struggles of not being able to hear clearly and the challenges it presents. That said, however, if a "significant hearing loss" is the worst thing I have to deal with for Little Man - then thank you, Jesus.

As she was still speaking, I could hear Little Man screaming from the next room. A nurse peeked in and said, "Do you have his bottle ready?" I did. They brought him to me, and I was able to get him fed, though it was a bit of a challenge as he was trying to figure out what was going on around him. We stayed in that room until he was fed and calmed down, and got our discharge papers. As we walked out to the van I had this all too familiar feeling of weight and worry. It's a feeling that has been creeping over me recently, and today it clung to my shoulders like an old friend. I settled in behind the steering wheel, blew my nose, and started for home. Little Man didn't make a single protest, and was the perfect passenger the entire ride. Once home, I was able to feed him some more, and we both took a long nap. 

Little Miss had stayed the night at Granny's and was dropped off right at her usual nap time. After I got her settled in upstairs in her bed, I went back to tend to Little Man. Then this happened:

I warned you.

I got him cleaned up, changed, and settled in for another nap. Brent came home long enough to change clothes and have a horrible experience picking up Little Man's ear drops from the pharmacy. He then left to ref a football game in Timbuktu. 

Home with two tired kiddos, feeling like doo, I was trying to make plans for dinner when I realized there would be no cooking. Not by me, anyway. I just couldn't make it happen. Little Miss came downstairs from her short nap and informed me her nose was sniffly. Poor thing. I snuggled her some and asked her if she could entertain herself while I took a quick shower. My shower was after 4:30 in the afternoon, and it was the best-feeling shower I have ever taken. I threw on some clean sweats and pulled my hair back. I wasn't pretty, but I was clean. 

Shoving a few tissue up my nose, I ransacked our grocery cash envelope and ordered delivery for dinner. Everything about that decision was bad. Lesson learned. We ate, we bonded over some Veggie Tales, and we settled in for bed. I'm going to go to bed early tonight, and I'm going to pray sleep comes easier than it did last night.

As I tucked Little Miss in to bed and felt the weight of worry still on my shoulders from this morning, I stood tall and took a deep breath. Then I started coughing. Dangit. After the coughing subsided, I closed my eyes, lifted my hands, and reclaimed my heart and hope for the Lord. I have no need to let worry rest on my shoulders. I have no idea what the future holds, what the implications are for Little Man or his hearing issues, but I do have an idea of who will take care of us every step of the way. The worry lifted, and my heart was flooded with peace and determination. 

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." ~Psalm 119:105

I don't know where our next steps will take us, but He does. His Word will light our path and as I lay my congestion-filled-head on my pillow tonight, I will meditate once again on His promises. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Be Still, My Soul.

As is par for the course lately, I have so many thoughts flooding my mind today. Trying to find work that allows me to stay home with my kids, trying not to feel overcome with anxiety, especially with regard to Little Man's surgery coming up the end of this week, trying to figure out how to perform my own financial miracles, trying not to wonder about the "what ifs" of life as we know it currently and focus solely on the "right nows". 

I'm exhausting myself. Even as I sit still, I let my mind race, contemplating everything I have absolutely no control over, and I become completely worn out. Breathless, even, at times. Choked by the worry of it all.

This past Saturday, I once again had the privilege of emceeing the women's ministry fall kick-off event at church. There is something about being up in front of people with a microphone and an itinerary that gives me a rush, and I love, love, love it. Public speaking is feared more than death by the majority of the population, yet here I am volunteering to do it, and enjoying every second. I don't count myself a funny person, but hearing people laugh at my lame attempts at jokes gives me a thrill I can't quite explain. I was telling my husband just the other day, there is one time - one time - I remember being witty enough to deserve a laugh. Sit down a second, readers, this is a lengthy aside. I was about 16 years old, and we were getting ready to go to church one Sunday morning. Dad came down the hallway with no shirt on, to fetch something from the hall closet. I jokingly made a remark about how he couldn't rightly go to church half undressed and he quipped, "I'm going like this. I'm going to do my Samson impersonation." I laughed and said, "You'll bring the house down." Ba dum dum!! Get it?! My dad laughed heartily and said, "That was a good one, Val!" and he was excited - because I am not often quick on my feet with funny remarks. He knows this. I know this. So that one time, some 17 years ago, I made a funny. Go me. Anyway, back to Saturday. The theme, and the message, were centered around resting in God. Resting. Not fretting, not being anxious, not nailing down a plan....but resting. Psalm 62:5 was the theme verse and reads, "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him." It was a powerful morning, a powerful message, I was so inspired, and two days later, here I sit - overwhelmed.

A few nights ago as I was rocking Little Man to sleep, I began to sing whatever hymns came to mind. I tend to sing the same ones over and over, but one popped into mind I hadn't sung in quite some time. As I sang to my son, the power of the words struck me. I found I was singing a sermon to myself. I sing this song nearly every day now - not only to soothe the cries of my infant son, but to reassure myself of the hope I have and the promises I can cling to.

When I started singing it, I could only remember the first verse. Believe me, the first verse is powerful enough in its own right. When I went to an old hymnal this morning to look up the other verses, I felt a wave of powerful reassurance rush over me. I nearly welled up with both joyful relief and sheer conviction, for seeing the words speak directly to my heart. Yes, Lord. This song....this is you. This is you, carrying me. I need only to be still.

Be Still My Soul
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Do you see? Do you see how when you take even a moment in the whirl of this insane life, to sit and be still in His presence, He leads you to reassurance you wouldn't otherwise notice? The very words of a hymn a few hundred years old, speaks to me clearly and truly this very day. This very moment. I'm still in the midst of grief. I'm definitely in the midst of change. He will - he has - remain(ed) faithful. He will provide, He will bring beauty from chaos. He will. All I need is to be still. All I need is to find rest in Him.

So as I prepare for Little Man's surgery this week, as I do the best I can with the little I've got in making sure my family is taken care of, and as I put one foot in front of the other having no idea where my steps will take me, I will keep my soul still. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Introducing Eyeore

I'm on my third cup of coffee. This is abnormal in the sense I usually don't have more than two cups, and I definitely don't drink coffee past noon. It's a day for exceptions, I guess. I'm perched in my "thinking spot", formerly known as my "bed rest spot" on the sofa, staring out the window. This is not abnormal. I spend quite a bit of time in this spot. Today, however, looking out the window, I'm overcome with a sense of dread. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps it is because the rain is falling steadily outside, and there is no sunshine to be seen. Perhaps it's because the leaves and grass that once were so bold with lush, green life, are fading into that all-too-familiar yellow. Fall is upon us. I have a hard time with fall. Granted, it is one of my favorite seasons, once it finally arrives. The transition from August to September is what I most struggle with. Saying farewell to summer is never something I look forward to. August is also the month I became pregnant with both Little Miss and Harlynn. September is when school starts, and I will now forever have that missing "first day of ___" picture. Yes....fall. How I hate to love thee.

So today I sit and sip. Three cups of coffee.

I've been unsure of what to post about my grief journey, mostly because I've been unsure about what I'm experiencing in it. I'm nearly a year and a half out from the worst day of our lives, and some moments are filled with hope and restoration and other moments are filled with anger and despair. It really is a moment-to-moment walk these days, and neither type lasts long enough to give me a sense significant enough to journal about. 

So today I sit and sip.

I'm also in between jobs right now. I say in between, though I haven't found that "next" one yet. Sometimes things just happen so swimmingly and then once you run a few laps in the pool you discover there's no more water. That's more or less what happened this go-round. I'm trusting the Lord has already found that perfect way for me to contribute to my family's well-being financially and still be able to be home with my children, however. Surely I wouldn't have spent the last eight months at home just to give it all up and go back to what was my life before. Trusting....trusting....  Call me selfish or entitled, but I can't let go of the sense that since I had no choice in Harlynn leaving us, I shouldn't have to leave my children every day to go to a job that could never compare in fulfillment to being with them. If I can do something - anything - to work, be here for their needs, teach them about ethics and responsibility, be both present and productive, I don't see how anyone could lose out in that. The trick is finding that perfect fit, or maybe, the trick lies in believing it exists. (And just to be clear, no, providing childcare for other children in my home is not that perfect fit.) I would ask that you join me in prayer, and that God would reveal how I can bring Him glory in this. Certainly sitting here being bummed about it isn't the answer, but it's all I've got for this blog post, anyway.

The good news is, I know the sun is still shining above these gloomy rain clouds today. I can't see it, but it's still there. I serve a God who has promised to care for me more than He already cares for the birds of the air. (Matt 6:26) Despite my feeling like I'm burdening my family more than caring for them at times, I know God has already figured this out. 

The good news is, I am still home, still able to snuggle my Little Man and revel in his newly-discovered giggles. I can watch him roll around aimlessly on the floor and he explores what he's capable of doing. I can help Little Miss color, though she needs no help from me. The girl is a spectacular color-er. I can cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family. I can be the last thing they see before nap time and the first thing they see when they wake up. I can do laundry on cloudy days and soak up the warmth of towels straight from the dryer when there is no sunshine to bask in.

I can sit and sip three cups of coffee.

I feel better already. God's got this. Something will happen and it will be amazing and I'll come back to this blog post and wonder what in the world I was so down about. There may be rain and gloom outside, but my Hope is on high ground. Besides, a little water never hurt anybody.