Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Pained and Protected One

Hi Friends. I wrote this post on Saturday night, August 17. It's a little raw but I decided to leave it un-edited and instead write a fresh open and close for it.

A story of loss is one that most of all of us can relate to. I so wish that I didn't have this story to tell - but now I do. As of 4:30 yesterday morning, I do. I am not writing this for any other purpose than the fact that something inside of me needs to. Perhaps it will give language to someone else's loss and therefore some degree of healing. I think it's a part of my healing at the very least.

Tomorrow, I would have been twelve weeks pregnant with our second baby. I am one of many many many hopeful mommies who get told that their little one is no longer with them. Experiencing this makes me shocked at how emotionally unattached I have been when friends went through this in the past. I don't think that I had a point of reference that allowed me to identify with their pain. No longer.

There is no point in relaying details of what happened but when I woke up at 4:30 AM yesterday, there was very little question of what was happening. Unless you have experienced that before, I don't think that any pregnant mom would be even thinking about the possibility of that happening to her or to her baby. It was instant shock and instant sadness. Everything inside of you wants to scream and pull at any piece of control you have to will the situation into reverse. To anyone who alleges that a baby is not a baby until some undetermined point in pregnancy, I defy you to walk through a miscarriage with a woman even early in pregnancy. Explain the grief over something that is not human or alive and instead deemed a fetus.

Even though it was very clear what was happening - every mom and dad holds onto hope until you have official word from the doctor. As Zion and I held hands during the ultrasound, we both cried as what we already knew became official. We cried as we prayed over our sweet baby. We cried as we both said that somehow we knew he was a boy. I tell you what, daddies grieve babies just as much as mommies do. It's surreal how much you can physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally miss someone that had only been in your hearts for twelve weeks and never been in your arms. It's astonishing.

This is obviously fresh and raw for us. I don't know if I will regret writing about this. I do not do it to garner response, comments, or to get you to share this post with others. If that happens, then I trust God will use it. But I suppose I am more of a writer than I give myself credit for because writing the story and the truth seems to be the only option for me tonight.

There is more to the story. There is Him. There is the oddest experience of my life: how is it possible to feel so pained and so protected at the very same time? It's honestly a first. We have experienced loss before and all I can say is that this is different. God has been doing so much in our hearts; He has made Himself so real and so known as our protector over the past months. From the very start of the experience, He has been intimately with us. From waking both of my parents up right at 4:30 to pray, to sending us truly dear medical staff to take care of us, to showering us with love and care from friends, to covering us with His presence and His peace from the very start, He's been Emanuel - God with us. Truly with us. In the midst of pain, truth is undeniable: our baby is protected and we are protected. I don't know what you believe about God, but I would be so remiss to leave out that part of this story.

You know, being a control freak is something that God is so gracious to allow me to let go of more and more. Man alive. This one is the pits. I'm not saying that I think God let this happen so that I could lessen my grips on control. I am saying that this particular loss offends every desire for control that I have. I loved the idea of a late February/early March baby. I loved the idea of babies two and a half years apart. I love(d) this baby. But this time, I have zero control. None. Who knows how far apart our children will be? Certainly not I.

I don't know about you, but as the Lord continues to help me see my control-freak ways more and more, I realize that I am a picture person. I picture everything. I picture what seems right and good and fun and desirable. Sometimes I realize that I'm doing it and other times the picture is embedded so deeply in me that it's barely detectable. When something disrupts the picture, mercy, it's unsettling. I think that's putting it nicely, actually. But He's also showing me that when life hasn't lined up with my pictures, it has always had a delightful result in my heart. He truly always brings joy in the morning. I can trust Him. I can trust His character. I can let go. It will be okay. It's the way to freedom and joy.

I know that the pain of this story doesn't begin to compare to some people's loss at the moment. Just tonight I heard a story of a precious couple that had SEVEN miscarriages before conceiving and birthing two healthy children. Seven. Or perhaps it's not a matter of carrying a child for you - it's even getting pregnant in the first place. Or perhaps tonight it has nothing to do with baring children but instead deals with another deep desire of your heart that is on hold until further notice. The options are endless. I wish we could have coffee and cry together. But all I know is that in this loss, I have found another side of God that I adore. He's true and He's near. I pray that you feel that tonight, whoever you are, wherever you are.

Well, that was it. As I re-read it before posting, I wondered if I should edit/re-word/soften/intensify what I wrote. Just going to let it be though. We are now a week and a half past saying goodbye to a precious baby. I maintain that it is still one of the oddest experiences - to feel so truly pained and so absolutely protected at the same time. There's no way to deny the pain and no way to escape His faithfulness and nearness. It's almost beautiful how the two can co-exist. So many parents experience this and so many stories have come out of the woodwork and I have loved hearing each one.

You know one thing that really blows me away? I have more pregnant friends (close friends at that!) than I can count right now. It was a fun club to be in because there was so much shared joy. A few of my pregnant friends have really been the face of maturity and fearless love in relationship and I only hope that I can respond as they have responded someday. Instead of allowing awkwardness over me suddenly not being pregnant and the stark change of not sharing the journey side-by-side anymore, they jumped right into my world almost as soon as it happened. They were great friends to me when we were pregnant together and they have been precious friends to me now by simply sharing my space and pursuing me still. I will remember their particular kindness for a long time and how I've seen the love of God through them. Doesn't that inspire you? It inspires me.

I guess in closing I'd just like to say thanks for reading. We really are experiencing the faithfulness of God. This week I've been thinking about other losses we have encountered over the years. Frankly, they have been lesser losses but with yuckier impact. Yuck in the sense that they stirred questions about God and His character that took me a lot longer than I'd like to admit to get over or deal with or allow Him to deal with. This time is different. The impact of loss is far more personal than ever before but this time, there is no questioning His goodness or His intention toward us. There's just no questioning who He is. By the grace of God, He's started settling that question within me and it makes a beautiful difference. Though I am pained, I am protected. Thankful.

The next post will have to be light-hearted for us all to bounce back from this one right?!

Much love,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Prepare for the gush. Prepare for the over-the-top lovey dovey stuff. Nothing makes a mama more sentimental than a birthday! Last year, on his birthday, I was filled with vivid memories of the day he was born. This year, I was filled with awe that our baby is a big boy! Two somehow feels like a tipping point into the huge world of big boys. Thrilling and a little emotional all at the same time.

It has been six months since I did a Liam post! So that means I've got a lot to get into this one. Ha! As if the others have been short.

First, I'd just like to give a little plug to the company I used to make a picture book for Liam. I am not a very experienced picture-book-maker so there would have been a learning curve for me with any company I used. But Blurb is now one of my very favorite things! They are set up for the customer to create a mini-book all the way up to self-publishing his own real book. So - I think that makes them a tad more professional and I am in love with my final product. It covered the entire first year and a half of Liam's life - so yeah - it's a bit of a monster. You should check them out though! Here's a few shots of the book:

Life with Liam - where to start? My brain is leaning towards one category at a time so here we go:

Whoo! We are off to the races with language. It keeps me on my toes actually! I would say there is still about 40% of what he says that comes out as babble - frustrating for him when he is being as clear as he can possibly be and I still don't get it! But there is oh so much that I do understand and it is one of the most amazing things to get to communicate more every day with him. Some of my current favorites from his mouth are: My deed it (or my do it, do it by myself, get the point), Daddy watch this!, yeah...sure (said in the sweetest little voice possible - like 'Liam do you want to go see Mimi? 'Yeah, sure!'), I be right back (as he scurries off to do something and scurries back), Dear Jesus I la you...thank you...amen., Daddy - play choo choos!, I go to Yaya's house/Mimi's house/Grandma's house, etc., Mommmmmmmy where arrrrrrre you?, one two three four five six seven eight nine GO!, Mommy are you ready?, MOMMY A FIRETRUCK!!!, Daddy's home!!, I play music, n-n-n-n-n-n-no!, okay that's good!, Bye bye - I go to church, and the list goes on and on. Preciousness.

Right now, he's into repeating everything. Yesterday when we were taking a walk, Zion and I were talking. For about five minutes - he would repeat everything that came out of my mouth from the stroller. He couldn't see me but he was totaling derailing my train of thought and would die laughing when he could tell that he was. Part adorable - part oh my word.

It's particularly fun to drive in the car with him right now because he is on radar alert for every vehicle he can point out - a firetruck, an ambulance, a bike, a motorcycle...but the best find on the road is by far the huge yellow crane at St. Francis hospital. Once we see it, we talk about it for a few minutes straight. Thrills his heart!


This was the one thing I wanted to record about Liam at twenty one months that never happened since I didn't do one! Zion and I, um, love Les Miserables. We like the new movie a lot but we LOVE the stage production. We have the twenty-fifth anniversary concert performance of Les Mis and we like to play it loud from time to time. Well...Mr. Liam learned to love it too. At twenty one months, he would out of the blue say 'Les Mis!' and make us put it on. Heart melting stuff for Les Mis lovers. During the big anthems he likes to point both index fingers into the air and march/run across the room to the music. Can't make this up!


We climb, we run, we jump - in fact, we jump a lot. Our couch has become the site of physical feats of wonder by Liam Spencer. I am fairly amazed that there have been no real injuries and thankful for it! By far his greatest highlight of the day is when Daddy comes home from work. It's on the second he comes in. Whether it's chasing each other in circles, rough housing on the couch, playing choo choos on the floor, or singing Twinkle Twinkle in the microphone, everyone rejoices when Daddy returns to us. In fact, Liam has started modeling himself after Daddy - who happens to like to take his shirt off as soon as he comes home from work. Liam now says 'MY SHIRT OFF!" the second he sees Daddy do it. Or - he'll take the lead, do it first and then insist that Zion follows suit. I have been prohibited from documenting this with pictures so just trust me when I say it's one of my very favorite things.

Liam got his first bike for his birthday. Man oh man is it a winner. He can wheel that little thing all around the house and insists on wearing his yellow construction hat while doing so. Safety first.


Some of the classic two year old moments have definitely surfaced, but there are also the sweetest moments. He will still come up to me in the kitchen about once a day with a pained face and arms stretched as high as they can, insisting that he be held. Now sometimes he just wants to see what's on the counter that he could get his hands on (LOL!) but often he just wants to be close for a minute or two.

One of my other favorite things is our bedtime reading. We will often hit three or four books and the last one is almost always Goodnight Moon or The Going To Bed Book. Little man seriously has them memorized. He can fill in most any blank and laughs as he helps us read them.

When I'm rocking Liam before he goes to sleep, I'll often ask him if I can pray with him. He usually says nothing but instead thrusts out his hand to hold mine while we pray. Moments to cherish.

Things We Love

Where to start? There is so much that he loves about life at two years old:

Treats and sweets. I wonder where he got that??? You don't dare say the word treat unless you are ready to pony up and produce. We try to limit sugar but there's a time and place for everything :).

Bathtime! Perfect place to practice swimming and to splash, jump and squeal.

Swimming...which mostly consists of jumping. He loves to jump off the steps in Mimi and B.Bo's pool and could literally wear your arms down to rubber.

Building towers. He's a great builder AND a great tear-down-man. :)

Playing trains. Toby and Diesel were the newest additions and for a few weeks they nearly had to go to bed with him each night.

Playing with Isaiah. There is nothing quite like playing with his cousin Yaya. They always play until they are both in a full sweat and screaming in joy. So thankful for their friendship.

Coloring...or having me color that is. Whether it's chalk, magnadoodle, or crayons he loves a good minute or two but then insists on having me draw things for him: a circle, an oval, a star, a truck, an airplane....I'm brushing up on those drawing skills!

His Grandparents. He may love nothing more than having Mimi/B.Bo or Grandma/Papa show up at his house and say that he gets to get in their car and go with them. He is immediately ready to hit the road and quickly and confidently says 'Bye bye Mommy/Daddy!'.

I love this boy of mine and wouldn't trade him for the world. His heart is precious, his personality is bright, he's becoming pretty funny!, and his eyes show how much he cares. We are truly blessed to have him as a part of our family and we continue to ask God to fill us with wisdom to parent him the way he needs to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

So thankful for my William Justice Spencer.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Wow Wife Moment

I kind of dislike that title. But everything else I came up with was equally lame. Ha!

So forget the title and let me just share a brief story that still encourages me so much when I think of it.

A little context: We have been married for over eight years and I would marry him all over again. We met when he was seventeen and I was eighteen - which now seems so crazy because we were just babies! But, we were glued to each other from the start. There was never a hesitation about where we wanted to end up - together. You do the math on my age, but we met thirteen years ago and dated for five years before getting married so.......we've been in each other's lives for a good bit now you could say!

Time is the most precious thing in marriage - if you choose for it to be. Time is where the Lord works out the kinks both minor and major. Time offers you opportunity after opportunity to win in the moment or make things far worse than they were only two minutes ago.

Now, I cannot speak to a man's perspective and I wouldn't be so insensitive to assume that all women are like me in marriage. BUT! I have a feeling you'll be able to relate to at least some of my tendencies over the years. Over thirteen years of being together - and you see the glorious sides of each other and the not-so-glorious sides. And when some of the not-so-glorious sides of my husband would surface, I would jump into parenting - him. Somewhere deep inside - I felt it my duty to help him see the light and turn from the error of his ways. To help him overcome his pitfalls and climb up to where I was. It was for his best! If he could have just seen things the way I did, it would have been so clear and such an easy road forward. Ha - how many times have you rolled your eyes now? Seriously!

Over time, God started to unravel some of my thinking. Well, especially when my 'ways' increasingly led to worse and worse outcomes. Perhaps one statement that has sunk so deeply into my heart was one made on her blog, . Em basically said one thing she had learned about marriage was that she was the biggest problem her marriage had. Yeah, let that one roll around for a bit. In all transparency - it made me reel. How could it be? I mean, is it even possible for one person to be in the hot seat that much?? But, as He usually does, He brought truth to me over time regarding the statement. It's not so much about how absolutely true or non-true that statement is. If you are able to embrace that perspective - that my actions are the root of tension - that my words can make or break this moment - that my attitude towards him will either escalate this thing or bring peace - well, it begins to change things. It's not that his words and actions don't affect the situation - obviously! It's that there's a shift that happens when I start to see my own actions as the issue and take that hot hot light of scrutiny off of him. I have NOT achieved perfection in this area - but I can say that God has not let me forget those words either. He reminds me again and again. :)

So that way of thinking leads you to all other kinds of truths: my husband is not my child, I am not responsible for him, he is not SUPPOSED to think the way I think, I NEED his differences to rub up against me and bring necessary change at times, God is responsible for getting me where I am supposed to be and God is responsible for the same in him, my way is not the best way all of the time, God is fully able to handle another person without my 'assistance.' Can you relate?

This truth I tell you, the more I have let go of control over him and our lives, the better it becomes. I have plenty of ugly moments still and times where my flesh trumps all and I scramble for control. But those moments are becoming more and more clear and unpleasant all of the time.

So - now we get to the story that encourages. By the grace of God - and only by that - over the years I have been able to let go of certain things that I genuinely saw in Z that I knew wasn't healthy. Lord only knows that he's seen the same in me. I would pray for him in seasons and in other seasons I would just leave it for God to address. So Sunday night couldn't have surprised me more. He sat me down to share what God had been doing in his heart over the past weeks and months. Out of his mouth tumbled the truth of just how capable God is on His own. God, in timing that could have only been His, did it. He brought Z truth and freedom in ways that I would have never ever been able to do. I was in awe. Things that I had prayed for him years ago - but had not been praying about at all recently - were just coming forward with a beautiful ease that can only come from Him. Imagine that - God hadn't needed me this time. He had honored prayers from the past - but my hands were not necessary.

I am being illusive because what God did is Zion's business - not mine to share. What He did was huge and very meaningful to both of us, but the issues were not huge in the sense of major issues causing one to not function in life. Zion has been and continues to be the best thing that's ever happened to me. He is the biggest gift in my life and I wouldn't be half the person I am without him.

So, be encouraged. Be encouraged that God cares more than you do. Be encouraged that letting go of control can be the best step for everyone. Be encouraged that time can be your friend in marriage and that it truly can become sweeter (despite some bad moments along the way).

Next blog will be all about my little man Liam! He turns TWO on Sunday and the celebration is in full swing. The birthday balloon wreath goes up today and I cannot wait :).

Happy weekend!
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