Friday, April 3, 2015

One Long Good Friday

All of life is like one long Good Friday. Interesting that it's called "Good" Friday. Nothing seemed good about that Friday. Our Savior was mocked, beaten, killed and buried.

Sin prevailed.
Death won.
Satan scoffed.

Sounds a lot like this world. Sin runs rampant. Death steals our loved ones, and Satan laughs all the while.

On Good Friday we know Sunday is coming.
Therefore, we have hope.
We know Friday isn't the end.
We know our Savior is RISEN.
We know He wins.

This life isn't the end. This life is like a really long Good Friday. But Sunday is coming for us, too.
Therefore, we have hope.
We know Friday isn't the end.
We know our Savior is RISEN.
We know He wins.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, January 30, 2015

One Month and God's Mercy

How in the world is my little boy already a month old?! It went by entirely too fast! He is such a joy to my heart, and I couldn't ask for a better baby. God has been so gracious to me with this little guy. I am thankful that the Lord knows our hearts, and He knows what we can handle.

I want to back up a little bit and retrace some fears I was struggling with before Hank was born and then tell you how the Lord so faithfully took care of me. But first, here is some more back-story on how my pregnancy was really treating me near the end.

As my due date was approaching, I couldn't help but envision how my labor and delivery would pan out. I was planning on a natural birth with no epidural. My husband and I had hired a doula to help coach us through labor, and we were as prepared as could be for the big day - whenever that might be. We even practiced breathing exercises at home in a pretty humorous way. David would hold a pound of frozen meat to the bottom of my foot for 45 seconds and make me relax and breathe through it. I guess I should say pretty humorous to everyone....but me.

The further I got into my third trimester, the more and more miserable I became. My body kept trying to go into labor, but it would never progress. I found myself at the hospital twice, at 33 and 36 weeks, but nothing came of it. I fought contractions a third time (the Saturday before Hank was actually born) but decided not to go to the hospital until we knew it was for sure the real thing... and it never was. Oh boy, I was so miserable and done.

I'm so thankful I had a prenatal appointment already scheduled for that Monday. I was 37 weeks and 3 days along at this point. As you may have read in my previous post, this was when we heard Hank's heart rate at a sky-high 220. When the doctor came in and told me I was going to have a baby that day and that it would probably be a c-section, I was honestly jumping for joy inside. Was I thrilled about the c-section part? Absolutely not. Was I so ready to get this baby out of me and finally meet my little boy? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times YES! I could not have been happier!

This is where I feel like the Lord was completely sovereign in sparing my heart the fears, events and emotions I dreaded most. You see, two and four years ago, my sister-in-law allowed me and my mom to be in the room with her when she gave birth to my two precious nephews. During these two encounters I was able to witness my mom cheering Jenna along through labor and delivery. I saw the joy she experienced and the pride she exuded as she met her grand babies for the first time. I saw the love in her eyes as she gazed on their little faces. I heard her whisper in their tiny ears, "G-ma loves you very much."

My heart ached as I tried to imagine my own labor and delivery without my mom by my side. She wouldn't be there to cheer me along. She wouldn't be one of the family members to hold Hank and get her picture taken as we passed him around the room. I wouldn't be able to hear her whisper in his ear, "G-ma loves you very much." Somehow I knew the hospital room would feel so empty without her there by my side to rejoice with me. I wasn't sure how I would be able to handle the extreme emotions of sheer joy at meeting my little boy and deep sorrow at her absence.

All these things I feared... I didn't have to encounter a single one. My birth experience went in no way, shape or form as planned. It was nothing like my sweet sister-in-law's. There was no comparing between mine and hers. No envisioning what it would have been like if my mom would have been there. It was an entirely new experience.

You see, I was wheeled to my hospital room at lightening speed, hooked up to IV's and strapped to an oxygen mask. Pretty soon I was in an operating room. Moments later I was waking up back in my hospital room. There was no longer a baby in my belly, and I was on some really great pain meds! My brand new little boy was in the NICU. There was no passing him around the room and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over him. I didn't even get to see him for the first time until hours later, and even then, I still didn't get to hold him. Before I knew it he was boarding a helicopter and flying 3 hours away from me. I had to wait two gut-wrenching (ha, no pun intended for my incision) days before I could finally hold that little love of mine.

Some might see total chaos and a complete disaster in this story. I see God's mercy written all over it. He spared me all my fears, and it was exactly what my faint heart needed. I needed something so out of the ordinary. I needed my plans to go out the window. I needed to not be able to compare my birth story with Jenna's. I needed my own story. Something entirely new. And that's what He gave me. I didn't know that was what I needed, but He knew, and I am so thankful.

This past month has been quite the whirlwind, but it's been a really great one. It's been hard figuring out my new "normal" and trying to establish a routine. Ha, wait.... what even is a routine??? I'll be honest and say my consistency with the Lord has wavered, but my love for Him hasn't. I'm thankful He is still so faithful to me when I am struggling to accomplish anything past feeding Hank and keeping up with my own personal hygiene. I am thankful He is patient with me and remembers that I am but dust as I work through balancing life in this new season. He is too good to me, really.

Thank you to everyone for all the prayers, meals, love and encouragement that have been sent our way. The Streets are blessed beyond measure!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hank Carpenter Street

Who knew that just a short 3 days after my last post I would be a momma?! This past month has been a complete whirlwind! I don't even know where to begin... I'll make a relatively long story short...

Monday morning, December 29th, I went in for my routine weekly prenatal appointment. I was 37 weeks at the time. The nurse calls me back and starts doing the usual steps - weighs me, takes my blood pressure, measures my belly, etc. And then she grabs the monitor to check little man's heart rate, and that's where it all began. I wish I could play an audio file of what we heard. I guess try to imagine a stampede of horses running full speed - that pretty much does it. Hank's heart rate was sky high at a record 220 - off the charts... literally. My doctor comes in and says something along the lines of, "I don't like what's happening here. You're probably going to have a baby today, and you're probably going to have a c-section."

Ummm WHAT?! Yes.

Less than 2 hours later a beautiful baby boy was born!

Getting ready for my C-section - still in good spirits!
David getting suited up! But he didn't get to come back with me since it was emergency.
Hank Carpenter Street
6 lbs 9 oz, 19 3/4 in long
Proud Daddy!
My first time seeing my sweet boy!
Hank was born at 11:21 that morning, and I did not get to see him until around 5:00pm. His heart rate was still sky high, and he actually had to be flown to Arkansas Children's Hospital that evening. I had to stay in Northwest Arkansas until Wednesday. Talk about ripping out a new momma's heart! I wanted to be with my little boy. I wanted to hold him and love him and gaze into those little eyes and tell him everything would be okay. Oh, my heart was bursting! Thankfully David was able to drive down and be with him, and I had plenty of people to stay with me and take care of me too.

So here's a really neat story that shows how cool our great God is... After Hank made it to ACH, the cardiologist called me and explained the procedure they were about to perform on my baby to get his heart rate down. It sounded scary, but I knew he was in good hands, so I had to trust them. Ten minutes later the cardiologist called me back and said, "Nevermind. He converted on his own!" Praise the Lord! They didn't have to do the scary procedure, and my baby boy was well! He still had to stay at Children's for a couple days to be monitored and receive antibiotics.

But seriously, that next day and a half was heart-wrenching. I'm so thankful for technology and that I was able to see my baby through pictures and Facetime, but I needed to be there with him. I was finally released Wednesday morning, and Tony drove me to go see my newest little love!

So happy to be heading to Little Rock!
No words to describe this moment. Finally holding my little boy!
Our little family all together for the first time!
I just couldn't get enough of him!
We finally got released to come home Thursday!
My final "bump" picture to add to the collection!
The whole compilation!
And now, just lots of pictures of our sweet Hank!!! We love this little boy so much!

Went for a walk downtown

And a few newborn pictures (credit to the fabulous Rhyanne Ketron)

Our hearts are so happy and full!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, December 26, 2014

One Year and Picture Overload

One year ago today I received the phone call. The one I knew was coming any day now. I was expecting it at any moment. It's hard to explain what I felt when I heard those words - "Your momma is with Jesus now." I didn't cry. It was almost like a relief. Like... Finally. She isn't suffering anymore. She's finally where she is supposed to be. But at the same time, I knew a tough road was ahead of us. I had no idea what to expect.

December 26th, 2013 was probably one of the strangest days of my life. You see, I had spent the two weeks leading up to that day right by mom's side soaking in every precious moment with her. Rubbing her feet, staring at her, watching her breathe, etching her smile into my mind, soaking in every bit of her I could get. We knew the end was near. We shared our hearts with her and told her everything our minds could think of to share with her before she passed. And as the end got closer and closer and as she slipped further and further away from us, the Lord had given us so much peace. A day or two before she passed, I remember gathering around her hospital bed praying and asking God to come and take her. We sang "Amazing Grace" together. We knew it was time.

Now she is gone. She's been with Jesus for an entire year. How has it already been a year? A year ago today, I couldn't imagine how in the world I could walk without her. I couldn't imagine how I could go to work without her. I couldn't imagine how I could laugh without her. I couldn't imagine how I could do life without her.

Looking back, I realize that I simply had to take it one day at a time. The Lord taught me what it means to not worry about tomorrow, but to simply live in today. That His grace is sufficient for today. And when tomorrow comes, His grace will be sufficient for tomorrow.

There were days and events that I worried about and dreaded over this past year. For instance, Mother's Day, my family's birthdays, my own birthday, youth events (because my mom and I worked together and were buddies during each event), Christmas Day, and now today. But each of those days and events, including today, the Lord's grace has been sufficient. Imagine that?! He promises us grace in His Word. And guess what? He delivers on that promise!

So yes, we've made it a year. By His grace alone. There were a lot of hard days and a lot of really good ones. I thought reaching a year would give some sort of relief like, "Whew! We did it! I think we can handle this now." ... But no. That's not the case. Yes, we've made it a year. But now there's another one ahead. Another year with some of the same obstacles and same days I dreaded before. But there will also be new obstacles. New ones that make me think, "I can't imagine how I'll do 'this' without her." The biggest of which being how in the world I will have and raise this baby without my momma by my side.

The day is drawing so near when my body will go into labor. Our little Hank could literally greet us any day now. I never imagined having my first child without my mom right by side. Holding my hand and cheering me along. I never imagined not being able to take a picture of her the first time she holds him. I never imagined having to lean on anyone else when it's time for all my questions and needing a little (or a lot of) extra help when I'm exhausted. I never imagined any of this.

I always thought when other families who have lost loved ones made it through their first year, that it must feel like some sort of accomplishment. Like a breath of fresh air that would somehow give them the motivation they need to continue on to the next. But now that I'm in that place of making it through year one, I realize... This doesn't feel like an accomplishment. There is no breath of fresh air to motivate me for year two, three and four. Today is simply another day. Another day of trusting in His grace. Not looking to tomorrow or the years that lie ahead. But trusting that when tomorrow comes, His grace will be there too.

I ask that you would continue to pray for me and my family. Just because year one is behind us doesn't mean this road is suddenly easier. For myself personally, I foresee some very difficult days ahead. I can't explain the wide range of emotions I am already dealing with. There is so much excitement and anticipation with our little Hank arriving so soon. But fear and sadness and grief have their fingers so tightly interlocked with all the excitement. I can't imagine that first moment I see his face and hold his tiny hands. But I also can't imagine not sharing that moment with my mom. How can my heart feel so whole and so ripped apart all in one moment? Again, these are my thoughts and feelings that creep into the days ahead. This is where I must stay in today.

I beg you for your prayers for year two. Just as I couldn't imagine year one without my mom, even more so I cannot imagine year two. I miss her more than words can say. I mean that so literally.


Please pray for us.

I was listening to some of my mom's favorite songs this morning and realized this song sums up this past year perfectly...

Okay switching gears. I realize I have been MIA for almost two months. I have no idea how to catch you up on what all has happened in November and December, so how about picture OVERLOAD??

Here we go...

First of all, I'm not even sure if I have officially announced little man's name yet, but we have settled on and ADORE Hank Carpenter Street. Hank is simply a name that we love, and Carpenter is David's Mom's maiden name. Love love love his name!! Woohoo!

So here is Hank's room (not entirely complete in the pictures, but close enough!)
Old vintage sports theme!

The three pictures next to the pogo stick are baby pictures of my mom. I LOVE this detail!

My awesome Studio 412 students showered me with TONS of diapers!!

We had some really wonderful maternity pictures done by a sweet friend of ours! I highly recommend Rhyanne Ketron Photography for your future photo shoot!

We had two great showers for our little Hank!
David's family

My twin nieces Kaitlyn (glasses) and Kimberly (stripes) and my SIL Jenna!

Some of my favorite people who threw me a fantastic shower!
Love you three with all my heart!
We are SO blessed!

Missed her so much that day.
Sweaty, pregnant girl standing in the fridge cooling off before the shower began! Ha!

David's church that he works for now also threw us such a sweet shower!

Loving this necklace that my SIL Anna gave me!
Getting pedicures with this sweet friend of mine! She is due 6 days before me with a little girl. So fun!
David and I painted this plate in anticipation for a fun family tradition we will soon begin. This plate will be used for all our kid's birthdays and other special days!

And a few growing bump pictures!!

I'm 37 weeks today, but no picture yet!

And last one... A new tradition that David and I plan to do every year...
Leaving poinsettias at my mom's grave Christmas Day (also her birthday) celebrating and remembering her beautiful life and lasting legacy.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."