Friday, March 31, 2023

The "LOTness" of it All

It's been about 4 1/2 years since my last post. As I sit here, I have no idea what I am going to write. I just read through a couple of my old posts, and I was reminded how much I love to write and how I enjoy processing through writing. I don't know if I'll publish this blog post or if I'll keep it private, simply for my own benefit. But what lies before me is an empty "page" and a wide open space for me to think and write freely.

The last time I posted was for Lucy's 2nd birthday. A lot has happened since then. And that is a severe understatement. Hank is 8 years old and in the second grade. Lucy is 6 years old and started kindergarten this year. And we have added one more to the bunch - Jane, our sassy little 3 year old who still has me tossing back and forth about wanting #4.

When I wrote that last post over four years ago, if I had asked myself then, "Where do you think you'll be in March 2023?" Not in a physical sense. Maybe the question I should have posed should have been, "Who do you think you'll be..." I think my answer would have looked something like this:

I'm not sure who I think I'll be. I know who I hope I will be. I hope I am a woman who has come to terms with all the hard things she has walked through. I hope I am a woman who is no longer trudging through depression, but who lives each day full of joy, soaking in all the little moments with her children and her husband. I hope that I will be using my past trials as a platform to encourage others and to proclaim God's glory and goodness. And as far as where I'll be physically? I hope to embody Psalm 66:12. "We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."

Is that who/where I am today?


In fact, that's the exact answer I would give today, about who/where I hope to be in March 2027.

I could get really down on myself for not being the woman that I desire to be right now. Well, in all honesty, I have been really hard on myself. But let's pose a new question...

Who am I today?

I am a woman who has walked through a LOT in the past 10 years. I am a woman who has not given myself a whole lot of grace for how those things have affected me. I have spoken lies and death over myself. I have compared myself to who I think I should be. I have compared myself a whole lot to who my mom was. To me, she is the picture of everything I want to be as a wife, a mom, a friend, a sister, a daughter... everything.

I have spoken wretched things over myself. "You're lazy. You suck. You are a failure. You are nothing like your mom. I have no idea why my kids love me. I have no idea why my husband loves me. I don't deserve their love at all. I'm horrible at life."

Just this year, I officially reached my lowest point. And it scared me. So much so, that David and I decided it was finally time to make counseling a real priority for me. It's something I have been wanting to do for years. Years. But life, and kids, and time, and money have all gotten in the way. 

No more.

I started going to counseling about 6 weeks ago. I haven't had any major revelations or breakthroughs yet. But I am beginning to notice a shift in the way I speak to myself and about myself.

Depression is a real thing. My counselor said that struggling with depression is similar to having the flu. You just don't feel good. How would you speak to yourself if you had the flu?

Would you call yourself lazy?... No.
Would you tell yourself that you're a failure?... No.
Would you say that you're horrible at life?... No. 

Give yourself some grace. Acknowledge the hard things you've walked through. It really has been a LOT. I often find myself thinking back over the past 10 years and defining each year with what trial came our way... And yet, I don't let the weight of it all really sink in. I think I try to brush it all off as "normal" (because it has become normal to me), put my big girl panties on, and just keep trudging through.

The reality is, what we have walked through in the last ten years is not normal. The reality is: 


I'm learning that there is value in acknowledging the "LOTness" of it all and allowing myself the space to process it and to give myself grace when I feel like a "failure." Because the truth is:

  • I am not a failure.
  • I am not lazy.
  • My kids love me because they think I'm awesome.
  • My husband loves me because we made a commitment to each other "for better or for worse." And even though I may not be my "better" self all the time, we are in this together, and we are a team.
  • I am a damn lot like my mom. Yeah I said it. Because it makes me feel like a badass when I say it. And yeah, I said two bad words right there because I am just. that. awesome. (And so was my mom. Boom.)
  • I am not horrible at life. Life has dealt me a hard hand. But I have not given up. I have continued to put one foot in front of the other. My family is fed, even if it's cereal for dinner, they are fed. They have clean clothes to wear, albeit sometimes they have to dig things out of the dirty clothes hamper because I haven't done laundry in a week, but by golly, they have clothes to wear that aren't too stinky. Our house might be a mess, but it's safe, and we have a place to land where we know we are loved and cared for.
This is all still a work in progress for me. I struggle to speak and believe the truth about myself. I struggle to give myself grace. I battle myself, and I battle depression every single day. But I will not give up. I will keep fighting. For myself. For my husband. For my kids. 

I know who I want to be. And it may take me a while to get there, but every single day that I wake up and show up for my people, is a day closer to becoming the woman I want to be.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Remembering Our First Two Years

We are quickly approaching Lucy's second birthday. Two years. Two years of this precious life. As October 6th draws near, I find myself reminiscing more and more about what these past two years have looked like. Trying to remember those earliest days with her. Trying to recount what our days looked like when we first brought her home.

It's amazing how quickly and easily you can forget.

When you're in the midst of your days and your seasons, you always think, "There's no way I could forget all this." But somehow we do.

Lucy has become such a "normal" toddler. But honestly, what even is "normal?" I hate to even use that word. Maybe I should say "easy," but no toddler is easy. So regardless of what word I should or shouldn't use... life with her has just gotten abundantly easier.

We started out at home with a g-tube, an IV pole, a PulsOx monitor, a baby scale, home health visits, occupational therapy, physical therapy, cardiology appointments every 3 weeks, massive spit ups/vomits, condensing feeds trying to stretch her stomach to handle larger volumes, more vomitting, g-tube coming out which required a trip to the ER, heart surgery #2, dangerously low glucose level and another trip to the ER (because momma pushed too hard to get her to eat by mouth - big oops!), thickening liquids to help her drink by mouth, and the list goes on!

Where are we now? Well. If I were to cross out the things I listed above... I wouldn't have a list. Let me re-phrase that... I don't have a list!

Today, our days look very much like typical toddler days. Sure, she takes medicine 3 x's a day for arrhythmias, and she's got battle scars galore on her tiny body. But other than that, she's just a feisty little 2 year old who wants to do everything by herself, and she drives me absolutely insane!

Yes, she drives me insane. But let me counter that and also say, I literally cannot form words to put together a sentence to adequately convey the depth of my love for this little girl. I can't explain to you the fear that pulsed through my veins at the thought of losing her during those early days in CVICU. This is the little girl I've dreamed of since the day I told my mom (2 weeks before she left this earth), "Mom, someday if David and I have a little girl, I want to name her Lucy."

Why Lucy? Here is a snippet from one of my previous posts:

My mom's name was Janet, but Lucy was the sweetest nickname my dad called her. He never called her Janet - it was always Lucy. Okay, I can recall one time he called her Janet, and it was the strangest thing I ever heard come out of his mouth. Lucy. Her name, from him, was Lucy.
Lucy. Just her name... I just can't even tell you the sweetness of it. The sweetness of her.  Yes, she has her moments of being a complete toot (as does every toddler). But ask anyone who knows her... Lucy's personality is full of so much life, and laughter, and goofiness, and she knows it. The girl knows how to put on a show. She makes the funniest faces. She does the silliest little awkward walk when people are staring at her and she doesn't know what else to do (if you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about). She is learning how to talk now, and every new word that comes out her mouth... I just melt and ooh and ahh, and I just literally can't get enough of her.

If my husband reads this post, he will probably question everything I'm saying here. He sees the ugly side of my attitude toward her most days. I'll be honest and say I'm not a very patient person, and she knows how to push my buttons like no one else. But behind all my ugly moments with her, in the depths of my soul, I just love her beyond words. I wish I could package her up and send her to every single one of you reading this so you could experience her! I mean, good grief! She is alive and well today because of thousands and thousands of your prayers!

I can never ever thank everyone enough for all your prayers. We will be eternally grateful, and I mean that deeply. Eternally grateful. Thank you. Thank you for petitioning for and for fighting for life for our sweet girl.

I don't know where to go from there, so for now I will just end with some of my favorite pictures of our girl! Enjoy!

Snaggle-toothed girl

Sweet little somber Lucy, showing your that her
g-tube is gone!

Lucy and Hank :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

He is Good

This morning I wrote the words, "I know that God is good." And then I began to list the things I thought "proved" His goodness.

  • He sustained Lucy in her most fragile days.
  • How He has provided for us financially over the past several months.

I cut my list short because then I remembered something that I fully believe the Holy Spirit brought to mind the other day as I was listening to the radio. I heard a story from a mom who told of how her daughter had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was only given 3 to 5 years to live. And now here they were, 20-something years later, and her daughter was alive and well. God had done the impossible! The miraculous! The story was followed by a remark from the radio host in which he said, "God is good."

That is usually our response when we hear these "miracle stories." But then I got to thinking... What if these stories had a different ending? What if that little girl really only lived another 3 to 5 years? What if God had chosen to let Lucy's life slip away in those early days of her life? What if we were legitimately floundering financially right now? What if your mom dies from cancer? What if your husband loses his job? What if you receive that terrifying phone call? What if your story doesn't turn out the way you hoped and prayed it would? 

Why do we only respond with "God is good" when we get our happy ending?

Listen, I feel like the Holy Spirit punched me in the gut with that question as I was listening to the radio the other day. I'm not here to shame anyone for saying "God is good" in response to a story with a happy ending. Because yes, He is good, and He continually reveals His goodness to us even when we don't deserve it. But if these miracle stories are what we are waiting for to be reminded of His goodness, then our faith is standing on some shaky quaky ground.

Before I lost my mom to cancer 3 1/2 years ago, I thought I had the faith that we sing about:
"In oceans deep, my faith will stand."
"God whatever comes my way, I will trust you."
(I was going to list several lyric examples here, but my brain is failing me on this early morning... you get the point)

But then suddenly I was in the midst of those deep waters, and I definitely was not standing. I was not trusting. I was flailing and sinking and doubting.

And I was questioning His goodness.

All because I didn't get my "miracle story."

You see, God proved His goodness for me and for all mankind thousands of years ago when Jesus died on the cross for us. For me. For you. He didn't have to provide a way for salvation. He would have been completely just to let us perish. But out of His infinite love and mercy, He chose to save us. To save me. To save you. Out of His goodness.

That alone should be proof enough that HE IS GOOD.

The day my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, He was still good.
The day my mom died, He was still good.
The day we received that horrifying news of Lucy's heart defect, He was still good.

The point I'm getting at is this:

I want to be utterly convinced of God's goodness regardless of my current circumstances.
(I'll also be honest and say I'm not quite there yet.)

It's okay (and good) to see His goodness when things do turn out the way we hope and pray. I think God is so gracious in giving us those reminders. But may our hope not be anchored in the results of our current circumstances.

May our hope be anchored in Jesus Christ alone and the work He accomplished on the cross, for we have been given a hope for the future and a reminder for our current and past circumstances, sure and steady, that God is good.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Sweetest "No"

It's not even 6:00am on a Saturday morning. I'm sitting here at my laptop with a cup of coffee, and I have no idea what words about about to flow out of my brain to my fingertips to this blog post. One of my sister-in-laws, who just so happens to also be one of my best friends from college, sent me a text the other day, and she reminded me of the power of words. Written words.

I love writing. It's how I process life. It's also one of my favorite ways to reminisce about what the Lord has done when, years down the road, I can look back at the things I have written. It's a reminder of how far the Lord has carried me and my family.

I can't believe I haven't posted a single thing on here since the day after Lucy was born.

... well ... actually I can believe it. The past 9 months have been a crazy whirlwind.

We lived in a hospital for 4 solid months. That was really cool.


We packed up all of our belongings and relocated our lives to be closer to Arkansas Children's Hospital for Lucy's sake (all while Lucy was still in the hospital). Yeah, so, that was insane.

Lucy has had 2 open-heart surgeries in her short little life.

There were several weeks, days, and moments we had no idea if she was going to live. No idea if we would ever be able to bring her home. No idea if we would experience being a family of 4.

Lucy is our miracle child. She defied the odds.

I'll never forget the day when Lucy's heart had been beating 200 times a minute for 5 days straight. On the fifth day, one of the doctors told us she feared that at any moment, Lucy's heart may just stop.


A tidal wave of fear. A hurricane of fear. A tornado. A flood. An avalanche. I drowned, and I suffocated in fear that day.

Lucy is the baby girl we have been dreaming of since the day I shared these words with my mom two weeks before she passed away:

"Mom, if David and I have a little girl someday, I think we are going to name her Lucy."

My mom's name was Janet, but Lucy was the sweetest nickname my dad called her. He never called her Janet - it was always Lucy. Okay, I can recall one time he called her Janet, and it was the strangest thing I ever heard come out of his mouth. Lucy. Her name, from him, was Lucy.

We have already suffered the loss of one Lucy. I couldn't bear the thought of losing another. My baby girl. This precious, fragile little life with the sweetest namesake. My dream-come-true. My second shot at a mother-daughter relationship - only now I am the mother in the relationship.

And now her heart might stop?

Those were some of the hardest, darkest days.

I questioned everything. I questioned if God was still good. I questioned if He still loved me. I felt like an ant under His magnifying glass.

Was Lucy going to become yet another shattered dream? A painful memory? The beginning of another season of grief and processing and moving on?

I'm not sure why, but for some reason God chose to answer those questions with a thundering and resounding "NO." The best and sweetest "no" I have ever heard in my life.

No. Lucy will not be a shattered dream. No. She will not be a painful memory. No. She will not commence another season of loss and grief. No.

Lucy is here. Lucy is alive. Lucy is breathing. Her heart is beating, and she is thriving.

She is the most beautiful little girl I have ever laid eyes on. Her smile takes over her entire face. She is the most lovable, most cuddly snuggly precious sweet thing I have ever held in my arms. She is strong. She is brave. She is a fighter. She is a picture of God's grace and provision.

We don't deserve this precious gift. In a season of doubt and fear and being tossed by the waves of circumstance and uncertainty, God chose to save her. He sustained her heart when it should have stopped. He caused every contraction, every drop of blood to flow through her veins. He gave her every single breath. When we were faithless, he was faithful.

And now, it is 6:29am, and my children are beginning to stir. My children. My children. Yes. Two of them. It still feels so foreign and strange coming out of my mouth. But yes, my children are beginning to wake up, and it's about time to enter Mommy Mode.

The most precious sight I have ever laid eyes on.

Time to go change some diapers and start breakfast! And here's to hoping this is the first of more blog posts and processing to come!

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Lucy's Debut!

(Side note: I'm posting from my phone, so I can't figure out how to get pictures on here. If you want to see pics of our sweet Lucy, you'll need to follow me on Instagram! Click here!)

I'm basically reposting the info I've already shared on social media. SO, here's the quick story!

Tuesday, October 5th and into Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, we had no idea what was in store for us! Lucy decided it was time to make her debut! She came out pink and screaming - which are two great things for her!!! She was born at 12:05am (on Wednesday, October 6th) weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces and measuring 19 3/4 inches long. She was given an apgar score of 8! *Apgar score - a measure of the physical condition of a newborn infant. It is obtained by adding points (2, 1 or 0) for heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, response to stimulation, and skin coloration; a score of ten represents the best possible condition.* And Lucy was given an eight! EIGHT! Amazing!

We had an OB appointment Wednesday at 1:00, and Lucy's heart rate was back up to 220 so we were admitted to the hospital to adjust the dosage on my heart medicine. I took the new dosage around 9:00pm, and when they checked her heart rate around 11:00pm, it was way low, in the 60's. Which at times, her heart rate has been that low, but it wasn't concerning. This time it was something about the rhythm that was alarming. After that, things FLEW. I was immediately sent to an operating room for an emergency c-section, and now our little lion is here!!!

I was able to spend a few moments with her after I woke up (they put me under since it was an emergency c-section). I got to hold her hand for about 5 minutes, and then off she went!

Lucy is at Children's Hospital now being monitored. No major steps will be taken until the team of cardiologists can meet on Monday and discuss what is next for her care. Her pulse and her blood pressure have been good all day.

I am doing well. So very thankful for good pain meds! I should be able to break out of UAMS today and go spend some time with Lucy. I have a lot of peace about everything at the moment, that our baby girl is going to be okay. She's strong, and she's a fighter. She has the heart of a lion!

Will continue to update as we learn more. Again, CLICK HERE to easily keep in the loop with our most recent updates and to see pics of this precious lion-hearted girl!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Going Home!

This dark, blurry view means MANY things:

1. We've been discharged from the hospital! (Obviously lots of good things had to happen for us to be discharged!)

2. My body responded well to the heart medicine (that needed to get into Lucy's system to slow her heart rate)

3. Lucy's little body responded well and her heart rate has been consistently in the 130's.

4. We are on our way home!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Update - September 17th

We have been blown away by the amount of support we have received from thousands praying for Lucy and for our family. I want to say a huge thank you to Kelly Stamps for featuring me on her blog and helping to get the word out about our story. In case you missed her sweet post, you can check it out HERE.

Yesterday was our big appointment that we had been anticipating for what seemed like an eternity. Everything was going well at the beginning of the appointment. We had a regular ultrasound, and then another tech came in to do the fetal echo (which is basically an extremely detailed ultrasound of the heart). Everything was looking the same and "normal" (Lucy's normal), and then the tech went to meet with the cardiologist for a few minutes.

About 10 minutes passed, the cardiologist and the tech entered our room (which is normal). They started looking at Lucy's heart again, and suddenly her heart was at a super rapid 250 beats per minute (not normal)!

We discussed a few things about the echo. The biggest highlight was Lucy's prognosis. They determined this by several factors they had seen in the echo. They rated her on a scale from 1 to 10 (the lower the number, the better). They gave Lucy a 3! I take that as great news!

There wasn't a whole lot of time to linger on this point, though. Lucy's rapid heart rate called for a quick change in the rest of our plans for appointments yesterday.

I have since been admitted to the hospital and put on medication to try and help regulate Lucy's heart rate to a "normal," safe range. We will be staying here through the weekend so they can monitor my heart and Lucy's as well. When things reach a safe and stable range, we should be able to go home.

However, if they are not able to regulate things and see that Lucy is not responding well or handling things well, at that point they would need to deliver and get things going and taken care of outside the womb.

Since we have been at the hospital, they have done a couple EKG's on me, and I was able to start the medication at 10:00 last night. So far, my heart has handled the medicine well. If my body continues to handle it well, they will increase and adjust the dosage so that it can help Lucy the way it needs to.

Specific prayer requests:

  • Lucy's heart rate to regulate to a safe range and for her to stay in my belly for as long as possible. I really can't emphasize this enough. The longer Lucy can bake and grow big and strong inside me, the better she will do and be able to handle all that is ahead of her when she is born
  • No complications with the heart medicine (for myself or for Lucy)
  • Dr. Bornemeier (cardiologist from Arkansas Children's Hospital), for wisdom as she is in charge of decisions on medication and dosages.
  • Dr. Warlord and the team here at UAMS currently taking care of me and Lucy. 
  • Anything else you want to add!
Again, we can't thank all of you enough for your prayers. Thank you for sharing our story and calling on prayer warriors from all across our nation and across the globe. We are truly humbled by all of the love and support.