Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good News!

I first want to thank all of you for your prayers and warm wishes...they were truly felt this morning.

I am very happy to say that so far, everything looks good. We have another scan in four weeks to monitor growth but as of now things are still right on track!

I have much I want to say but my head is just spinning right now so I will try to put my thoughts together later...I just wanted to keep you informed!

I am so very grateful for your support and am overwhelmed by the grace God continues to extend to us.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Praying for GOOD news tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is a big day. We have an ultrasound tomorrow morning at 10:30. I will be almost 17 weeks tomorrow so we aren't sure what if anything this scan will tell us as I have not had one quite this early before. The issues Asher had were discovered at 19 weeks. I will have another scan in four weeks to compare brain measurement and growth.

I know I am to be anxious about nothing and just giving it all to Him, but I must admit friends, I am struggling just a little. I do have peace about all of this and I can say I am not freaking out. I do however feel my anxiety level raise just a little when I think about it. Ultrasounds have taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am not concerned with getting a cute picture of my baby or with finding out the gender (though they would be a nice bonus). I just really long to hear that everything looks normal.

Though, I do know that if that is not the path the Lord has chosen for us, He will guide us through whatever comes. I know He has gone before me and has prepared me for whatever blessings this little one brings.

I also have to admit that I really can't hold back my excitement about this little one most of the time anymore...I hope, I dream and I pray. I know that children are a gift and whatever gift the Lord has for me I am open and willing to receive it as he sees fit.

I am asking that you pray for us. Pray for peace to continue to fill our hearts and minds, pray for the doctors we will speak with tomorrow, and of course for this little one growing inside my womb.

I am so grateful for each and every one of you who continue to check in on us and pray for our family! It means more than you could know and your prayers are felt in a big way!

We will keep you posted!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pray for Dylan's Sweet Family

This sweet family has met and said good bye for now to their precious son. Please keep them in your prayers in the hours, days, weeks to come.


Dylan's Blog

If you can please take a moment to stop by their blog and let them know you are thinking of them...I know they covet your prayers.

A Few Christmas Highlights

Here are just a few highlights from our Christmas Eve and Christmas...the boys were SO much fun. They were so excited!
So exciting! Santa CAME!

The Breakfast of Champions! Christmas Waffles!

Happy Birthday Baby Jesus! This was just before Ben gave in and stuck his finger RIGHT in the cake!


The Boltes and the Moores
(Howard's sister and her family)



Feeding the reindeer





Reading books with Papa





MAJOR meltdown! Too much fun, too little sleep!




Us in our FABULOUS HOHOHO tshirts!





New Christmas Eve PJs








Saturday, December 27, 2008

Someone is Always Missing

Christmas is over. We made it through. We had a great time with our families, enjoyed TOO much good food, went to church, and opened gifts. This was our first Christmas without Asher. He was still kicking me and rolling around inside my belly last Christmas. That would be his only Christmas with us. It hurts. I think for much of this holiday season I have just numbed myself and the moment things began to get hard, I just would flip the numbing switch.

This is our fourth Christmas without Isaac and they do say that this all gets easier with time and that the first Christmas is the worst, I am not sure I agree. It rips my heart out thinking that this was the FOURTH Christmas spent without Isaac and our first without Asher. There was such an absence felt in this family that it took my breath away several times. Someone is always missing.

On Christmas Eve we met some good friends at Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. We had a great time, but I just kept looking around thinking that we were missing two children. Sometimes I even get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I forgot something, and then I realize that I haven't forgotten anything, half of my boys are missing and some days it sucks the breath right out of me. Someone is always missing.

We headed from lunch to church. This is where it began to hit me really hard. At our church we have childcare on Christmas Eve only for children 5 and under. I stood there looking at the sign thinking...wow...each of my four kids would qualify. After leaving the kids to play at Jesus' birthday party, we headed to service. I stood there as they played the usual Christmas songs and all I could do was cry. Tears continually streamed down my face. It took everything in me not to let it turn to the ugly cry.

I am not sure exactly why I was crying. I am sure it was partly that I was feeling the loss of my boys so heavily that day, it was also because all I could think of was Mary. She was chosen to carry a child only to have to let him go. Only her son did not peacefully enter Heaven minutes, or hours after birth, he lived 33 years. Then he died an excruciating death. I cannot imagine the overwhelming urge Mary must have had to take it all away from him. To run from the plan that God had. My already broken heart breaks for Mary.

I stood there crying with one hand on my swelling abdomen, feeling the baby moving inside where Asher moved last year and I wondered what God's plan for this child is. Fear began creeping in. My heart was already hurting so much, I was walking a fine line. I shoved it away and tried my best to get a hold of myself reminding myself that He is doing a new thing here.

We headed to my dad's for Christmas Eve dinner and gift giving. It was so fun watching the boy's eyes light up as they opened gifts and ate treats, but someone is always missing.

We came home and made reindeer food, opened new pj's, wrote notes for and set cookies out for Santa, heard Santa's jingle bells while reading Christmas stories and literally flew to bed. It was fun to see the excitement building in Luke and Ben, but there is always someone missing. Two someones.

It was very fun to play Santa but as we hauled out gifts I could not help but think of what the pile would look like for four sweet boys. Howard headed in to get a shower and I prayed to God just for peace and strength to get through the next day without two of my sons. He always provides.

Christmas morning was fun as the boys shook with excitement when they saw Santa had come. They tore through their gifts squealing with joy at each discovery. Two squeals were missing.

I made a big breakfast that mainly only Howard and I ate because the kids were just too excited to eat. We spent the day in our new PJs playing games and opening packages with a trillion twisty ties. We headed to Howard's parents for dinner and gift giving. Isaac and Asher's absence was almost too much for me there as I watched the cousins playing.

As I sit here today I wonder if I am the only one who felt the void, who noticed their absence.

There was ONE family who was sure to include Isaac and Asher in our holiday festivities and Greg and Ginger, I will be forever grateful for that ornament you made. You could never know how much it means to us. Especially that you remembered our boys this Christmas.

I suspect I am not the only one. I suspect others remembered, but weren't sure what would be appropriate as often times people are afraid to bring up sad feelings. I assure you those feelings are always there. They are just below the surface where usually I can hide them. The fact remains that there are two someones who are always missing from this family and we miss them as much today as we ever have. We know we are blessed and we are so thankful for each of our children, yet it sure does hurt to go on without two of them. Remember them with us and never be afraid to talk about them with us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Letter


I have tried to get Howard to write here on this blog, but he has shown no interest in doing so. For the past two years he has found a creative way to write a "Christmas Letter" to go out with our photo Christmas card. Many of you will be receiving these in the mail probably today or tomorrow, but for those who do not, I wanted to share this year's gem with you! I wish I could send ALL of you a Christmas greeting, but this will have to do! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! We love you all!


12/21/08

DEAR FRIENDS,
HO! HO! HO! MERRY MISSMAS! 2008, WHAT A YEAR... I TURNED 2. EVERYONE SAYS IT’S TERRIBLE, BUT I THINK IT’s BEEN PRETTY COOL. I’VE BEEN LEARNING MY SHAPES, LIKE CIRLCE, SQUARE, OVAL, HEART... I THINK I MUST BE BEST AT THE HEARTS, BECAUSE MY MOM IS ALWAYS SAYING HOW I’M GONNA GIVE HER A HEART ATTACK ONE OF THESE DAYS.


I’M ALSO LEARNING MY COLORS. MOMMY LIKES ORANGE; DAD LIKES GREEN; LUKE LIKES BLUE AND I LIKE RED... RED CARS, RED CANDY, RED POPSICLES, RED, RED RED. IT MATCHES MY HAIR YOU KNOW. I LIKE RED SO MUCH I CHOMPED A RED CHRISTMAS LIGHT YESTERDAY – RIGHT OFF THE STRING. I MEAN, IT WASN’T LIT UP OR ANYTHING SO WHO WOULD MISS IT RIGHT? THAT MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT; MY MOM WENT NUTS WHEN I TOLD HER WHAT I WAS CRUNCHING. IN FACT SHE CALLED MY DAD IN TO SEE. HE WAS SO EXCITED HE WANTED TO SEE IT IN MY MOUTH. MOM EVEN CALLED THE DOCTOR AND HE THOUGHT IT WAS SO GREAT THAT HE WANTED ME TO GO SHOW THE PEOPLE AT THE HOSPITAL. THE WHOLE WAY THERE MOM AND DAD COULDN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. I MUST BE WAY COOLER THAN LUKE, ‘CAUSE THEY SAID HE NEVER DID ANYTHING LIKE THAT, AND I’VE BEEN TO THE DOCTOR MORE THAN ANY KID THEY KNOW. THE HOSPITAL WAS SO IMPRESSED THEY TOOK PICTURES OF MY BELLY TO SEE IT. I WONDER IF THAT’S HOW RUDOLPH GOT HIS RED NOSE.


MAN, I AM GETTING BIGGER AND BIGGER EVERYDAY. I’M EVEN GONNA BE A BIG BROTHER AGAIN. “JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE IF THIS BABY IS JUST LIKE ME” THAT’S WHAT MOMMY KEEPS SAYING, BUT I’M HOPING FOR A SISTER. I ALREADY HAVE TO SHARE EVERY SINGLE THING WITH LUKE. TOYS – SHARE! CLOTHES – SHARE! I EVEN HAVE TO SHARE A ROOM NOW. SERIOUSLY, CAN’T A GUY GET SOME SPACE AROUND HERE?


I SAW ON TV THAT ANIMALS PEE ON THINGS TO MARK THEIR TERRITORY, SO A COUPLE WEEKS AGO I FOUND MY OPPORTUNITY. MOMMY WAS SO HELPFUL, SHE LET ME WEAR UNDIES INSTEAD OF A DIAPER AND SAID (NO MORE PEEING IN THE DIAPER) SO I LOOKED FOR SOMETHING TO MARK AND I FOUND MY TOY TRACTOR AND WAGON IN MY CLOSET THAT LUKE KEEPS TAKING FROM ME, SO I FILLED THAT THING TO THE RIM WITH BRIM... IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.


WELL IF 2009 IS HALF AS ENTERTAINING AS THIS YEAR, THEN... UH... UM... WELL I AM ONLY 2! AND 3 SHOULD BE A BLAST, YOU REALLY OUGHT TO STOP BY AND GET IN ON SOME OF THIS FUN. I’M PLANNING ON GOING TO THE BAR SOME MORE. HOW MANY TODDLERS GET TO DO THAT? WE HAVE CHURCH THERE EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT. I HOPE WE SING (THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE) SOON, NOW IT HOLDS A WHOLE NEW MEANING. SO, FROM MY FAMILY TO YOURS, MERRY MisSMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!


Benjamin Bolte


(I just love Howard! He really does have the best sense of humor. If you know him, you know he is a man of few words. He is a quiet type, but when he does speak it is worth listening! :-) )

Monday, December 22, 2008

10 Months Without Him









We are missing you so much sweet boy! This would have been your first Christmas. We cannot help but think of all of the could have beens though we know you are right where God intended you to be. We love you so much!

Seeing Christmas in a Different Light


I am finding that as we prepare to celebrate Christmas I am seeing the whole thing in a different light than before. Last year I wrote a couple of posts about this here and here. It is interesting how your perspective changes as life changes. I have for so long looked at the Christmas story and the immense Joy of Jesus' birth. Until last year I had never thought about what things must have been like from Mary's perspective.


A teenage girl, unmarried and pregnant. That in and of itself is frightening. That wasn't all though. God had CHOSEN Mary to carry His son. A son who would be a gift to all people, but who would ultimately suffer and die a painful death. Mary must have been in one way so honored that God had chosen her for such an important task, yet how overwelmed she must have been thinking of the magnitude of it all. After all she was human. She was a mom and she must have agonized over the idea of losing her boy.


Mary in no way felt ready to deal with any of this I am sure. I am sure she was confused and hurt and maybe even angry. Yet if we look at her prayers in the book of Luke, we know that though she did not understand she chose to praise God. She believed without a doubt that through the suffering she would endure, that God's mighty arm would bring it all around to good.


I guess I have always looked at Christmas as the joyous time, and Easter as holiday more lined with sorrow as Christ was crucified, yet now, standing where I stand, I look at the BIG picture of that story and though each of these hoildays are cause for celebration, I see more and more how suffering was necessary to bring blessing and though the birth of Jesus gives us great reason to rejoice, it also reminds me that sometimes the path we are chosen for is really tough, but God's mighty arm will always bring it around for our good.


I know last year I found it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. I did not feel like celebrating as I had just received news that Asher (Happy) was not well. It has helped me to really fully celebrate Christmas by looking at the BIG picture, not just the joyous birth of Jesus, but the suffering that had to be endured for each of us to receive the best gift we could ever imagine. It helps me to remember that sometimes our greatest gifts come in packages we would never have chosen.


This time of year is hard. It is hard because two of my boys are not here to celebrate. There is a void in this family. The absence of Isaac and Asher in this home is so evident, but even though they are not physically with us, their gift remains. They have changed us from the inside out. We live life differently, we love differently, and we see the world differently. With all of that, we see Christmas differently. We can relate with Mary. We cannot know her pain, but we know we are not alone in ours.


My favorite Christmas song is Breath of Heaven, Mary's song. Each time I listen to the words of that song the tears begin to flow. I am certainly no Mary, but I relate. I encourage you all to take the time to look at Mary's prayer at a difficult time in her life, the Magnificat and I encourage you to go to my playlist at the bottom of this blog and play Breath of Heaven. I am in awe of Mary and though she likely did not know why of all people God chose her for this, she carried the cross she was given with incredible grace, praising God all the way!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Howard!

I truly could not be more thankful for the gift God gave me when I met Howard. He is the best husband and father to our children I could have ever dreamed of.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

He Ate WHAT??!!

This afternoon I had a conversation I never imagined myself having. It went a little something like this...

Me: Hello?

Dr O.: Hi! This is Dr. O calling back. I got your message. Ben ate a what?!

Me: (in my totally mortified, I am a horrible parent voice) Um...he ate a Christmas light.

Dr.O.: You mean he pulled it out and swallowed it?

Me: Um, no. (that would not be Ben's style) He grabbed the strand and chomped it right off of it's socket.

Dr. O.: (in disbelief) Ok, what was it made of?

Me: Glass.

Dr. O.: Do you think it is in one piece?

Me: No, he chewed it up. That was how I caught him. I heard the crunching!

Dr. O.: Okay, well it is likely nothing to worry about but I want you to take him to the ER to be safe to get an X-ray and see what is going on. Take the lights with you so they know what to look for.

Me: Okay, thanks!

Yes folks, you read that right, my incredibly brilliant 2 year old child ate a Christmas light this afternoon, curtailing any plans we may have had to prepare for Howard's birthday tomorrow and Christmas that is just around the bend. Life is never dull a day in the Bolte household, especially not since Ben came along...that kid is going to be the cause of every gray hair on my head.

That phone call was followed by brushing and swishing glass out of his teeth (seriously who eats glass? AND did I mention there was not a cut in his little mouth?) two hours in the ER. Re explaining the story to a triage nurse, another nurse, a doctor and a radiologist. I felt like possibly the worst parent in the whole world, but come on, who thinks their kid is going to eat a light right off the strand!?

Those who know me, know I would make my kids wear a helmet 24/7 if Howard would allow, I am big on child safety and have childproofed my home (or so I thought!) I was mindful when decorating for the season of the fact that there is a two year old in our home. No one EVER warned me about a child eating a light right off the tree! Poinsettias, yes! Glass ornaments, YES! Hooks, Yes! It never occurred to me that he might think a light looked tasty and sneak a taste right from the tree!

I will say that I am so thankful for the triage nurse who did NOT look at us like we were nuts and just said "oh my son ate a couple last week". To which Ben said, "I ate RED!" and without missing a beat she said, "my son ate blue!". Even if she was lying to make us feel better...it worked! (although in reality, have other kids REALLY eaten Christmas lights?)

All of that said, despite the slivers of glass working their way through his digestive tract, he is expected to make a full recovery. We have to feed him lots of fiber, and "binding" foods?! I have cut the said light socket with the shards of glass he missed sticking out of it, out of the strand to tape into his baby book so he can remember what a "bright" kid he was! He gives a whole new meaning to "Let Your Light Shine" which is appropriately a verse displayed on the wall of our home! Maybe I should hang the broken light there!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Children...Our Future

Wednesday afternoon the boys and I ventured to Howard's school for the afternoon. They were so excited to see where their Daddy works and to go to big kid school. We packed lunches and headed out around 11. When we got there we ate lunch in the lunch room with all the big kids. Part of the reason Howard had invited us was because he was excited that a project he had wanted to try was coming to fruition that day. It was called "Mix it Up". It is an effort to teach tolerance. The kids were assigned different lunch tables from the one they typically sit at. They were forced to sit with other students they would not normally have hung out with and after lunch they did some discussion with that same group and a team building activity.

I was so proud of Howard when he told me with great excitement his plans for the day. I have to admit though that seeing it in action was much different than I anticipated. It has not been long since I was in the public school system teaching. Quite honestly, I do not remember kids being SO disrespectful, rude and hateful toward teachers and toward each other. I was especially surprised by the behavior of the girls. They were so cruel to each other and so disrespectful to the teachers. I was stunned. All I could think as I sat there was "no wonder Howard is so frustrated when he comes home each day!" and "there is NO way my kids are going to a school like this". Those were my initial reactions.

Howard met great resistance with this project. Yet he stood his ground and went on with the day. I could see the disappointment in his face, but he kept going. Some students certainly did not get the point and were just going to be belligerent, but others did. I am so thankful for Howard. I admire so much how he goes back into a school where his hands are tied in so many ways and tries to be a beacon of light if only to a few who respond. I was actually impressed by ALL of the teachers that day. They are an amazing group of people!

We then were blessed to stay for the band and chorus concert which Luke and Ben THOROUGHLY enjoyed! I am so glad we went, it gave me a whole new appreciation for what Howard does everyday. I think I had forgotten the battleground that is a middle school classroom.

All that said, I have to say it saddened me to think of these students. I wonder sometimes how we got to this point. The point where it is acceptable to be rude to teachers and to eachother without consequence. The school makes attempts at discipline, but basically their hands are tied as there is little support from parents. Children learn by example, and I must say I am a bit worried about the example they must be learning from.

Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW this is not the case for all students. There were also great students who were respectful and kind. I know that some parents are involved with their children's schooling, but I think as a society we are dropping the ball with these kids.

Which brings me to another point...in the past week or so I have gotten a few "anonymous" comments asking why I don't just get a job. I had let the comments go thinking I didn't want to give a voice to those who are just trying to stir up trouble. I have since felt led to share with you honestly where I stand on that issue, maybe the questions were posed out of honest curiosity. Though I do not have to defend myself or the decisions Howard and I make for our family, I want others to know that there is great VALUE in choosing to stay home, value beyond the salary I would earn outside of my home.

When Howard and I married, I was the one with the good job. I paid the bills so he could go to school. I carried the insurance. I had a steady secure good job that I enjoyed. After finding out Luke was on his way, I assumed I would have him and head back to work six weeks later.

When Luke was a month old Howard got a teaching job in St. Mary's PA. About three hours from our home and we felt that it was something we needed to do so Howard could get some experience as teaching jobs are not easy to come by in Pennsylvania. I left my job and we headed to St. Marys and spent a year there. This was my first experience as a stay at home mom. I was in a town hours from anyone I knew. (and if you know the area, saying there isn't much to do, is a gross understatement). It was hard, but I could not imagine not being there for every one of Luke's milestones. I am so thankful God took us in this direction to force me into my new job.

The following summer Howard was hired where he is now and that was a complete blessing. We were able to move back home and soon found out Isaac was on the way. After having to let go of Isaac so soon, I knew that I would never go back to work again until my kids were in school. I became so keenly aware of how precious each moment with my children would be.

I have mentioned in previous posts that we struggle financially. This is true. When I sit down to do our budget, the amount going out is greater than the amount coming in and yet we always make do. I have asked God to show me what I am to do and I feel he has answered me loud and clear. He honors the decision we have made to be good stewards of the gifts he has given by always providing for our needs. He has also provided me with a "paying" job that I can do from home in the evenings to make the extra money we need to get by.

Money is a tough issue, but after doing the math, we would not solve our money problems by my working. I would be working to pay childcare expenses and I would not have the opportunity to prepare my children for life. Please hear me on this. I am not in any way saying that staying home is the answer for every family. I cannot pretend to know anyone else's circumstances or family. For us it was clearly the answer. My going to work would not answer our financial problems, in fact we are certain it would only bring on a whole host of other problems. If we have to struggle through this stage of our life, so be it. We will cut out extras. We live a simple life and we are happy.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Our children are the greatest gift God has given us. Howard and I are so very aware of the honor it is to be the stewards of these gifts and it is a responsibility we do not take lightly. God's word tells us to:

"train up a child in the way he should go and he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

That IS my job for right now. It is the hardest most frustrating, exhausting, overwhelming job I could ever have imagined. I know it is not something that is possible for everyone and I am so grateful that we have been able to make it work. It has been more rewarding than any job I have ever had and my heart overflows with joy that I am the one training my boys. I am the one equipping them with the tools they will need to be a light to the world. We have had to make sacrifices, and it is a struggle every month to pay the bills, but it is so worth it. God has been so faithful.

Psalms 127:3-5 Sons are a heritage from the Lord , children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

It saddens me that the stay at home mom profession is no longer valued. If a woman doesn't go to work she is often looked down upon. Like I said, I know it is not something all moms can do, but I do think it is a job that we should value and respect. Our children are our future, and if we don't train them up in the way they should go who will?

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I have found great joy in things I had never imagined could bring joy. I love taking care of my home, cooking meals for my family, even changing diapers. I praise God that I have been blessed enough to have been given this family to care for.

God is very clear about the importance of raising our children. On paper our finances make no sense, but I assure you God has been so faithful to us. We have not missed a meal, we have a warm home and our needs are all cared for. I said before that I am not telling you that I think all women should stay at home, I know it is not a possibility for some, but I would challenge you to pray about the situation you are in and ask God to show you what He has for you to be sure you are not missing out on His blessings. He IS faithful and if you earnestly seek Him, He will show you the way!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Empty Crib

Last night in our home, a crib stood empty. Despite our circumstances it is the first time in a really long time that this has happened (and the children were not in our bed). Benjamin wants to be more and more like Luke each and every day and last night he moved into his "big boy bed". We had not planned ahead for this. I was working last night and while I was working, Howard took it upon himself to go and get a mattress from friends of ours who offered one a while ago and he prepared the bed for Ben, crisp sheets, blankies, pillows, even a bed rail.

I work from home teaching students online in the evenings so when I emerged from the bedroom after my four hour shift I was surprised by what I saw and a little taken back. I took a deep breath as this is something we have been talking about doing for a while. The boys were in the tub and I asked Howard if tonight would be the night we moved Ben into the bunk beds we purchased when we found out Asher would be joining us. We figured we would need the crib for him and we have a small home, so the bunk beds were a perfect choice.

Howard said it was up to me. He looked at me knowing that there was more to it than just having Ben sleep in different bed. When Asher did not come home from the hospital we did NOT come home to an empty nursery or crib. Ben's sweet little body slept sweetly in that space. There was not a physical emptiness in those places. One bunk bed stood empty but that was somehow easier to deal with.

After bathing the boys we PJed (I doubt that is a word) them and the four of us sat on the floor of Luke's bedroom and read a few Christmas stories. It was such a sweet time as Ben repeated "Do not be afraid! I bring good news!". Then Luke climbed to the top bunk and Ben cheerfully climbed into the bottom. He was so excited. As Howard and I said our goodnights and walked down the hall we heard "I love you Luke, good night!" "I love you Ben, Good Night". My heart melted. AAAAAAAAHHHH brotherly love.

Then as I got to the end of the hall and peered into the empty nursery where the crib also stood empty it hit me like a ton of bricks. Ben is growing up. He is such a joy to us, but my baby isn't still a baby, and the baby I had intended to sleep in this crib after him never will.

For now that crib, the crib we purchased for each of our children to drift off to dreamland in is empty. Two of our children have slept there and two of our children never will. I know this is how God intended it, but somehow it just doesn't seem right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Honored


I am honored to announce to all of you that our family will be the March of Dimes Ambassador family for our area for 2009!
I cannot tell you how honored we were to be asked and how grateful we are that we will be able to share our children's lives with so many people. We were somewhat shocked when we were asked as the ambassador family is "typically" a family who's child has overcome great odds, usually was born premature and despite all of that is doing well. We are very excited for this upcoming year and what God has in store for us! I pray that this platform will bring glory to Him and the amazing gift he gave in the form of our children, all children for that matter.
Thank you to all of you who have supported the March of Dimes this past year in honor of our boys. It was your enthusiasm that drew the attention to our team.
We will be getting geared up for the March for Babies 2009 in January and we would love for you to join our team...more details to come....

Friday, December 12, 2008

A New Hope

I have been feeling unsettled lately. Some of it has to do with our finances, some of it has to do with the quickly approaching holiday season that I love so much, yet tugs at my heart, some of it has to do with missing Isaac and Asher, and some of it has to do with my hope for this new baby.

(One thing at a time Kristy!) So I have tried to remain in prayer about these things as I know I am to be anxious about nothing. Easier said than done I have to say, but I have made a bit of headway in one of those areas.

As I pray for this new baby I cannot help but be a bit confused as to how God would have me pray. So I just tell God that. I tell him that I know his plan for my life is perfect, but that I desperately want this baby to come home with us. I say that I know he will bring us through whatever comes and that I am so keenly aware of what a gift this new life is. He has blessed us. I know that He gives, He takes away, and yet we will praise Him. I am His daughter first, but I am also a mommy, a mommy that wants her children with her. Ultimately I do pray for His will to be done, but I also want my baby. That is the truth...that is what I tell Him.

As I struggle with how to feel about all of this, God is answering. He has several times in the past week reminded me of something.

At the support group I attend this past week a very wise woman reminded me that this baby is not Luke, Isaac, Ben or Asher. This is a NEW baby, a new life, and a new hope. God has given us children and he has taken children and that is our experience, but that does not mean he WILL choose to take away again. She told me just to remind myself that this is a different circumstance, that while I should continue to allow what God has done in our lives, shape and mold our future, I cannot continue to look back in fear.

In addition to her words, several people have brought my attention to a scripture that has also showed up in several of my daily readings. Coincidentally?? Not a chance.

This is the scripture He is reminding me of:

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

I cannot pretend to know what lies ahead for this new little blessing or for our family, but this baby is a new life, bringing new hope. He/she does not in any way replace anything that has been lost, nor does our hope lie in him or her. Our hope lies in God. The God that is doing something new in our life, adding a new chapter. He is the author of this story and we do not know how the chapter will go, but what we can be sure of is that this is a new experience and that no matter what he will lead us through it giving us the grace and strength to greet each day with new hope.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Behind the Photo


This picture was taken last weekend before church at our church. The Advent series this year has been titled "The Christmas Picture, What's Behind the Photo?" It has been a great series!
As I look at this picture, my heart aches, two of our children are missing from this photo, yet to someone who just looks at the picture it likely just looks like a normal family with an unhappy redheaded little boy! :-) At this time of year, many of us take family pictures for cards or gifts or whatever, and behind each of those pictures there is a story. Many times, a story that could not even begin to be told by the image in the photo. I want to thank the many of you who have shared your hurts, your pain, your joys and your stories with me.
Though the photograph above is incomplete, it is also a portrait of true blessedness, I rest in hoping that one day that photo WILL be complete!

What's in a Song?

Last Mother's Day, a good friend made a Starbucks run for me and dropped off with the cup of yummy goodness, a cd, a bright orange cd of songs she had put together for me that she enjoys worshipping to. (aww...Julie, you made me a mixed tape) :-)

Anyway, I wrote about the significance of that CD and a certain song on that CD a while back.
The song I referred to was by a fantastic group called Overflow, the song is called Cry on My Shoulder (it is likely playing as you read this because it is the first song on my playlist). It is literally one of the greatest songs and has had a significant role in my journey especially as a reminder on the hard days that though I feel alone, I never am. I now have that song on my ipod and Tuesday night I headed in to a support group meeting for bereaved parents and I put that song on repeat. I had been feeling so confused about life and how I should or shouldn't feel. I sang along over and over and over and over and over, it is a 30 minute drive so you get the picture.

That song has been such a comfort to me. It is such a great reminder that our Father's arms are always outstretched and there to hold us when we are weary from life. He will pick us up and help us put the pieces of life back together if only we allow Him. So, yesterday after listening to the song a few times I decided that it should now be the first one to play on my blog. It is the song that is pulling me through my days right now. So yesterday, I switched it. It had always been on there, I just moved it to the top spot.

I cannot tell you the comfort this song has brought and how even when I feel so frustrated with God, if I put this song on and just allow the words to take over, as I worship my God, it is like a sudden calm and healing comes over my heart. I am so grateful for this song. It is really a song of hope.

So I cannot even pretend I wasn't crying in my keyboard in amazement of our God this morning as I checked my comments and found one from the bass player of Overflow, who's wife apparently has been keeping up with our story and shared it with him. What an encouragement! (Thank you Josh and Anne!)

God is so good!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Permission to Dream

At this time last year we had just received news that there was likely something wrong with Asher. I was 20ish weeks pregnant and I was quickly seeing the dreams I held for my fourth son slip away. It was such a tough thing to spend the rest of my pregnancy trying to enjoy my baby yet not getting to decorate a nursery, prepare our home for another child, or any of the "normal" stuff a new mom does. In some ways that was excruciating. In others it was a blessing.

You see, with Isaac, we had no idea until the day we had him that anything was wrong. Our home was prepared, our hearts were prepared to bring home our little boy. That did not happen and when we came home empty handed, we came home to a home fully prepared for a newborn. It tore my heart out to have to put all of the baby stuff away after coming home. There was evidence of a baby in our home, yet no baby.

Now I find myself in limbo. Here I am again expecting a new baby. Yet I have NO idea what to expect. I have spent the last three months struggling with hoping for the best while trying to stay grounded and remind myself of the reality that we may be asked to walk that road again. We may yet again come home empty handed. That thought literally brings me to my knees.

I spend the majority of my days trying to push the idea that I am pregnant behind all of the other things I have to do for the day. It is becoming harder to do as my body is changing. This is my fifth baby and I have to say that with each of those babies my body has begun changing a bit sooner than the last time. :-) As I look down and see my growing abdomen the dreams begin to pop into my head, dreams of names, nursery colors, baby showers, and then just as quickly as they sneak in, I shove them away again. Afraid to get my hopes up.

I find myself wondering at what point I will allow myself permission to dream those dreams for my baby. I find myself longing for the blissful innocence of my first pregnancy. I want to be giddy with excitement at the prospect of bringing home another little blessing, and yet I am afraid to let my heart go there.

I know that there is a good likelihood that everything will be fine, I know God can make that happen, I know he is capable of anything, and yet he has chosen the other path for us twice. I am still very confused as to how to pray for this baby. I know I need to pray for God's will, but as a mom, I cannot also help but hope that this baby lives. I cannot help but cry out to God and beg him to allow me to watch this little one grow up with his or her brothers here on earth.

Our next ultrasound is December 30, we will have another one four weeks after that. It is likely that we will have a good indication as to how God has knitted this little one together by then, but I am wondering at what point in this pregnancy I ill be able to breathe. When will I give myself permission to dream baby dreams?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Adventures in Potty Training

Ok, so I didn't share this last week but as I think about the hilarity of the situation. It is a story too good not to share.

So, Ben is just over two and MY goal is to get him out of diapers before the next Bolte arrives. So a day last week I decided, this is it, we are going to put undies on. So I let him choose from the cool new underwear I had gotten him. He chose a Diego pair. He was psyched. So we talked about it all and how he needed to pee in the potty, NOT in his undies. He nodded, (This is actually something he does understand, he does it when he wants to). So I put the focus on having dry undies....

About ten minutes later I was standing in the kitchen and Ben came out grinning from ear to ear. "Mommy, I peed!" he exclaims! This sparked my curiosity because I was in direct line of sight of the potty and he DID NOT use it. So, I checked his undies, Diego was dry! YAY! So I said, ok, Ben where did you pee? "I show you" he responds. So I follow him into his bedroom. Do keep in mind we have ALL wood floors so I knew clean up wouldn't be a nightmare. That is until he leads me into his closet! Yes, his closet! I look and I don't see a puddle anywhere. Then, I saw it. He was pointing to his Little People tractor. There in the wagon it was. My son had pulled his undies down, aimed and filled his tractor wagon with pee! :-)

I could not help but laugh. He was so proud. I have no idea what led him to believe it was a good idea to pee in his wagon, but he sure did. So we talked about the fact that pee belongs in the potty and we walked the tractor and wagon to the potty to empty it and then placed it in the bathroom sink so I could disinfect it. I could see he was disappointed that I was not as enthusiastic about his accomplishment. He proceeded to ask for his diaper back. Ugh, maybe another day. He sure is a one of a kind!

Though I must admit I am encouraged by his accomplishment. He gets it, and if he can aim into a little three inch by three inch wagon, he is ahead of his dad and brother! :-)



Remembering During The Holidays

For those who have lost a loved one, a child, a parent, friend, spouse, etc the holidays can be an especially difficult time. It is often a time where we think about that loved one and how we had hoped to spend the holidays with them.

There are some things we do in our home to keep our boys with us at the holidays and I thought I would use this opportunity to share them with you and if you have any traditions or ideas, I would LOVE to hear them.

So, here are a few of the things we have found helpful....

~ We have ornaments we get each year for EACH of our kids so we still get ones for Isaac and Asher too

~One of the hardest things for me after Isaac died was filling out Christmas cards. It felt wrong not to include him in the signature. So....we for the past few years have done cards from the March of Dimes. They include a little card that says that money was donated to the March of Dimes and on that card I write in memory of ... and he is then included.

~Each year we "adopt" a child Isaac (and now Asher also)'s age. We purchase Christmas gifts for them and donate them to a family who needs help providing gifts at Christmas. This way, though we are not shopping for them, it fills that void and helps someone else.

I think there are a few more but that is what I can think of at the moment. Please feel free to share your ideas!



Monday, December 1, 2008

So Far So Good...

Well we had our ultrasound this afternoon, I did pretty well all day and just kept giving it to God, but when we got in that elevator and I hit the button for the third floor my heart sank. Every worst case scenario ran through my head. Then I again gave it to God.

It is still early. I am only about 13 weeks so we knew it was likely things would look good. They always have at this point. I am so thankful that the ultrasound technician took the time to read our WHOLE chart before coming out to get us. She was aware of what our prior problems have been and was great at reassuring us. She measured the baby from crown to rump, measured the nasal bone, the nuchal fold, the arms the legs, the belly and the head. Everything looked perfect. The heart was beating at 178 bpm (you can all make your own assumptions based on that).

So for now everything looks fine and for that I am so grateful. Our next scan will be December 30 and this one and the one following will be better indicators of head and brain growth, we now have a measurement to compare the next ones to. Asher was 19 weeks when a problem was suspected.

I am finding myself so excited and hopeful and yet I feel like I am guarding myself still. I want to fully believe that I will get to bring this baby home and know what it is like to be a mommy to a newborn again, but I know there are no guarantees. I am just continuing to pray for this baby and the development. We obviously do not know the gender yet, and that doesn't matter to me one single bit. I know God is knitting this baby together perfectly. My mommy heart though really wants to be able to watch this one grow outside of my belly.

We covet your continued prayers, we know that all things are possible with God! We are expecting great things from this little one!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Thankful Heart

Ok, so I am keenly aware of the value in a person being authentic, but it was interesting to me today that our sermon at church kind of focused on that very idea. It was said today during service that a person who is not being real, being authentic, cannot allow the kingdom of God to unfold before them. We as "Christians" are often so concerned with putting on our brave face and hiding what is really behind it all so that others think we have it all together that we lose sight of the fact that if we are honest and open with anyone, it should be with eachother. This is how we grow.

All that said, I have to say I am still struggling with God. I have so many questions. As I stood for worship in church today the questions raced through my mind. I know God is here. I know He has my best interest at heart, I know he has provided my family with a peace, a love and a comfort unlike any other. I know all of that and yet I was unable to "single mindedly" worship our God. My mind was everywhere else. I feel like I have been beginning to put a wall up. A wall between me and God. I don't understand Him despite my best effort and so I was going to distance myself. I want to yearn for his word and yet I find myself disinterested. I no longer get up and go to church because I cannot wait to worship the God who has blessed me so much, I go out of obligation. I know I should.

That is me being authentic. Then tonight I have gained a bit of insight as I watch Bruce Almighty. (I know, I know, just bear with me) In the movie he says this, "God is a mean kid on an anthill with a magnifying glass, and I am the ant. He could fix my life in five minutes if he wanted to, but he'd rather burn of my feelers and watch me squirm." And as I listened as "Bruce" exclaimed this I chuckled at how ridiculous that sounded, and yet when I thought about it....I think that is kind of how I have been feeling and acting.

Kind of like a two year old. I know I have so much to be thankful for but I also have so much hurt. I know God could have fixed that hurt. He chose not to and that is a tough reality to deal with especially when it seems like he certainly does it for so many others. Sometimes I feel like I have been singled out, like God just continues to burn my feelers. I have no one to blame so I blame God, the thing about that is that I KNOW God is blameless! He knows what is best and I need to accept that.

In my last post I wrote about how I could not be thankful for my sons' deaths. I am thankful for many things that have happened as a result, I am thankful that God has covered us with his grace, peace and love during the tough times, I am thankful for the friends I have made on this journey, the comfort I have received and given, I am thankful I was able to meet such amazing little guys and that I was chosen as their mommy. I am thankful for so much about the situation, but I cannot be thankful for that, not that they are dead. I cannot say the words. I have been trying to reconcile that since writing the post on Thanksgiving. I mean SHOULD I be thankful for the deaths of my children? Is that really what God wants? I have asked and asked for God to answer me. And I will say I have a little peace about the issue now.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

As I reread this scripture I got to thinking, I think the most important thing is to have a thankful heart. We need to open our hearts and allow God's peace to rule there. It is a decision. It says "let" the peace of Christ rule in your heart. That means it is something we must do. We must make the decision to be thankful in all things.

I think it has less to do with being able to thank God for the death of my children and more to do with being thankful for the other circumstances, more to do with finding the good amidst all of the pain, more to do with choosing to continue to follow my God, knowing He knows what is best for me in spite of the pain. There are some things my mind can just not comprehend. So much about God I do not understand. I don't know why it was in my best interest for my boys to be in Heaven, but I do trust that God doesn't make mistakes and that he will work all of this out for my good.

I think for now, God knows my heart and He knows I am working through all of this. I can rest assured that some day ALL of this will make more sense. That is where I am at right now. I am still wrestling with the idea of prayer. I know God will answer those questions also in His time and until then I will continue to pour my heart out to Him, giving him my authentic broken self.

Tomorrow is an ultrasound for baby Bolte number 5. We would really appreciate your prayers as we continue to learn more about who this next member of our family will be and how God has knitted him (or her)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for EVERYTHING?

So a few years back we started this tradition in our household. I had found this cute little journal at Target that had leaves all over it and on the cover it says "Giving Thanks". This is our thankful book. Each year at Thanksgiving we get the book out and every member of the family makes a "top ten list" of what they are thankful for this year. As I got the book out this morning for the activity later, it really got me thinking.

Now some of it is kind of silly...since Ben has been too young to make his own list for the last two years we have let Luke tell us what HE thinks Ben is thankful for. As I look back over our lists it is funny how we all have the big things listed like, God, grace, salvation, church, family, friends, job, home etc. but then we each have some of the little, sillier things that we are thankful for, diapers, bouncey seats, cars and trucks blankies, Baby Einstein.

Here is where the thinking comes in...

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.. Colossians 3:15

According to this verse, we are to be thankful to God for EVERY detail in our lives. EVERY one. On the surface that seems appropriate but then I got to thinking, I am thankful for each and every one of my children. I am thankful for what Isaac and Asher brought to our lives and home. I am thankful that God chose us to be the parents of each of these amazing kids, I am thankful for how they have changed our lives, allowed us to serve others, and realize the gift of a moment, but thankful for their death. Um...I don't think I can even muster the strength to say those words even halfheartedly. Really, I don't. And even if I were able to SAY it, I wouldn't mean it.

I know the Bible is true and I so want to follow it's instruction and align myself with God's will for me, but being thankful for the death of not one, but TWO of my children....I can't do it. I wish I could. I wish I could be so focused on eternity that I was grateful for God's plan even when it means so much pain, but I am just not there yet.

I am thankful that if my boys cannot be with me, they are safe in the arms of Jesus. That is for sure, but thankful they died I am not. There is still so much that I am trying to figure out and wrestle with God, I am trying to figure out how to be obedient in this. I know there have been many times that I have not wanted to worship or have not wanted to pray but because I know He commands this of me I do it anyway. There is something to be said for just plain and simple obedience even when you don't feel like obeying.

I think about it and sometimes I will ask Luke to do something, say for instance, clean his room. He doesn't WANT to do it, he doesn't think he should have to do it, but he does it anyway. I personally don't care so much that he doesn't want to...just that he obeys. I can remember resenting having to do those same chores, and now I really truly value a clean house (perhaps to a fault).

Maybe this is kind of the same. Maybe even if I can get myself to thank Him halfheartedly he will allow that to over time grow. Maybe. I don't even pretend to know how all of this works, I am just trying to figure it all out.

I am learning to praise Him when He gives as well as when He takes, I am thankful for a lot of things, I am just really struggling with this ONE. So my prayer this Thanksgiving is that God will help me see my stumbling blocks. He will allow me to grow in my hurt. He will help me work through all of this. I need Him to teach me to pray better, and be thankful even for my hurt.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

I also want you all to know that I am so thankful for this blog...it was this time last year that I started the blog and I could not have even imagined the little journal I started to keep family and friends informed would have grown to something of this magnitude, I would never have imagined the friends I have made and the encouragement I have received. I am thankful for every one of you. Thankful for your prayers, your support, your encouragement and your friendship!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Get Behind Me Satan!

"Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Matthew 16:22-24



I would be lying if I said the past few weeks have not proved to be tougher than I expected. I have hit that stumbling block time and again. I am wrestling with God. I have been hesitant to post any of my feelings, because I have been afraid of how they might be seen. But after a recent conversation with a friend I have decided to keep it real. I have always been pretty open and honest here and as I have reminded many before this is MY blog and my place to put my feelings into words. I want to be authentic so here goes!

When I first found out that I was pregnant, on October 1, 2008, my initial gut instinct was to isolate. To retreat and keep it a secret. I thought that if I could just keep it a secret long enough and avoid the doctor long enough, it would reduce the stress that comes with the reality of the situation. The reality is that there is likely a 25% chance we will have another baby that goes straight to Heaven. The reality is also that there is a 75% chance that the baby will be perfectly healthy. 75% is a pretty high percentage. That said, many people would choose not to take that "risk". And that is ok. What is right for one is not what may be right for another in that respect. For me though, I knew what God was calling me to do and it was something that many people in the world would consider foolish.

I knew God was reminding me that ALL children are gifts from Him, and that my desire to have more children though it may be seen as foolish to much of the world, was anything but. It was not some selfish desire. It is so much more than that. I honestly do not believe God would give us a child He didn't mean for us to have. God doesn't make mistakes. Now I don't pretend to know the outcome of this pregnancy, but I know God is in it, I know we are following Him and so I know everything will be ok.

I know all of that!

I do, but that does not stop Satan from sneaking in at every opportunity he gets to steal my joy! Man he is sneaky. I really feel like he is working on me every chance he gets in this situation. I am wrestling with God but that doesn't mean I have lost faith. I am just trying to figure stuff out! I mean I have seen and heard of people who have been healed by God, people often claim it is the power of prayer that healed them. I am struggling with that.

There were thousands praying for Asher. We prayed harder than ever before and though he is healed and whole in Heaven, we did not get to keep our sweet boy. So that brings up questions...why does God answer prayer for some but not for others? Or does he? Is it that prayer healed those people or didn't heal others, or is it that that was His plan all along and despite our prayers His plan is what matters. If that is the case why pray, if not how do I better pray? I know I have brought all of this up before, but I feel like maybe I didn't do something right in praying for Isaac or Asher and I want to get it right for this baby. (I do know that sounds silly. I am just trying to get a grasp on all of this.) I know there is no magic formula. If only! Right?

I also am still struggling with those who roll their eyes and think we are foolish. People who think we are "asking for it". The thing is that even if Isaac and Asher WERE here some people would still judge. We live in a world where it seems ideal to have two kids spaced two or three years apart. Large families are not valued as they once were. But these are WORLD views. I want the Lord to be in charge of my family and how large or small it will be. Had we stopped having children after losing Isaac, we would not have Ben and would not have been blessed to spend 35 minutes with Asher. This next child will hold his or her own place in this family. I can't wait to see what that is.


Monday is our next ultrasound and doctor appointment. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for these appointments because an ultrasound that was once a fun way to peek at the baby is so different now. My prayer is that the worry will not overcome the joy of this new little person. I do pray for a healthy baby, I want that more than anything.

I am overwhelmed by the great amount of support we are already receiving, while there are those who think we are foolish there are also so many who "get it", who know this is not just about us and decisions WE make. It is about surrendering ourselves and our lives to a God who saves, a God who deserves all the glory. We are trying to live in but not of this world. We seek to glorify God alone even if that means some will think we are foolish. The fact remains, children ARE a gift given by God and we have surely been blessed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Would You Be Like at 9 Months?




I often wonder...
Asher Joseph Bolte
February 22, 2008



We miss you and love you so much!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Box Lurking Behind the Door

I am having a hard day. I woke up with a fog surrounding me. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I knew it was going to be a hard day. (It may have had something to do with the fact that I have not slept a full night in DAYS because my boys keep taking turns having "nightmares" and though they are wonderful to cuddle with, sleeping with them is like sleeping with a violent octopus!) I digress.

So, my heart heavy, I got up and began the day. I prepared breakfast for the boys but I haven't been able to shake the immense heaviness and sadness I am feeling. It is kind of interesting because just yesterday I was sharing at Bible study how at peace I am about this pregnancy and how God is pouring his grace upon me and I am enjoying the gifts he has given.

When I get sad or anxious I tend to clean. I don't mean pick up a bit, I mean scrub with fury. I mean I begin throwing things away. So, I decided I would opt for that method of therapy today and I began on our bedroom which is ALWAYS the biggest disaster in the house. As I was moving things to sweep, I saw it. It is always there, I walk by it every day, but I typically walk right past without a second thought. Today it was glaring at me. A cardboard box hiding behind our bedroom door. It was overflowing and beckoning me. I grabbed the box and put it on the bed. I began to pull all of the things out of the box. A lock of strawberry blonde hair, tiny perfect footprints, endless cards, photos, newspaper clippings, it is Asher's box. I ran my fingers over his footprints. Tears began to flow.

He doesn't have a room in our house filled with his things. He has a box. Everything tangible that reminds us of Asher all fits into a small cardboard box. It doesn't seem right. it doesn't make sense. I looked through his memory book where I had written all of the details of his time with us. Now, I must also admit that Asher also has a bag, it is filled with his blankets, hats, and his outfit he wore, along with stuffed animals we took his picture with. I have NEVER opened the bag. It is a white plastic bag with the hospital logo on it. It hangs in my closet, but I cannot bring myself to open it. I know that opening that bag will unleash emotions I am just not ready to deal with and so it will remain sealed until I am ready. I still have NOT opened Isaac's bag so I do not expect this one will be opened anytime soon either.

As I continued to look through the contents of the box I found an ultrasound picture. It is dated November 20, 2007. That is ONE YEAR ago today. That is the date of our first appointment at the hospital in Pittsburgh. That is the date that our fears were confirmed. It is a date that I hope to never have to relive. We were told that our baby had "issues" and that a counselor would be in to discuss our options. I was 22 weeks pregnant. I heard our options and immediately became filled with rage. That moment when the words termination and my baby boy came into the same sentence was the only moment of my life that RAGE is the best word to describe how I felt. My heart hurts so deeply but I cannot imagine for ONE moment my life without any of my children. All of the hurt and anger began to well up in me again today.

How could ANYONE say that Asher's life didn't matter? Yet, statistics say that 90 percent of the time when such a birth defect is found that a parent will terminate the pregnancy. I feel that many moms are misinformed. Termination is often presented as the only REAL option. Families are not often supported by the medical community to carry a baby to term despite their "issues". This my friends is something we need to work on. Parents need to know there IS an option. Either way they will hurt. But by chosing LIFE they are chosing to give it to God and when he writes the story amazing things happen through suffering.

Each of my children has been given to me by God. Each of them is a special gift. I have been blessed FIVE times now and I am so grateful for each of the lives God has trusted me with. They each matter. They matter to us, and they matter to God. Children are all a gift. Not just some, not just the ones the world sees as perfect. ALL children.

That box lurking behind the bedroom door reminded me of where we stood on this date last year. I am thankful for that box and thankful for the life represented by that box. Though the tangible memories of Asher's life can be held in that box, the impact he has had cannot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Carrying Eachother's Burdens

I have written posts before on how blessed I have felt over the past few years that so many people have come along side us and helped us "carry our mat" or how thankful I am to all of the "stretcher bearers" in our lives. All of that is so true. I feel like in the midst of a most painful experience, I was able to SEE the body of Christ in action. I felt His love through His people and it has been an amazing journey.

Today, I feel like I had the opportunity to serve another family in this same way and though my heart is heavy for them, I feel so blessed to have been able to come along side them and carry just a little of their burden.

As I told you before, good friends of ours, had their baby Friday. The baby was born at just 17 weeks gestation and could not survive. It all came as such a shock to everyone. We were able to go and take the family dinner Saturday and just be with them for a few hours. It was great. It was great to just be with them and see how God was working. They were hurting, but they too were feeling God's love, and seeing His people become His hands and feet. I watched them in awe as they handled everyone and everything with such grace.

I was blessed enough that they trusted me to organize much of the memorial service that was held today. They shared with me pictures of their sweet Nolan and I was able to have a sweet friend turn them into professional looking AMAZING memories for an amazing family. I gathered the necessary items for a memorial slide show and got them to a person who is gifted in that area, and asked some friends to do worship. The service was beautiful and I was so honored to have been allowed to be a part of their beautiful story. I am humbled beyond words.

Several times today, some thoughtful people would approach me and ask how I was doing with it all, commenting that it all must have been so painful for me to do all of this. I gave it a lot of thought because it really wasn't and I wondered if it should have been. I knew that this was THEIR story, it needed to be told. I just wanted to lighten their burden the way ours had been lightened. God was so clearly at work and I was just honored to be used. I felt that this was truly an incident where our suffering was to be used to comfort others with similar suffering. I really didn't DO anything, just called on others to do what they do. I knew who to ask because we had been there before. It felt weird to be thanked so much today for something that was so clearly God's doing, it certainly wasn't me. His people all came together to help a hurting family and it was beautiful. It wasn't about any of us, it was about Him, and he shone through this family today in such a beautiful way, I am just glad He allowed me to be there to witness it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In a Moment


It was on this day, November 15 last year that our world, our hopes our dreams changed in just a moment's time. We went in for our anatomy ultrasound hoping to find out healthy boy or girl, and found out boy, possibly not healthy. We were sent to Pittsburgh the following week. It just got me thinking this morning how all it takes is a moment for life to change completely. We went into that ultrasound confident in the fact that God would certainly NOT ask us to walk that road again. This baby would be fine. We had no doubt. In a moment we learned how wrong we were.


Asher Joseph Bolte



In a moment two lines appeared on a HPT


In a moment I became a mom again


In a moment hoping and dreaming began


In a moment our families began to hope and dream


In a moment our boys became brothers


In a moment we learned we would have a fourth SON!


In a moment our hopes and dreams would have to change


In a moment our fourth son came into this world


In a moment he changed our lives


In a moment he changed the lives of many others


In a moment he returned to Jesus


In a moment we were left broken and shattered


In a moment God provides grace and comfort


In a moment two lines appeared on a HPT



Everything can change in a moment, yet God NEVER does. Though the pain is still real, there is comfort in knowing One Thing will always be constant.

It is crazy to stand where I stand and look back at the unfolding of the past few years. After losing Isaac I can say that we were shocked to find out that Benjamin was on the way and though Ben could NEVER replace the Isaac shaped whole in our hearts, he brought hope, he brought healing, he showed us that life was going to go on and that we could continue to live even with the hurt.

I am beyond thankful for Benjamin and what he brings to our family. He is our "funny guy" and he has brought more laughter and joy to our home than I imagined possible. Each of our children bring something unique to the family. Luke is our loving kind hearted always wants to cuddle guy. It goes without saying what Isaac and Asher have brought to our family.

I stand here, carrying the baby brother sister of Luke, Isaac, Benjamin, and Asher and I know that this child will certainly not replace anything that has been lost. Each of these children holds his own special place that could never be taken by anyone else. Our Asher sized hole cannot be filled either. I do have hope though, hope that we will again hold a baby, get to bring a baby home and though that does not change the moments of the past, it gives hope to the moments of the future.

I am so hopeful and yet I know better than ever that we are promised nothing. We have today and for today I am going to revel in the fact that God has blessed our family once again with a gift unlike any other.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Prayer Request

Ok Faithful Prayer Warriors...

I know I have asked much of you all already, but really good friends of ours were expecting their fourth child this spring and yesterday at just 17 weeks he was born and went to be with his Heavenly Father. They are feeling His peace, but I know they would covet your prayers. Their names are Dave and Christy and this sweet little boy was Nolan Samuel. It would mean a lot if you could pray for them and their family! They have been such amazing friends to us through EVERYTHING and my heart is broken that they are having to feel this intense pain.

Love you all!

A Gift

So...many of you have noticed my new blog layout! I would like to thank Nikki at Blogs for a Cause for doing the work and Amanda for treating me to this luxury!

I must admit that you all are mighty observant! Yes, there are five children pictured in the header because there is a FIFTH Bolte child on the way.

We are so excited and surprised by what God is doing in our lives! It has come with much emotion especially since tomorrow marks one year since receiving the news that Asher would likely not come home with us. We did not expect God to bless us in this way so soon, but when does God EVER do what we expect!? We know that there are no guarantees and we are just rejoicing in the miracle God has created. We know he will be faithful.

We are thrilled and yet guarded and would covet your prayers over the next six months.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Faith Is HERE!

UPDATE:
Faith Clare has arrived! 6:24 PM.
6 lb 11oz 18 inches!

She is doing well, but is having a little trouble with her blood sugar. PLEASE PRAY!


It is so exciting! I got a text message a while ago and Kenzie Stanfield is currently in labor and delivery awaiting the arrival of the newest member of the Stanfield Family. Please pray for this amazing family. Head on over to their blog and let them now you are thinking of them. You will be blessed by Dusty's post on their blog...he is quite funny!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Discouraged (warning...this is just me whining!)

UPDATE:

Thanks for all of your encouragement and for listening to my whining. All issues from yesterday have been resolved. The bank was great about reversing the charges and all babysitter/vehicle issues are taken care of for the moment. Praising God for the little things tonight! Today has been a good day! Thank you for your prayers!



I don't know if seasonal affective disorder is hitting early in our home or what but the best word I can use to describe the last 24 hours is struggle. I feel like even the simplest of things these days are a huge struggle for me and I am tired of struggling.

We are still getting by on one vehicle, which has been fine, but this week we have quite a bit going on. I have a doctor appointment the kids have doctor appointments, and I have Bible Study. So that means babysitters and borrowing vehicles three days this week. I thought I had everything lined up for the week, and my plans came crashing in yesterday and I am scrambling to find a way to get through the week. I discussed options with Howard last night and found myself simply discouraged by it all. There is no easy answer. It just seems that such simple things should not be so difficult. I am content to stay home with the boys all day every day, really I am, but this week it is not a possibility. We need to get these things done.

So this morning as I was working on ironing some of those details out I decided to sit down to do my banking only to find SIX yes SIX overdraft charges on my account. Now I will admit that since February I have been a bit more lax about this stuff, but I still keep GOOD record of my account so I was stunned. We have really been struggling financially, and I know that these fees will kill our budget so I have been overly cautious. Well, the banks are closed today so I cannot go and get it resolved and it is driving me nuts. I spoke to a national representative from my bank this morning and she said that what happened was that on Saturday I deposited a check and wrote our mortgage and the mortgage check was cashed before the check I deposited was credited. I was unaware that this would be an issue as I handed them the deposit first. They both happened on the same day, they just chose to cash my check before depositing the other! ACK! It adds up to about 200 dollars in charges. So I have to wait until tomorrow to go in and see if they can reverse the charges this one time. I am hoping they will. I just hate having this looming over me.

I know I am whining and complaining and I don't blame you a bit if you don't read a word of this. It just feels like nothing can ever be easy for us. Nothing EVER goes smoothly. I feel like I can never be at rest because I am always averting the next disaster. I feel targeted and am really struggling with God. We are working it out but there is much I just cannot understand. I mean He could certainly cut us a bit of a break somewhere. I guess I am just tired.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Prayers for Another Sweet Family

Hello faithful friends!

I come to you tonight asking you to pray for another family who had to say goodbye to their little guy too soon. His name is Lane Reegan Landers and he is just about the sweetest little thing EVER! God created him with Trisomy 18 and he was with his amazing family for 27 amazing days. I encourage you to head over to their site and let them know you are thinking of and praying for them. I know how much it has meant to me to have so many sharing in my boys' stories and praying for my family. I am sure it would mean the world to them also! Though they know he is with his Heavenly Father, I am sure their hearts are aching. Please pray for the Great Comforter to wrap his arms around them during this painful time.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Surprise!

So last weekend was my birthday. Howard and I had a nice weekend, we went to Cleveland overnight while a good friend kept the boys. It was nice to have time with Howard and we had a great time playing at Dave and Busters and relaxing in our Sleep Number Bed, but I have to be honest. I was slightly disappointed. I feel guilty even saying that because it is the first time in about three years that we had a night to ourselves. What disappointed me was that I had to plan the whole event. I felt like since it was my birthday that Howard should have taken that over...He did not. I was disappointed.

If I am being honest I also must share that two nights ago I shared that disappointment with him sort of in the form of a baby fit! :-) I mean, it WAS my thirtieth birthday and he hadn't so much as made me a cake! (not my finest moment)

Well, yesterday he called me from work and told me not to start dinner because we were going out. I was irritated because he KNEW eating out this weekend was NOT in the budget. He seemed excited about a new place he had "heard about at work" that had "great kids specials on the weekends". So I got the kids ready and got myself ready and out the door we went. My irritation welled up again when it took us fifty minutes to get somewhere that should have taken about twenty five and that he was texting while driving! Really safe I know!

So we got to this "new place" and Luke and I walked up to the door, where inside I saw several of my favorite people! As we stepped inside the door the kids all jumped out and yelled "SURPRISE". Ha! It was a surprise party, for me and another of my good friends who's thirtieth birthday is also this week.

I was shocked I must say and it was a great night! I got my birthday cake and got to be with some of my bestest friends in the world. It was fun. The kids had fun, we all had fun.

So, on the way home Howard explained that he didn't know what to plan because my friends were determined to do this and he thought it was a great idea so he let me be disappointed so I could be more surprised. (not sure I believe that, but oh well). :-)

But if any of my friends out there who had anything to do with this are reading...THANK YOU! It was great! I had NEVER had a surprise party before! You are the best!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Point of Prayer

On this journey of grief, it seems to me that very often we take two steps forward only to take three steps back. I felt like I had been doing pretty well, and now, I seem to be at a bit of a stand still. We have a lot going on in the Bolte household right now and I find myself busying myself with all of those things and again I find myself leaving God out of the equation. I know he needs to be the center of it all, but I am struggling with that right now.

Howard and I had a talk recently about prayer. In this discussion, I thought I was pretty solid, but Howard's questions brought up a lot of stuff. I could not answer ONE of his questions. I mean, what is the point? If God already has a plan that He is going to work out anyway, why pray? More than that though, we know we are supposed to pray, but feel like we must be missing something. I mean, how are we supposed to pray? What are we supposed to pray for? Are we ALWAYS supposed to pray for just God's will or are we supposed to give him specifics. He knows our hearts, so do we need to give specifics, does he really care about the specifics anyway?? I mean He is going to do what he is going to do anyway.

I know this all seems cynical. But it is where we are at right now. We wonder why some prayers get answered and some do not. Some people pray for healing and get it while others pray the same prayer and they do not. I know many of you might say, ALL prayers get answered. We just don't always get a yes, or we don't always see what God is doing. I get that, but it all seems kind of random. We prayed harder for Isaac and Asher than we have ever prayed. We developed a faith in Him that surpassed any faith we had known previously and our children died! He could have saved them. Yet he chose not to. They BOTH died anyway. That is a hard truth to swallow. It seems so unjust. I hate to sound like a whiner here, but we prayed, thousands prayed and our babies still died. We had faith. We trusted God, and yes He has pulled us through this far, but our children are dead. That is a fact.

I am not saying that I don't see the beauty in our story. I am not saying I don't understand why suffering happens. I am not saying why me. I get all of that. I know that NO one is exempt for suffering. I know this story we are living out is written by our creator. I know that none of this is a surprise to him, but why do we pray for healing when God is going to carry out His plan as He sees fit.

I often hear, "so and so was saved by the power of prayer." Really? I don't get it. Does our praying change the plan God had for a person?

I guess I am just at a place where I need to better understand what prayer is, what God wants us to use it for, and what is the point? I know that it is about our relationship with our savior and not just some request we are asking him to grant. It is not a wish list. I know that it is supposed to be something we do because He wants to know our hearts. But he does. He knows. I am not understanding where to go from here. I don't know what to pray for. I seem to have an easier time praying for others than I do myself, and I want to know how to pray for myself and my family again.

Any insight?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thank You For Your Prayers!

Just thought I would post an update on Ben. We are so thankful that so many of you were concerned and prayed on his behalf.

It was a rough night. We were up most of the night as Ben's fever spiked at 103.5 in the middle of the night and just to make things interesting Ben ALWAYS refuses medicine and will throw up if you force it. So, I ran and got some chewables thinking he might think it was a smartie or something, which he did and we finally got to sleep a bit, with a restless toddler between us.

Howard called off work this morning because we are trying to make it on one vehicle right now adn when I called the doctor he wanted to see him today. So we headed in to the doctor's this morning. His fever broke sometime early this morning and the vomitting has stopped. He has still been complaining of his eyes hurting, which was what was worrying me...as it turns out he as an ear infection and was misguided as to where the pain was! They did do a strep culture and the rapid culture came back negative and we are waiting on the other, but either way he should be covered because they put him on an antibiotic for the ear infection. He is in much better spirits today and is eating and playing which are things he did NOT do yesterday.

So I think he is over the hump...Luke on the other hand is now coming down with a fever...so we would love for you to pray for him if you would!

Thank you all!