Friday, February 29, 2008

A picture from his big brother Luke

How can you help us?

Venturing out...

I have begun venturing out into the world again and it is a strange thing...

I feel as though I must be completely transparent and when people look at me they must see my broken heart. We went to the mall this morning so that Howard and I could get something to wear for Sunday's service, we have BOTH grown :-) Howard had luck...I of course did not. My body is still in between and it is tough to find something comfortable yet appropriate. This added to the already difficult day I had been having. Asher's obituary was in the paper today and it somehow just made things feel so much more real and final. It is difficult to describe the emotion that comes over a mom as she reads her own child's obituary in the paper. I cried most of the morning.

We had tickets to go tonight to see Leeland and Casting Crowns. We had been looking forward to this concert for months and were debating whether or not we should attempt. I was so torn. I felt guilty for going as if I had no business doing anything fun when it has been less than a week since my son died, and yet I felt like it would be a great opportunity to spend time with my husband worshipping God. The trouble is, today I didn't really feel like worshipping God. I felt like going to bed and pulling the covers over my head and just hiding there all day.

I prayed about it and pondered the "right" decision. For those who know me, music is a huge part of my life and worship music especially. It also happens that those two bands have written several songs that have had great meaning to me on this journey. (Leeland - Carried to the Table and Casting Crowns, Love her like Jesus and Praise you in this Storm to name a few) As I prayed I was reminded of Job. A man who I have spent a lot of time reading about over the last few months. Job was a man of God and he had EVERYTHING stripped away from him and yet he never turned his back on God. This doesn't mean he liked God's plan for his life, but he submitted. I was reminded specifically of a time in Job's life that he worshipped God even though he didn't want to. He gritted his teeth and praised God even though he didn't feel like it.

So, we went. Our dear friends Brooke and Ryan kept our boys which was a huge blessing as we knew they would have fun and be well cared for. And we went...and I am so glad. I cannot even describe the peace that came over me when I through gritted teeth stood up and worshipped the God who gave Asher to me and also took him away. I praised God even in this storm and I have to say it was tough and at my very core I did not feel like it. But what took place in my heart tonight cannot be described in words. I thought I would just weep all night and I didn't I was able to rejoice in knowing that God is so much bigger than this. I rejoice for the love I now know because of Asher.

My heart is still broken and my body is still aching but for today I was able to feel peace and for that I am grateful. God's grace is truly sufficient.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No words for today...the pictures say it all.

Today I am lacking for words...(strange for me I know).

My heart is broken yet overflowing as I look through all of the wonderful pictures that were taken of our son. Friday was the most amazing day of my life. I feel that a lifetime of love was somehow crammed into 35 precious moments and I am eternally grateful that God allowed us that time. Our prayers have truly been answered and along every step God has put the exact right people in our paths, nurses, friends, family, etc. There are no words to thank everyone for their part in all of this and someday I will try but for today, the pictures say it all! Asher means happy and Joseph means God will increase. God has certainly increased our "Happy"ness!

And a little more...

Just wanting to share our boy...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Plunged into the Valley

I want to be able to write that I am at peace today. I want to say that I submit and accept God's good plan for my life. I want to affirm that my suffering will lead to giving God the glory he deserves.

I want to be able to do all of those things, but today, I cannot. This morning as I woke up I realized that my body was incredibly broken. My abdomen throbbing in pain from having Asher taken from me. As what seems like a cruel reminder of what could have been, my milk has come in and is causing incredible discomfort. With Isaac since I had already been pumping for him, I continued to do so and donated the milk to a Milk Bank for babies who needed it and allowed my body to gradually adjust to the change. I cannot bring myself to do that this time as I did not even have the opportunity to offer it to my own son.

Benjamin is unbearably clingy and just wants to be held and loved, yet I cannot lift him for an entire month. I am desperate to do something normal yet my physical discomfort prevents me from my daily "psycho cleaning" therapy. It all seems so cruel to me today.

Last night it dawned on Luke that Asher did not come home. He had some questions and we answered honestly and openly. He was wonderful. He cried yet understood at a level I never imagined. As a true child his first question was, "Well, what about those toys people got for Asher, he can't have them. Who should have those?" He had his eye on this little lamb that played "Jesus Loves Me." I told him I thought Asher would want him to have that one to keep in his room if he wanted it. He said he would ask him when he prayed that night. :-) That made me smile.

This morning as I was crying, Luke came to me and asked if I was missing Asher. I told him I was. He continued to comfort me and bring me a tissue. He said, "Well, Mom it is okay to miss him, but you know he is still with us in our hearts." What wisdom coming from a four year old. It did my heart good to see how much Luke truly understood.

It seems so strange to me that as I sit here, my world seemingly paused in grief that the rest of the world is going on as usual without Asher. It is as though I feel that the entire world should stop turning because mine has. I should be sitting here exhausted from being up all night nursing my son and insted I sit here exhausted from grief and physical pain.

We have gotten many messages of love and support and yet no words comfort me. I don't want to be told how strong I am or that I have "an angel". I know that Asher is with God, not an angel, but with God and I am so thankful that if I cannot be with my him, God is and I know that He is the only one who could love him the way I do.

It is weird, I do feel angry but not really with God. I don't believe this is from God. I believe that these circumstances and this suffering is just a consequence of living in a fallen world. There is suffering all around us. Defective genes are a product of living in a fallen world. That said, I also believe that God did choose us to be Asher's parents. I believe he was an amazing gift and he truly did bring "Happyness" to everyone. I miss him though, I miss being pregnant with him and feeling him move. He brought so much love to this earth and I just long to snuggle him one last time.

So, we are okay and we know God will hold on to us through all of this but we also need to grieve and grieving is exhausting hard work. That is where we are at right now. We are deep in a valley, but we know that God promises we won't be here forever. Though we will always miss our sons in Heaven, a day will come when I don't cry the larger part of the day, but that day is not today and likely won't be tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Celebration of Life Services

We will be celebrating the life of our precious son Asher next weekend. Here are the details:

Sunday, March 2, 2008
3:00 P.M.
McLane Church
12511 Edinboro Road
Edinboro, PA 16412

We would love to have you join us in celebration of the precious gift given to us by our Heavenly Father.


Here are just a couple of my favorites. We have many, this is just a taste :-) He was amazing! He did have reddish hair like Benjamin! We will post more later.

We certainly received our miracle.

First let me say thank you so much for your faithful prayer as we have traveled this journey. I hope that you will continue to pray as it is far from being over. As you all know we welcomed Asher Joseph Bolte into the world on February 22nd. He weighed 4lb 1oz and was 16 inches long. He was perfect! We were able to have 35 precious minutes with him and they were 35 of the most amazing moments of my life. This is certainly not a path I would have chosen for myself but I have to say that February 22nd is a day in which I felt more love than I have ever felt in my entire life. Asher blessed this earth with more love than I had ever hoped to feel.

It seemed that nothing went as planned for us and Thursday night I was incredibly frustrated. I can see however looking back that God's hand was in this EVERY step of the way. I was anxious for the sonogram appointment and irritated that we had to go yet again to the hospital, but as we all know, God's timing is perfect and had we not done these things all signs point to the fact that we would have lost Asher over the weekend before birth due to a deteriorating umbilical cord and increased fluid. His heart was gradually slowing down.

We prayed that all of our decisions would be made clear and they certainly were. I have not one regret. Asher was cared for by wonderful doctors and nurses. We were especially blessed to have the amazing nurse I spoke of earlier. Having her there during delivery made me so much more at ease in such a difficult situation. I cannot even express with words what it meant that she cared for our little guy. I trusted her completely.

We were completely enveloped and surrounded in the most amazing love of God shown through all of the people who shared Asher's life with us. I could not have asked for things to go more perfectly. I am certain that Asher felt nothing but love in his short time here on earth and though my heart is aching now that I am home without him, I know he is in the arms of his Heavenly Father and he will never have to know the pain of living on earth.

I first must say that Asher was the blessing that God promised and he brought an amazing grace and love to this earth. I know that God has a plan and I fully trust that he is working his plan for good in our lives. I also must say though that leaving the hospital today empty handed and broken hearted yet again leaves me crushed. I do know God has a plan but I certainly don't like it much right now. He gave us such and amazing gift and I am thankful for the time He gave us but somehow it wasn't enough. My arms ache to hold him again and my body aches from having him ripped away from me. Please continue to pray for our family as we try to grieve our precious Asher and continue to lean on our Heavenly Father!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thank you to everyone who has been reading and praying. Again, I don't know the words....Kristy and Howard had a little more than a half an hour with Asher and it seems to us that they were able to have their time with him go the way that they wanted it to go- everyone at the hospital went out of their way to make things right, many people got to hold Asher and love him. Ben and Luke are at home being well cared for by two great people and Ben seems to be feeling better. I know that Kristy and Howard appreciate all of your prayers and support.

Welcome to the world Asher!

Baby Asher (Asher means happy in Hebrew) was born around 2:30pm. He weighs 4.1oz and has an awesome little nose- and amazing feet with really long toes- which Kristy says all of her boys have had. He has been held and loved up by many family and friends. We are all so thankful for Kristy and Howard letting us meet him! Luke and Ben have spent some time with him as well. Kenny Sturm has been there the whole time taking many pictures that I believe Kristy will post so that you all can check him out. The c section went well. Right now he is here, with his family, being loved and held. That is all I can tell you for now. Please pray for family and friends - for all of us who love the whole Bolte gang, to be able to accept God's plan in this. I have been printing your comments and will continue to do so and will give these to Kristy and Howard. Again, please forgive me for not having the words.... I can say that he is incredible and that he has has been born into a wonderful family and is being showered with tons of love.
Please forgive me- I don't have the right words to say- so will just tell you what I have heard from my husband who is at the hospital. They have done more tests today and the results showed that Happy is not doing well. They will be doing the c section at 2pm today. From what I have heard they have not been given much hope that they will have a lot of time with Happy after he is born. However, these are doctors, and they seem to give the "worst case scenerio" most of the time. Pray for time with Happy and Luke and Ben going in to meet their brother. I don't know what else to ask you to pray for. I do know that God knows what they need and that He knows what we are asking for even when we don't know. I will let you know when I hear more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday's sonogram

Kristy asked me to let everyone know that she is back in the hospital. The sonogram today indicated that she would need to deliver now rather than wait until Monday. As of right now they will do the c section tomorrow morning. They are doing another sonogram at 9pm. The results of that may cause them to move the delivery up to tonight. I don't have lots of details. I know that the boys are at home with good friends and will be throughout the night. Ben is still not feeling well. So we will pray for them and their caregivers as well as how and when they will meet Happy and all that goes with that meeting. You all know what Kristy has asked us to pray for, and are doing just that. God knows what they need now and will need. We will keep asking Him to provide for their needs through His power. I will let you know as soon as I hear anything new.


It has been quite a day thus far. Ben was of course sick and so he slept with us last night, which basically means I didn't sleep. This morning his fever is much better but he is still so cranky and clingy. He will NOT let me put him down! I thought I was going to have a breakdown earlier, I needed to get a shower, get a few chores done and care for the kids and Ben would not let me do anything but hold him. Finally I just gave up and sat with him and he fell asleep. He is sleeping now...I transferred him to his bed successfully! Hopefully some additional rest will help him recover faster. Just as I layed him down our phone rang.

This phone call was one of the biggest blessings to me! It was the NICU nurse who was on duty the day Isaac died. She was so kind and so much wiser than us. She knew what we needed to do to enjoy our last moments with our son and I am forever grateful to her. She had found out at the hospital yesterday what was going on with us and was calling to see if we wanted her there on Monday! Can you believe that! The thought had crossed my mind hoping that she would be there, but she is going to go out of her way to be there with us. What an amazing lady! She will never know how much she has touched our lives.

At this point, I have fed Luke lunch, picked up toys, showered and am working on laundry so I am feeling better about life for the moment. My next chore is to sweep the floors. Dirty floors are one of my biggest pet peeves! Then I will be getting ready to head in to the doctor's office for my sonogram...

PLEASE PLEASE pray that the sonogram looks good and that we get sent right home! I am struggling with knowing this is all going to happen Monday but I know that God has it under control. I am just praying he will grant me these last few days with Happy. My appointment is at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well, after I posted this morning I tried to get a few things done and answer a few phone calls. I went to the living room to play with the boys for a while and Ben was just laying on his little sofa. I picked him up and took his temp again and it was 104! He was completely lethargic. I called the doctor and could not get ahold of him so I took Ben to the ER just to be safe. I am one of those moms. I run them to the doctor often because I would just rather be safe.

So Ben and I spent the entire afternoon in the ER to find out he has a virus and there isn't much we can do for him. His temp peaked at 105. He has been held all day. Howard is sleeping with him now. So, he could really use your prayers. His fever is down a bit but still has not broken. Please pray that he bounces back soon and that I have the stamina to be all that he needs. I am so tired right now. This has been my first break.

Thank you Chris for dinner last night, especially the Cadbury Mini Eggs Dark Chocolate!

Thank you Missy for tonight's dinner it was also great especially the Dove Ice cream! You guys really know me! That ice cream is how I am currently unwinding!

Please pray for Ben and for us tomorrow as we head in for another biophysical profile to check on Happy's well being. We are praying things still look pretty good and that we will be home immediately following...we don't want another hospital visit until Monday!

Thank you all for being faithful in prayer! We love you!

God, please give me wisdom...

I am struggling a lot today. When everything happened on Monday it was almost as though I slipped into autopilot. I just nodded my head and let everyone poke and prod without much emotion or expression. I could feel myself zoning out but it was almost like a coping mechanism. The world was going much faster than my mind could process and so I basically shut down. I can remember this happening when Isaac was born also.

Today I am trying to take the time and process all of what is happening. Sometimes it all seems so surreal. Almost like I am just a bystander in my own life, watching from the bleachers. I am feeling so confused and frustrated right now. It seems that many times when I pray, God answers with the opposite answer. It was tough enough knowing that our baby was going to have such significant health issues, but now prematurity on top of that. My due date is not until April 6th so I was assuming he would likely come mid March but I never anticipated February. I feel cheated out of time. I remember with my c section with Isaac, feeling that he had literally been RIPPED away from me unexpectedly and I am feeling that same feeling now. I am not ready for this. But I guess God has a different idea.

I know that God's timing is perfect and I am praying that he continues to keep his mighty hand on all of this but I cannot help but question him. All of this said, my biggest prayer today is that God will give me the wisdom and courage not to waste all of what I have been given. I do still have a few days left to carry this precious boy and am very excited to meet him. I want to make the most of my time with him and not waste it being angry. This is something I am going to need God's help with though! Because I am angry and hurt and confused. I want to celebrate Happy's life and use these remaining days to prepare and enjoy being pregnant with him for just a little while longer. I mean, I don't even know if I will EVER be pregnant again...which is so hard to imagine.

I also am praying for Luke and Ben today. We have not told Luke yet about any of this. We felt we did not have enough solid information to tell him ahead of time and we didn't want to scare him. He is so looking forward to bringing his new baby brother home. He is preparing his room so that Ben can move in with him and everything. I am praying that God will give us the words and the widsom to explain all of this to Luke in a way that he can begin to understand and not be scared. He still speaks of Isaac with such love, yet will still cry at times because he wants his brother here with him. It is heartbreaking!

So my prayers today are for wisdom...wisdom not to waste even a moment of this experience with bitterness, wisdom to prepare our boys.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So many questions and one answered prayer...

Hi Everyone!

I would like to begin by explaining what happened yesterday and then will give you all the updates! Thank you to my dear friend Julie for giving the update last night.

I went in yesterday at 12:30 as scheduled and had the NST. This took FOREVER because Happy was so active he kept moving and it wasn't always picking up his heartrate! But about an hour or so later we met with the doctor who thought things looked fine. Then we headed to ultrasound. She was not able to get a clear view of his head because it was in my ribs. He was breech. We got a few cute pictures of his face though I will post them later. She went on to do all of the measurements and assessments needed and asked us to sit in the waiting room, she needed to talk to the doctor...WE HAVE HEARD THAT BEFORE! We knew something was up. She came back and all she said was to head across the road to labor and delivery and the doctor would be waiting for us there.

So, like a nightmare that was reocurring we walked across the street. (this is exactly what happened with Isaac) When we got up there the doctor was on the phone so the nurses got me into a room and I got into a gown and they began monitoring the baby. The doctor came in and explained that the sonogram showed fluid on the baby's lungs and that the umbilical cord was not allowing the blood to flow as easily as it should. He was concerned about Happy's well being. So he said we would do IV fluids and repeat the scan in an hour and go from there.

An hour later they repeated the scan and found much of the same. So the OB came back in and explained that it didn't look good and that we would be staying overnight. He said that the baby could be in danger and that we would repeat the scan in the morning. If the results were worse we would deliver the baby right then. If they were the same we could stay in the hospital to be monitored for a week and then deliver or we could just deliver in the morning.

This gave us much to think about. We really want to maximize any time we have with Happy and I don't want to see him under stress in the womb. Yet they thought by giving him another week, his lungs may at least be mature. I was totally not ready for any of this. I figured he would come early but not this early.

Then the neonatologist came in to ask the tough questions. He needed to know if when Happy was born we wanted a chest tube inserted to drain the fluid on his lungs. This is what they would do for a normal healthy baby, but he explained that it is a painful procedure and he did not think it would change the outcome in Happy's case. He was very kind and compassionate but also told us if it were his child he would not go to extreme measures. He also was concerned that with the prematurity coming into play that a respirator may be needed. This was another thing to consider because about half of babies born at this point need one. However, if we chose to put him on the respirator, it would likely keep him alive, though his lack of brain development would probably cause him to be brain dead. If we did the chest tube or the ventilator, we would not be able to hold him and the doctors are quite certain his microcephaly is severe enough that he will not survive anyhow.

WHOA! I know...decisions no parent should ever have to contemplate. After discussing it with the doctors and nurses we decided that when Happy comes, we will provide comfort care to be sure he doesn't suffer, but we will not use heroic measures. If God is going to heal him, he doesn't need a chest tube to do it. We want to hold him and love him for the time we have him. This is also what we chose for Isaac and we are pretty much at peace with those decisions. We are not giving up, but we are also not going to try to fight God if his plan is to take him.

We prayed for God to help us to know what to do.

An answered prayer!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We tried to rest for the evening mostly unsuccessfully and this morning at 7 I had another Ultrasound. This ultrasound actually went well! At about 8 the doctor came in and said that we could go home! We were stunned! This was never even an option prior to this. She said that the ultrasound went well and that the cord looked better! We could go home and we would schedule a c section for Monday, February 25, this would give his lungs a chance to develop a little more and in her words at least give him a "fighting chance" She said that he appears to be doing well and we will monitor him again on Thursday, but this was good news. She said that these extra days could mean more time with him, and who knows?? "doctors are not God" those were her exact words!

So our decision was made. Monday it is. I am still not nearly ready for this and am struggling immensely with all of it, but this was an answered prayer and we know that God's timing is perfect so he WILL work all of this out for our good.

I have nothing more profound to say right now as it all still seems a little surreal and I am having difficulty wrapping my mind around it. Those are the facts and we will continue to pray and trust God with the life He perfectly created.

Thank you all so much for your continued support and prayer. I will keep you updated as we process all of this and begin to prepare for Monday!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Night

The appointment today turned out to be much more difficult than expected. Kristy and Howard are at the hospital becuase the sonogram showed fluid on Happy's lungs and that his umbilical cord is elevated. This means that they will be having another sonogram tomorrow and will then need to decided how to proceede. This, of course, is not how they planned the day to go. Some things to pray for- a clear decision on whether to have a c-section tomorrow or stay in the hospital and wait, many decisions on how to care for Happy once he is here, for them as they face each of these decisions, for their time with Happy once he comes, for the boys at home ( they are both somewhat under the weather), and for Kristy being away from them when they are not feeling 100%. I don't have many details to share, nor do I feel that I know exactly how to share them. I do know Kristy appreciates not having to tell this over and over. I do know that they both are thankful for your prayers.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prayer Requests:

Tomorow is our first of our weekly crazy doctor appointments. Tomorrow at 12:30 I will be having a non stress test to be sure that the baby is still doing well. I will be hooked up to heart rate and contraction monitors and they will monitor the baby's well being. I then will be having a sonogram to determine the baby's position to help us decide how to go forward with birth and they will also be taking measurments in this sonogram to determine if there has been any growth or change. Then we will be meeting with the doctor to discuss all of this.

Please pray that the baby is doing and continues to do well in the womb as we would like him to stay put for a few more weeks.

We are still not giving up on him, so please continue praying for growth and brain development as well as growth and development as a whole.

Please pray that God will give us wisdom in knowing what decisions to make about method of delivery.

Benjamin is again going through a really clingy time since he has been left with others lately. Please pray that he and Luke adjust well to this new weekly doctor appointment and spending time with family and friends who also love them.

Please continue to pray that happy stays put for a few more weeks, we do not need to deal with prematurity on top of any other health issues he may have.

Please pray for us to have peace as we continue on this journey.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayer and support. It is great to know we have so many people petitioning God on our behalf! We know our prayers will be answered!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Scattered Thoughts...

Howard and I always joke about how God must have a sense of humor because Howard and I both enjoy sleep very much and yet our children do not! I have always thought that it has been God's way of preparing me for motherhood that in the few weeks before giving birth I wake up at 5 or so and cannot get back to sleep. I can't even lie still. I HAVE to do laundry or dishes or some other household chore. Which explains why I am writing this entry at 6:30 in the morning.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I got to go get my hair cut and highlighted which made me feel so much better! Then I called Howard to tell him I was on my way home and he told me to go ahead and go shopping for a while. What a husband! So I got some alone time. I had contractions off and on all day yesterday though and so my thoughts were constantly on Happy, praying for him to just stay put a few more weeks. I am actually still having them this morning, but nothing regular so please pray that he stays in there. It is still much too early for him and I am not ready yet.

Today we have a wedding reception to go to, I have been looking forward to this all week. I am sure it will be a lot of fun. It has gotten me thinking though about the GREATEST gift God has given me. My children of course go without saying but I have been reminded lately of how blessed I have been by my husband! I cannot even put into words how thankful I am to God for sending Howard to me. He is my best friend and the true love of my life and when I think of my life before him and the person I was then compared to the person I am now I am in awe. Before knowing Howard I believed in God and tried to be a "pretty good person" but Howard has truly taught me what it means to have a relationship with God. I know it is cliche but he makes me want to be a better person. I have never known a person like Howard and feel so incredibly blessed that God sent him to me! Our boys are so blessed to have him as their dad!

I wish I had something really profound to tell you all today...just a few random thoughts I wanted to get down. I still struggle daily with all of this. I am trying to understand something that seems so unfathomable. I am desperate to keep my baby safely tucked inside my womb for a few more weeks and I am apprehensive as we head into doctor appointments on Monday. Please continue to pray for all of us! As I was coming home last night, I was playing Natalie Grant and this song came on and reminded me that I just have to give it all to him...the worry, the fear, the doubt. I have been so blessed by Natalie Grant's music and this song especially. I am trying to add it to my playlist at the bottom of the blog, but the website is down right now, so hopefully later! Thank you all for your continued prayer!

In Better Hands Now
Natalie Grant
It's hard to stand on shifting sand
It's hard to shine in the shadows of the night
You can't be free if you don't reach for help
You cant love if you dont love yourself
There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I'm in better hands now
It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there's no doubt
I'm in better hands now
I am strong all because of you
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move
Oh I am changed, yesterday is gone
I am safe from this moment on
There's no fear when the night comes 'round
I'm in better hands now
It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there's no doubt
I'm in better hands now
It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
Its like the world is silent though I know it isnt true
Its like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room
So take this heart of mine there's no doubt
I'm in better hands nowI'm in better hands now

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well it has been busy day to say the least! This morning some friends came over and our children all had a great time playing together and making art projects. Fun was had by all!

When Howard got home we had to take Benjamin to an appointment with Dr. Schober our pediatric urologist. Ben had to have surgery to correct a minor defect of his urinary tract in July and there seems to be a slight complication. She checked him out and he is going to need another "small surgery". This small surgery still requires general anesthesia so not so small in my opinion but she is wonderful and I know she will take great care of him. It is always something.

I cannot say enough about this doctor! She is so wonderful with the kids! I asked when we would be scheduling surgery and she said whenever worked for us. I explained to her in "Cliffs Notes" form our situation right now and she was SO compassionate. I feel so blessed by her! She said she would be praying for us (which is also not standard for doctors) and that we need to keep in mind that doctors can be wrong. She went out of her way to schedule the surgery for Ben ASAP since she will be headed to Oxford next month. She teaches there and travels around the world. She is actually a well known expert in the pediatric urology field. We are very blessed to have her in our area. She scheduled Ben for Friday, February 29th. This is tough for me but it has to be done before potty training. So I thought it best to get it out of the way now. I was just overwhelmed by her compassion and faith that shone through. She is SO not your typical doctor! I have met many great doctors but she stands out among them as an incredible human being also! I felt uplifted after talking with her not only as a doctor but also a Mom!

We then headed to Chuck E. Cheese for our annual Valentine's Dinner Date! We had so much fun! The boys enjoyed each and every moment and were wonderful! We all had a great time! It was fun to spend that time as a family watching the boys enjoy themselves so much! Howard and I enjoy the games too!

Now we are all preparing for bed. Everyone had a great day but is thoroughly exhausted so hopefully we will all get a good night's rest. I have begun the crazy pregnancy get up at 5 a.m. because I just can't sleep anymore and the laundry is calling my name :-) I get this way toward the end of each pregnancy. I want everything DONE every day, just in case!

I will be posting a prayer request list this weekend as we have a BIG appointment and sonogram on Monday that will tell us how we will deliver and if there has been any further development. I am just too tired to think about that right now.

God's grace is sufficient!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A glimmer of hope...

I just got off of the phone with our doctor from Pittsburgh. As I have stated we do really trust and respect him and he was calling to update us on basically nothing....

He explained that they thought they had a good idea for a diagnosis but after I sent him the photos they came up with basically nothing. They really don't know right now but they are still trying to find a diagnosis. His only question for me was if we were quite certain this baby was male and I explained that it had been checked several times and we were quite certain. He said there are a few things that it could be that would only be transmitted to a male child.

He went on to say that he sees no reason why we shouldn't deliver here in Erie with our regular doctors. He was confident that the NICU here should be able to provide for any needs we would have immediately. He said he would call our doctors next week and be sure they were prepared and comfortable with everything.

Before we ended the conversation he said he just didn't want me to think he forgot about us and that he is trying very hard to find answers. He said that we of course are hoping for a better outcome this time, though things look remarkably similar to Isaac. This is the first time a doctor has even used the word hope with us. I know it isn't much but it has lifted my spirits just a bit!

Forging on....

As I have admitted, some days it is difficult for me to even function. Part of me wants to stay in bed and stay just where I am and avoid moving forward. As I have been reading in my Bible I am reminded that we are called to "walk by faith" Often times we come to a place in the road where there is a giant roadblock, an enormous tree has fallen across our path and we have a choice. We can stand there and wait for God to move the roadblock, or we can forge on ahead despite the difficulty maneuvering around the roadblock. We expect to see these barriers removed from before us so that we may continue on. It seems to me that this is not necessarily walking by faith. Sometimes God does move mountains and make our paths clear, yet often times he doesn't. Walking by faith means we forge on ahead as if there were no obstacle at all.

Sometimes my obstacle seems so much bigger than I can physically handle, and yet I will continue onward walking by faith and not by sight. This is not to say that I will not stumble but it is my intention to keep on going. It can be so frustrating when God doesn't move those barriers for us, and yet I have to trust that God in His infinite wisdom is able to see the picture more clearly than my limited vision will allow.

God is answering our prayers one by one. I have heard it said that "God is seldom early, but He is NEVER late." I am relying on this. So I believe he is making our path straight but allowing some obstacles to stand in our way to encourage us to strengthen our faith.

It is hard to explain but though I have had more frustration and anger with God than ever before, I continue to grow closer to Him. That is not to say that I like what is going on right now. I still struggle very much to understand, but He is teaching me so much. Just like our earthly parents, we can get mad at them and be frustrated when we don't get what we want, but our love for them will only grow deeper as we see and learn how they are preparing us for what is ahead.

Please continue to pray for Happy and for our family!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An answered prayer!

Well, I just got off the phone with the doctors office and they were able to reschedule us to better suit our needs and still give Happy the attention he needs! Since we were already at the doctor this week, they let me schedule the NonStress Test, Sonogram and doctor appointment for Monday when Howard is off all day! This means he won't have to take off early from work this week or next week! That is a huge blessing! And even better, we get to see MY doctor! YEA! So thank you God for this answered prayer!

Please continue praying! God is listening and he is answering our prayers one by one!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doctor's Appointment....

Today we had a "routine" prenatal visit, I was surprised that we were not seeing my regular doctor, but we saw the doctor who actuall delivered Isaac. She was very kind and compassionate. Actually when we first arrived she moved us to another room because the woman next door to the room we were in had just gotten news that her baby had an "anomaly which was incompatible with life" So the doctor moved us so the woman would not hear the sound of our baby's heartbeat through the wall while she was processing her own loss. My heart broke for that woman and I pray that regardless of the prognosis she realizes how important that baby's life is and she chooses to allow God to take the reigns.

I had voiced concern that we hadn't had a sonogram in over a month and I was very curious about this little guy's position and if there had been any additional growth. So, the Doctor quickly wrote orders for ultrasounds. As I went to make my appointments I was informed that now the doctor wants to see me weekly for an appointment, Non Stress Test and Sonogram! AAAAAAAAAHHHHH! ONCE A WEEK! This means the appointments would begin every Tuesday at 3 and go until 5 and not one of those appointments were with MY doctor! They also want an additional sonogram this Thursday! I am frustrated by this because Howard cannot afford to take additional time off and it is impossible for him to be in Erie at 3 when he works until 3:15. I also do not see not having him there with me as an option. This puts us in a predicament. We want to do what is best for Happy, but are all these appointments necessary? I am going to call the office tomorrow and try to speak with MY doctor and see what he thinks. Please pray for us on this as we want to do what is best for our baby, but also for our family! The thought of all of these doctor appointments already has me stressed out!

Keep praying for a miracle!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A look at "Good Grief"

Well, I wish I could write that I have miraculously become completely at peace with the universe and that my heart is hurting less, but that is not the case. I have however begun to try and figure some things out.

Lately I have been struggling so hard to stay postive yet be realistic. How do you hope for the best and prepare for the worst? You see, I believe that God could heal our little guy. There is always a chance that that could happen. God has a great track record of performing miracles. In my experience however that has not been the case. When we went through everything with Isaac there were so many things that I would do differently if I could because I was just in shock. I am not sure if God plans to heal Happy or not. I want to have hope yet I want to be more prepared to enjoy every moment with him should his time be brief. I want to make sure his grandparents hold him, his brothers meet him, his friends and family meet him and we get some pictures of him.

I want to bring glory to God through our circumstance. I want to honor the gift God has given us no matter what the outcome. I want to celebrate Happy's life regardless of it's length. I know that God is sending us this child because he is perfect for us and we are perfect for him. I also believe that there is something so much bigger than what we see going on here. I want to be able to put a positive spin on all of this and rest in knowing that God will hold us through it all.

I have been so focused on trying to be positive, and faithful and upbeat that I have neglected an important part of the process. GRIEF. I have not really allowed myself to grieve at all. I have been trying so hard to stay strong for everyone else I have not really allowed myself to mentally grasp what is going on here.

Today was interesting to me because when we woke up it was so cold and snow was blowing and we debated not going to church. But, we decided we did not know what to do with a Sunday morning without church so we left a little early and forged on. The message today was pretty appropriate for me. It was entitled Good Grief. Kind of an oxymoron, but Bill pointed out that often times God uses oxymorons to teach us to look below the surface of the two seemingly contradictory words. The Bible teaches us that grief is necessary. Jesus wept and so should we. Matthew 5:4 says: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." This was a passage used in today's sermon. It was kind of funny because when we came home I had looked in a book that I pick up each day, called Daily Blessings by Max Lucado and this VERY verse was the verse for the day in that book as well. So as God is telling me to Be Still, he is also telling me that it is okay to mourn and be sad.

I am beginning to realize it isn't a one or the other kind of thing. I had been thinking that if I was giving in to my human feelings that I was not going to be able to bring Glory to God! It is okay and actually necessary to be hurt and broken by loss. And while I am not yet grieving the loss of Happy, and I pray I won't have to, I am grieving the loss of so many other things. Last month marked 20 years since my Mom died, I am grieving that loss still because I do not have a mother to help me through parenting and pregnancy dilemmas. I am grieving the loss of our amazing son Isaac, each day brings loss as I realize I not only lost a son, but also my dreams for him. I will never see him run with his brothers or witness him growing this side of heaven. And I am also grieving the loss of a joyous "normal" pregnancy. You see for me, pregnancy is now different for me. It has lost it's innocence and niaveity. I am so aware of the shortcomings and pain in this fallen world that it pains me. I look around sometimes and am astounded at all of the pain, suffereing and injustice in this world.

I am beginning to learn that it is okay to mourn those losses. But while we mourn, we get to make a choice. We choose whether our mourning will bring life or death. And though I am hurting and broken, I CHOOSE LIFE! So as I mourn and throw my tantrum I know that through it all God will comfort me!

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Good Gifts"

"You parents - if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?" Matthew7:9-11

Recently we purchased a Rob Bell DVD entitled Kickball...if you have not had the opportunity to listen to Rob Bell, I highly recommend him. In this DVD he shares a story about his young son who in a trip to the mall spies a toy that he MUST have. He begs and he pleads for this toy, while his parents insist that he doesn't need it, it will break, it will tangle, it could hurt him. But the boy protests! He gets carried out of the mall despite his bold protests. Once he settles down, his parents then take him to the sporting goods store to get him a kickball which was part of the original plan of the trip and proudly he picks an orange kickball and is happier with that kickball than he ever would have been with the junk toy he wanted at the mall.

Rob Bell goes on to describe how we are often like a young child in this respect. We know what gifts we want and yet sometimes God chooses different ones for us. We want the toy in the mall and yet our Father is much more wise than we are and so he does risk disappointing us by telling us no or refusing to give that toy. He refuses not because he doesn't love us but because in His wisdom He can see the bigger picture. So he gives us something way better than we could ever have imagined.

Sounds great doesn't it?? I do believe that God gives us good gifts, but right now I feel like I am playing the role of the tantrum throwing toddler! How could anything possibly be better than having a healthy baby next month? I know that my views are so limited and my human mind cannot grasp the enitire picture no matter how I try. But for now, I am kicking and screaming and having a tantrum! I want my son! I want him to be born healthy and I want to bring him home to a family who loves him more than he could ever imagine. I want to play referee between three boys instead of two. Ideally I think I should be playing referee to four boys!

So, I want to thank you all for reading, for praying and for all of your kind words. Please know that in my head I know that what God has in store is going to be amazing! Thank you for also allowing me this time now to have my tantrums. My heart just isn't matching up with my head these days! My heart is aching for Isaac and terrified that I may also lose Happy and it is more than I can bear. So though I know whatever God has in store will be for my greater good, I am going to continue to beg and plead for a miracle for Happy!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Going through the motions...

I wish I could write today and say that I feel better than yesterday. I am not weeping at the moment, but I am just kind of going through the motions.

Last night Howard took us to the Olive Garden (we had a gift card and it is a favorite restaurant of ours). We had a really great dinner. It was the first time I had left the house since Church on Saturday so it was good to get out. I haven't been feeling physically so great lately so I was just hoping that the food would settle. I have been getting terrible heartburn...maybe Happy has hair like Isaac! After dinner we went to Sams Club because there were a few things we needed to pick up there. I found a bulk bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs which for those of you who know my love for those chocolatey bites of heaven, was quite a blessing! Food certainly doesn't make things better, but it is great to indulge once in a while!

We came home and put the boys to bed and Howard watched college basketball while I went to bed and watched two of my favorite shows...The Daily Show and The Colbert Report! Colbert was particularly hilarious last night! It was good to laugh a little.

This morning as I sit here I still feel worn out from everything! I guess with time winding down, and remembering our journey with Isaac, the reality of everything is hitting me pretty hard. I so love being pregnant, and I really don't want it to end. I remember coming home from the hospital after having Isaac feeling so empty. Physially empty, emotionally empty with empty aching arms. The c section made it even worse...I felt like Isaac had basically been ripped away from me on a moment's notice and left me feeling hollow and angry.

I thought I had dealt well with most of that. I feel that Isaac's life had great meaning and was an amazing gift to us and through the pain, IN TIME, I was able to see how many great and amazing things came from Isaac's short life. I took comfort in knowing that we would be together again someday and that God was in control. I had learned so much from our little Isaac! He was such a blessing.

As I sit and reflect on that I know that I am so thankful still that God chose and trusted Howard and I to be the parents of such a special guy!

That said, if I am being honest, I cannot help but wonder what lesson I failed to learn through our first experience that would cause God to make us go through this again. I am honestly not sure my heart can take it. I long to hold this baby boy and yet I am hoping he stays safely inside my body for as long as humanly possible! I am so conflicted.

I know that God is telling me to be still and just trust in Him. I know he will make sure that we are cared for and come through this victoriously. I know that this is far from over and a miracle is certainly not out of the question. BUT my heart is hurting so much now, I am longing to see God intervene. I feel like most days I go through the day without REALLY taking a breath. Breathing shallow just to get through the day. I try so hard to breathe deaply and yet I gasp.

I am praising God and praying though I admit that sometimes it is through gritted teeth! I know he is in control but I certainly do not like what is happening. I know that good things are to come but I could really use a little reprive!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A wave of grief has hit...

Today for some reason has been an excruciating day. I feel like I am suffocating. The morning started as all others...I got up with Ben, threw in a load of laundry, snuggled with Ben until Luke got up and then made them breakfast. While they were eating I checked email. I then got the kids dressed and we went about our day. Around lunchtime though I just began to feel different. You see, for the most part, I appear to be pretty strong and at peace about all of this. Truly, I am not. I looked at the pictures of Isaac hanging in the living room and it all began to flood back to me. The anguish of watching him struggle in the hospital, the difficulty of deciding whether we stay at the NICU with Isaac or go home and see Luke, explaining all of this to Luke who was awaiting a baby brother, and worst of all going home on that July day empty handed.

So many people, meaning well tell you that the pain goes away or subsides. I beg to differ. When I think back the pain is just as sharp and real today as it was two years ago. I will never forget the physical ache of sitting at home without a baby to hold. I still ache to hold Isaac just one more time! Most days I am able to try and shove this anguish somewhere else and consume myself with my day, but today it fought it's way to the forefront. I got the boys lunch and went to my room and just began to sob. I can feel Happy moving inside of me and while I cannot wait to see him, it seems that time is passing me by WAY too fast. I am already almost 33 weeks pregnant. 37 weeks is the farthest I have gone into a pregnancy. Luke was born at 35. This means Happy is due to make his arrival somewhere between two and seven weeks from now! Likely closer to 4. For the first time I actually got on my knees and wept in my room. I began pleading with God not to allow me to go through this again. My heart just cannot handle it. I begged God to save our son and to save us from the pain of losing another one of our children. I hadn't really done this before. I pray all the time for God to heal him, but today was different. It was raw and painful. I just cannot begin to fathom why God would want us to suffer in such a way again!

I feel somewhat like I am having a break down! I got myself together and went to clean up lunch. I got Ben ready for his nap and usually I read him a story and just put him in bed. I could not put him down today. I rocked and held him for as long as he would allow. Of course he then decided it was time to go to bed and pointed to his crib and asked for his blanket :-) which most times is awesome that he wants to go to sleep on his own, but today I just wanted to hold him in my aching arms.

I sit here trying very hard to make sense of all of this. It certainly not that I am losing faith in God. I am just so consumed with hurt. To go through nine months of pregnancy and then have your baby taken from you is the most undescribable pain I can imagine. The thought of possibly having to do all of this again almost makes my heart stop beating. It is like an elephant is sitting on my heart and crushing it more and more.

I know that feelings like this are normal, and actually probably more healthy than to go on pretending everything is ok and normal, and I know that these waves will come and go as time goes on. It seems as though not only am I terrified of where this pregnancy and Happy's birth may take me but I am also grieving the loss of Isaac all over again and it is more than I can bear!

So, I am asking that you all continue to pray for a miracle but also for my heart and the hearts of my family. This is such a difficult road to walk and sometimes it seems completely unbearable. In the next week or so we will have so many decisions to make and planning to do. Many of the discussions we will be having will be relatively easy, but others will be discussions NO parent should have to have, so please also pray for this. Some of the upcoming decisions we will be thinking about are:

-c section or natural birth - Though I would prefer natural, if it will be too hard on Happy's body, I wan to make the choice that will maximize our time with him and cause him the least stress.

- where to give birth - Erie or Pittsburgh

- who will care for our boys, considering who will bring them to the hospital immediately and often and will provide the smallest amount of upset in their lives

- How much time Howard will take off from work

- what measures we want doctors to take to keep Happy alive should there prove to be problems

- What things are important for us to plan for his birth and arrival as well as things we will need in the hospital

Like I said these are just a few of the things we are thinking about right now...there will be many more decisions to come so please keep us in prayer as we prepare to weather the storm if necessary, though we are hoping it won't be necessary! Thank you all for your continued support and love! I think I need a nap! :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

For the record....

I have gotten many questions now about our baby's name...Happy.

I will try and explain as best I can....

Howard and I learned our lesson with Luke that it is likely not best to share the name of your new baby with family and friends until it is said and done. We had every intention of naming Luke, Noah, but my dad knew a woman named Noah many years ago and not only did he think it was a girl name, he also did not have fond memories of that Noah so he protested! We tried explaining to him that Noah was certainly not a girly name and referenced "you know Noah, the guy who built the boat." But the name Noah was ruined for we have kept our babies names secret ever since.

It is probably a good thing though because each of our children did not fit the name we went to the hospital assuming we would use. With each birth we would say, no that name is just not right, he is a, Luke, Isaac, Benjamin...

All that said...When we found out something may be wrong with this baby I wanted to call him something. Howard insisted on Happy. He insisted that this baby would bring happiness to us and everyone we know and therefore should be named Happy. Yes, he was totally serious! I thought it was ridiculous. He argued that Happy Gilmore was a real name so why not Happy Bolte. UGH! He would not back down and has called the baby Happy ever seems to have stuck.

I ASSURE you however that this is his nickname. I have absoltely NO intentions of naming my son Happy or Excited or Crazy or any other emotion! We have a few ideas though...but we need to meet him before we can say for sure so you will all just have to wait in apprehension!

And still....He says "Be still."

So I just got Ben down for his nap and Luke is putting on a show in front of the TV with his Star Station and I sat down to read my daily devotional from Streams in the Desert. As I began to read I chuckled a little. Here is what it said:

"You will not leave in haste." Isaiah 52:12
It went on to say...

"I do not believe we have even begun to understand the wonderful power there is in being still. We are in such a hurry always doing , that we are in danger of not allowing God the opportunity to work. You may be sure that god will never say to us, "Stand Still", "Sit Still", or "Be Still," unlessHe is going to do something. This is our problem regarding the Christian life, we want to do something to be Christians, instead of allowing Him to work in us."

Wow, we are back to that again! I do find comfort in these words though...I have every confidence that the Lord is not asking this of me with out a plan for Him to DO something! Patience is not a strong point of mine but I am learning. Some days it still pains me to try and be still, but I am doing better with each day. I am so thankful that God does plan to DO something because it is clear that there is NOTHING we can do!

The devotion ended with this poem which I also wanted to share:

Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
Nor deem these days-these waiting days-as ill!
The One who loves you best, who plans your way,
Has not forgotten your great need today!
And, if He waits, it's sure He waits to prove
To you, His tender child, His heart's deep love.

Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
You greatly long to know your dear Lord's will!
While anxious thoughts would almost steal their way
Corrodingly within, because of His delay-
Persuade yourself in simple faith to rest
that He, who knows and loves, will do the best.

Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
Nor move one step, not even one, until
His way has opened. Then, ah, then how sweet!
How glad your heart, and then how swift your feet,
Your inner being then, ah then, how strong!
And waiting days not counted then too long.

Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
What higher service could you for Him fill?
It's hard! Ah yes! But choicest things must cost!
For lack of losing all how much is lost!
It's hard, it's true! But then - He gives you grace
To count the hardest spot the sweetest place.

Written by: J. Danson Smith

So, again I pray and again He says "BE STILL!"

If you want to know how to help us....

"The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are, he knows we are only dust." Psalm 103:13-14

I sat here for a good deal of time this morning debating whether or not I should go to MOPS, which for those of you who do not know, stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. It is a christian group and this particular group has been so great to me through all of my trials. I have not been able to go since this journey began because all of my doctors appointments have conflicted with the time and day. I have been somewhat of a hermit lately. This is completely not like me. I am usually constantly on the go. I have been kind of in self preservation mode lately. So many people around us don't know what to say or how to act and that awkwardness is more than I can handle most days. I chose not to go and to stay in the safety of my home. The thought of anyone coming up to me and showing pity or sorrow for me was more than I thought I could handle today. (So instead I sit here listening as the sump pump alarm rings, praying our basement stays dry in this crazy weather!)

Everyone means so well and I know that, and yet it seems that most of our family has pretty much completely pulled away and very seldomly if ever even mentions the baby. We have many friends who have done the same. And then to the opposite end there are those who mean so well and just come up and cry and tell us how sorry they are for our circumstances and make a huge deal of it. Believe me I know no one knows just what to do or what to say, but neither of these things help in any way. It actually adds to the hurt. So I thought I would take some time today to tell everyone what we do need. Maybe this will help make things just a little less awkward.

You see, we are trying to live life as normally as possible. We agree that the outcome of our situation MAY be a sad one, but we cannot dwell on that now. We need everyone to treat us as usual. We are different yet the same. I am expecting a baby that I am so very excited to meet! Do not be afraid to ask about him or how I am doing. I so enjoy when people openly ask about him. I remember after Isaac died, there were several instances that hurt me so deeply because people did not acknowledge him. Going on as though he never existed hurts way more than celebrating his life! I remember a few months after his death I was engaged in a conversation with other moms about our children and one of the moms asked about Isaac's hair. I will be forever thankful that she included him in the conversation! She got it! He too was my child just like Luke and Ben.

Don't be afraid that being open and honest with me will hurt me any more. If you have a question, ask. I am thinking about Happy every moment of every day so you won't be bringing up anything I am not already thinking about. It hurts me much more when the topic is avoided, but at the same time, I do not look at this as tragedy so please don't look at me with pity and sorrow. We are rejoicing that God has chosen us to be the parents of this special little boy. Though the circumstances are tough, babies are a blessing! Something to celebrate regardless! I am always grateful when others share in the joy of our new blessing. The fact is that we would not have chosen this path for ourselves, but for some reason God did. So we need to try, as hard as it is to just embrace what he gives without holding back. We need to love Happy without reservation. He may be with us for a very short time or a lifetime! With Isaac I made the mistake of thinking that if I guarded my heart it would hurt less. That is so not true! Our children deserve our unconditional passionate love for them no matter what and that is just what this little guy is going to get from us. So when you don't know what to say, just let us know you love us and are praying for us. Check on us to see how we are doing. Never be afraid to stop by or call. It is amazing, but our phone NEVER rings anymore unless it is a politician recording! So just love us and let God take care of the rest. He knows best what words we need. Pray for us and love us! When we are feeling weak, help us get to Him!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

So Unworthy

As I sit here and read the responses from all of you and the emails that pour our way, I must admit that I feel slightly uncomfortable with some of them. So many of you have such wonderful things to say about our family and faith. I have gotten many comments on my strength and my faith and I must say I certainly don't deserve it. I am certainly not strong, in fact I am about as weak as they come, and while my faith seems remarkable at the moment, it is because without it I would die rather than go through this. I think it is far more remarkable when you see a person live out their faith in good times and I must admit I am not always the best at this. When things are going well, sometimes I have the tendancy to begin to take things for granted. Maybe this is a lesson God is teaching me.

Not only do I feel so incredibly unworthy of all of your comments, but also of the fact that eventhough I have ups and downs, God continues to love me the same no matter what. That baffles me. It is so difficult to understand that I don't have to DO anything to earn God's love. It is a free gift for anyone who wants to receive it regardless of your past or your screw ups. I am certainly a big screw up most of the time and yet God still chooses to love me each and every day. Now that is LOVE!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Crushed with Grief...

I am not sure if I shared, but our doctor from Pittsburgh seems to be certain they have found a diagnosis for whatever genetic issue is plaguing our family. I have mixed feelings about this...I first of all have limited belief that a diagnosis can be made based on an autopsy report, some pictures and sonograms. I know that what they are thinking isn't BEST they expect the outcome to be similar with Isaac. But I also know that while these doctors are great and are trying to help us, they are not the end all, be all! I pray each day that the doctors are given the wisdom and knowledge to be able to help us in any way possible but I also know that the ultimate doctor is God...regardless of the "diagnosis" we will just have to wait until Happy is born to know what God has in store. I continue to pray for a miracle.

For many weeks now I have been feeling as though something is crushing me. Sometimes I can barely breathe...maybe it is that I have a baby shoving my lungs into my throat, but it feels like something more. Not only am I grieving the loss of my Isaac all over again through this, but I am grieving even more than that. I am not grieving the loss of Happy yet because I am thanking God each and every day that he is still here and kicking! I am however grieving the loss of a joyous pregnancy! Pregnancy is supposed to be filled with, excitement, belly rubbing, baby showers, and cute little baby things. For us, this hasn't been the case. It causes me to grieve because though Happy's future is uncertain, this is still a JOYOUS time! God has given us a gift, it may not be wrapped in the same package as most, but it is no less important. Instead of people looking at my belly with joy and hope, I often feel as though people look on me with pitty and sorrow. I understand that most people don't know what to say or do for us and I believe in many ways God wants it that way. If I was able to get my comfort from those around me I may lean on Him less. I need to rely on God who is the ultimate comforter....He has experienced sorrow and suffering and he grieves with me.

In my One Year Book of Hope, last night's reading really hit me...

The verse is Matthew 26:37-38
"Jesus took Peter and Zebedee's two sons, James and John, and He began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me."

I had never ever thought of that before. I have often times thought of the suffering that Jesus endured physically, but always thought that since He knew personally that the end result would be worth all of the pain he was ok with what he endured. It really amazed me to think that even Jesus was crushed with grief! As I read more of the text surrounding this quote I realized that Jesus was crushed with grief because he had been abandoned. He felt alone! EVEN Jesus felt so alone that he cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" Matthew 27:46.

I often feel very guilty when grief settles in or I am sad. I desperately want to enjoy the gift that I have been given but sometimes the grief of it all just ovewhelms me. Sometimes I wonder if God sees these times and feels that I am weak in faith. I cannot even begin to describe the peace that came over me when I read that Jesus was CRUSHED with grief and furthermore to the point of death! I must say that there have been days when I thought that if this pain I feel were physical, I would not survive it! I think back to my c-section with Isaac and am often asked how tough a c-section is...I must say I have no clue! I know it must have been painful, but compared with the emotional pain I was feeling at the time, the physical pain of major surgery was not even a blip on my radar! I NEVER once took a pain killer! The physical pain just did not occur to me!

I am so thankful that this book has brought me to these verses in the Bible. Often I feel so alone in all of this...not that those we love don't want to help and understand, but they can't. Unless you have endured this kind of suffering it would be impossible to even fathom it. These verses reminded me that Jesus knows. He not only endured immense physical pain but also lonliness and grief! Soul crushing grief to the point of death! Not that I am excited that Jesus had to endure this, but it makes me fell just a little less alone in my own grief.

So, while we still need the comfort and compassion of everyone and as I have said before we are so thankful to have friends who believe in God so much that they carry us to Him when we are too weary and that is a crucial part of our survival, we also must realize that we will never feel completely at peace without the comfort from the ultimate comforter. So I ask that you all continue to lift us up and get us to Him when we are weak and weary from the journey. It is not that we love Him or believe in Him any less, just that sometimes we all need a boost!

This is how well the boys cooperated....

Ben the sourpus!
It's a conspiracy, let's not look at the camera! Luke is a monkey and Ben is eating his fleas???
Whatever you do, make it look painful! Howard can't even watch!

This is as good as it gets!

A couple more...

I turned these ones to black and white so it hides a few imperfections...