Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thank You Lord, For Benjamin Oliver

As I sit down to type, words fail me. I stand in awe at the plan the Lord had for us when he gave us Benjamin. Three months after Isaac died, I became pregnant with Ben. In an effort I think to fill the large gaping wound in my heart, I threw myself back into pregnancy and all things baby.

The trouble is that when Ben was born I felt a huge disconnect. They handed him to me and I expected the hurt to heal instantly. It didn't. He wasn't Isaac. I wanted Isaac. Little did I know how much I needed Benjamin. The Lord knew. He wove this wonderful ginger haired babe together perfectly and just for our family.

He wasn't Isaac.  Isaac was gone.  We were given Benjamin.  A bright eyed, red haired boy who would turn our world upside down in the best way possible.  God knew we would need a little boy to make us laugh and not take life so seriously.  We would need to have his personality added to our brood to help us to laugh again and enjoy all that we've been given.  Daily Benisms have soothed our broken hearts.

Ben does everything he does fiercely.  He loves fiercely, he plays fiercely and he fights fiercely.  He is my polar opposite in so many ways and has been such a blessing in my life teaching me so much more than I could have imagined.  He didn't need to live in his brother's shadow, or fill the hole left by him.  He just needed to be Ben.  God has used this boy in a mighty way.  I love you buddy...for all you are and for all you've yet to be!

Don't for one minute think that because you are the middle child, you are forgotten or less important.  You hold a very special place in our family and in our hearts and we praise God for you, son!

He has a unique place in our family...sandwiched right between his two brothers in Heaven and he is right where he was meant to be.  He has been a tool used by God to show us how blessed we are in the midst of strife and in the midst of our daily mess.  He reminds us never to take ourselves so seriously.

He came into this world quickly and intensely and he seems to go about life the same way.  He challenges me more than I would like to admit and  he blesses my heart more than I could have imagined.  I thank the Lord each day for the incredible gift he gave us in Ben.  Ben is proof to me that God really does know what is best.  He knows what we need and he provides it.  My heart overflows with joy in knowing I get to raise this little man.  I can already see a work the Lord is doing in this boy and I am so excited to see what He has in store for Ben.  Through the light bulb incident, to the numerous calls to poison control, ER visits and quirky Benisms, I can't help but overflow with gratitude that the Lord blessed us with such a precious boy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Modesty...A Thing of the Past?

I know that there is a chance that this post will cause some folks to roll their eyes or to argue against what I am about to say, but after the week I have experienced, I have got to get up on my soapbox here.

We have spent some time in the past few weeks at the beach, various swimming pools and a waterpark. I have seen more skin than I ever care to see. I wouldn't typically consider myself a prude, but maybe I am. I find it interesting that we look down on men when they falter with lust or have a wandering eye, but as women, don't we hold some responsibility for that too? I mean, if we aren't dressing to make men look, then why the plunging necklines and the mini skirts?

After a trip to the mall today I was floored. We don't spend a whole lot of time at the mall, but the boys had outgrown their shoes and Hope is about to potty train so we thought we would venture out for two new pairs of sneakers and some little girl undies.

Everywhere I looked as we walked through the mall I could see cleavage and butt cheeks. I found myself disheartened that this is what society has come to. This is what we value. A woman doesn't have to dress frumpy or out of style to be modest. I know many women who dress beautifully and very stylish without showing off what God gave them.

I know I am new at this raising a girl thing but I seriously flipped my lid today while underwear shopping for Hope. She is two. She is barely 20 pounds and I was having a hard time finding undies that were small enough. I ran into GAP in an effort to find something that would be just right as often I can find smaller things there for her. Much to my dismay, while I was able to find a pack of xxs underwear (for OVER 20 dollars) when I opened the package to hold a pair up I nearly lost my mind. The lack of coverage on those "bikinis" made for a two year old made me tear up.

My goal is to teach Hope about what is appropriate. I hope to teach her that she should do everything she does to honor God, even what she chooses to wear should please him. I want her to be able to be cute and express herself without selling out to this idea that more skin shown is better somehow. It is for this reason that, when I was pregnant with her, Howard picked out her first swim suit, that is a rashguard and little shorts. We hope to start now so that she knows that we expect appropriate. I have to wonder, why society has told us that one piece swimsuits are old fashioned. We have to start teaching them from the beginning and this is another uphill battle I am willing to fight because I think it is worth it. We set the example. We need to be more mindful of what we wear and what our true intentions are for wearing it. We had a horrible time trying to find her an appropriate swimsuit at 2 so I can only imagine how hard it will be at 12.

If I have to learn to sew so I can make her appropriate underwear, I will do it, but I'd rather not...anyone know where I can find tiny appropriate underwear for Hope? Help a mama out! :) And on second thought...maybe I AM a prude. :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

It is well

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thank You, Lord for Isaac Matthew

Remembering him today, and praising God for choosing us to parent such a special blessing. If you'd like to do something to honor him along with us, please consider making a donation to the Delgado's adoption fund. Isaac had EB much like Anton. Our arms ache to hold Isaac, yet we can't. Let's help to fill their aching arms with their boy!

One thing on our agenda during Isaac's days is to deliver "A Gift of Time" and "Holding On To Hope" to our local NICU in hopes it will bless other parents as they may face similar unthinkable circumstances. If you feel led maybe you could do the same for your local NICU.

My heart aches so much today wondering what Isaac would be like as a six year old. I want so much to hug him and see him blow six candles out. My heart is also comforted in knowing he made a difference and continues to do so. God has a plan and it is good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blissful Ignorance

Six years ago today, I was a different person.  I lived a different reality and I cried a lot less.  Six years ago I walked the earth, belly swollen with child, assuming that very soon I would go into labor, give birth to a beautiful baby boy and take him home to live happily ever after.  Visions of two little brothers close in age, being best friends, loving each other, fighting with each other and sticking up for one another danced through my mind.  I dreamed of his first tooth, first steps, first day of kindergarten and dancing at his wedding. 

Since that day those rose colored glasses have been shattered.  I live a completely different reality.  I live in a world where decisions like what color to paint a nursery don't matter because decisions like taking your child off of life support trump them.  I have seen tiny urns and gravestones for babies.  I have held my own children as they took their first breath and also their last.  I have planned baby memorial services and sobbed until I was certain my c section scar would tear back open. 

Somehow...today..the day before Isaac's birthday is often one of the hardest days for me.  It marks the end of an era and the shattering of those rose colored glasses.  An innocence was lost and while I sometimes wish for those days again.  I am determined to count it all joy.  I know that what the Lord has for me is greater than I could ever imagine.  I know even on my darkest day He holds me in the palm of His mighty hand.  Today, I will fight the urge to pull the covers over my head and sleep the day away.  I will resist eating a gallon of ice cream and sitting in a dark room.  Today I will put one foot in front of the other...breathe in and out, and choose joy.  I know that my hurt pales in comparison to what the Lord holds for me.  For today, as I struggle to exist, I will stand firm on that promise, knowing I am loved and that Isaac is right where the Lord planned for him.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mission Motherhood

Some days in the midst of wiping noses, refereeing, and kissing boo boos, I question my importance as a mother.  I wonder if a day spent cleaning up spills, folding laundry, and pushing squealing children on swings really matters.  It is far from a glamorous life I live. Sometimes I dream and I long to do GREAT things for the Lord...things like traveling to third world countries to help heal some of the hurt, risking everything for His glory.  I wonder sometimes if what I am doing is enough.  If God looks down and smiles as he sees my hands at work.

That Satan is a sneaky punk.  He sneaks in, steals my joy and makes me doubt, but only if I let him.  He is subtle, always lurking and ready to play on any insecurity and cause me to fumble.  He fools me into thinking I am unworthy of doing great things and incapable of being all God calls me to.

The thing is, God tells me different.  I look at the above photo on my camera and it is clear.  Motherhood IS a mission.  That is not to say that we should settle into a comfortable life and that we will never be called to add to that mission.  God IS calling me to great things.  I look at this photo of my baby girl, already dreaming of being a mother herself.  I watch her as she sings the songs I sing, kisses her baby the way I kiss her and babbles on often repeating phrases I know I have said myself (sometimes mighty humbling).

She is watching.  She is learning about what motherhood is from me.  I think about what I came into motherhood with and much of it was taught by the mother figures in my life.  When I think about this my mind begins to spin.  Can you even imagine how much impact we have as mothers on our own children, but also on the generations to come?  Our interactions with our children today will shape who they become and will also shape how they parent, good or bad.

For me, motherhood was something I always knew I wanted to experience.  I have always wanted to be a mommy and I had great ideas of how things would go and what kind of a mother I would be.  I have declared many times how "I would NEVER do that" only to find myself doing that very thing down the road.  I think that we often times trivialize our role as a mom.  The magnitude is scary.  We are, every moment, investing in the eternity of the ones we love most.  That gives me goosebumps and butterflies.

I will be the first to tell you that I love being a mom.  My heart floods with joy in knowing that God chose five special kids specifically for my care and I stand in awe with the responsibility of what He has trusted me with.  I don't take it lightly and I love being with my kids but lately my eyes have been opened to the real mission field of motherhood.  Does this sound familiar?

The family sits down to dinner.  Prayers are said, food is served and everyone begins to eat.  Just as I pick up my fork, one child needs another drink, I get a drink and sit back down, then the next kid needs ketchup, sigh, sit back down and pick up fork, spill...now I huff of to scramble for kitchen towels to sop up the mess all the while complaining under my breath about how my dinner will most certainly be cold by the time I finally get to put it to my lips...then I can't help but wonder (aloud) how I can't seem to lose a pound despite the fact that I can't remember the last time I sat down and ate a whole meal from beginning to end.

During an episode similar to this this week, I felt God grab ahold of me and make some things very clear.  Motherhood IS a mission.  It is an act of laying yourself down daily and putting other people's needs before your own (though we also need to teach those children to also respect the needs of others).  It is grueling and honestly one of the jobs I would consider most closely correlated to the job Jesus did on earth.  It is a mission in and of itself and one not to be taken lightly.  It is a responsibility that carries more weight that we can imagine and affects the children of now and the children of the future.

God is speaking to my heart this week as it is shattered into a million pieces as I miss a sweet dark haired boy who is celebrating his sixth birthday this week in Heaven.  He is reminding me that while it is okay for the tears to flow and my heart to ache, that here, in this valley, he holds me.  He equips me and he grasps my quivering chin reminding me how much He loves me, how  valuable my role is in the lives of each of my children, and how he has blessed me with each one.  I am reminded again that we ARE called to do great things to further the kingdom of the Lord and being a mom is no small task.  He has trusted us with the future and it is our responsibility to train them in the way they should go, grasping each moment and loving our kids the way He loves us.

I am missing Isaac more than ever this week, and while I wish he were here, I don't for one minute regret the journey the Lord has us on.  I know He knows best, I know his plans for us are good and though I am sorrowful, I am rejoicing in the mission He has given.  I get to be a mom to three kids here on earth and to two sweet boys in Heaven.  I get to make each moment count and invest in their eternity and honestly I can't think of anything I'd rather do.  My prayer is that as our children see us parent and as they long to emulate us, we will reflect the light of the Son and train them in the way they should go.  I pray for the patience and the strength to be the Mom God has called me to be and to be intentional with each day we are given.

In an effort to do great things for the Lord, I vow not to miss the GREAT things He has placed directly in front of me. It seems the world has devalued a woman's role as wife and mother and so it would make sense that sometimes in an effort to put those things first it feels as though we are swimming upstream.  Lord give me the strength to keep on swimming upstream.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Beauty Everyday

As I sat outside a few nights ago, a Blue Heron flew overhead. While at the beach earlier that same day as the kids splashed in the water, a Bald Eagle circled above. Both times I spotted those majestic birds flying over head, it took my breath away. I stopped and thanked God for all He has given us and marveled at the work of his mighty hand.

As I sat down for quiet time that night, I realized something. I have been on this earth for 32 years. I have lived right here in this area for every one of those years (aside from during college) and until I met Howard, I never knew these birds existed around here. I was 20 when we began dating and his family is very into nature and bird watching so over the last twelve years they have taught me a thing or two about birds and identifying them. The boys are GREAT at spotting and identifying wildlife and trees of all kinds.

What stood out to me though was that these things had been a part of my surroundings for TWO decades before I ever even noticed them. It seems that we see them all the time now that we are looking for them. I can't help but wonder how on earth I never noticed them before. So wrapped up in my own world, I was missing on the beauty surrounding me.

Similarly, Howard and his family have opened my eyes to what having a relationship with my Heavenly father can be. The past few weeks I can't help but notice each day how a veil really has been lifted from my eyes since meeting Howard and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Not only is he a wonderful father and husband, but he was a tool that the Lord used to help to open my eyes to all that I was missing out on. The blinders have been removed and I can see again and what a beautiful world it is.

While I can see a vast difference in my life and awareness, I still have to wonder what I am missing out on. I have spent so much time in my life in survival mode. I have just tried to live moment to moment, breathing in and out and putting one foot in front of the other. If I am being honest, I feel like I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mundane is something I am not terribly familiar with. I feel like I am always looking for the next tragedy or dilemma instead of just basking in the mundane of today.

In an effort to merely survive, I am sure I have missed out on some things. I have spent a majority of my life in fight or flight mode, and right now, God has handed me a season of blissful ordinary, a season I have always longed for and I am not sure what to do with it. As Isaac's birthday approaches I am keenly aware of how my world has changed forever and I am intent on not wasting all I have been given and all I have been taught. I don't want to waste anything He has given and I am trying hard to keep my eyes fixed on Him. I am seeing beauty everywhere and my heart floods with joy as I sit here on this deck watching three amazing gifts crafted by God himself run around the yard.

Instead of looking for the tragedy that is looming around the corner I am trying harder than ever to look right in front of me, at ALL I have been given. I am determined to see the beauty in the mundane and look at the world with the wonder I see in the eyes of my amazing kids. July 14th through July 20th are the days that Isaac blessed us with his presence, the Lord gave us life and though it was also taken away, He gives good gifts and Isaac was no exception. My goal this year is to honor those days by finding things each day to celebrate the blessing God gave us in Isaac and bless others by pouring His love out from our cup that runneth over and to give hope to hurting hearts. My heart hurts and I long for my boy who would be SIX years old this month, but I have to know that God has a great plan and my only hope is to follow Him and to walk in obedience and love. I am more thankful than ever for the hope that Jesus gives by overcoming the grave. One day, one day...the tears will be wiped from every eye and our hearts will hurt no more, and for today let's try to get out there and help the hurting hearts everywhere because while we long for "someday", today is happening right now. If we can ease a hurt or just share hope and love, let's make a difference today and not just waste it away wishing for eternity. 

The truth is that I don't want to wish a way a moment of this.  I don't want to spend each day looking forward to tomorrow when today has already been given.  Those who know the Lord and all he can do, are so blessed, but there are so many out there wishing their lives away because of the hurt they carry among other things.  It is our responsibility to share what we have been given, and largely, it is love.  We are called to get out there and LOVE our neighbors, even when it is hard and even when it is scary, and with God, we can do it!  I have spent many a day just wishing Jesus would return so we could get on with Heaven and just stop hurting already, but I think that kind of thinking will get us into trouble.  That isn't why we are here...we are here to love...we are called to help the less fortunate and to share Him and how he has changed us.  Has he changed you?  Are you willing to get out there and spread His love?
What are you waiting for!?  Lets go!