Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Escaping reality, if only for a pumpkin

Every year, since Tanner was born, we have gone to the pumpkin patch at a church down the street from our old house. The church is still very special to me because I attended there from the time I was born until I was in 4th grade. Because we moved in August, and now live 45 minutes from that church/pumpkin patch, we were going to find a pumpkin patch closer to our new home but Tanner insisted that we go back to the other one because that's where we had always gone and he wanted Tayden to go where he had always gone. So, this afternoon we packed up the boys and drove 45 minutes to the pumpkin patch, took pictures and let the boys pick out a pumpkin - the things we do for our children, right? We had so much fun! Tayden was so cute as he ran around touching and pointing at the pumpkins and trying to explain "in his own mumbled words" that it was a pumpkin and trying to tell Tanner all about it!!! Events like the pumpkin patch, our wedding anniversary last week, our weekend getaway last weekend and the planning of Thanksgiving are moments that are so good for me because they allow me to escape from reality, the reality of my pregnancy/baby being considered "incompatible with life" and the uncertainty of our time with Tristan. No, I don't ever truly forget about it, I mean, I did have several thoughts as we were at the pumpkin patch of "oh, I wish Tristan would be here next year - he'd be 10 months old, I wonder what we'd dressed him up as and I wish he'd be in the pumpkin patch with the boys" but then I have to stop and say to myself, "it's okay, he's really in the pictures this year (we took some family pictures) because he's alive inside of me and that's all that matters". We've all heard people say "laughter is good for the soul" and I truly agree with that right now. Laughter is good, we are still having so much fun as a family doing all the normal things families do together which is exactly what I need because if not I could be sad, down, depressed and drowning in my sorrow, due to Tristan's condition, and cause my 2 boys, who are alive and well, to miss out on the things that are so important in their little lives right now. They grow up so fast and moments like the pumpkin patch will be gone before we know it, so I want to enjoy every moment. We will have time, in the future, to mourn for Tristan but not today - he is still alive and kicking!!!

Doctor's appt. - Sonogram only

This morning at 11:15 am we had a sonogram only, we do not actually meet with the doctor until Friday morning. We were so excited to see Tristan again, alive and kicking just like a normal baby, as this is something we have come to hold on to every 2 weeks. His heart rate was still very strong at 148, he has gained 1/2 lb., so he now weighs 3 1/2 lbs., his measurements are still right where they should be and he has hair, yes they saw hair (again my mom hopes for red), I've never seen hair on a sonogram, Tanner and Tayden were both bald until they were at least a year old! The sonographer voiced a bit of concern though because she saw a little fluid on the back of his head, that had built up since our last appt. 2 weeks ago, but assured us this usually happens with Trisomy 18 babies - we will have to wait until Friday to speak with the doctor for his opinion. It was hard to hear though and I did start crying a little as we left, I think it just hit me a little hard because we have had really good news every time, with no additional problems, and then all of a sudden we get news we weren't expecting. This pregnancy feels so normal, like with Tanner and Tayden, so honestly sometimes I forget the Trisomy 18 part because we are just feeling such a peace and excitement. Trayc reminded me that Tristan's heart rate has stayed strong, he has continued to grow, we knew these kind of things are a possibility, and that we are praying for the miracle of him being born alive and are told this fluid doesn't affect that. We have made it to 33 weeks!!! Please continue to pray for us as we enter these last few weeks of pregnancy, for Tristan's continued growth and weight gain, that the fluid will SLOW DOWN and that he will hang on 6 more weeks.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" organization

After Tristan was diagnosed with having Trisomy 18 my brother-in-law told Trayc about a podcast he had seen regarding a photography organization that takes pictures for parents during infancy bereavement/loss and that it was free of charge. Trayc and I began doing some research online and found the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" charity organization. The photographer comes to the hospital on the day of the birth, takes pictures and gives them to you, all of this for free! On the website I pulled up the U.S. map, clicked on Florida and then clicked on Jacksonville photographers, we are fortunate enough to have 20 photographers that participate. I was scrolling down the list and noticed the name Peggy McAteer. I did not personally know her, but her name was very familiar, a lot of my friends at church had used her for their weddings and I had walked by her studio years ago and noticed her portraits in the window - they were incredible and something I have never forgotten. Because this named jumped out at me we decided to call her, we explained our story and then met with her on October 5th. She was so sweet and said she would be honored to take the pictures of our precious baby boy. She put my c-section date on her calendar and said we would have her and another photographer from her studio, ALL DAY long. She also said that she would like to take prenatal pictures of me and our family. We couldn't believe it, the Lord was again using another entity on this "Trisomy 18 road" to bless us in a very special way. My and Trayc's family are absolutely photo fanatics, we have the big expense cameras with the big lenses and we take lots of pictures, so it would not be unusual for us to have several cameras taking pictures at the hospital, just as we did at Tanner and Tayden's birth, however this time is so different. We realize that, if Tristan is born alive, our time with him is uncertain, it could be a few minutes or hours and we don't want our family members caught up in taking pictures, making sure the lighting is right, making sure the pose is just right, etc. We want that moment in time to just "stand still" so that everyone can be a part and enjoy it without any other responsibilities.

Today we had our prenatal pictures made at Peggy's studio and we had so much fun! Tanner and Tayden got to put their hands on my big belly and it was just so sweet to see their little faces. These are the pictures we will hold on to and cherish when Tristan is no longer with us.

Thank you to the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" organization for the passion you have to help parents like us cherish the brief moments we have with our precious babies.

Thank you to Peggy McAteer (and Mark)
for your graciousness and willingness to help us cherish every moment from our pregnancy to Tristan's birth. We will forever be grateful!

If you have a need for pictures like this you can go to the website: www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our anniversary celebration

After we found out about Tristan on August 15th my doctor asked that I not travel further than 1 hour from the hospital, in that the statistics for Trisomy 18 has a 50% rate of babies not making it to full-term. Well, we already live 30 minutes from the hospital, so technically I can't go far. Because we knew this back in August we went ahead and booked a hotel locally so that we could still celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary in that normally we spend our anniversary out-of-town, for a week, but this year we had to celebrate differently. We stayed at the Casa Monica Hotel, which is actually right around the corner from our new house (hey, I can travel that far!). Our anniversary celebration included dinner at the hotel's 95 Cordova, a horse-buggy ride, one night stay, in-room dining for breakfast and a surprise gift from the hotel - chocolate covered strawberries (just what any pregnant girl wants, chocolate!). We had an incredible weekend together and it was great to have some "alone time"! We love our 2 boys dearly and love being a mom and dad but there is just something about getting dressed up for dinner and a weekend getaway that makes you feel refreshed and renewed again! We felt as though we really needed this time alone this year because we are only 6 1/2 weeks from Tristan being born and once he is here, due to the uncertainty of his precious little life, we will not want to be away from him or from our 2 boys.

Anne Bradstreet (c.1612-1672) wrote: "If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee. If ever wife was happy in man, Compare with me, ye women, if you can. I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold. My love is such that rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. Thy love is such I can no way repay; The heavens reward thee manifold I pray. Then while we live, in love let's so persevere, That when we live no more, we may live ever."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today we've been married 17 years!!!!

It is hard to believe that we were married 17 years ago tonight at 7:00 pm. My mom is the wedding director at our church (20 yrs this year), so she obviously wanted it to all be perfect.... and perfect it was. I felt like a princess, wearing my mom's wedding dress from 1961, walking down the aisle to my prince. It was absolutely beautiful, with 560 family and friends in attendance, 10 bridesmaids, 10 groomsmen, 2 flower girls, 1 ring bearer and a minister. That day had been "a long time coming" because we had dated for 3 years and 1 week! As you can see from the picture above, we were so young, 23 yrs old, to be exact! On your wedding day, as you are reciting your vows, that you've dreamt of saying since you were little, you don't really know ALL that you are vowing to, do you, because you don't know what the future holds or what trials/tribulations you would face in the years ahead, after all, how could you? All we knew was that we loved each other, that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and we felt like we had found the Lord's best - each other! We had the "perfect" dating relationship, we saw each other every Sunday morning and Sunday night at church, Tuesday night for church visitation, Wednesday night for church and then we'd go out either Friday or Saturday night, of course, always getting to my doorstep 30 minutes prior to my 11:00 pm curfew so we could spend those last few minutes gazing into each others eyes and saying goodbye over and over, because we'd have to wait at least a day or two until we would see each other again, oh those were the days weren't they? We had both grown up in Christian homes so the Lord was first in our lives and first in our dating relationship, therefore there was no doubt He would be first in our marriage and home. As anyone who is married knows, marriage is harder than dating. Dating is easy, fun and there is really no responsibility especially when you still live at home with your parents. On the other hand, with marriage comes the union of two people, two families, love, respect, responsibility, commitment, faithfulness and unselfishness, and at the same time it can often bring, by our own self-doing, heartache, disappointment, separation, stress, debt, infertility issues , tragedy and unforeseen deaths. Obviously you don't think about these things when you say "I do" and fortunately not, because that could scare anyone to the point of not getting married. Although we have experienced all that marriage brings with it, the good and bad, we made it through together and we are now so thankful for the "difficult times" because it has made us the strong couple we are today which overflows into the wonderful home life we share. We are so in-love with each other, we are so thankful for the 2 "miracle" boys we have and for our precious unborn "miracle" baby boy, Tristan. The Lord has brought us a long way in 17 years and we look forward to many more years of happiness as we travel this life together, side-by-side and hand-in-hand.

Ruth 1:16-17 says: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God, Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried, The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is this peace or denial I'm feeling?

As I mentioned back in August, when we were first told about Tristan having Trisomy 18 and being considered "incompatible with life" we were devastated, shocked, unable to even comprehend how we would go on with our every day lives knowing we would eventually lose our precious baby boy. Those first 2 weeks were so hard! All we knew to do was hold each other, cry, pray and ask the Lord to give us guidance, peace and understanding (if there was any understanding, this side of Heaven). In September, the peace did come and we started to heal as a family, we talk about Tristan all the time and long for him to be born so we can hold him and love him, for whatever time the Lord gives us, and that same excitement and fun we used to have in our home, before August 15th, is back. It's hard to believe it was 2 months and 4 days ago that we found out about Tristan having Trisomy 18. In a way it feels like yesterday and at the same time it seems so long ago that we started down this "Trisomy 18 road". As with any tragedy, I believe the first few days of devastation, shock and complete misery just linger on and on and you honestly don't think they will ever end or that you will ever feel like yourself again! Last night I told Trayc that I was a little concerned that I don't cry about Tristan anymore and that I still feel such a peace about him and I am concerned that maybe it's not peace I feel, maybe it's just my heart putting up a wall so it won't hurt so bad or maybe it has become dull and numb to the pain so I am just in a state of denial. See, for me, the normal in a hard situation would be to just let my emotions be in control and totally consume me to the point that I would dwell in the misery for a long time and just cry and cry and cry. I have a very big and soft heart which tends to make me an emotionally driven person so for me to feel this VERY REAL SENSE OF PEACE at the most difficult and tragic time in my life is unusual. In years past when Trayc and I would have problems arise we'd fix them, we'd go on and then I'd feel a peace, but now I really wonder if "peace" was the right word for those times because it was nothing like what I am feeling right now and never this profound. I have never in my life felt this, it is so real and so comforting. Sure, I know that the days are quickly approaching for Tristan to be born which also brings the realization that (barred a miracle) we will not have him for long and yet I feel such a peace about that! Wow, that is just huge for me to even acknowledge but at the same time I know the Lord is the one giving us this peace, we have asked and begged Him for peace and He is supplying it. Please pray that we, as a family, will continue to feel this peace as we approach the last 7 1/2 weeks of our pregnancy.

Romans 5:1-4 says: " Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." And John 14:27 says, "Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives so I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Looking back

Our 11 yr. old son, Tanner, has piano lessons every other Tuesday night for an hour. Trayc and I always ride together so that we can share about our day plus it gives us time to talk without feeling guilty about not doing things around the house especially since we just moved in August and have a very long "to-do-list" that must be done before Thanksgiving, oh the pressures we put on ourselves! Due to our move the drive to piano is now 1 hr. there and 1 hr. home. Trayc
had to work late last night so I took Tanner to piano myself. On the way home, the boys were watching a Thomas the Train movie, actually the same one for the 10th time because this is all Tayden wants to watch. Every time Tayden sees Thomas he makes this "cluk, cluk" sound which is so cute, then the boys started laughing back and forth which inevitable became silly giggling that seemed unending! I was a little tired and honestly just wanted some quiet time on the 1 hr. drive home so I turned on the CD player and listened to Jim Brickman's latest piano CD called "Hope" which is absolutely peaceful. Over the peaceful music, I continued hearing the boys laughing back and forth and I started getting a little sad, tears started running down my cheeks because I had thoughts of "Tristan will never be back there with them laughing and Tayden will never understand that he had a brother, Tayden will never have a brother close in age to play with (there is a 10 year age difference between him and Tanner)". Becoming more and more overwhelmed by my present sadness, I began praying that the Lord would take this feeling away, realizing there is nothing I can do to change the 10 yr. gap. I asked the Lord to allow me to become content with the age difference and if we never have anymore children that I will be content with that too. This is very hard for me to pray because we always wanted and prayed for 4 children and right now this number seems to be drifting further and further away. I guess I became so wrapped up in praying and listening to the peaceful sounds of the music I had not realized the quietness that had FINALLY come in the backseat, so believing the boys had fallen asleep I pulled down my rear-view mirror and looked back to see Tanner sitting in the middle seat, Tayden's arms were wrapped around Tanner's arm, which was sitting up on Tayden's car seat armrest, Tayden's head was laying on Tanner's shoulder and Tanner's head was laying on top of Tayden's head. What a sight this was for me especially after what I had just been feeling!!!!! I cannot explain the difference I felt after looking back and seeing my precious boys bonding like they were. I started praying, "Thank you so much Lord for the miracles of Tanner and Tayden, as we were told by doctors we would never have, thank you for allowing this love between them, that is so uncommon with this age difference. I ask that you allow me to become content with the 2 boys we have and not long for any more than that and if you chose to bless us with more children I will embrace that and if not I will accept this as your Will for our lives". In life, I believe we all have the tendency to want more than we have, whether it be a bigger home, newer cars, more money or a better paying job which ultimately does not allow us to be content with where we are and with what we DO have. Please pray that I will continue to be content with the number of children we have and not the number we don't, that the Lord will continue to form the bond between our 2 boys regardless of the age difference, and that the Lord will show me ways that I can continue to encourage this bond between them.

Philippians 4:6-11 says: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Doctor's appt.

This morning at 10:15 am we had a doctor's appt./sonogram. Tristan is growing so good! He weighs 3 lbs., he's gained a 1/2 lb. in 2 weeks, so we were very excited! His heart rate was 142 and his measurements are right where they should be. He was sleeping the whole time, the sonographer tried shaking him but he'd just move around and then go back to sleep. I'm not concerned at all because he has been moving ALL day and ALL night for the last few days so I'm sure he is very tired because I certainly am. My doctor is very impressed by Tristan's continued progress because usually as time goes on a lot of Trisomy 18 babies start slowing down. We have made it to 30 weeks and 5 days!!!! Please pray that Tristan will continue to grow and gain weight and that we will make it to our scheduled c-section date of December 12th.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My personal journal made public

I am a scrapbooker and photo fanatic, not a writer or journalist, however when I am pregnant I become a journalist and write, write, write. I started journaling when I was pregnant with Tanner because, as you read in the Sept 27th entry, we went through infertility/invitro. I was having blood work every other day to make sure my numbers were increasing. One week after finding out we were pregnant we were told that my numbers were NOT increasing and that I would most likely miscarry within the next 2 weeks - that would have been between Dec. 7th and 20th - 5 days before Christmas (Tristan is due on Dec. 20th and I have a c-section date scheduled for Dec. 12th, same time frame, I would have never imagined back 11 years ago that we would be where we are today, I guess it's good we don't know what our future holds just WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE)!!!! We were devastated, we had tried 5 years to get pregnant and now we were going to lose him, as you can see from the picture on the right, we did NOT lose Tanner and he is our 1st miracle baby, a healthy and very innocent 11 year old who loves Jesus with all his heart! Then with Tayden, because of the 10 year age difference and mere shock that we had actually got pregnant on our own and that we were 4 days from starting invitro, I journaled because I had the same fears of losing Tayden. As you can see from the picture on the right, we did not lose him either and he is our 2nd miracle baby, a healthy, very wild, crazy, silly 1 1/2 year old who does not obviously understand about Jesus yet, but he does know how to fold his hands during prayer at the table! For me, journaling was a way to express my feelings really just to myself. And now that Tanner is older it's fun to sit down with him and read my entries about him and Tayden to him, it is a reminder to our family that even through very difficult and uncertain times the Lord carried us through both pregnancies. So, when I got pregnant this time I bought a journal book and began writing so that one day I could share, with this baby, my feelings and experiences. It was fun journaling UNTIL AUGUST 15th when we found out that our precious unborn baby boy, Tristan, would be born with Trisomy 18 and was considered "incompatible with life", the hardest thing about journaling then was to know that I would never (barred a miracle) share my journal with Tristan. My feelings greatly changed about journaling that day, I now journaled because I was in shock, devastated, depressed, I didn't even know how to verbally express what I was feeling because it just overwhelmed me completely. I honestly felt like I would NEVER make it through this tragedy, this wasn't a possible miscarriage like we were told with Tanner, this was a 100% amnio test result showing our 3rd miracle baby would not live. As I began doing Internet research, I found 100's of stories on the Trisomy 18 Foundation and 100's of stories on personal blog sites about families around the world that had/were experiencing Trisomy 18. I was touched MOSTLY by their willingness to be open and share their innermost thoughts and feelings to the public. I never dreamed I would be sharing my personal journal and making it public. See, I am a very open and outgoing person until it comes to being in the spotlight alone like speaking or reading in front of people then I become a very quiet, shy person and withdrawal (except for the 18 yrs. I sang in our 300 voice choir at our mega-Baptist church or the 15+ yrs. I sang in 2 church ensembles), I can publicly sing week after week, JUST DON'T ASK ME TO SPEAK OR READ! Trayc and I were talking one night and he said, "You have such a love for people and you love to be an encourager to others, you should consider doing a blog and sharing your journal." I said, "Absolutely not, I'm not able to do that, I don't speak or write like an author of a book, I'm the Hallmark girl (the name and joke my family calls me because I never give a card without writing an entire book on the inside and because most of my encouraging words sound like a Hallmark card, ya know, it just honestly comes from my heart and is very real, it's the way I am). He said, "you don't have to write like an author or write like anyone else's blog, you just have to write from your heart and allow the Lord to use you." I said, "Yeah, but no one wants to hear my Hallmark words". He said, "You don't know that, there just might be that one person out there that relates better to you than to the deep words of someone else". I will be honest, I did consider it and became excited about the thought of helping others and started thinking maybe this is the direction the Lord wants me to take, maybe this is the ministry He wants me to start, but day after day I quickly became discouraged and felt very inadequate. Trayc asked me to pray about it before I made any kind of decision one way or the other. Okay, I did for several weeks and I have strongly felt the Lord telling me I needed to do this. So, here I am sharing my personal journal and making it public so that if there is just ONE person out there hurting because they just found out their baby has Trisomy 18, or a mother whose daughter or daughter-in-law is going through this, or maybe it's a friend who doesn't really understand this genetic disorder but wants to be there for their friend, whatever it is, I hope through sharing my innermost thoughts, my feelings, my experiences and the inevitable loss of our precious baby boy, Tristan, that the Lord will use this in a mighty way to encourage others and to glorify Him and Him alone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

2 months left

We have exactly 2 months from today until Tristan will be born. We are excited, like with any new baby you want to hold them, love them, kiss them and smell them, but at the same time it is hard to think about because right now he is safe inside my stomach, his heart rate is very strong, his measurements are good and he only has a small hole in his heart, I can protect him from harm and his genetic disorder doesn't really affect him but from the moment he is born we know this will all change. He will need to breath on his own and eat on his own and from all the research I've done I know this is difficult for Trisomy 18 babies to do. Right now, we as a family, are living one day at a time, kind of like that old gospel song "One day at a time sweet Jesus" (I remember Memaw, my grandmother, singing this song when I was young), but when Tristan is born the day-to-day will become minute-to-minute, every minute will count because it could be his last with us. Even though this is very hard to think about we have to be prepared for the reality we will soon be facing. Fortunately, we are Christians and know that the Lord has Tristan's time here on earth already planned and when the time comes for Tristan to go home we will, no matter how difficult, have to let him go with the assurance that we will see him again when the Lord calls us home! Please pray that we will continue to enjoy these next 2 months as we await Tristan's birth and that we will continue to feel a peace even though our future is uncertain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We missed Chest of Joash

Sunday morning was the annual "Chest of Joash" service at our church and as I wrote in our blog on October 5th we are going to begin tithing again for the first time in 17 years of marriage. We were so excited about the service and couldn't wait until Sunday, however, we missed Chest of Joash. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday night I had contractions for about 5-6 hours straight, fortunately they never got closer than 10 minutes apart and then on Saturday morning Trayc became very sick with some kind of "bug" which put him in bed until Monday morning so it had been an unusually crazy 4 days and then to top it off, Trayc's truck stopped running on Friday morning and had been at the mechanic's shop all weekend. Do you see where this is going? We decided on Thursday night that we would start tithing again, then I had contractions for 4 days, then Trayc was sick on Saturday and Sunday so we missed the service on Sunday, and then on Monday we found out that Trayc's truck will cost $600 to fix. Today we wrote out our tithing check and are determined that we WILL put it in the offering plate this coming Sunday!!!!!! We refuse to let Satan put any kind of financial situation in our lives so that we will feel like we can't afford to tithe, like we have felt so many years before. Please pray that we will be strong and steadfast in our tithe to the Lord and not allow any kind of financial difficulty to get us discouraged.

Monday, October 8, 2007

We set the date - Dec 12th

This morning I spoke with the scheduling secretary at my doctor's office and we set the date for my c-section, Tristan's birthday, for December 12th at 7:30 am. I've had contractions (off and on) for the past 4 days. I realize this is normal in that this is my 3rd pregnancy and that I am 7 1/2 months along, but I just get scared when the contractions start because my first and only contraction with Tanner came 4 weeks before my due date and he was born 16 hours later. With Tayden, I had some contractions my 8th month, but not like these. Tayden, came 2 weeks before my due date and he was born 12 hours after the first set of serious contractions. We know it is so important that Tristan continue to grow and get stronger over the next few weeks. Please pray that Tristan will continue to grow, gain weight and hang on until December 12th.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tithing for the 1st time

Trayc started attending our church when he was, well actually his mom was pregnant with him so, since he was born and I started attending our church in the 4th grade so we've grown up together in the same grade and hearing the same preaching our whole life. Our church always spends the month of September in the Book of Malachi preaching on tithing and then in October we have a special service called "The Chest of Joash" where the entire church takes turns walking down to the chest and placing their pledge (their intended tithe for the year) inside, it is an unbelievably touching service as you watch people "bring their tithe into the storehouse". But hearing the message on tithing and actually applying it are two different things! Trayc and I have were both raised in Christian homes, had the same moral values, were both saved at an early age, we lived for the Lord, we took our Bibles to school everyday, we witnessed, we went on church visitation, we didn't drink, we didn't smoke, we kept ourselves pure until our wedding night and we tithed, but the tithing stopped when we got married. Why? Well, the same reason most people don't start tithing - we didn't think we could afford to. We got married in Oct. 1990 and if you recall "Desert Storm" started in Jan. 1991 and 1000's of people were laid off their jobs, Trayc was one of them, so besides being newlyweds and trying to make it on our own for the first time, we were now living on just my income and the only thing we saw in our budget that we could stop paying was the tithe. We did not intend on stopping for good, just until we could get stable again. Well, I'm embarrassed to say that 17 years of marriage have gone by and we never started back. Every September when the tithing message was preached I knew it would become a discussion we would have on the way home from church but I kept insisting that we couldn't afford to and as the years passed by we gradually became in $30,000 debt. As of March 2007, we are completely out of debt, we have no credit cards, no car payments, we only use cash and we have been living on Trayc's income alone for 3 years. So, when the September tithing messages came this year I honestly didn't have a reason not to tithe, but to be really honest, I have also never felt so convicted about it until this year - maybe it's where we are this year and who our reliance is on - solely on the Lord. Tristan has caused us to become even closer to the Lord and certainly only relying on Him and daily seeking out His will for our lives because really nothing else in our lives has mattered since August 15th. So, tonight Trayc sweetly said (as he does about everything), "I want to talk to you about something and I want you to try and have an open mind about it" I said, "okay!" He said, "I really feel convicted about us not tithing. I feel like we have given everything in our lives to the Lord and we have already given Tristan to Him but we haven't given him our all until we trust and obey Him by tithing." I said, "I agree", he said, "you do?" I said, "yes, I have felt convicted to and I realize this is the only thing we have not turned over to the Lord". He said, "I don't believe the Lord would take Tristan away from us any sooner just because we don't tithe but I want to feel like we have nothing else to turn over to Him." We agreed that come this Sunday morning, during the Chest of Joash, we will, for the first time again in 17 years begin tithing no matter what. So, a part of me is embarrassed that it has taken me this long to become convicted about tithing, but at the same time I am so excited, excited that we will be doing what the Lord is asking us to do and that we will be doing it with a pure heart and a sweet spirit! What's really special is that we are beginning this at a time when our financial expenses regarding Tristan are very uncertain but we know the Lord will take care of us as long as we are obedient to Him. Please pray that even when finances become tight we will not falter on our commitment to the Lord. We are looking forward to sharing our tithing testimony as it develops.

Malachi 3:10 says: "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And prove Me now in this, Says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Doctor's appt.

I had a doctor's appt./sonogram this afternoon at 2:30 pm. We couldn't wait to get there and see what Tristan's progress had been in the last 3 weeks. His heart rate was 145, he now weighs 2 lbs. 6 oz., his measurements are right where they should be and he has not developed any other "soft markers" (besides the .4 hole in his heart and his clenched hands) but the best news of all was that he opened his hand, stuck out his thumb and then closed his hand (we feel like this is a huge accomplishment because Trisomy 18 babies hands are always clenched) - we were excited. We've made it 29 weeks! We told Tanner that Tristan was saying, "I am still alive and kicking in here brother and I can't wait to see you." He just smiled. See, this has been very difficult for Tanner too, he's 11 yr. old and completely understands everything that is going on with Tristan. He loves being a BIG BROTHER to Tayden and he already had so many of his own plans for Tristan. What was extremely hard the first few weeks was trying to explain through my tears (as he would sit beside me crying) that the Lord has a reason for this, that we were going to be okay, that we were going to make it through and become stronger because of it, that we WOULD get through this together and that we just have to trust in the Lord to give us the strength when we are so sad. Have you ever tried to help your child understand a tragedy when you just feel like falling apart yourself and really aren't sure you even believe your own words? This is the first time Trayc and I have ever experienced tragedy so we are trying to get through this and help Tanner at the same time. This is difficult!!!! The one thing we have not done with Tanner is to hide our feelings and emotions because we want him to see how the Lord is working during this difficult time, how He will get us through this and how we would feel whole again and have a peace about it. The Lord IS already working in such a real and powerful way and it is so apparent, I can't explain the sweet peace and excitement we ALL feel in our home right now. We can finally talk, without crying, about Tristan just like he is a normal, healthy baby. Every time Tristan kicks I get Tanner to feel him (I home-school so he's home all day) and then he puts his head on my stomach and talks to Tristan just like he did with Tayden - now this brings tears to my eyes because I know the day will come when Tristan will will no longer be with us and these moments will become a memory for Tanner. Please pray that our family will continue to feel the sweet peace and excitement we are experiencing right now.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friendship made over the Internet

Unfortunately in the world we live in today so many people are "fearful" of the Internet, and rightfully so, especially because of the harm it can bring to our innocent children, but I have an incredible story that shows how a godly Christian friendship has been made over the Internet! Since we found out about Tristan on August 15th we have felt like we are traveling this "Trisomy 18 road" alone, despite the outpouring of love and support we have received from our family and friends, this is such a rare genetic disorder (1 in 6000) that not many people have heard of it or experienced it. So, I have daily searched the Internet looking for information/pictures/stories, anything to help us as a family better understand and prepare for what we are facing in the upcoming months. On Sept. 24th I found a story about a Christian couple in Nashville, TN. whose daughter was born on Sept. 18th with Trisomy 18 and they were able to take her home from the hospital - that is a miracle in itself! I intently read every single entry on their blog because THEY WERE LIVING THIS RIGHT NOW. Their little girl lived 8 days and even through their loss they have continued to blog which helps me understand the feelings on the other side (the loss of a baby). In the midst of reading their blog, I was linked to another blog of a Christian couple in Memphis, TN. whose daughter, Poppy Joy, has been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, and she is due on December 19th (the day before me!). As I intently read every single entry on their blog I came across an entry titled "Papa", I thought, that man certainly looks like Adrian Rodgers, but I thought, surely it couldn't be, infact it was! The girl blogging is the granddaughter of the late Adrian Rodgers and if you knew him then you know he was an incredible man of God, I used to love to hear him preach when he came to our church for our Annual Pastors Conference. Anyway, I was so touched and moved by their story that I emailed her (Angie) on Saturday and received a sweet email back yesterday. I truly believe the Lord led me to the first couple's blog so that I would find Angie's blog and we could, through this very difficult time in both of our lives, become Internet friends. I am looking forward to the friendship we will share together on this "Trisomy 18 road". After you have read this entry, please click on the blog site name labeled "Poppy Joy Luce" to read their story. It is very touching and just another example of the Lord being praised and glorified in difficult times. Also, please pray for The Luce family as they await the birth of their precious daughter on December 19th and pray that the Lord will continue to grow this newfound friendship.