School Girl charm

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Stranger's Prayer

First off today, I wanted to write and ask for prayers for my family's health this week.  My 5 year old son Noah, has missed the last 5 days of school with what started as stomach flu, then evolved into a very congested nose and cough, and then into an ear infection and ruptured right ear drum.  Poor little guy!  Now our 3 year old son, Ian has the stomach flu and cough.  And the other 3 of us are just waiting to get sick but hoping somehow we might be spared.  We would appreciate your prayers for a return to a healthy home!

Then I wanted to share with you a story of a touching experience I had last week.  Tuesday afternoon during my planning period at school, I was feeling particularly down and missing Karinne.  I decided to get out of my classroom for a little while and go visit Karinne's grave.  I hadn't been out there for awhile and I also wanted to go see the flowers that a dear student had placed there over the weekend from her own grandmother's funeral service.  I was looking forward to a time of quiet reflection and the shedding of some tears with my baby girl.

When I turned into the drive at the cemetery and looked to the far north end, I could see a white pickup parked at the far end of the lane - just about 30 yards or so from Karinne's grave.  I was very disappointed to say the least.  I really wasn't wanting an audience.  So I drove around slowly for a bit, waiting to see if they would leave and trying to see if anyone was even in the vehicle.  I eventually decided that maybe there wasn't anyone in the pickup and went ahead and pulled up to Karinne's grave.  I sat and talked to Karinne for a bit, then decided to walk around and look for the little baby shoe that had blown off of her marker.  (One of a set that my mom had tied onto the marker on Memorial Day.) There was no sign of the shoe, I was starting to get cold, and was still a bit self conscious about being watched.  So I returned to the car, turned on the radio and pulled out my infant loss bible study book - Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy - and began flipping through it looking for verses that had been of particular help to me last fall. 

As I read, I noticed someone get out of the pickup for a moment, get back in, and begin to drive towards me.  I averted my eyes - trying not to look at whoever it was - but they were stopping and rolling down their window!  So NOT what I wanted - or so I thought.

The driver of the pickup was an elderly man with a kind face who said "Is this your baby, maam?" 

The tears began to flow as I nodded yes.  He asked if I would share with him what happened - "for you see, I'm a retired minister.  And I care for people."

I explained to him a brief version of our journey with Karinne - through tears - and he met me with the most kind and sweet words.  Most of which I can't really recall.  He did share with me that his own granddaughter was having her own baby that day - early - to try to save the mother's life.  He was hopeful that both mother and baby would be fine and I pray that was the case. 

As our conversation closed, he asked if he could "say a word of prayer" over me - which I of course agreed to and listened to as the tears flowed.  I don't remember many of his exact words - but they were words of love, of encouragement, and of reminders that God truly cares for our sorrows.  He quoted the verse - "Jesus wept" - at the time of Lazarus' death.  This was a special verse and passage in our bible study and just seemed so very fitting for the moment. 

As he prepared to leave, we introduced ourselves and he promised to pray for our family as we continue to heal from this loss.  As he drove away - I just began to sob - what a moment and what a blessing at a time when I really needed it!  Thank you Lord for turning an uncomfortable situation into such a special moment with this stranger's prayer!

I also wanted to share the song that came on the radio as my tears began to subside:  Mark Schultz' song - "What it Means to Be Loved".   This song was recently shared with me by a sweet friend from church who said upon hearing it for the first time: "I thought of you and Curtis and bawled all the way through it."

I can relate to the first half of this song so much.  We SO BADLY wanted to show Karinne "what it means to be loved"  And I think we did a pretty good job of it.  If only our journey with Karinne could have turned out the way this song does . . .

But the time we did have was worth it all the same.

(Be sure to pause the "playlist" at the bottom of the screen before starting the video)

I wanna give her the world
I wanna hold her hand
I wanna be her mom for as long as I can
And I wanna live every moment until that day comes
I wanna show her what it means to be loved

So we spent each day watching every minute
And praying for our little girl
And I will not forget the way I felt that moment
When she came into the world

I wanna give her the world
I wanna be her dad
I wanna hold her close for as long as I can
And I wanna live every moment until that day comes
I wanna show her what it means to be loved

Monday, January 24, 2011

I don't have a whole lot to share tonight and was struggling trying to come up with anything to post.  And then I saw two very beautiful new posts on 2 other blogs whose families I LOVE and I just wanted to pass along their JOY to all of you.  You can click on their names to visit their sites:

Amazing Vitoria - This sweet little girl just celebrated her FIRST BIRTHDAY last week in Brazil, having survived the same diagnosis of acrania that took our Karinne.  It always puts such a smile on my face to see Vitoria growing up in the amazing love of her parents and our heavenly Father.

Amelia Grace Lorang - Sweet Amelia, who was born with anencephaly and went to heaven this summer, is going to be a big sister!  AND at their 12 week scan today, her amazing parents found out that Amelia's baby brother or sister has a beautiful round and complete little head - no anencephaly!  I'm so happy for them and praising God for the good news they received today!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Be Here Now

Today's post includes an email letter and a song that my sister Krista sent to me last month on the anniversary of Karinne's diagnosis.  The words she wrote and the song she shared really touched me that day and I asked her if she wouldn't mind if I shared them on the blog sometime.  


I struggled today--the past two weeks actually-- trying to think of the right thing to say to you as these big milestones approached, a task that became especially difficult after reading today's blog entry. The entry was very poignant--laced with tears and pangs of loss. Thank you for sharing it with us. I did wonder this afternoon how to say something in a response that wouldn't seem trite? Now the day is drawing to a close, the light here is nearly gone and I'm still struggling.

I'm so sorry, Kara, for the pain of this past year. I truly am. So much sadness.  I so wish that Karinne were there with you now squirming in your arms or crawling around on the floor as she should be. I wish she could be there now.

At some point today I decided to resort to song--using a song to say something to you. I settled on Ray LaMontagne's "Be Here Now". I made this choice partly for the lyrics. Different ways of reading the song seem to evoke things I can imagine being part of your life in the past year-you talking to Karinne, perhaps Curt talking to you or you talking to Curt, maybe family members talking to either of you, or I can even imagine that this might be God talking to you. And the phrase "be here now" would mean different things in the different contexts. I like that complexity.  But even more than the lyrics, I chose this song because of its musical quality. It's a lovely sad song that's simple and complex. Sorrowful with joyful undertones. It seemed like a song that might speak to you even just through the voices of the guitars, piano and strings. They all sound like emotions of the past year--smiles, tears, sighs, pangs of loss, hope.

I've copied the lyrics below and attached an mp3 version and a youtube clip that is also a pretty good version. I hope you can listen to one of them and that the song touches you in some healing way.

I'm thinking of you. I hope you know that.
Stay strong.

Be sure to pause the playlist at the bottom of the page before starting the video.  And you may prefer to just listen to the music, rather than watching him which was distracting to me.


"Be Here Now"

Don't let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don't try
Don't let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now


Monday, January 10, 2011

8 Months and "Smiles From a Jelly Jar"

It dawned on me this afternoon as I was thinking about how to write today's post - It's been 8 months today - since Karinne was born and left us.  This is the first time that I had almost forgotten about the significance of a tenth of the month and that leaves me feeling very strange.  I suppose it's a good thing - grieving wise - for the milestones to begin to have less of a strangle hold on me.  And yet, as with so many things, it leaves me feeling a bit guilty too.  How could I possibly have almost forgotten?

8 months means that from now on - Karinne has been gone from this earth longer than she was here with us in my womb.  And that fact leaves me with such bittersweet feelings as well.  But I'm so grateful for those 8 months with her and for the way her short life changed ours so much.  I'm thankful that she came into our lives and became a lasting part of our family - no matter how difficult the sad parts have been. 

I had planned to post today about a photo that I came across the other day - a photo that I took this summer and always thought I might write about sometime.  Today seemed like as good a time as any. 

Smiles From a Jelly Jar:

We ate a lot of sandwiches at our house this summer, many lunches when I didn't feel up to making anything.  And peanut butter and jelly was a great standby.  I don't recall just exactly when we noticed it, but I think it was within a month after Karinne left us.  Formed all on its own without any help from any of us - there was a sweet little smile on the lid of the jelly jar.  

How did it get there?  A coincidence or not?  I don't know.  But I do know that the sweet little smile had a wonderful way of making me smile too - even when I was at the lowest of lows.  It was a reminder to me that even in the darkest of times and on the most difficult of journeys - there are bits of joy and pieces of beauty - if only you can take the time to see them.  That is certainly the way our journey with Karinne has been.  Yes it has been difficult.  Yes it has been the most sadness we have ever experienced.  But it has also been filled with beauty, with peace, with amazing joy, and with God's presence that we would never wish away.  

Praying that each of you can find your own "smiles in a jelly jar" along whatever difficult journey you may be traveling.  And God Bless!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Prayer Request for Kat

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write this post this evening.  This afternoon I was thinking of the sweet momma Kat whose daughter Luisa was diagnosed with acrania.  With the busy-ness of the holidays, I hadn't taken the time to check up on them over the Christmas break.  When I visited their blog today - I read the devastating news that on December 29th - precious Luisa no longer had a heartbeat.  She was born still at 23 weeks on 1/1/11 . 

I write this post to ask you to lift up a prayer for sweet Kat, her husband and their two sons as they begin this "afterwards" part of this difficult journey.  Oh, SO much SOONER than they expected.   And if you could take the time, I'm certain Kat would appreciate your words of support and encouragement through loving posts on her blog:  Our Sweet Baby Luisa.  

In thinking about the earliness of baby Luisa's birth - I was struck with an overwhelming THANKFULNESS that God blessed our family with 35 1/2 weeks with Karinne in the womb and 10 minutes in our arms.  I wept for Kat and her tiny baby girl taken all-too-soon.  And I wept for Karinne.  I'm so thankful for every moment - for every kick, dance, and wiggle - for each special memory we made during the pregnancy - for every precious sonogram photo and video - for each beautiful photo from the day of her birth - and for every amazing memento we were able to gather that day.

Happy Anniversary to Us - One Week Late

December 28th was our 11th wedding anniversary.  I had intended to post last week about how we spent our 10th anniversary last year.  But with the craziness of the holidays and spending time with family - I just didn't get it done.  So today I'm doing 2 posts - to make up for last week.

For our 10th anniversary - we made plans to go to Las Vegas to celebrate.  We bought our tickets and made arrangements in October (I believe it was) to spend 4 days there and meet up with 2 couples we knew from college.  We looked forward to the trip with such excitement.  


we found out the bad news about Karinne.

At first I decided I just couldn't possibly go to Vegas and pretend everything was okay when we had just found out our sweet baby wouldn't make it.  And Curt understood and began checking into canceling our trip and getting our money back.  Well - of course - it was too late to get a full refund and it seems like maybe we wouldn't have been able to get any of our money back.  So - we decided to still go.  And as it turned out, it was a blessing.   Not that we were able to take our minds off of the devastating news.  But that we were still able to celebrate 10 years of our marriage.  And to put off the real world - even if it was just for a few days.

We debated whether or not to tell our friends the sad news about the baby I was carrying.  On the one hand - it seemed like a big lie to not tell them.  And yet - we SO did not want to put a black cloud over everyone's trip.  In the end we decided to keep quiet.  And we were so glad that we did.  We were able to have a genuinely good time with our friends and make special memories with them that would have been very difficult if they had known.

One of the best things that happened on the trip was that we got to witness our good friend Mindy receive a marriage proposal in front of the Bellagio Fountains.  She said yes!!  It was such a special moment I'm so glad to have been a part of!  And Mindy has shared with me that she was so happy to have been able to share that moment with us and to know Karinne was there for it too. 

The funniest memories from our trip were when we dressed up in some of our wedding attire and went out on a walkway over the strip for a few photos and laughs.  I really had to beg Curt to do this - by the way. =)

16 weeks pregnant - and I still fit into my wedding dress!  Pretty amazing huh?!  

It was really funny that passers-by thought we had just gotten married!  We have some pretty amusing video of the congrats and whistles we got.  And a funny photo of a group of college kids who asked to take a photo with us.  

Looking back on that trip from this viewpoint and what seems like a lifetime's worth of hindsight - I'm so glad we weren't able to cancel our trip to Vegas.  It's another special memory of Karinne's time with us that I'm glad we were able to share with her.