Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hannah's Hope

We have our Hannah's Hope website up and running. Check it out here.

I am including some additional information about it for you guys to read as well. (-:

Name: In 1 Samuel, Hannah prayed and hoped for a baby. Many women who have lost babies did the same, and continue to do so after a loss. Women who lose babies are not only grieving the life lost, but they are grieving the loss of hope and plans. Through Hannah’s Hope, we want to help grieving women by taking some of the burden of their grief and replacing it with the hope of Christ. 

Ministry Need: While statistics vary, approximately 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. In 2012, FBC had 44 new babies, which would mean there were likely 10-15 miscarried babies as well. We would like to provide 20 Hope Boxes a year.

Purpose: To give families who have experienced pregnancy loss a place to find comfort, prayer, support, and community. To validate the lives of lost babies by affirming to their families that they are valuable and meaningful.

Check out the website and let me know your thoughts! (-:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Need Your Opinion!!!

Okay, everyone! Previously I mentioned the ministry I am starting at my church for women who have experienced pregnancy loss. We have a graphic going for the ministry, and I want your honest opinion. If you love it and cried tears of joy when you saw it,  tell me! If you thought it was heinous, tell me! (Okay actually don't, because this style is what we are going with - we are talking about making changes to this basic idea.) If something is distracted or off, let me know! Please! Thank you so much. I am so excited to finally get this piece of the ministry, and I can't wait to reveal more of it soon.

And here it is with a border for something more specific we are going to do:


Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Got Robbed

So, people have been asking about what happened to us recently. Here's the deal: me, Mark, my brother (Harrison) and my sister-in-law (Tiffany) were victims of an armed robbery. It was completely ridiculous. Like, I'm the person who has nightmares about people chasing me with guns - fairly often. And it happened to me. I can't even believe it.

It's a long story, but I will try to keep it short. We were heading to my friend's wedding in Colorado, and left very early in the morning, as we were going to be driving straight through to the rehearsal that night. We left around 3:30am, and stopped at an extremely well lit gas station to fix a headlight, check the oil, and top off the gas tank. Mark and Harrison got out of the car and popped the hood to get things going, and Tiffany and I were sitting in the back seat. A thug came up to Mark and pretty quickly started asking Mark for money. Mark told him he didn't have any money (which he didn't) and then the thug proceeded to say that he wanted everyone else's money. Mark told him we didn't have any money, either (which we didn't). So then the told Mark he wanted his wallet and things got serious. He had a gun in his right pocket, and he pulled the gun up to show it to Mark, so that Mark knew he was serious. Of course, Mark gave him his wallet.

While this was going on, Harrison, who had a gun on him (he has his concealed carry license), realized what was going down and shut the front door of the car, took the keys out of the ignition, and locked Tiffany and I in the back seat. Harrison went back by the trunk of the car and took his gun out of his sweatpants pockets so that the thug wouldn't see it. The thug had two other guys with him, and they were at their SUV, keeping watch on the other side of the pump. I saw the thug show Mark his gun and realized what was happening. Tiffany started hyperventilating. All I could muster was an "Oh. my. gosh." The thug mentioned something about going to an ATM to get money.

Time stopped.

It was like I was living in my nightmare.

I just wanted it to be over, but it wasn't.

Thug came over to my window and told me to open the door. I shook my head no, because okay, DUH, I did NOT want to open the door. He then proceeded to show me his gun, told me he wasn't messing around, and so I opened the door. He used some choice words, and took my purse. I had my iPhone in my lap, as I had dialed 911, and he saw it and took it as well. He then reached in and got Tiffany's wallet from her. Next, he walked around to the back of the car and asked Harrison for his wallet, and Harrison told him he didn't have it. The thug told him he would "f him up" and so Harrison obviously gave the guy his wallet. (In case you're wondering, that's four wallets, a purse, and an iPhone. And out of that, they didn't get a single cash dollar, and only got one transaction off of one card.)

And then he left. And we were in complete shock. I mean, did that SERIOUSLY just happen? Were we really just robbed? Did we really almost get shot? I mean... is this real life? Hello?!

Harrison, being the smart person he is, had already dialed 911 and put his phone in his pocket during the whole ordeal, so as soon as the thieves left, Harrison just picked his phone up and was already on the phone with 911. As he talked to the police, we drove back to Harrison's house and started calling our banks to get all of our cards shut down.

The police showed up, took our reports and statements, and we took care of turning everything off. They only got one purchase made on my credit card, at a gas station close to the one we had just left.

After the police left, we kind of sat in stunned shock in the living room, scared, reeling, and waiting for the sun to come up. Once the sun came up we started calling our families, and making plans for what to do with the day. We had decided that going to the wedding wasn't really realistic. Harrison had one card from a different bank account that hadn't been taken, so we were able to go to breakfast. At breakfast, we started getting calls from our detective. They had already pulled surveillance footage and had questions about what happened. We probably got three calls before 10:00am.

After breakfast we went to the DMV and Mark and Harrison got driver's licenses so they could be legal. Tiffany and I looked a little rugged, as we HAD BEEN ROBBED, and had on no make-up etc. Certainly not driver's license material, so we opted to wait. After that we started making rounds at the banks and trying to fix everything. They had gotten one of my check books so we had to get a completely new bank account.

While we were at the bank, we got a call from an electronics store saying they had recovered my iPhone - the thugs had tried to sell it there, a guy got suspicious, guessed it was stolen, and spooked the thugs into leaving. Remarkable. We recovered my iPhone 5 within probably 9 hours of it being stolen.

After this whirl wind of activity, we went back to Harrison's house and rested a bit until our detective called Mark and asked if we could do a line-up. So, within 12 hours of the robbery, the four of us were at police headquarters for a photo line-up. I mean, it was like an episode of 24, or NCIS. INSANE.

After that, things slowed down a bit and we tried to relax a little and had a nice dinner together to decompress. Until the sun went down. Then things went crazy. And by things, I mean specifically, Tiffany and I. Panic attack mode started setting in. We knew those guys had our IDs and they live like a mile and half from the "scene of the crime." So, we freaked a bit. A lot. We ended up staying the night at my sister's house.

Since then, they have identified two of the four people involved (the girlfriend of one of the guys tried to sell my phone, so there were four people) and charged them. They have identified those two, but have not identified the drive or the gunman. Our detective is still actively working on our case and we are optimistically hoping for an arrest. Armed robbery is not exactly a misdemeanor.

The guys were gang members, and we realized how God really truly protected us in the midst of something very terrible. We all remained calm, God gave us discernment and quick thinking, and we were all preserved. Our detective told us that those guys shoot to kill and that they don't have a problem shooting anyone. At that point it sunk in about how truly truly protected we were. Had we not cooperated, or had it escalated at all, we could have easily been killed. The local news did a story on it, and Harrison was interviewed, to try to get pictures out of the gunman so he could be identified.

So, it's been about four weeks - almost exactly - eek! And I'm doing okay. I think I'm over the shock now and settling in to the reality and I'm really going to have to work through it better. I'm very afraid in parking lots and going to and from establishments if I'm by myself. I'm afraid to walk through our neighborhood at night. I am currently the world's worst at profiling people. I am pretty PTSD. I need to continually remind myself of God's protection.

You could certainly say we have had a rough few months. I am so ready for God to turn this around, to see what good he has for us, because I know he works all things together for the good according to his purpose. And I know that he has plan for me - for a hope and a future. And I know that he will finish the work that he started in me. In the meantime, I am waiting. I am licking my wounds, trying to grasp all the thoughts swirling in my head, and trying to give myself some grace. Some time to heal. Trying to come down from the initial shock of it all and readjust my expectations and my plans. I am hopeful that God is using this for something wonderful, that beauty will come from these ashes, and that he will redeem all of these crummy situations. And that I would find peace and purpose in the midst of it all.

So. That's it. We survived one of my worst nightmares without a single physical mark. God is our protector. I am thankful.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Baby #1: Part Four

Mark and I were greatly ministered to during and after our loss. Honestly, people still minister to us. Last week I got a card in the mail and a care package, and friends still ask how we are doing. I am doing okay. I'm not really going to sugar coat it - I'm really sad. Some days are better than others. Right now I'm trying to really allow myself to grieve and not push it away. We've had a lot going on lately, obviously the baby, then we were victims of armed robbery last month, and I just feel very overwhelmed. I know that God is working to finish in me the work that he started (Phil. 1:6), and I am working to be strong and wait on the Lord. (Ps. 27:2). All that to say, if you think of us, we appreciate every prayer, and they are needed. I just feel like we have been under attack lately.

So, after our appointment that Thursday, I sent out a group text to friends and family to let everyone know. Within a couple of hours, our pastor's wife showed up on our doorstop with a bag from Braum's full of ingredients to make ice cream sundaes. While I wasn't ready to talk to anyone, Mark answered the door, and she encouraged Mark, shared about her own loss, and gave us the ice cream. After that, my brother had the idea for him and my sister to come down over the weekend from OKC to hang out with us during the day on Saturday just to be supportive. We felt very loved. 

After our appointment on Thursday evening, I knew I wanted something to have in memory of the baby. My due date was October 28th, and the October birthstone is an opal. So, I decided that I wanted an opal ring, and we went to a few different stores in the mall before I settled on this one:

I love it, and I wear it every day. 

Family, friends, and even Mark's work sent us beautiful flowers, which was a bright spot in the midst of our sadness. We had friends that brought up dinner a couple of times, and one friend brought a plate of chocolate chip cookies. These people were the hands and feet of Christ as they ministered to us.

So many beautiful flowers. (-: 

My friend gave me a pair of cute pajama pants and cute socks, both of which I wore on the day of my surgery:

So, we felt so very loved. Not that the timing for these things is ever good, but it happened in April, right when our church was doing a sermon series on death, and right before Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and Father's Day. Kind of like a one-two punch to the stomach. 

I received some sweet cards and sweet words on mother's day:

So, that's the story. We are hanging in there, and appreciate your prayers. A week and a half ago, God laid an idea on my heart for a way to minister to women who have gone through a pregnancy loss. It's still in the works, but has received approval from the "powers that be" (-: so I want to do a separate post about that soon. 


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Baby #1: Part Three

So, I've been procrastinating on this post, because this is the tough one.  This won't be the last one, because I do want to end on a more uplifting note and we received so much love and support afterward. This post is going to be pretty much just facts about what happened.

We went to our ten week OB appointment, and I was about ten weeks, two days. When we got there we met with a nurse for a while and she took all kinds of information from us. After that we went to the exam room. Our doctor came in and asked how I was feeling. I told her I hadn't really been having any morning sickness, and she asked if that concerned me, and I said that I did. I was surprised that her response was intuitive enough to ask how the lack of that symptom made me feel. She turned on the ultrasound machine, and she could see the baby, but couldn't get a very good view. Eventually she decided she needed me to drink more water to get a better picture. I drank the water, and she came back in, and we could see the baby, but the baby wasn't moving. We didn't see a heartbeat, and the baby looked much smaller than what we should have seen. I had been having zero symptoms of a miscarriage.

Then my doctor starting using words like D&C. I was kind of in shock. Our doctor wanted to have confirmation from a more advanced ultrasound machine, and so they went to bat for us on a late Thursday afternoon to make sure someone could squeeze us in that day to confirm. I was so thankful we would have a definite answer that day, and so thankful for the compassion of my doctor and staff. The hospital agreed to fit us in, and it was there that my emotions took over. I am so glad they sent us to have a second ultrasound, so I had two machines and no doubt that there was no heartbeat. The hospital was measuring our baby at about eight weeks, two days, which was about two weeks smaller than what should have been.

We went back from the hospital to our doctor's office, and our nurse was so compassionate. She hugged me, answered all my questions, and set up our procedure for that Monday - which was just shy of the eleven week mark. Mark and I were going to St. Louis that weekend with friends, but they told me I needed to stay close over the weekend, and we had to cancel our trip. We went home and told our family and friends that knew, and I got in the shower an bawled my eyes out.

I went in to my pre-op on Friday, which was much more awful than I was expecting. I thought I would be okay to go by myself, but in hindsight, I should have had someone stay with me. I met with the lab, anesthesiology, and at least one other person before it was all said and done. It was just a little too much.

The procedure on Monday went as well as could be expected, and thankfully, I didn't have any complications. Physically I healed pretty quickly and didn't have much pain overall. Afterward I had pretty much zero control over my emotions, as I'm sure my hormones were on some kind of elaborate roller coaster. I tried to go back to work too soon on Wednesday for a partial day, and had a major meltdown and went back home a few hours later. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

I did go back to work for real, had my post op appointment a couple weeks later, and am in good shape. However, it has taken me three months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. This week was the first week I hit it. I am very glad for that.

So, those are nuts and bolts. However, we were showered with love, prayer, and support, and I want to highlight that on my next post.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Baby #1: Part Two

After we got our good HCG level, we were cautiously optimistic. I even bought a few maternity items, a baby name book, and some lotion for stretch marks. You can never start fighting those too early. (-: We were tightening up the budget and planning for October 28th, 2013.

Time ticked by super slowly until the day of our first ultrasound. I figured that the baby should be around 7 weeks, 2 days, and I looked online the night before to get a good idea of what our ultrasound should look like. I wanted to be as educated as I could and know what to expect. I had heard some stories where the ultrasound technicians didn't tell people much at all, and so I wanted to be able to pick the heartbeat out myself.

The morning of the ultrasound, we got to the imaging center very early. They make you drink a bunch of water so they can see clearly, so I drank water and we waited. We finally got into the room and all I wanted to do was see a heartbeat. I laid on the table and he put the probe on my tummy. I stared at the screen, waiting expectantly. First they had to take measurements of my uterus - couldn't that have waited till later? (-; And finally, he started looking for our baby. And sure enough, there was our little bean nugget. I immediately started looking for a heartbeat. I stared at the little blob and then I saw it: a little flicker. I said, "That's a heartbeat, isn't it?" and the technician said, "It sure is." Tears trickled down my face and my eyes just stared at the monitor and that sweet little heart, which I later found out was beating at 149 bpm. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me stay all day and stare at the computer screen, but they did print off some photos for us to keep.

We left the ultrasound center with our photos and a lot of relief. We told my parents that evening and told Mark's family that weekend. We had originally planned on waiting, but some things happened that made us decide to tell them sooner. 

At this point, I believe I was already feeling bloated and looking pregnant - at least to me! (-: I wasn't really experiencing any morning sickness, but I tried not to focus on that. I had read that a small percentage of women don't experience morning sickness, but that your chances of miscarriage are much higher if you don't. I struggle with fear, but I didn't want to focus on a symptom I wasn't having, so I was hopeful that I was in that small percentage of women who didn't have morning sickness but still had a healthy pregnancy. 

The Chris Tomlin song, "God of Angel Armies" was a big radio song at the time, and I claimed that song over me and the baby. In hindsight, I realize God is always by my side, even though it might not always be in the same way I hope.

A friend of mine knew about the pregnancy and told me I was "glowing" and took this hilarious picture of me during church one Sunday and drew a "glow" around me. It was pretty awesome so I wanted to include it:

Ha. Oh, and I bought a pregnancy pillow. Dude, pregnant or not, this thing is AWESOME. It's called a Snoogle:

I started taking weekly pictures at week 7. 

These next pictures are pretty ridiculous. Like I don't think I even really need to go into an explanation of why normally I wouldn't put photos like this on the internet. LOL. However, I feel like this gives a pretty good photo of how big my belly was getting. I believe this was right before ten weeks. 

Oh, and one other thing. (I know this is already a novel). I sang in a concert around this time and wore a black dress and it was pretty darn uncomfortable and I was hoping my belly wouldn't be noticed in it. Here's a photo of my with my mom and dad after the concert. I was going to tell my dad that night, but ended up deciding to wait:

So, that pretty much brings us to right before our first full OB appointment, which was scheduled for about ten weeks, two days. I will write about that in the next post.

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