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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Best Birthday Yet!

     I just turned 27! Yay! I am so thankful and happy to have been given this crazy, hectic, unpredictable, wonderful life! My favorite thing about my birthday each year is that I feel like God always gives me a special  present.  This began in 10th grade, when we had just moved to Alabama from Idaho, and I was still very upset and angry about moving and having leaving the few friends I had.  I was also missing the wide open expansive brilliant blue sky from the lower desert region of Mountain Home where we had been living for 3 years.  Alabama had greeted us with a horrifically muggy, humid heat wave, which made the sky that I expected to be blue, look more pale grayish yellow, and I was miserably missing my blue skies and friends.  The morning of my birthday was actually comfortable, and when I looked up, the sky had returned! The beautiful blue sky was back! I knew it was my birthday present from God.  Last year, we had been trying to get pregnant for a few months, and I had let myself worry a little.  On my birthday I started feeling total peace about it.  I think I knew then that I was pregnant and felt God say, "Don't worry." I stopped worrying.  Three weeks later my peaceful feelings turned into nausea, fatigue, and other tell-tale first trimester signs, and it was confirmed.  My gift of peace was actually a baby! My gift from God this year was a little different, and I'll get to that if you read to the end. 

     My handsome husband John has also gotten quite good at being a sweetheart and spoiling me with kindness on my birthday.  One of his favorite things to do is to be the first person to post "Happy Birthday" on my facebook wall with a sweet personal message.  He stays up until midnight on purpose so that he can do this. I also really appreciate all of my facebook friends saying "Happy Birthday" and other kind little posts!  It was quite nice to look over at my phone and see 4 or 5 new birthday wishes every time I picked it up.  I haven't seen some of these facebook friends in years, and I see others all the time.  I am always torn on whether to "Like" each post, or to go to each person's wall and write a specific "Thank you," or to just post my status saying "Thank you to everyone..." So, this year, I decided to include all of you in this blog and say it this way: Thank you so much for taking the time to say 'Happy Birthday' to me yesterday! I really appreciate it!  As I am going to go back and post this blog link with a thank you on your wall, I am going to pray for you.  I am praying for your faith and your family. I will be praying that your faith be in Jesus Christ, and that you will remember to follow Him daily, even when it is difficult.  I will be praying that your family have peaceful relationships, whether you are a husband, wife, parent, a sister, brother, son, or daughter, I pray you stay committed to loving your family and showing it with your actions, even when they don't deserve it and you don't feel like it.  I hope you have a blessed day! If I forget to say 'Happy Birthday' to you on facebook, please forgive me, I don't always check it every day.  If you are here from facebook, and we haven't talked in a long time, I would love to catch up with you! Feel free to read through the blog posts and you'll be plenty caught up on my life.  If you have a blog, I'd love to read yours too, or feel free to send me a message!   

     Well, I had a wonderful birthday this year! The following account is one of my favorite (albeit selfish) ways to spend 24 hours. The night before, John and I got to go out on a date for the first time in over a month. We are so blessed to have good in-laws!  John and I both get along very well with each others' families, and so this time Nana (John's mom) watched the baby. We had sushi and went to a movie, and it was good to be alone with no kids.  That night Jonah slept his regular lovely little 7 hour stretch, woke up to eat, then went back to sleep for 2 more hours, which gave me enough sleep as well.  The next time we got up, baby ate and then I enjoyed some exercise.  I am trying to shed my last 5 pounds of baby weight, and get back to being able to easily run a 10-minute mile.  I ran two miles in 25 minutes, then used dumbbells to get in some solid upper body strength time followed by plenty of yoga stretches.  During the run, Jonah sat in his little bouncy play seat next to the treadmill and watched me while pulling on the hanging monkey and toucan.  He got fussy toward the end, and so went down for his nap while I finished working out.  I made one of my favorite breakfasts consisting of a peanut butter and jelly waffle sandwich with a sliced apple and more peanut butter to dip the apple in, and a full mug of cold organic vanilla soy milk.  I finished this nutritious and delicious meal and fed the baby again. (He eats every 3 hours during the day, so he kind of punctuates the time).  Then I got to go and be totally lazy, floating around Nana's pool for just over an hour.  I love pool floating because it's so good to feel softly baked by the sun while praying to the God who put it there.  I came in and John said, "Whoa, you've got some freckles there!" When I was in first grade in South Dakota, a little boy told me that freckles were actually angel kisses.  From then on I have cherished my freckles in the summer when they emerge. I smiled, took a shower, and got ready.  I fed the baby and we left to go to town for my birthday dinner. 

     We met my parents, brothers, John's parents, his sister and nephews to eat.  We started at Red Lobster.  However, the wait was going to be an hour and a half for a party of 12, so we went to Shogun instead, one of the cool Asian restaurants where they cook the meal right in front of you on a huge griddle-type thing.  I enjoy spending time with both of our families together.  They all pass Jonah around for his big smiles and baby talk and sweetness.  I love the way he makes everyone happy, so I try to be good about sharing him as much as possible.  When the chef man made concentric circles in oil on the hot griddle and then used a lighter to set it on fire, Jonah freaked out, poor baby!  I watched his little face go from shock, eyes wide, a little jump and his arms shake, to horror, his eyes squint and his bottom lip pokes way out, to a very loud, frightened wailing with his little hands in tight fists and his eyes squeezed shut almost as if he was scared to see it again.  He doesn't cry very often anymore, so it is very pitiful and he gets lots of cuddles when he does.  He calmed down though, and went to sleep after much vigorous car-seat rocking by his Nana and Daddy, and then I kept rocking him to keep him asleep on the floor beside us.  We left at sunset, and stopped to pick up a few redbox DVDs on the way home.  Jonah was awake soon after we got to my parents' house, and I let my mom, 'Katy Nana' feed him a bottle so he won't forget how to take one.  John watched an action filled man-movie with my dad and brother in the living room while mom and I watched The Lorax in my room.  I fell asleep and woke up later to feed Jonah.  It was a wonderful birthday.  The whole lovely day, in the back of my mind, was my present from God I had received earlier than usual, at 1 a.m. that morning, while I was playing around on facebook after feeding Jonah.

     I have a friend who was very influential in my life in High School.  She is such a strong, influential woman whom I admire for her faith and testimony of grace overcoming tragedy, her strong work ethic, and dedication to working with and helping people.  She has had three pregnancies, and three beautiful sons.  The first two, however, had unrelated genetic diseases, and were stillborn before they reached full-term.  She was given the only gift that helped at the time, remembrance photography of one of her angel sons.  As I learned more about this ministry of free professional remembrance photography, called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," I also came across another ministry which gives the parents a box of items that may help during the situation.  As I read about these two valuable and needed ministries, I was struck with a whole new appreciation for the breath in Jonah's lungs, and his little beating heart.  Throughout the first two trimesters of my pregnancy, I was afraid to love him, to let myself get attached to this tiny precious person I couldn't see.  I was scared he may not live, because it is more common than we think.  However, the moment he was born and I held him, and then later got to look into his eyes, bluer than mine, I loved him so much more than I even thought possible.  Every day I am amazed at how much I love him. I can look back at everything that happened on my birthday, and all throughout, my favorite parts are doing things with Jonah and my family. I did not know I could love someone on earth this much.  I love him, and I pray for him and his health and future, but sometimes I forget to thank God that my fears did not come true.  I forget to just say, "Thank you God for this baby right now, for every part of who he is right now, for his life." I was reminded that Jonah does not belong to me.  Our children are not possessions. They are little gifts from God.  Yes, they are gifts that come with a big responsibility, and sometimes we either beg for them or get surprised by them, but once they arrive, once they take that first breath, they still do not belong to us.  Jonah is in my care while he is on earth.  I suddenly became aware of the bigness, the amazing miracle, the neatness of this. I couldn't stop crying and thanking God.

     At 1 a.m. I was sobbing and blowing my nose as I read through the heartbreaking stories of these moms who had to leave the hospital empty handed.  I learned during our premarital counseling that true love is always sacrificial, and Jesus is the best example.  Being a parent is definitely exhibiting true love because it means constantly making sacrifices, especially for mothers.  Pregnancy itself means sacrificing a lot of the physical body- the way your body looks, feels, and functions for not just the nine months of pregnancy, but several months afterward as well.  I cannot imagine the deep pain that sacrifice would bring if there was not life on the other side of giving birth.  I read about a mother being asked, "What do you want the bury the baby in?" and her pain and indecision because she wanted to keep the only blanket in which she'd tenderly wrapped and held the baby, but she also wanted that blanket to go with baby.  Can you imagine having to answer that question? My mind flipped across all of Jonah's blankets, the blue polka dots, the yellow with animals, the gray with sports monkeys, the striped green, the creamy Pooh bear, the list goes on and on, but I do not have two of any one blanket.  I remember so carefully strapping Jonah into his carseat and then being pushed in a wheelchair, with him on my lap down the hall, holding my precious cargo.  If your baby doesn't live, you don't take them home, and you leave the hospital with a huge burden of physical and emotional pain and empty arms.  This one mother described being given a big stuffed bear to hold in that wheelchair ride down the hall, and how important and helpful it was to have something in her arms.  These experiences caused her to create a ministry which gives parents of "Angels" a box including 2 identical blankets, so they don't have to choose to give away the only blanket that ever held their baby, and a big stuffed owl because their ministry is called "Owl Love You Forever."   Then I found her blog and I was overjoyed to learn that she and her husband have recently been able to adopt a precious baby girl. 

     You can easily support these ministries right now. We spend so much money on things that don't matter in life, from cars, clothes, fancy coffee, make-up, movies, and all sorts of things that won't matter one bit to another soul.  These ministries matter and they help.  If you feel led to give to either or both of these ministries, PLEASE DO!  Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Remembrance Photography has applied for a Chase Grant, and you can vote for this ministry in about 3 seconds flat for FREE on facebook by following this link:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

You can donate a box, or one blanket, or buy a shirt at:

Owl Love You Forever

You can definitely pray for both of them, "Like" them on facebook, read more about them, and pray for parents of Angels.  My birthday gift from God this year was a true appreciation for the life of our little Jonah. I have not stopped glorifying God for him yet.  After learning more about what these parents go through, I will never look at my child the same way again.  I can't wait to adopt his future siblings as well. Twenty-seven feels soooooooooo good!

 On the way to Birthday dinner, all dressed up and smiling

 He only cuddles when he's asleep, but it still feels good

Bedtime self-take fun, he was amazed at seeing us on the phone


  1. So glad you had a wonderful birthday and I'm so glad to see the ways God is working in your life!

  2. Kelly - Thank you so very much for your kind words! You have grown to be an amazing young woman, wife and mom! I am so proud to know you. Jonah is so very precious! You understand the gift you have been given. Many moms do not understand that. When I lost my babies - David and Ethan, I learned that we are all created for eternity. David and Ethan were created for eternity as well. While I was not able to raise them on earth, I know I will be greeted by them in heaven. Thank you for your encouragement! I loved reading this. Thank you also for promoting Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep!

  3. I'm so happy you had a great time. and I'm excited for your up coming visit! yay <3