A Reflection on Our Year of Miracles // One Word for 2018

It’s ten days into 2018 and I’ve finally started to remember to write 2018 instead of 2017.  Which means 2018 must be here to stay, right? 🙂

We kicked off the New Year with a sick baby – full blown coughing, sneezing, snot drizzled everywhere, low-grade fever, no sleep…oh the joys of parenthood.

And just as the kiddo started to get better…the husband got sick.  And then just as he started to get better…yup, you guessed it…I got sick.

Which is why this is being written ten days into 2018, instead of on the 1st of January.

I digress.

A couple of years ago I learned about One Word 365 from my sweet blogger friend Sarah.  And heading into 2016, I just knew with a strange certainty that the word for that year would be “Immanuel” – God With Us.

At the time, I had no idea that my first-born son would be born in 2016, 10.5 weeks early.  There was no way to anticipate the up and down journey it would all be, and that my one word – Immanuel – would become such an anchor for us in that season.

Heading into 2017, I felt such conviction that it would be a year of miracles.  We had just witnessed our little 29 weeker thrive in the NICU, surprise the doctors despite all of his medical diagnoses, and come home before his expected due date.

But there I was, the last day of 2017, permanently situated on my glider as I tried to rock a very cranky, sniffly little boy to sleep. Read more…

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Josiah is Home! // One Word for 2017

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On Monday, January 23rd, after just over 9 weeks in the NICU, our miracle boy came home!

Even though he’s been home for a week now, it’s still a little surreal.  Sometimes I get up from nursing Josiah and I glance at myself quickly in the mirror and think, “Woah, there’s actually a real baby in my arms, in our home right now!”  And as hard as it is to continually nurse and care for a little one all through the day and night (I fully believe I never understood the meaning of exhaustion until I become a mom!), I cannot even begin to express the emotions welling up from deep within the recesses of my heart.

The day before we finally got discharged from the NICU, one of the nurse practitioners came by to do her final assessment of Josiah.  We started reflecting on his progress over the last 9 weeks (you can read more on that here and here).  Apart from his VACTERL syndrome imperforate anus condition (which he would have had even if he had made it to full term), he had almost no preemie-related issues (e.g. breathing problems, digestive problems, feeding issues, etc.).

She went on to say, “Honestly, for how early he was born at 29 weeks and for not having any of those preemie issues, all I can say is that this was a miracle.  He literally is a miracle.”

And in that moment, 9 weeks of heartache…9 weeks of praying and crying before the Lord…9 weeks of asking hard questions…everything, all of it, was justified.  

Her simple confession, both as a medical professional and as an “outsider” (not a family member or close friend) wholly validated all that we had gone through.

Already, in just two months of life, our son is a living testimony of how God is real and He loves to do the impossible.

Last year, I chose the word “Immanuel” as my One Word for 2016, and reflecting upon all that we had gone through at the end of last year…He truly, truly was with us.  There is no other way we would have made it.

And as the year closed and a new one began, I felt the stirring on my heart to believe.  To reach for the impossible in a deeper, daily way.

To declare that this year, 2017 is going to be about miracles.  

After all, I’m looking at one every day.

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To the countless ones who prayed with us during these last 9 weeks, we are indebted to you.  Thank you for being our village, our home team, and for carrying us through this season.  We are so thankful to have him home.

Reflecting on Immanuel

The last couple of days, it’s been harder to answer the question, “How are you really doing?”  The truth is, I’m okay, I really am.  And I know one day, this will all be part of the story.

But at the same time, I’m wrestling.  I’m struggling to contain the whirlwind of emotions and I’m not sure what to do when I find an unexpected leak here and there.

When we started calling and texting all of our family to tell them that Josiah had come early, my aunt shared with me something I didn’t know I needed to hear until I had heard it…and it’s been echoing in the recesses of my soul ever since…

It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to ask God, “Why??”  It’s okay to face the wave of emotions that will continue to come.  Your tears and your questions are not coming out of a place of unbelief.  You need to ask.  You need to wrestle.  You need to process.  Because when you do all of that before the God who is full of grace and mercy, you will begin to hear His voice.  

I have declared the truth and I will continue to declare it all the days of my life – the promise of God is that He will heal Josiah.  And something immeasurably glorious is going to come out of all of this.

But some days it’s still hard.

The day before Christmas Eve, the NICU organized a toy shoppe event at the hospital where parents could come and receive toys and gifts for their child.  We browsed through the vast selection of donated items, imagining the day when Josiah will one day play with mega blocks and toy trucks.

We got back to his room to find the monitors beeping and Josiah crying in his incubator.

My heart broke.

How many other times has our little boy been crying in his incubator because his diaper is wet or his tummy is hungry and there is no mommy or daddy to meet his basic needs?

On Christmas day, we were making the hour long drive after church to the NICU when I started to replay that scene in my head again, asking myself that same question once more.

God…why?  I asked.  He’s alone right now in his incubator.  What if he’s hungry?  What if he knows that mommy and daddy aren’t there?  How is it okay that my child is 34 weeks gestation, should have been in my womb for 6 more weeks, yet he already knows what it is like to be lonely?

And that’s when I heard Him.  It was a whisper, but it was clear.

I AM with him, child.

The tears started to flow.

Immanuel.  God with us.  It was the word that I had chosen for my One Word for 2016.  It was the word that I had claimed for this year, not fully realizing just how perfectly it would come to pass.

This journey has only just begun.  Our first steps into parenthood have brought us into uncharted territory.  I know there will be more days that break my heart, but also more moments that will take my breath away and cause me to wonder how I ever could have lived any other way.  There is a whole future unfolding before us that we are only beginning to grasp.

But this I know.  Immanuel.  He is with us.  Today, tomorrow, and the next.  He will never leave us.  Through our treasured days and our dark nights of the soul, we are never alone.

One Word for 2016

I’ve been pondering on my resolutions / goals / hopes / dreams / (whatever you call it) for 2016 for a while now.

Towards the latter half of 2015, I wrestled with the reality of “letting my ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and my ‘no’ be ‘no’” in my own personal life, thinking about the importance of speaking the truth in every possible way on a daily basis.  I am all for making goals, lists, plans of actions, etc.  But there is something sacred about committing to one thing, even a small thing, and carrying out that commitment with grace.

I was reading my friend’s blog today (she writes with such honesty, grace, and beauty…you need to read it for yourself) when I ran across the concept of One Word 365 (or I suppose it’s 366 this year since it’s a leap year!).

It is utterly brilliant.  Instead of having all of these resolutions, you pick one word that sums up your various goals, dreams, and hopes for the year, and you live with that one word in mind every day.

The funny thing is, I had already had one word floating through my thoughts and popping into my head at random times throughout the last couple of months.  I suppose this is best evidenced in my last blog post.

So here it is, 2016… Read more…