Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A special treat

Noah and I had a great afternoon together playing, talking, singing, dancing... And then I introduced my son the a whole new world (no, not Aladdin): OREOS!! This was such a special treat--for both of us!!

At first, he didn't know what to think of these new "datoos" (crackers in Noah-speak). They're the same size as his regular "datoos," but something was different...

Ohhhhh, we dip these?!?

And you can pull them apart?!?

Can I fit the whole thing in my mouth, Mom?

Better wash it down with some milk (and we are serious about our "nilt").

This is pretty good stuff... Look, I'm eating an Oreo!

Say cheeeese!!

I think they were a hit!!

Friday, March 15, 2013



Songwriter: Christa Wells
Performed by: Natalie Grant

[Ten weeks] is too little, they let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us

Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held

This is what it means to be held

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Sisters are amazing people.  They are beautiful, wonderful beings that God places in your life as a different kind of friend--a lifelong friend that He knew you would need, time and time again.  I would like to think that if my sisters weren't my sisters, that I would still know them and be fortunate enough to be their friend.

This past week, I called on my sisters for a reason I never imagined I would need to personally: the loss of a baby, our baby.  Reaching the end of the first trimester, I had just started sharing with people that John, Noah and I were expecting a baby this fall... but God had other plans. 

John and I went to our 12-week ultrasound last Friday afternoon and had a very different outcome than we expected going in.  Mary, our ultrasound tech, pulled that beautiful image of our little peanut up on the screen, and I greeted "it" as I always do, "Hi sweetheart!"  John commented that while the picture was zoomed in, "it" looked so big!  Holding his hand, and squeezing it now, we both noticed the same thing at the same time: no flashing light to indicate that perfect, beautiful heartbeat.  Where was the flashing light!?!!?  John inquired to Mary as to why were weren't seeing the light, and without responding, she hurriedly adjusted the screen, the resolution, tried a different angle... still no light.  She calmly said, "you're 12 weeks and 1 day today, right?"  "Correct," I managed, nervously.  But when she dragged her tool across the screen to measure my sweet little bean, the computer showed "10w 4d"... meaning our baby had stopped growing a week and a half ago... and there was still no flashing light.  Quietly: "I'm so sorry" was all Mary could muster.

I couldn't fight the tears or the screams that erupted from my body, and I couldn't catch my breath. John covered me with his body, holding me close and trying to find sense in what we just saw and heard, but couldn't believe.  We held each other, both crying, until I had to come up for air.  Mary respectfully left the room to give us time together, then came back to finish the scan.  She regrettfully told us that the baby looked fine... she couldn't tell what went wrong.  We then met with the doctor, who shared with us that we may never know why our baby didn't survive.  Then we discussed options...

John and I went to my parents' house right from the doctor's office as I knew I couldn't share this news over the phone and needed to be wrapped in their arms as well.  My Dad told me that he wished he could fix this, but he can't.  I told him that when I was little, I thought he could fix anything.  As I grew up, I realized he could fix anything--except a broken heart.  And that's what this felt like.  He said, "I know honey, but you have another Father who can fix this."  And he's right.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.
~John 14:1

Tuesday morning, as I went through the motions of pre-op procedures before enduring a D&C, the nurse told me that I just joined a "sisterhood" of many women who have been through this.  I understand her words were meant to be comforting, but it hurts me more to know how many other women know this pain. That sisterhood is one I'd rather not be a part of.  But I am. Through friends of friends, and co-workers, I have come to know how far-reaching that sisterhood is.  But beyond that, I've been showered with love from those outside the "sisterhood," maybe even moreso.  My Mom is the first person I wanted to hug after John and I left the doctor's office--she's the best Mom I could have.  She cries with me, lifts me up, calls me to see how I am (and she asks in such a way that I know she really wants to know, and she waits for the answer), and she loves me deeply--not only as her daughter but as a woman.  My closest girlfriends have shown me such love and support and somehow know exactly what I need when I need it. (Thank you all!)

Losing a baby--at any stage of the pregnancy--is unimaginable.  The thought of conception is in itself such a miracle!  Then, for a baby to make it through each stage of the pregnancy and all development that their tiny little bodies endure--all that growing!--is such a miracle!  Babies are a miracle and a perfect gift from God.  So to know that we had successfully conceived--this time without the help of medicine thankyouverymuch--but our tiny peanut didn't survive the 11th week, is heartbreaking.  I know, in my heart of hearts, that God is at work in all of this.  We serve and amazing and surprising God.  I never prayed as much as when Noah was born.  And in all His wonderful ways, God has pulled me closer to Him again through this tragedy.  Is that His plan in this?  Was the baby not perfect enough?  I don't believe God makes mistakes, so was there really something wrong with my baby?  Or was He sparing my health in carrying this one?  If it would have been detrimental to my health in any way, maybe He was sparing John and Noah from losing me and the baby?  I could speculate all day, and honestly, that isn't fair to God.  One day, when I meet my Maker face to face, and when I can hold my sweet baby who is waiting for me there, I will understand it all.  One day, God will stretch out his arms to me, hold me close, and I'll understand.  Today, I don't understand.

Today, I cry without warning.  Today, I hold my sweet Noah a little tighter... I kiss his cheeks a little longer.  Today, I pray to God to give me the strength to get through the day at work, the evening at home, and the night with a little bit of sleep and rest.  Today, I rely on the strength and support of my sisters, who unfortunately, know this pain as well.  God has blessed them with some beautiful and amazing kiddos, and yet they too have tiny ones waiting for them in Heaven.  Today, we hold each other up.

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice,
and no one will take away your joy.
~John 16:22

Sunday, April 15, 2012

30: flirty and thriving!!!

I turned 30 today...and I'm okay with that!

Honestly, I had a GREAT day. My hubby has been spoiling me for a week now, and today was just about perfect: I got to sleep in, got woken up by a cute sleepy baby in my face (love that!), had cinnamon rolls for breakfast (yum!), got to open presents, relax, then have a party! What could be better?!

But before we move too far into the next decade, I'm reminded of what the last one brought:

Age 20: I was in college at CU, living in the sorority house and drinking before I was legal.  Yeah, I'll admit that now. I was dating someone completely wrong for me, but was head strong to do what I wanted.

Age 21: I celebrated my 21st birthday within days of one of my best friends--and roommate at the time. I don't think our suitemates ever forgave us for that!

Age 22: I graduated from CU with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. Walking across stage for my college diploma was one of my proudest accomplishments.  The night I graduated, I went to the Boulder Dinner Theater with my Mom and Dad (and boyfriend mentioned above... yes, he was still around) and then stayed at the Boulder Inn with Mom and Dad (already had to be moved out of the Delt).  The next morning, Mom and I headed home... On the way down Highway 93, she pulled off on the shoulder and handed me her camera.  We had a gorgeous view of the Flatirons, and Mom wanted me to remember leaving Boulder for the last time.  I have that picture framed and will always remember taking it.  That was a really special moment for me and my Mom.

The fall after graduation, I stopped waiting tables and started my first "real" job at Sports Authority (TSA) in Human Resources.

Two weeks before my 23rd birthday, on April 1st, I moved out of Mom and Dad's house into my very own apartment, alone.

Age 23: I had never lived alone before, but it was always something I wanted to do. My sisters got married at 22 and went from living with M&D to living with their husbands. I knew I always wanted to live on my own first before getting married. Besides, when I was 22 and single (oh, shortly after college graduation, the boyfriend and I broke up... after a trip to NY where all of our friends were sure he would propose! It was dramatic, heartbreaking at first, but the right--oh so right--decision.)

I loved my apartment! Admittedly, I cried myself to sleep on an air mattress the first night. Since my bed and other furniture wouldn't be delivered until the next day, I sat in a patio chair that morning and ate cheerios while I watched my (small) TV which was balanced on a stack of boxes. It was a meager beginning.

Though still driving the 'ol Ford Escort (aka "the tractor"), she met her demise when a distracted 19 year-old girl ran a red light and t-boned my paid-for car. I had just moved out four months prior to the accident and had not budged for a car payment. Dang! My Mom and Dad went with me to help me buy--and get a great deal on--a new (used) car for me. I bought a 2002 Ford Escape and named her Dori (from "Finding Nemo"... I'd be surprised if you got the reference).

Working at TSA, I met some really great people and had a lot of fun with a great group of friends.  In the fall of 2005, I met John Stone (while I was walking down the hall on the way to the bathroom--very romantic, huh?)  Little did I know at first, but I had admired (okay, stalked) him from afar whilst he did the same.

Age 24: John took me (and my family) to Coors Field for my 24th birthday and put my name in lights at the stadium; it was great! My Mom brought chocolate frosted cupcakes in a plastic baggy; it was a mess, but made for some great pictures and good laughs.  That was a fun birthday celebration!

Two weeks before my 25th birthday, on April 1st, John Stone proposed.

Age 25: At the end of April, I moved out of my beloved apartment and back in with Mom and Dad while John and I planned our wedding.  75% of my stuff was "stored" in John's living room (his roommate was very patient with this!) and I squeezed my "essentials" into my old room.  It was quite different being back after two years--and I had to pay rent!--but it was much easier to plan the wedding with Mom's help right there.  Besides, I think it gave me some quality time with Mom and Dad before getting married that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

On September 29, 2007, John and I were married.  The next day, I moved into his house in Arvada.

Age 26: In February 2008, I left TSA and started a job in consulting. Day 2 I knew it wasn't the right fit for me.  But John, always encouraging and supporting, told me that I wasn't a quitter and challenged me to stay there for a year.  By December I was applying for other jobs.

In August of 2008, my Mom and Dad moved out of my childhood home after 26 years there--you do the math! (I probably should have sought some professional help, or at least antidepressants after this move! Sad day.)

The day before my 27th birthday, I was offered a job at The Children's Hospital, beating out over 600 candidates for the Benefits Coordinator position, specializing in FMLA/disability. I actually love my job.

Age 27: I began working at The Children's Hospital and have made such great and lasting friendships.  Three months after starting at Children's, John and I sold the house in Arvada and moved to SE Aurora to be closer to his job in the Denver Tech Center and my folks in Littleton.

It was an interesting transition, and there are some days that we wish we would have stayed in our house up North (we did so much work to sell it, it looked amazing when we left it!) but I think the move down South was the right move to make, ultimately.

Age 28:  John and I reached the one year point of trying to become pregnant and sought professional help from a great fertility specialist at my OB's office.  After pinpointing the problem, I was put on one round of medication that worked--and I got pregnant! We're going to be parents!!!

Age 29: I became a Mommy.  Seriously, that is the ultimate high of my 29th year and something that has changed me forever. I feel like I was meant to be a Mom and thank God every day that I'm Noah's Mommy.  I am so blessed!

John and I have felt the same struggles that many couples face after having a baby, and I feel like we've really grown closer as a result of everything.  He makes me feel so loved and special every day.

I am a lucky woman. I have the love and support of my husband, parents, sisters, family and friends...and the unconditional love of my son, who is the light of my life.  Through every year, every moment and every experience along the way, I also have the love and grace of my Lord in Heaven.  I am so blessed! There were times along the way that I turned my back on God, but He never turned His back on me, and for that I am thankful.

So like I said, I'm okay turning 30... for God knows the plans He has for me. 

And so far, they've been great!

Age 30: I'll keep you posted... ;)

Friday, April 29, 2011

No Smoking

I work at Children's Hospital in Aurora and our entire campus is smoke and tobacco free.  There is no smoking anywhere on campus and signs are posted ALL over.  I love it.

So when I smell smoke anywhere on campus, I know it's a rare thing and that someone nearby is breaking the rules--and I'm not above letting them know that.  It's easy to tell them that they can't smoke on campus and why: we have babies and kiddos that are being treated for many different illnesses, many of which are respiratory, and it is especially harmful for those patients to be exposed to smoke and tobacco.  It even states in our employee handbook that it is a violation of policy for employees to smell of smoke while working.

We don't have designated smoking areas.  You just can't smoke on campus.  Did I mention that I love it!?

So this morning when I took the shuttle over to the main hospital from our administrative building across the street (where we watch people from our windows who walk almost to the limit of the property to smoke but usually stop right in front of the "no smoking" sign to light up), I was shocked to see someone standing right outside the parking garage smoking.  As the van pulled up, I looked at the man and shook my head.  When the van stopped and I opened my door, he started walking away.  And I chased him--belly and all!

I said, "excuse me, sir?" (Nothing).  I kept going, "sir? excuse me!"  He turned to me and I said, "I'm sorry, but you can't smoke here."  He looked me right in the face and through some thick accent (English is not his first language) he said, "I'm not smoking."  Umm, what?! I pointed to the burning cigarette butt in his hand and said, "What?!" I repeated myself, "you can't smoke here."  He gestured to me as if to offer me a cigarette, "You?" he offered, looking right at my pregnant belly.  I laughed and said, "No! You need to go across the street," and I pointed, waving to the end of the hospital's property.  He turned and started walking, and I did the same.

Now, I'm sure he had no intention of going all the way to the end, his butt was almost completely burned down, but it just makes me laugh at the ignorance and selfishness of people. 

I approached another guy once who was on the phone outside the main entrance of the hospital.  I had no problem interrupting his conversation to inform him of the rules of our smoke-free campus.  He tried to hide the butt behind him and told me that "it was out."  NO, it wasn't.  So I stared him down, and when he went back to his phone conversation telling the other person on the end of the line that this (beep)ing person was telling him that he couldn't (beep)ing smoke, I held my stance and stared some more.  He turned to me and yelled, "what?! It's out!"  It wasn't, but I shook my head and walked away.

It's just not worth it for the sake of the kiddos inside that building.  I'm sure that last guy was the dad or relative of a sick kid, and I feel for him.  And maybe that's his way of dealing with the stress of why they're here in the first place.  But we have rules, and for many reasons, those rules need to be followed. 

As an employee of the hospital, while I may not be clinical and actually treat the patients, I feel like it's the least I can do for them to keep them from smelling the cigarette smoke.  I'd want the same for my kids.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Easter Story

Easter season always excites me, as it is my "re-birthday."  In other words, I was born again in Christ on Easter 19 years ago.  This morning, I found myself wanting to get up and cheer in church as the pastor told the story of Christ's resurrection.  He conquered death!!

But back up to when I was 10 years old.  My family went to church on Easter Sunday (this was not a regular occurrence for us before this, we went on Easter and Christmas usually...)  We attended Cherry Hills Community Church's service at Fiddler's Green--oh the crowd that shows up every year!  I knew many faces from school, but I still felt like a visitor.  However, during his sermon, Pastor Jim Dixon prayed a prayer for those in the congregation that would make the decision to follow Jesus.  I had probably heard it before, and I've heard many times since, but it always starts, "Come into my heart, Lord Jesus..."  I can hear Pastor Dixon's voice with those words.  Something in me changed this time when I heard him speak that phrase.  But after service, our Easter progressed just as it had before: we went home, dove back into our Easter baskets that we had received that morning (stuffed bunnies and all), got ready for family to come over, may have done an egg hunt in the back yard, played with our cousins, ate way too much yummy food, and went to bed. 

Except 19 years ago, I couldn't go to sleep (and not because of the sugar rush).  I remember laying in my bed, the rest of my family had gone to sleep too, lights were out, and I just could not focus on anything but that phrase I'd heard earlier that morning: "come into my heart, Lord Jesus."  Yes!  I wanted that!  I needed to say that prayer and be changed!!

So I got out of bed, crept into my parents' room, woke up my Dad and climbed in between my parents.  I told them that I had really heard what the pastor said that morning and I wanted to pray that prayer.  My memory serves that my Mom started crying, and my Dad got up to go get my sisters out of their bed (or maybe I was sent for them)... Either way, all five of us crammed onto the bed and in our sleepiness, we prayed as a family.  It was a defining moment for me, and I can still picture it.

My Dad helped me with the words to say to Jesus to invite him into my heart and into my life.  We prayed together as I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, recognizing that he had died for me and now lives in my heart.  My sisters had already made this commitment and each have their own stories, so it meant a lot that they were present for my moment.

Then, as a family we decided to make a commitment together to regularly attend church. And we did! The next Sunday I remember my parents walking me into the fourth grade Sunday school class where I met two girls: Amanda and Danielle.  I don't know where they are now, but they were my Sunday school friends for many years after that.  In fact, later that summer, my family chose to be baptized--all of us together--and my friend Danielle's family did it at the same time.  I remember feeling so special and so proud that our family would all do that together "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (DUNK!) 

On the way home from church this morning, I heard a song on the radio (by Casting Crowns, adapted from the hymn "One Day") that has become my Easter song, and you don't find many of those.  Christmas carols? Too many to count! Easter songs?  Ummm... But the chorus has really touched my heart and excites me every time I hear it and picture the transition from God's life, to death, to life again:

Living He loved me.
Dying He saved me.
Buried He carried my sins far away.
Rising He justified reigning forever.
And one day He's coming, oh glorious day!
Oh glorious day!!

Happy Easter, everyone.  He is RISEN!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oxymoron: Financial Peace

On March 2, 2011, John and I began our journey with Dave Ramsey in Financial Peace University.
Financial Peace University
We are just over halfway done (13 lessons in all) and have made GREAT progress!! We are learning A TON and it has spurred very healthy and fruitful--and honest--conversation between us.  For the first time in our marriage (maybe our lives, but I won't speak for John), we are living by a budget.  In the past, we put together more of what I call a "recap" of our monthly earnings.  But that didn't really do a whole lot for us besides depress us, and we didn't take every category down to pennies. Our recap was more of a 1,000 foot snapshot of what we "thought" we were spending.  But, there was no hard structure to it, nor was there any consequence if the total at the bottom was negative and the next month looked totally different.  I guess it was more of an exercise in futility.

Also in this class, we have learned the importance of when and how often we talk about the budget.  John has a mind for numbers and with his school and studies right now, he's on the computer all the time... so it's safe to say that he thinks, analyzes and sees the dollar signs much more often than I do.  And that's still okay  and it works for us (and him!)  We have a family budget meeting about once a week to keep a handle on our budget for April since it's the first time we've really had to challenge ourselves to live by it. 

And you know what?  So far, it's working!!  We were even able to go out to dinner (and dessert!) with my whole family last night to celebrate my birthday, and we came in under budget for that outing! That's great!!  It's really makes us think about where our money is going, how far we can stretch that dollar, and ask ourselves, "do we really need this or that?"  Our new and freeing answer: NO.

This morning, after breakfast, we underwent a little plastectomy (a Dave Ramsey term), and it looked something like this:

OUCH!!  Two of those are John's.  The other one--the red one--has been paid off and closed... and yes, it hurt a little.  That pretty red card has been my safety net for almost six years.  Okay, that's disgusting.  We have a new safety net now, and it feels MUCH safer and MUCH better.

When we fulfilled the first Baby Step in the class (set up an Emergency Fund), we went to our nearest credit union and opened a mutual fund.  In doing so, we received a copy of our credit report and scores (ewwww).  John and I have studied our reports, and in the last few days, we have CLOSED 5 credit accounts between us that were either sitting idle or were just paid off.  There are still a few left, but we're working on those with the lesson we learned about the "Debt Snowball."  Again great progress made there.

In the debt lesson, we saw a video of a cheetah chasing a gazelle:

Dave pointed out that in that situation, we are the gazelles and our creditors are the cheetahs.  Or (if you've been through FPU): CHEEEEEEEEEETTAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   And right now, we are killing our cheetahs.  One by one.  And are thrilled about it. 

Now, every time a new credit card offer hits our mailbox, we raise it up in the air and yell "CHEETAH!!!" then quickly drop it in the shred box.    That feels good! Actually, it feels more like this:

See?  No more cheetah!! 

I can't wait to post with the title: WE'RE DEBT FREE!!!  Stay tuned for that momentous day!!