Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas and the New Year

Christmas was definitely different this year. It was different in many ways...some were planned and some were unplanned. We had planned a lot of baking for my sister, Mom and I to do, crafts and cookies for the kids, games to play and so much more. Most of it didn't happen. Most of the family ended up getting sick with a stomach virus which changed our plans and our menu! Corban went down for bed the night before Christmas Eve and woke up in the middle of the night throwing up so I was up most of the night with him. He is actually still sick but I think he is starting to get better. I'm pretty excited for that! It is tiring taking care of a sick toddler.

In spite of all of the changes we had a good time with family. Corban enjoyed being with his cousins. He loves being around other kids and seemed fascinated by them! It reminds me every time that we are together that there is another child missing. It may seem odd to those who haven't experienced loss, but seeing all the children of the family is a wonderful thing but also a painful reminder of the one who isn't there and should be. As we lined all the kids up in front of the fireplace for a picture I couldn't help but think about it. There were 4 little cousins, dressed in their sock monkey pj's that Mimi made, and one little one missing. 3 little boy monkeys and only one little girl monkey. There should be another little girl sock monkey sitting there with them. The gap between my youngest nephew (3) and Corban (19 months) is the space where Callie falls. I don't know if that will ever go away. I love having all of the family together but long for the day when the family will be complete with Callie Grace there with us.

We look forward to the new year and the joy that comes along with it. Very soon, about 6 weeks or so, our newest addition will join us.
Blessings to you in the new year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Season of Thanks

Hello friends. It has been awhile since my last post. I only write when I have something to say--which you might think would be all the time--but it is not. We have gone through some major transitions in the last month.My husband, a youth pastor, lost his job. The church is undergoing a lot of changes and some crazy decisions are being made. I won't bad mouth the church but it has been really tough! Our house was a parsonage, provided by the church so we also lost our house and only income. It is hard not to get caught up with all the little details and annoyances that happen along the way. When we are wronged it is so hard to not become angry and want revenge. I have really struggled with this! However, in light of Thanksgiving, I have been really challenged to focus on the things that I do have and not those that I don't. So here goes--
1. Our baby girl, Ellie Kate, has remained healthy in spite of all of this stress!
2. Corban just turned 18 months and continues to amaze us with his humor. He has made this situation tolerable and brings a smile to our face when we need it!
3. Corban and my insurance was not through the church--so we are still covered.
4. My parents have graciously allowed us to move in with them and take over their house. What a wonderful blessing this has been---for us at least! :)
5. My husband has a wonderful support network of other pastors that has really poured into him and helped to encourage him.
So that is my start for now. We have each other and our health--and that is all we really need. God has blessed us and has always provided for our needs. I know that He is faithful and will continue to do so! Happy Thanksgiving! Blessings!

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Life

Well, it has been quite awhile since my last post. For those who don't know we are expecting another baby in February. It was quite a surprise but we are very excited. We found out that we are having another little girl. So far everything looks good with her...I'm seeing a high-risk doctor and he is being extremely conservative with his care. Yesterday we had an ultrasound and saw all of her vital organs and she seems to be of normal size. We're still pretty nervous even though I'm nearly 20 weeks. We just are praying that she comes through the pregnancy and delivery okay and is healthy. We loved our NICU and the staff but would prefer to not revisit our experiences there. We'd really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. It is amazing the feelings that surface again when you're pregnant--especially with a girl--for me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Callie's Birthday

This past week was Callie's birthday. She would have been 2 on June 29. The whole week is usually a really tough week. I re-live the week and think on the 25th was probably the day she died. The 27th was the day we found out and I was induced. The 29th was the day she was delivered and July 3rd was the day we laid her to rest. It is just a really rough time. We went to the cemetery to her grave and there was a funeral just finishing up. Seeing the same small casket brought back so many memories. I hurt deeply for those people. We stayed in our van until the family left and then the workers lowered the casket in and put dirt on top of it. The family never sees that part. I never saw that part. We walked over to Callie's grave and the angels we put there were gone. Both my parents and I had each put some angels on her grave and they were gone. No sign of them anywhere. They don't remove things from the graves in Babyland so we are left to assume that someone stole them. I don't know what kind of sicko does is just rude. Corban enjoyed being out at the cemetery. He kept waving down at the grave. He will come to know his older sister as we share her story when he gets older. I know her daily celebrations in heaven are far better than any party I could have planned for her. I miss her deeply and love her so.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Memory..

We've been trying to figure out what to do to honor Callie as her 2nd birthday approaches. Nothing seems to fit. There are things we do every year, buying an ornament for the Christmas tree, Easter lily in her name, altar flowers at church, etc. However, this year we want to do something different. We have contacted a few local hospitals and are just uncertain of the best way to keep her memory alive. I began wondering about giving some of the special outfits that I have held onto to a NICU family or something. I'm just not sure I can do that. Even if I have a little girl one day, I don't know if I want her wearing Callie's things. But to part with them...well, I'm not sure I can do that either. I just want to find a way to give some hope to someone who is in a bad situation and I'm unsure of what to do. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love it if you shared!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day. It was the first Mother's Day that I have enjoyed in several years. When you are trying to have a baby and are unsucessful, it is the worst reminder. Your arms ache for the baby you so desperately desire. 2 years ago we were down in Hilton Head on a family vacation. We celebrated Mother's Day and it was wonderful. We were eagerly anticipating Callie's arrival 3 short months later. I still have the cards my family gave me as we were so excited for her to come! So last year when I was pregnant and my scheduled c-section was the Monday after Mother's Day I asked my doctor a favor. I asked if we could move the c-section to Friday so that I would be able to hold my baby on Mother's Day. He agreed. What is a few more days, right? Well, as you know, things didn't go as planned. Mother's Day was horrible last year. The NICU nurses made me cards with Corban's picture which I treasure but Corban was going downhill that day. We stopped allowing anyone but Matt and I in to see him. I was so nervous to get close and bond with him. I didn't think he was going to make it and I was facing losing another baby. We prayed at his bedside every day. When we were too weak to pray so many people stepped up to pray for him.
So yesterday was a wonderful day. We really didn't do much. We just hung out and relaxed and yet it was great because I had my family together. God has blessed us with so much throughout our lives and especially within the last year. His hand was on Corban and he is such a joy!
If Mother's Day brings up bad feelings and aching arms and hearts for you, my prayers are with you. I know the feeling. I am praying for you and for all the other women in the world who dread Mother's Day, as I once did.
Blessings to you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes

Today is my son, Corban's, 1st birthday. A year ago today was a pretty dark day. We hadn't held him yet and things were not looking very positive. I feared losing another child. However, God performed a miracle in his life. Today he is a happy, healthy little boy. You'd never know anything had happened. We are so thankful for his life and health! Happy Birthday baby boy!

Monday, May 4, 2009


I have always thought that when I get to heaven I want to ask God some questions. I have had this idea that then my questions will be answered and "why" will make sense. I don't imagine myself shaking my fist at God but just sitting with Him to better understand things. I trust His heart and His reasons. I just wish that humanly I understood them. Well, my mind has since been changed on this. I just finished reading Don Piper's book, "90 Minutes in Heaven". It is about a man who dies in a car accident (for 90 minutes) and then comes back to life. It is an interesting read. A few things that he said really stood out to me. The main thing is that he said (while he was in heaven) that "...I asked no questions and never wondered about anything. Everything was perfect. I sensed that I knew everything and had no questions to ask." This really struck me since I had always thought of talking to God and asking my questions. Yet this man in heaven is saying that he had no questions and seemed to already know everything. I wonder if this is what it will be like in Heaven. I know that I will be reunited with Callie in Heaven. That is wonderful hope for me. We won't wonder about the past or anything else that brings us pain. We will simply "know" and be content in that. Hmm. Something to think about friend. Our "whys" and "what ifs" are only temporary.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Something really weird happened today. A couple of our local radio stations will dedicate a day to someone who has paid for the day. They always give a cheesy message along with their thanks. As I was driving I heard these people's message and they said that they were grateful for their granddaughter Callie Grace. My heart just stopped. I have never heard my daughter's name as another name. I've heard Callie before but not Callie Grace. It was really hard! It has made me think about her all the more today. As my son Corban approaches his 1st birthday in a few weeks I am reminded of all the blessings that we have. He is a living miracle and is such a joy. I can't help but wonder what kind of trouble the two of them would have gotten into! I miss Callie terribly but enjoy every moment with Corban and try to continually remind myself of the gift I have been given in Corban.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something to Consider

I am currently reading a book by Kay Warren, "Dangerous Surrender". My husband and I were at a youth ministry convention and had the privilege to hear Kay Warren speak about this book and I decided that I had to read it! I didn't expect that it would speak to my heart as much as it has....even about Callie.
I don't know about you but I often find myself looking at other people's lives and questioning God. "Why does a teenage girl have a healthy baby?" "Why do these people who don't want children have children?" I sit back and cast judgment as I see fit as to what I think should happen in a person's life. I was so convicted when I read this the other day.
"....You see, it really isn't any of my business--or your business--what God does in someone else's life. My only business is to follow him. I sometimes call this the WITTY principle--what is that to you? We wrongly accuse God of having favorites, of loving others more than he loves us, of showering others with blessings while leaving us high and dry. We pray and ask for a miracle in our family, only to watch things crumble around us. Yet a friend prays for a miracle in her family and seems to get one. We beg God to heal someone we love, but he or she dies anyway. Another friend asks God to heal their loved one--and he does. We conclude that there is an inequity to his love, and some choose to walk away from him. Here's the bottom line: Figuring out God's ways isn't any of my business. Following him is" Kay Warren "Dangerous Surrender"
That hit me in the heart! The Lord does know what he is doing and we are simply to follow him. Thank goodness that He has it all under control!
Blessings to you friends!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Heart Aches

Hi Friends. I hope that you are doing well. Isn't it amazing that though we've never met, we have a common bond and common heart ache? Recently I have had some friends have babies. It is so awesome to share in this miracle in their lives! I can never relax when I know that people are pregnant around me. I just worry that something is going to happen. Thankfully all 3 of the babies were born healthy and the moms are doing well too! I am so thankful! One baby was even born at 35 weeks. She is doing well though!
On a different note. My husband came home the other day and told me about a discussion he had with a lady at our church. She had asked if we had bought a dress for Callie to wear when she was buried. I was quite honestly horrified at the question. Well the reason that she was asking was because a few hospitals in the area had contacted the church recently. With the economy in the shape that it is people are not able to buy their babies outfits to be buried in. It broke my heart. I still remember picking out Callie's dress. Now I wish that I had another one like it. I never got to see her in it. Now there are people who can't afford to buy their precious babies something to forever rest in. I am going to start looking for sales on preemie clothes to donate to the local hospitals. I would encourage you if you are able to consider doing the same. Imagine the incredible gift you could give someone. My heart aches for these families. My heart aches for you, my friend. There is a reason that you are reading this. I am praying for you, though I may not know you. I feel your heart and I feel you pain.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Life Doesn't Make Sense...

There are many things that don't make sense to me. Why are people unable to have children that desperately want them? And yet people who don't want children are able to have them. Why do children die leaving their parents devastated and then other parents take their children's lives or abuse them. These are all questions that I have been wrestling with for the last few years. It has recently been on my mind because we found out that a friend of ours lost her little girl. She was a nurse in the NICU and took care of our son. Here is a woman who has devoted her life to saving sick babies and then her 1-year-old daughter dies unexpectedly. This doesn't makes sense to me. It angers me. It isn't right. Parents should not bury their children. I once heard that " a person who loses their spouse is a widow, a person who loses their parents is an orphan, but a person who loses their child...well there are no words." It is true.
But tonight I was reading and trying to gain insight and came across something that really convicted me. Here is a brief excerpt.
"There's only one thing that enables me to accept what I cannot understand about my suffering and the suffering of this world: the Cross. I look at the Cross and the enormous suffering it represents, and I am humbled and ashamed that I think I could know better than God what is good and right and purposeful. I see that there is a larger plan at work that my heart and my mind can barely comprehend. But mostly I see that the Cross is the ultimate examples of God's ability to work all things together for good-even the most wicked deed darkness ever conceived. And if God can work together the cruel death and enormous suffering of his Son on the cross to bring about the greatest good of all time, then perhaps he really can do something good in and through the suffering in our lives too." From The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.
I hope this brings you encouragement to know that it is okay to have unanswered questions. All we can do is trust His Hand.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Story of Callie Grace

I wrote this story shortly after losing Callie. I'm simply cutting and pasting it because I can't bear to write the story again.

I write this story in memory of our daughter, Callie Grace. Her brief life touched many and her story will continue to do the same. It is my hope that through this story her life will be remembered and all who hear about her will recognize the fragility and sanctity of life.
Thanksgiving 2007, my family was down in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, celebrating together. It was a different year for everyone. Matt was working at a Christian bookstore, after leaving his position at the church, and we were unable to go home to Indiana to celebrate. My family came down to be with us. I remember it was a fun time yet also a sad time for us as Matt and I longed to be parents. It had been over a year now and still our arms were empty. We thought we were pregnant in September but that turned out to be a false hope. We still believe we had a miscarriage yet it was never confirmed because I did not take a pregnancy test. I scheduled an appointment at a fertility clinic for the week after Thanksgiving. That was all I could think about. The following week I went to the clinic and listened as the nurse described all the tests and procedures that needed to be done in the upcoming weeks and months. This was only a consultation, the beginning of what would be a lengthy process. It was overwhelming. I walked away from that appointment with hope yet also with fear of what the results of these tests might tell us. Matt and I talked about things but did not make any decisions because we were both unsettled with the whole idea.
That weekend we were supposed to go to Indiana for an interview at a church. As we were driving Matt and I talked about our feelings about the fertility testing. We both came to the same conclusion that we would not pursue this route. It felt forced. We were not at peace and we knew that God was the author of life. He would give us a baby at the right time. We proceeded through the interview and were offered a job that weekend at New Haven United Methodist Church. We had never felt such peace throughout the interview process. Usually there were red flags or feelings in the pits of our stomachs we could not ignore. Not this time. The Lord was giving us both peace and we knew this was the place for us. We would be going back home to pack up our things and move back closer to family and friends. We felt so blessed. It was an amazing feeling that we experienced on that drive home. During the following week, I began to wonder if I was pregnant. I decided I would take a pregnancy test that weekend if nothing had changed. I would wait until then because I simply could not bear another negative pregnancy test. Wednesday, December 13, I could not deny the changes in my body any longer. I went to Wal-Mart on the way home from work and got one of those digital tests. I was tired of trying to read pink lines. I wanted a clear PREGNANT or NOT PREGNANT. I got home, took the test, and immediately began crying when I read the words PREGNANT. I kept looking at them waiting for NOT to show up next to the words. When it did not show up I decided I had to go find a way to tell Matt. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bib that said “I love Daddy.” It was blue and had dinosaurs on it….but it was all I could find. I raced home only to find that Matt had come home early from work and I sat in the driveway wondering if he had seen the test lying on the kitchen counter. When I walked in the house I immediately knew that he had. He looked at me and asked, “Is this true?” When I nodded my head confirming that it was true, we both began crying and hugging. “It’s going to be a good year.” We had a new job that was taking us back to be closer to our family and now we had a precious baby on the way. We felt so amazed and so blessed. Matt wanted to wait until Christmas to tell our families. That lasted until 10:00 that night. I was busting at the seams to call my family and tell them our good news. So we both called our families at the same time. I asked my parents if I could bring a visitor with me for Christmas. When they inquired as to whom, I explained the baby in my belly! It was a joyous Christmas, looking forward to the next year when our baby would be celebrating with us. We packed up and moved to Indiana on New Year’s. We began to look for a house for the two of us and our baby and made plans for me to be able to stay home when the baby came. We started getting her nursery ready. I had so much fun planning her room and buying her baby clothes. March 23rd we went to the doctor and he confirmed our hopes that it was a girl. Callie, which means most beautiful, would be her name. We were so excited. She would be the first granddaughter on both sides and the first great-granddaughter on my side. Matt called her his little princess and talked about how he would spoil her rotten. We went to Hilton Head in May with my family and talked about how next year we would have all three kids together. They each were a year apart. Trey would be two, Owen would be one and then baby Callie. What fun! Trey would come up to me all the time and lift up my shirt, put his hands on my belly and say “Callie.” I know that she could hear her cousin talking to her. Matt and I talked about how we would take her to the beach next year and walk with her between us in the sand. We even bought her a pink Hilton Head shirt to wear the following year. I began to experience swelling in Hilton Head. We thought it was due to the heat and humidity. It never really got better even when we got home. Within the next few months the doctors told me I was developing preeclampsia and toxemia. At 32 weeks he placed me on modified bed rest. On Tuesday I began to feel Callie move less but everything I read said that was normal because the baby grows and there is less room to move around. Wednesday morning, June 27, I woke up and felt that something was not right. I could not get rid of that feeling. I figured that I was overreacting but wanted to reassure myself. I went to see the nurse practitioner and she could not find a heartbeat. She did an ultrasound that confirmed my worst fear. Our baby was gone. I kept looking at the screen in shock. I thought that there had to be some mistake. It felt like I was sitting in the corner of the room watching myself lying on the table. I was in complete shock. I was crying and kept saying “no, no.” My mom just held me and we cried together. When Matt came he put his hands on my belly and said, “Hang on Callie. Be strong. Just a little bit longer.” I grabbed his hands and told him that she was already gone. We stood there in the doctor’s office just holding each other and crying. This surely could not be happening to us.
That night at Lutheran Hospital they began to give me medicine to help prepare my body for labor. They told me what I should expect and what would happen over the next few hours and days. The nurse told me that I needed to be thinking about things like if we would name the baby, if we would hold her and a funeral home. I had not even thought about the fact that we would have to bury our baby. This really was happening to us. They started medicine to begin contractions at 5:00 on Thursday morning. By Thursday night I still was not dilating so they stepped it up a notch and added a different medicine around 10:00 p.m. Thankfully the next morning I was fully dilated. I delivered Callie around 9:17 on Friday morning. She weighed 2 lbs 13 oz. They laid her on my belly and Matt cut her umbilical cord. After she was cleaned up our families each shared some time with us. She was beautiful. She had the prettiest lips I have ever seen. They were so perfect. Her mouth was open…it was like she was already in heaven singing. Callie was baptized later that morning and then we each proceeded to say our good-byes. I wish we would have held her longer. Those few shorts hours were all we had with our daughter. We went home that evening. My arms have never ached as much as they did on the way out of the hospital. I held a little pink bunny, a “silly buddy”, but it brought little comfort. We were supposed to be leaving with our Callie. I still remember the screams from women in labor and the crying babies in nearby rooms. I still would change places with those women.
Though her life was brief Callie impacted us in tremendous ways. I worked on areas of my life that I saw needed to be changed in preparation for her birth. I wanted to be the best wife and mother that I could be and I saw myself falling short. I wanted to be the kind of mom that my mom was and still continues to be. I wanted to bring Callie home to a happy place, a place where she would thrive and grow. I became a better person. I wanted to make Callie proud of her mom. During our time at the hospital I saw my husband’s deep love for me as he stayed by my side. Our love and marriage has been strengthened by the loss of our child. I love Matt now even more than the day I married him. He was a wonderful father to Callie. I am convinced that she would have been a daddy’s girl. She looked like her mom, but her heart would have belonged to daddy. Those are merely ways that Callie impacted the two of us. There are numerous ways that she affected other people as well.
We do not know or understand why we suffered this loss but we do know that God has a plan for Callie. We will hold her again in heaven one day and see the whole picture. What I do know is that God has gotten us through this tragedy that could have destroyed us. We could not have gotten this far without the prayers and support of our family and friends. We grieve with hope of our reunion with Callie one day in heaven.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
This is where I originally ended this story. However, yesterday was August 15, my due date. We visited her grave and sat and talked for a long time together. I began to notice how many babies had lived one day or one month and I began to feel so grateful. What if our baby had lived and had spent her short life in a hospital nursery? What if she had been in constant pain? Who knows what her life would have been like. I know that God’s plan is better than ours. Selfishly we wish she would have lived. Selfishly we want her here with us. How wonderful, though, to know that our daughter opened her eyes for the first time and saw heaven. The first face she saw was Jesus, the first sound she heard was the angels singing. I could not ask for a better life for her.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Beginning...

Matt and I knew that we wanted children before we were married. We were very excited about becoming parents and starting a family. It certainly didn't come easily for us. After trying for a year and a half I began to wonder if maybe something was wrong. They typically say that if you haven't gotten pregnant on your own after a year then you should get things checked out. Things were extremely stressful for us though...we had moved and switched jobs two times during that year and a half and maybe the stress was playing a part. We were meeting with a pastor about a church plant that we might be a part of and we found out that his wife was a nurse practitioner at a fertility clinic. She suggested that I come to see her and get the process going. So I went in early December and we talked about all the options and the process and then decided to set some tests up for a later date. I left that appointment feeling so down. This was not how it was supposed to be! I was supposed to just "get pregnant", have a healthy baby and that was it! I came home and talked to Matt about things.
During that week we received a call from a church in Indiana that Matt had applied to and we were going to go for an interview that weekend. We had quite a long drive so we discussed things with the testing and decided to wait. I was relatively young to be starting fertility testing and since I wasn't keen on the idea yet we would wait. We might reconsider at a later time. We felt such a peace about the decision. The interview went incredibly well that weekend. It was the first time that during an interview we both felt at peace. Matt was offered the job the following Sunday and we were to move in a few weeks. We went home so excited to be moving back closer to family and friends.

Friday, January 2, 2009


It is my hope that this blog will be an encouragement to you. I know that we all have pain and struggles in our lives. Some are more evident than others. It amazes me that even when your heart is overflowing with such love and joy (as mine is) that there can still be such pain. So I write to those who are living with pain--whether pain from today or pain from the past. I'll write more of our story as time goes by. I just wanted to leave hope for today....
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12
I know that God desires to bless us with our 'trees' of life. Just remember that trees take time to grow. They don't happen overnight. For all those hoping and longing for a child....hold on. My heart and arms ache with you.
Blessings to you friend.