November 20, 2016

Rosemary

In every way, Rosemary has taken our breath. She has been one surprise after another in the best sorts of ways and every bit of her life so far has shouted the love of a good, good God.



Knowing that we would probably be looking at moving this summer, Andrew and I decided that we wanted to try to have our (probably) last child here in Hattiesburg. We love this town, our church, our friends here... dearly... too much to which I can give the full amount of words it deserves here... and felt like it made the most sense to have all of this familiarity and care around us in the newborn stage. We gave ourselves a six month window to try (before we lost the window of our health insurance coverage) and we prayed for the grace to welcome a new life into our family. It didn't happen- and we were resolved to be okay with that. And then, it did. On the seventh month. And there was fear and anxiety (about timing and insurance and how will we get our house ready to sell with a newborn?)... but there was also so much rejoicing.



I cried at the "yes" and said, "Is this true? Can it really be true?" and felt God tenderly holding my face and saying, "Yes, let me love you in this way."



And then. Then on the way home from my home in Kentucky, after announcing to my family... complications started. And I cried in a Publix bathroom and told Andrew it was over when I got to the car. Seven long hours home of quiet. And grief. And anger. How was this love?



The next week I saw my doctor and she was also fairly certain I was losing the baby, and so she started a series of blood work. All of my results confirmed what we already had resigned to- that grief was ahead... waiting for us. And somehow this seemed harder than my first miscarriage because I knew what I was facing. I knew the Lord would be good and tender, but I also knew the pain I was being forced to walk towards.  I wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere until it was all over.



And then I walked into my scheduled ultrasound to confirm a miscarriage and discuss next steps and the technician says, "Well, there's only one!" And I said, "Only one what??" And she says, "Only one baby, only one heartbeat." And my hands covered my mouth and I let every tear flow that had been hiding its hopeful self away in a corner of my heart. It couldn't be true, but it was true. I went straight to my doctor who wrapped her arms around me and said, "I don't have any answers, except that you must have had people praying." Oh, did we! We love our people. Praying this baby girl into existence.

Been through so much with this precious doctor of mine...
And a girl. A girl?! What do we do with pink and bonnets?  Andrew was convinced this was going to be another boy and I just wouldn't let myself cling onto a gender. Wilson begged for a girl because "boys are mean"... but everyone was full-faced smile when the ultra-sound technician gave us the pronoun SHE!

Somehow I ended up with the same nurse I had with Charlie and she was the BEST. 
We had already decided on her name if she were a girl. Wilson wanted a Mary and when my sister was born I wanted to name her Rosie Rainbow. So a little Rosemary made both of our six year old dreams come true! Rosemary is also known as the herb of remembrance... and I know that every time I look at her face I will remember the love that God spoke over us when He breathed another life into our family. Her middle, Virginia, is after my grandmother and I hope she inherits every square inch of her character- including a towering stack of books by her reading chair.



Rosemary Virginia.

We got to see her face for the first time on November 9, my dad's birthday. She came so quickly at 11:03 that my doctor barely got her gloves on in time to catch her.


Andrew prayed over her entrance into the world and I held on so tightly to this little one that I had thought was lost. She was beautiful in every way- in her tiny features, in the way she gripped my finger when I pulled her close, in just being... her very existence was beautiful.



Both Andrew and I had tears flowing over her coming and Andrew so much that my doctor asked him, "How in the world are you going to make it through her wedding?" Pshew, we can't even think about that yet!

Bigs with his birthday buddy! Now Wilson and Rosemary both share a birthday with a grandfather and poor little Charlie is feeling left out about that. 
And two days later we walked her into the chaos that is our life with boys: of sickness and fevers and too many hospital visits and boys up way more in the night than she was. And grace upon grace that she has survived the germs (so far)... but she has also just been this anchor of peace in what seems to be the constant turbulence of our household. A treasure that her brothers just could.not.wait. to get their hands on. She is abundantly loved here!





Rosemary, I'm looking at your little face now and thinking that you can't even know a corner of how much I adore you. How fiercely I would fight for you. I was the first to know you existed... and then I thought I was the first to know that you were leaving us. And I've grieved over my grieving... thinking that there were two weeks of your little life that I thought you were gone. And you were not gone. But the most beautifully wonderful (almost too much for my heart to handle) truth is that when no one else knew or believed you were there- God knew you. He didn't just breathe you into existence, Rosie, He SAW you. He watched you. He never took away His eyes or His hands or His devoted attention to your life. I know it's true because Psalm 139 tells me it's true. And my prayer for you will be that you would live out the meaning of your name, remembrance, and always call to mind these wonderful truths:

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.



I suppose this lie manifests itself in different ways in every generation, but right now social media is doing a good job in decieving us into thinking that our moments don't matter unless someone else sees them. What I want you to remember is this: there was a moment in your little life when we were all grieving your loss. But you weren't unknown in those moments.... your life, even then, had weight and meaning because you had a Father who was watching and weaving and writing the story of your life.  And that will always be true of your life... when you make secret choices that honor Him and that breathe life into others, sometimes no one else will know or see. And sometimes it's better that way. God will. Some days you might feel invisible to people around you, but your existence is always a joyful shout in your Father's ear. You are seen and you are delighted in and your every moment carries the weight of eternity... Rosemary, the eyes of your loving Shepherd are always, always gazing upon you. And your always being seen means that you are always being loved. 


We love you fiercely! Welcome home, Sister.






September 29, 2016

Wilson, Six Years Old

James Wilson, you are beyond my wildest dreams.

This morning when I dropped you off for school, you did this thing that I love. You kept looking back at me, quick side-glances, trying to stifle this grin that was threatening to take over your entire face. I knew what the grin was saying: "Look how big I am, Mom! I have my own backpack and I am walking into school all by myself!" But you were trying to swallow all of that because you also wanted to appear so casual about it... like you've been doing this for a month now, and it's not a big deal. But I really wanted to roll down my window and yell, "It IS a big deal! You are such a big boy and doing big, big things. And your tiny little frame walking into those big double doors just doesn't seem right to me... but you are ready for it!" But I didn't. You're welcome. And as you were swallowing your smile, I was swallowing my tears.


Every day I am looking at you wide-eyed, thinking how wonderfully you're made.

You starting Kindergarten this year was a huge thing in our family and you counted down the days for three months. I've never seen you so excited about something... It felt like exactly what you were made for: a structured environment with people all around you. A full day of social interaction and learning, your two favorite things. You are at this amazing school with an incredible teacher and grace and gospel frame your days. I get pretty teary thinking about how much goodness you are getting there... You can't even know, because it's all you know. You're in a class with Owen, who's been attached to your side (because your mamas have been attached to one another) for five of your six years of life... You really don't and can't remember life without him. Sometimes you fight like brothers, but I love that you have someone so familiar and dear with you while you're away from me.



You are still totally infatuated with all things biological. You've made a new friend on the playground at school who likes to find bugs and I was tickled to the point of tears thinking about these two little entomologists finding a kindred spirit in one another. Wilson, I think it makes me laugh because I am totally amazed by your mind... It is nothing like mine, and so at times I am completely baffled by you. I watched you and Charlie have a light saber fight today in the back yard and you stopped mid-swing because something was flying in front of your face and you were just too curious to let it keep going without you observing it first. Charlie jabbed you in the gut while you were distracted and we all laughed about how different you two are. I love it. Please, just be you.



Charlie moved into your room this month to make room for Baby Sister and you moved from a double bed to a twin. You didn't complain one time. I know there are times when Charlie is taking over your space and he actually bullies you three times as much as you pester him... but mostly you are so kind to him. When you're at school, Charlie will say, "I want Bubba. Go get Bubba?" And that's because you two are one another's best playmate. I know there must be harder times ahead for your relationship, but I hope it will circle back to this sweet friendship. I am really proud of you for laying such a solid foundation for you and your brother.

Panda Express was your Birthday Eve dinner of choice
We still have some struggles with anger that come out of your need to be in control. Don't we all just want to be in control? And all of these moments of fits and tears remind me that I really still have no idea what I'm doing in parenting you (I'm sorry)... and that I am so desperately in need of God to be our Shepherd. We have all failed each other in a lot of areas but sometimes your Daddy will kneel down with you in your time-out chair and will gently and firmly tell you, "I want what you want Wilson. I'm on your side. We just have to figure out how to get there calmly." and it makes me plead with Jesus that this will be the only thing you remember: That we, as a family, are all on the same team. That your sin is our sin and we are fighting it with you. What a beautiful gift we have in family! I'm so glad you are in ours.

You're playing soccer again this fall and I just don't know that sports will ever be your thing. And guess what, Little Man? That is FINE.  I love that you are learning the discipline of practice and what it means to be on a team. Even if your team has only scored one goal this entire season! This summer you took tennis lessons for a week and you wore a sweatband that said "Wilson," which might have been your favorite thing about the experience. The first day you loved every minute but by the end of the week you were begging not to go back. But it was summer in south Mississippi so that may not have a lot to say about your love or lack thereof for sports.


Star Wars is kind of a recurring topic of conversation in our house these days. We went through the entire seven episodes this summer and every time we were about to start one you would say something like, "I can't believe this is really happening. My heart is beating so fast!" Now you have your favorite fight scenes and you know the name of all of the ships and it's all lost on me... but I love that you love it. As I type, you are squinting in the darkness of your room to study all the characters in your Star Wars activity book while Charlie is in dreamland. That is some steady dedication, little Jedi.



You are doing so well in beginning to read. You brought home your first reader from school and sped through it with the biggest smile on your face. I keep thinking what an incredible world you are about to be unleashed to find. You just really can't know how many good things are ahead for you.



Those tears that I was swallowing back this morning were swelling with two different emotions. Yes, it's hard for me to be on this side of the door... watching you walk away from me. I do mourn for the days when we didn't know what it was like to be apart, when our relationship was less complicated and we didn't say things to each other that we regretted. When it was as easy (and as hard) as cheerios, Micky Mouse Club and a trip to the zoo to see your lemurs. But I was also joyfully teary. I was thinking how in God's kingdom, the best is always forward. Further up, and further in. That God's grace always propels us to run and to look ahead because there is nothing to fear when He is at the finish line. Wilson, your best days are coming. There was that moment when you decidedly stopped looking back at me with that stifled grin and just kept walking... but I was still watching. I inched along so that I could watch you until you disappeared into the chaos of other little people who were all tangled up in a criss-cross of their mothers' heart-strings. And when I couldn't see you anymore, God could. He sees. He knows. He is giving landing to your every little but significant step. We love you dearly, Little Man...






July 28, 2016

Charlie is Two!

Charles Henderson, you are God's kindness to us.



We didn't know how much our family needed every inch of your incredibly assertive personality. You are robust in every sense of the word: sturdy and solid in statue... resilient and hardwearing in character.



And yet, in the most beautiful way, you can yield your will to be tender towards others... especially your mama who still gets the best cheek-to-cheek hugs from you. You say "Hey, Mama!" when you come into a room and "Thank you, Mama" when I pour a glass of milk. And in all of these ways, I am reveling in the grace of a little boy who is showing love.




If I thought Brother's will was strong (and I did), boy could I not even fathom what was coming for us in you. You want to do everything on your own these days: walking in parking lots, buckling your carseat, climbing stairs, putting on your pants, calling someone on the phone. "No mama. Stop. I do it." is a favorite phrase of yours. You like to climb on tables and counters and bookcases and it's really the mercy of God that we have only just experienced our first ER visit (When you were trying to climb the back of a kitchen chair and said chair fell back right on top of you. Your bottom lip busted in half and you got one stitch without any numbing, brave boy. The stitch came out an hour later because you are a busy guy, and you will probably have a scar that will bear testament of your bravery.)




One of the few ways that you are like your brother is that you want to be a part of every experience happening in the house. So if something is going on on the kitchen counter, you are pulling up a stool saying, "I see, Mama." If I'm cooking this is usually followed by, "I want some, Mama" which actually sounds like "Awesome, Mama" and makes us all laugh and reply back, "Awesome, Charlie!"




You love playing with Brother, and right now you two are great friends. You follow him around as he catches bugs outside and you help him classify them in the clubhouse. You two have come up with the silliest game that you call "Pop Up," and I still haven't quite figured out the rules. (It goes something like- Brother throws a book to you in your room and has to make it back to the kitchen before you can throw it through the kitchen door... and then reverse?) However it goes, it's always incredible to me that you both devised it on your own. And your giggles running up and down the hall are making this mother's heart swollen with joy.






You could probably use your first haircut, but those little wings in the back are starting to have the hints of a curl and I feel like it's too much of a risk to not see where they're going with that. So... I'm apologizing to your future teenage-self about all the mullets you'll see in pictures of yourself at two!


You have a great sleeping pattern right now- usually a two hour nap in the afternoon and sleeping from  7:00 - 7:00 at night... sometimes you want to get up before the sun and sometimes (blessed sometimes!) you sleep until 8:00. After I found out I was pregnant with Baby Sister, I got really sentimental about bedtime. I started to rock you again before naps and at night and now you won't let me skip it: "Rock, Mama." We have a medley of "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Jesus Loves Me," "The Lord's Prayer," and "There's Just Something about that Name"... then I lay you in the bed and you want to make sure that Rabbit and Woof-Woof both have blankets before you do. I say "I...love...YOU" with a tickle-fest starting on the YOU and it's the highlight of your whole day- you always laugh so hard that you get the hiccups, which I'm sure makes falling to sleep hard for you... but you don't seem to mind. You ask for a high five for you and a high five for "Babbit and Woof-Woof" and out the door I go. Can it go on forever?



I know that it can't...



You're a terrible eater. Just terribly picky and stubborn. Mealtimes are equal parts frustrating and hysterical and maybe they are just hysterically frustrating. I'm not sure how you weigh more than 96% of your peers, because you refuse to eat anything. You dump your plate and laugh, rub applesauce in your hair, throw pork chop in Brother's face... And just when we are all cheering because the green beans made it to your mouth, they turn into spitballs aimed at Mommy. Maybe laughter is our coping mechanism, but we are all usually in stitches by the end.



I don't think I've recorded this on here, but at 18 months you were diagnosed with a tree-nut allergy. The allergist asked us to keep you away from all nuts for a year (WHAT?! NO MORE PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES??) and I about fell over in my chair because trying to figure out something else for lunch sounded like the biggest obstacle of my life at that point. I've definitely made some slip-ups and have not been as careful as I should be at avoiding them. (Last week I caught you digging a peanut butter cracker out of the trash can and eating it. Do you miss them that much?) You haven't had any crazy reactions in a year, so I'm hoping you have grown out of your allergy (because I have learned that I am a total fail at being a food-allergy mom!) But praise the Lord for the allergist, because she gave me tips on how to deal with your eczema which led to you sleeping THROUGH the night for the VERY first time at 18 months and I could have kissed. her. feet.



At this age, your Brother's love for animals was starting to bloom and so I've been watching for where your love is settling. You definitely mimic your brother, so you get excited over fish and bugs and animals too... but can one use the word athlete at this age? You seem very comfortable with kicking soccer balls and running and bouncing a basketball. "He is never still" seems like a cliche thing to say about a little boy, but we really mean it. Never. While you run, you shout "We-oh, we-oh, we-oh" and none of us know where you got that from. You can catch a ball from across a room without batting an eye, and frankly you can throw one with greater force than either of your parents! It's just another sweet reminder that you are your own person... and that there are all of these little pieces of yourself (that we, as your parents, really have nothing to do with) that are starting to surface. It's my favorite part of being a parent... watching beautifully designed personalities blossom and give glory to their Creator. You are glorious, Chachi.



Chachi is another thing. Is it your name now? I feel like we use "Charlie" and "Chachi" about 50/50 but when you talk about yourself you say "Chachi do it" and "Chachi's balloon" so I'm afraid we've tipped the scale. In any case, I don't think there's a more appropriate name for such a firey ball of energy.



Charlie, you honestly take me to the very end of myself these days. You are high-demand, and high-energy, and highly disobedient... but thankfully, because of Jesus, at the end of myself I still have the capacity for love. You scream at me because you do NOT want to change out of your monster pajamas that you've been in for 24 hours and I lay on the floor with my hands over my face.... and then I breathe, and pull you close to me. And in response to every "No, Mama," you get ten kisses on your cheek and suddenly we are both laughing so hard that we forget, for just a minute, that we are in an argument at all. I don't do a lot of things right, in fact I'm fairly certain I do most things wrong, but I am praying that these are the moments that are finding ways to grip onto your heart. That you will remember that lavish love and grace are the foundations of our relationship... and that God would take my poor, weak, failing attempts  at this to give you a picture of His relationship with you.



You are so very loved in our family. Your Daddy's face lights up in ways I've never seen when he walks in the door and sees you. Your brother misses you so much more than he misses us when he's staying the night away. And your scrunched-nose smile does things to my heart that nothing else in this world can; You are adored. You are a delight to your King Jesus and He is smiling back over you... Hide that truth deep away in your heart: You. are. loved.



Happy Two, Chachi!!!