December 09, 2016

Rosemary, {almost} Three Months

Darling, dreamy, doll-baby.

Andrew and I keep saying, we didn't know we could make babies like this. Of course we love our boys. I could have eaten them both up with a spoon at this age, too. But Rosemary just looks at us with this smile that says, "I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to weave peace and love and easy-goingness all through this family." Maybe she's a hippy. And even so, one day I'm going print out this blog as a thank you note and take it to my girl in her flowing dress with flowers in her hair... and say thank you, for just being so very, very kind to us.

I was reading Charlie's three month blog earlier today, and I mentioned how I was rocking him before naps. Hmmm... naps?  I'm afraid she's so easy-going that she just kind of follows whatever the family is doing. Sometimes asleep, and sometimes awake...

She is still sleeping beside our bed and when people ask us if she's sleeping well at night, I don't know how to answer that because... Charlie. Charlie has not slept through the night once since we've brought Rosie home. He comes in our room at 3:00, or cries out from his at 2:00 or walks in ready to start the day at 4:00 (that trend lasted a solid three weeks and was the worst, worst, worst). A typical night right now is: Rosemary goes down at 10:00, Charlie comes in our room at 1:00... I cover his mouth (so he doesn't wake Rosemary) and lead him back to his room where I sleep in a twin bed with a line-backer of a two year old until 4:00... when Rosie is up ready to eat... Charlie comes in our room at 5:00 and LET'S GO. COFEE TIME. It's a season, it's a season, it's a season....

Did I mention that Rosie is a dream?

Charlie loves his baby sister. We've found him in front of her swing singing to her... and she's the first thing he wants to see when he wakes up from his nap (blessed, glorious nap!). Wilson is so very sweet with her, too. They are both all up in her face all the time and she LOVES it. She gives them the best grins and kicks and coos... and my heart is swelling with the hope of two big brothers lavishing love and protection over their baby sister for all her days. Step on back, future suitors!

She has rolls on rolls on rolls and I'm just so happy about a chubby baby, because both boys had dropped below average weight at this age. Rosemary weighs more than 86% of her peers and we are so okay with that. It's the by-product of her nursing so well, and because I know the woes of babies and weight-gain, I could really cry out of thankfulness about it.

She has little stork bites everywhere, and the most prominent one is on her left eye lid. It looks like she's wearing pink eyeshadow and I'll be sad when it fades...

We have had a packed three months! Rosemary was born and we were hurled headlong into holidays and travel. 

We had Andrew's parents here with us, and then that whole side of the family came to celebrate and meet Rosemary. We laughed and ate good food and took our annual fuzzy hat picture. 


Allie and Kody came somewhere in there and loved on us. And I guess I didn't take any pics! Newborn haze is real... did any of this actually happen? I wouldn't believe it without pictures to prove me wrong.

My mom came to celebrate Thanksgiving... it was simple and sweet. 


Andrew's parents came back to spend Christmas with us. 


Then my parents, sister and EJ came to open gifts and play and give hugs and kisses.

We took our first big trip with three to Atlanta/Auburn for a week. And just like I suspected... Rosemary made the trip with barely a peep. Who is this child??


And then we made our first trip to Kentucky for Rosemary to meet some of her great-grandparents. She also attended her first show... at the Ryman, no less... and was (no surprise) the best third-wheel we could ask for. 


Rosemary, on January 21 our phone alarms went off at 3:00 am alerting us of a tornado warning. We woke up your brothers and stuffed ourselves inside of the bottom of our linen closet. Your father hovered over the news in the living room while I held you in my lap and had a brother under each of my arms, like a (terrified) mother hen. The weatherman told us the tornado was barreling towards us. At one point, the audio went out in the news studio and they began to hold up paper signs to warn us where it was heading next... you sucked your paci and curled up into me. Charlie laid his head on your legs in my lap. Wilson asked me, "What's going to happen if the tornado hits our house?" And I hated that I couldn't tell him "It won't, we will be fine." So I stammered through--"We just hold onto eachother. Tight." I had such a helpless feeling, Rose... What if the winds tried to rip you from my arms? How could I hold onto all three of you at the same time? My faith was like an atom of a mustard seed. I pled out loud to Jesus to keep us all anchored- our feets anchored to the ground, our hearts anchored to Him, our arms anchored around each other. 

As providence would have it, the tornado missed our house by half a mile. And as reports came in to tell us of our town being shredded, wounded, lives taken... my eyes wouldn't leave your little faces. And I was reminded of my finiteness... how there is a limit to my protection over you. I cannot promise you safety this side of heaven, Rosemary. My heart fights against that, but it's true... 

We try to find safety in policies, in diets, in bank accounts. We look for it in the right school systems and neighborhoods and even in our own families. We think it must be in vacations or full nights of sleep or maybe the right wardrobe. We build up walls around ourselves so that people not like us can't threaten our comfort. I tried to find it in that linen closet... 

Our fear tells us what to run from, but it doesn't tell us what to run towards. So I'll tell you a secret, Rosemary, that so many don't believe. You cannot find safety here. Our King Jesus is the only safe place... and that's because He lives outside of time and space. And yet... He entered into time and space to be our safety, our sure hope. 

But life in Him means He will call you to live a life reflective of His Kingdom... and that's not always safe.

You will be asked to love people not like you.

He will ask you to lay down things that are precious to you to follow Him.

You will need to seek the good of others before you seek it for yourself. 

And that is not always safe... and it is definitely never comfortable. But it's the way to know for sure that you have anchored your life down in the only One who is truly safe. 

Don't anchor your heart here, baby girl... Your father and I will do all that we can to help you throw your anchor towards heaven. We love you!

November 20, 2016


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...