Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Than a Miscarriage

I'm not just grieving the loss of a baby. I'm not just missing my pregnant belly. I'm not just grieving holding my newborn.

I'm grieving.

I'm sad.

I'm missing a lot more than just a baby.

I'm missing.....

newborn pictures
my baby's first bath
changing diapers
hairclips and headbands
being called "mom"
holding her
hearing her giggle when we stay up late just to make cookies
a first day of school
road trips
late nights and high fevers
potty training
clothes shopping
craft days
seeing the excitement in her eyes when she sees something she loves
trips to the store by ourselves
building forts
reading stories together
listening to her practice an instrument
cooking together
sports practices
mission trips
driving lessons
first date
high school graduation
comforting her when she cried
sending her to college
a wedding

I'm not just grieving the loss of a baby, I'm grieving the loss of an entire lifetime.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze

Nothing says "fall" to me like going to a pumpkin patch and through a corn maze. It didn't use to be such a big deal to me, but the first fall I was pregnant I felt this strong urge that it was important to go. Matt and I went to the only one in the small town we lived in and it was full of fake spiders and skeletons! I am terribly afraid of spiders and all things creepy!! Matt was the hero of the day and carried me (5 months pregnant at the time) through the entire maze so I could cover my eyes!! Now we always make sure that the ones we go to are not scary with their decorations!!

Last year we went to Bailey Vegetables and this year we decided to try Craven Farms. 
It was pouring rain when we left Kent and gorgeous sunshine when we got to Snohomish.  God blessed us with the weather!

We went through the 15 acre, yes it was 15 acres, corn maze and then wandered through the pumpkin patch. All the corn mazes up here are huge!

Me and my girlie getting ready for the maze!

The kiddos at the start of the maze. The theme was "Alice in Pumpkin Land"

She is such a card!

Xander didn't quite understand the way the cut-out posing stations worked....

Xander and I being Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

Matt playing the world's biggest croquet game

Xander's turn to be the leader. We let the kids take turns picking which way we went at junctions. That meant we wandered the maze for a good hour and half. 

Xander found a fallen cornstalk and walked around carrying it like his royal scepter. 

Our family selfie. 
(Gabriella loves taking selfies and randomly asks throughout the day to take them)

Our usual silly picture. 
I just love this one of us! It is so "us"!

Who doesn't like smooching in the middle of a gigantic corn maze?

Of course we opted for the longer route....

Xander loved this picture of the March Hare and wanted his picture taken with it. I am loving how much his personality is coming out these days!

We finally made it out of the maze and headed to the pumpkin patch. 
Some of the pumpkins had huge stems on them! 

Gabriella with the perfect pumpkin she picked out

Xander wandered around for a very long time looking for a pumpkin he wanted. We told the kids that they had to be able to pick up the pumpkin all by themselves that they wanted to get. 

Showing me very proudly that he could carry his pumpkin all by himself!

All done and eating a freshly picked apple while daddy wheeled them up to the front gate. 

The clouds were just starting to roll back in as we headed home. God blessed us with such a beautiful day! 

It has been a rough couple of weeks for us filled with lots of tears (from everyone). I am so thankful for today and the wonderful time that God blessed us with! His love goes on forever!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kisses from Heaven

This has been a week of ups and downs. It's been a week of just putting one foot in front of the other. A week of wiping tears. A week of choosing to look for something good. 

I'll be honest, I spent most of the weekend in pajama pants and I think I've eaten about 2,000 calories total in the last 6 days. 

Saturday night I barely slept and was up early Sunday morning. I debated back and forth about going to church or not. It's not that I didn't want to go to church, I just didn't want to cry in front of anyone and I really didn't want to get out of my sweats. 

I got showered and dressed (in clothes other than pajamas) and we made it to church. I am so thankful that I made it to church because God met me in a way that I never expected. 

Now, I love worship. Like seriously, I LOVE worship! One of the main things I am looking forward to in Heaven is worshiping non-stop. I love that moment when we abandon ourselves and our praise lifts the veil between us and God and His presence comes like a whirlwind. 

Worship started and I rose to my feet. A choice. I chose to stand and offer praise to my God. I couldn't sing, I couldn't clap or dance. All I could do was raise my hands and whisper over and over, "You are good. You are good. Your love is always enough." That was all I had to say. At that moment that was everything I had to give. 

As the second song started, and to be honest I have no idea what any of the songs sung that day were, and something broke. I felt God's love in such a strong and tangible way. It came as that intense love that only He can bring. The weight was so heavy on my shoulders that I could barely stand. I stood there, wobbling and shaking under the weight of His love whispering, "You are holy, and worthy and good. Your love is enough for me."

And then, after all the darkness and silence of the week, I finally saw something....

I saw my little girl. She was standing in the garden in Heaven  holding my Grandpa Thomas' hand. She is beautiful! She looks so much like Gabriella, but without the dimple and with straight very white colored blond hair that was up in two little pigtails sticking straight out to the sides. She was about 3 years old and her dress was the most brilliant white.  

She looked at me shyly from behind my Grandpa's hand. Then started stealing smiles at me. Soon she was blowing kisses and started twirling around to show me her pretty dress. 

Letting go of my Grandpa's hand she ran towards me and grabbed my hands. She wrapped them around herself. She was squealing and giggling and laughing the whole time. I was rapt watching her dance and seeing how happy she was. I could have stood there forever holding her and watching her dance and twirl. The sound of her giggle was like the sound of rain that ends a drought.   

It was beautiful. 

The moment I first saw her face, I lost it. In all the hurt and sadness that I have down here, she has none of that in Heaven, She has only ever known Jesus. She knows that I am her mommy and she knows that I love her. But she has only ever known perfect love, joy, acceptance, delight and laughter. 

God turned my gaze away from her and took my hand. He showed me how she looked when she was inside my womb still. It was horrible. Her arm and leg were deformed and blackened. They were curled up and jagged and looked like tree stumps that had been burned and broken. My heart just broke. I cried and cried, in an deep, deep way that I have never cried before. God did know what what was best. He did do the "good" thing. Taking my little girl to Heaven was the best thing that anyone could have ever done for her, and as a parent I understand that. 

Again, God turned my gaze, 

I watched as Jesus came and rescued her from inside me. As He took her spirit from her broken body she began to transform. I watched her broken body grow into a beautiful and whole new one. And there she was, dancing and laughing and jumping. He took something so broken and made something perfectly beautiful out of it. 

I was undone. 

There are moments when we get a glimpse. A glimpse into that eternal picture that is greater than us. A glimpse into the reality of eternal life. And for those moments, when God chooses to show us glimpses, I am so grateful. 

I am still here and I am still sad. But I don't question. I am not angry or bitter. I know that her going straight to Heaven was for the best. 

I know the moment she left me was the best moment of her life because she opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was Jesus. 

I am so thankful that God met me in my brokenness to show me the goodness that He has stored up in Heaven. He cares for us and carries us in our darkest moments. Waiting on Him is sometimes long, and sometimes we never get answers. It is dark and sad. But in those moments when He meets us, it makes all the hurt and sorrow melt away. 

I am not a fan of crying in front of people, and completely losing it is even worse. But in the moment when God meets your broken heart with a kiss from Heaven; *sigh* I would cry in front of the entire world for. 

I still have the grief side of things to walk through. Knowing that she is perfect and whole doesn't take away my sadness, it just gives meaning to the grief. But I know at the end of every day that God truly is good, that His love is always enough and He is worthy of it all!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gentle Whispers

There are over 250,000 words in the English language, but that doesn't always mean there are words for every situation, every feeling, or every moment.

Sometimes there are no words to explain. Some moments are too heavy for words. And more and more I am adding to my list of unanswered questions.

It has been a week of unanswered questions, sorrow and pain. But in the middle of this week, Jesus is still there. God is still good. His promises are still true.

We had another miscarriage. Yes, another one. We now have twice as many kids in heaven as we do on Earth.

It's been 15 months since our last pregnancy and miscarriage. Fifteen months spent grieving, healing and looking forward.

After my previous miscarriage I really struggled with even wanting to try again for another child. I was terrified of going through one again. I didn't think that I would survive another one. My heart was broken, devastated. And God, ever the gentleman, let me grieve. He walked beside me as I waded my way though muddy ground and watched me as I struggled to keep my head above deep waters. Then He came to me in a way I never expected.

I was singing along to a song in the car, "I won't run, when it looks like love. I won't hide beneath the fear of how the past has come undone." And God whispered, "Then why are you running now?" My heart stopped. He was so right. I had been running, running from life and running with fear. He whispered again, "You are willing to love a foster child, even if that means you only have them in your home for a short time, even a day. If I ask you to love someone, it shouldn't be based on how long you will know them. What difference is a couple of days, a few months or a lifetime? If you are willing to do that for someone else's child then why not your own?"

Those soft and gentle words cut into my heart like a knife. Just like God met Elijah at the cave in the mountains, God met me with a gentle whisper. And that gentle whisper changed my heart, in a way that only His gentle whispers can.

One of my friends recently asked me, "What would you do if you had another miscarriage? What would your faith look like if that happened?"

My response was this, "I love how God's presence makes our hearts come undone. There is no hiding with Him. I know that He is good, that He works all things out for good, and that He is the redeemer of all things. I know all of those things and truly believe them. That belief is my anchor, my hope, the only thing that keeps me moving through dark times. But that knowing doesn't take away the pain. God said that He would wipe every tear from our eyes, He didn't say we would never have them. "

And here I am, crying those tears that I hoped to never cry again. Crying tears that no one should ever have to cry. But even through those tears, my heart is steadfast. It may be broken, but it is steadfast. God is just as good today as He was a week ago. He loves me as much today as He did last week.

During the last two days, when we had a definite answer, I have felt such love. Two of my friends surrounded me, sat with me while I cried. Both of them, at separate times, told me, "I don't even know what to say right now, because there really isn't anything to say that will make it better, or make it hurt less. But I am here, and I will sit with you while you are sad." I am so thankful for that. I am so thankful for someone telling me that it was okay to be sad. For someone just being there with me, even late at night.

One of them asked me, "Where do you feel like God is right now?"

Through my tears, I replied, "I know He is right here. He is right here, hovering above me. I can't see Him, and I can't hear Him. But I can feel Him. And I am going to continue moving forward, looking for Him and waiting for Him to speak."

That's where I am right now. I am waiting for that gentle whisper. The gentle whisper that takes the broken pieces of my heart and binds them together. The gentle whisper that says, "I am here."

A friend shared this video with me a week ago. I love it. It perfectly sums up where I am and how I feel. Because at the end of the day, even when tears fall, I will still praise Jesus.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Easy Two Ingredient Applesauce for Canning

A friend generously gave me a 20 pound box of some fun apple varieties. They included Honeycrisp and Hawaii. 

The kids and I made some applesauce with them using this easy, two ingredient recipe. Yep, that's it, only 2 ingredients! 

Apples (as many or few as you like. I used about 12 pounds)
*If you want cinnamon applesauce, then you can add that or ginger and nutmeg. I make a cinnamon batch also that is loaded with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. 

Wash the apples and peel them. Next, core them. This can be done with an Apple Cutter/Corer or by hand. Once they are peeled, cored and cut, toss them into a large, heavy bottomed stock pot with about an inch of water on the bottom. Turn heat to medium and continue prepping apples and adding them to the pot of water as they are ready. Once the pot is completely filled, cover with a lid and turn heat down to medium-low. 

Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until all of the apples are soft. Using a potato masher, carefully mash the apples up until your mixture is small chunks and thick, or to your desired consistency. If you want it smoother, use a Food Mill to run your applesauce through. If you are opting to add cinnamon, do so now. And just add it to taste. 

At this point you can freeze, eat fresh or can your applesauce. 

To can:
Ladle into pre-sanitized jars. Wipe jar rims clean and then put on lids and rings. Place in Canner and process in a hot water bath (add water to canner until it is one inch above the top of the jars, place lid loosely over the top of canner but do not lock closed). Process for 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. 

Note: Lemon juice is not needed for applesauce according to Ball's recipes and website. Sugar is also not needed. Your apples should be sweet enough without the added sugar!  

Xander is finally old enough to be somewhat helpful. This was his fist time getting to use a "real" knife. (Don't worry, it was a very dull butter knife) He had a blast and kept handing me little teenie tiny pieces of apple to put in the cooking pot. 

When the applesauce was done and we tasted it before we canned it. Xander's face lit up when he got to taste what he helped make, it was priceless! Kids should be in the kitchen, involved in cooking and shopping! The more they know the better choices they will make! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Potato Soup with Ham

We recently bought a 50 pound box of yukon gold potatoes for $16. Score! I canned up most of them, but we still had about 15 pounds left that we could just eat. Matt made us several batches of french fries and then I opted for a potato soup. 

We all loved how this soup turned out. It is amazing! It has layers of flavor, great texture and is a perfect dinner on the soon coming chilly fall evenings! 

If you are wanting a vegan version of this recipe, just omit the ham. The amazing flavor of the soup will remain! 

8 large yukon gold potatoes
1 cup onion
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups vegetable stock (I used Pacific Foods Organic Vegetable Broth)
2 cups water
2 carrots
5 stalks celery
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
Cayenne pepper
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (the kind from a box)
3 cups cubed ham, already fully cooked (optional)

Dice the onion and toss it into a large soup pot with the extra virgin olive oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and water, turn heat down to medium. Peel and chop the potatoes into 1-2 inch cubes. Rinse them and then add them to the soup pot. Peel the carrots and then cut into slices. Wash celery and cut into slices. Add both to the soup. Add salt, parsley and a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. 

Simmer on medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are soft. Remove from heat. 

Remove half the soup from the pot. Puree it in a food processor, blender or use a separate bowl and an immersion blender. Return pureed portion back into the pot. 

Put back on low heat and add the coconut milk and ham (if using). Stir together and then simmer for another 15 minutes to get the ham hot. 

This soup is easy, fast and tastes great. It makes a large batch and stores great in the refrigerator for leftovers the next day. 

We enjoyed ours with a side of Sorghum Cornbread

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fantastic French Apple Pie ~ Gluten, dairy, rice flour and refined sugar-free

It is close to fall and apple season is upon us. What better use for all those apples than to make a pie with them?

Here is our family's fav apple pie recipe. It is gluten free, with a crust so amazing you won't believe its gluten free! Also refined sugar, dairy, processed oil, rice and starch free. This pie is sure to become a favorite of yours!

6 cups of thinly sliced and peeled apples ~ I used 4 organic gala apples
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1/8 cup Sorghum Flour
1 Tablespoon organic maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Organic Coconut Sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Get the recipe for my Best Gluten Free Pie Crust
Crumble Topping
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 teaspoon ground organic cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Wash, peel and slice the apples. I use a mandoline slicer and it works so quick and all the apples are sliced uniformly. Put them in a bowl as you are slicing them. Once you have one sliced up, sprinkle on all the remaining filling ingredients. Then stir the remaining slices in as you are slicing them. The seasonings and flour will keep the apples from turning brown. 

Make the pie crust.

Pour the apples into the formed pie crust and spread them out evenly. 

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the crumble topping. Use a fork and mash all the ingredients together. It is okay if there are still some small chunks of coconut oil. It will form a sort of thick paste that you can pick up with your fingers. Spread it with your fingers in a sort of crumbly way over the top of the apples.

Place pie into a preheated oven at 425F. Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil (or a pie crust cover form) to prevent burning the edges. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove foil or cover. Bake another 10-20 minutes or until crust is starting to brown and apples are soft. 

Remove from oven and let cool for 2 hours on a wire cooling rack. 

This pie is simply amazing! It is lightly sweet with a light and flaky crust!