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Friday, February 26, 2010

Be Here Now

Earlier this week, Quincy and I were able to have a wonderful dinner with a couple we only recently met but already love. We are connected by our stories.

You see, this family learned at an 18-week sonogram, that their little one may not have an earthly life. I'll share more if/when I get their permission.

As we sat around the table and talked about our loss and what could be their impending loss (or because with God all things are possible, their impending miraculous healing), one theme was continually repeated.

BE HERE NOW.

One of the hardest things about Ransom's labor was the anticipation about what it would be like. My mind ran absolutely wild with the possibilities. For the other couple, their little girl will likely live to term (again, with God all things are possible, so maybe far beyond that), but that means they have a much longer "anticipation" period. I cannot imagine. God obviously saw fit to allow us a somewhat brief "impending doom" period. The daddy said he felt like he was waiting for a bomb to go off. That is what it feels like. It's insane to know that the worst experience of your life is about to happen. However, being on the other side of the tragedy, I can see how God took this most terrible experience and made it beautiful and amazing, for His glory. Even if I'd allowed my mind to run absolutely wild the entire week leading up to his birth, I could not have predicted what God did. You know? That's God. He does things beyond our wildest imaginings and He can turn bad into good.

I think that the enemy is very wise to convince us to live our lives too much in the past or the future. We tend to miss out on what God is doing RIGHT NOW. We can wallow in our regrets, glory in our accomplishments, or fret about what's to come, all at the expense of what God would do with us now. This doesn't just apply to major stuff. This applies to the little, everyday stuff as well. I don't go through a single day without this struggle. I wake up every morning with a to-do list on my mind. I'm not mindful of the moments with my kids. Instead, I'm thinking about what I will be doing when the moment is over, what I should be doing instead of this... There is always some much to DO. I think that's why God gave us the specific command to BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD. He knew we would not naturally come to that conclusion on our own. He commanded it of us, so that we could stop DOING for a moment and just BE. That is a challenge and a discipline indeed. I've always got something looming ahead of me. It is not always something as challenging as Ransom's story, but there's always SOMEthing... cleaning, taxes, discipline, work, cooking, laundry... you know the drill. I wonder how often I miss out on what God is showing me because I'm failing to be still. Don't get me wrong, the cleaning, taxes, discipline, work, cooking, and laundry must be done, but what would life look like if I was just doing what I was doing at any particular moment, instead of doing what I'm doing while thinking about what I'll do next?

One of the things that God taught me through Ransom is that we really don't need to worry about tomorrow. There is no way I could've predicted what God did, so why was I worried? Quincy said something very profound the other night that I will now butcher. He was saying that when we are coming up with all the possibilities of what will happen in the future (specifically for this family, their baby's birth), the reason we get so overwhelmed with the possibilities, and anxious, and worried, is that God isn't there yet. I'm not being a heretic. I realize God is everywhere and outside of time, but in our minds, we are traveling there without God. When he shows up there with us, in the actual moment itself, everything is turned on its head. We have to realize that our God is so much bigger than our comprehension. We CANNOT understand, predict, or neatly package our God. He does NEW THINGS... and not just new to us, completely new, never-been-done-before things. He is capable of ALL THINGS... and not just all the things we can think of, all the things we never could have imagined! That is a BIG GOD.

So, I will redouble my efforts to be here now. I will search for God in the moment that I am in. I will praise Him in the moment that I am in. I won't "wait" for an opportunity to praise Him. I won't try to figure out how He'll handle the next big thing. I'll just be with Him now. At least, I'll try. I was not meant to bear the burdens of my past and future. God can handle all that. All He's asking of me is to be here now. He's here with me. Together, I think we'll have a lovely time. :)

Ransom's Story, Part 3... and the Beginning of Aspen's Story

Do Everything Without Complaining.


This has been the theme of this pregnancy thus far, and really, of my parenting with Ephraim since my loss. The most tragic event of my life has ironically been one of the very best experiences of my life, and the consequences of that are still reverberating daily. It's funny, and kind of sad how losing a child gives you such a major change in perspective on the child or children who are there with you. If the hardest, most horrible experience in my life was used for good, doesn't it stand to reason that the less hard situations of life can also be used for my good? I think about this all the time. Don't get me wrong. I definitely still fall into the complaining trap, but when I catch myself doing it, it almost makes me sick to my stomach. For heavens sake, I would "suffer through" a million diaper accidents, painful labors, sleepless nights, and other inconveniences if it meant that I were able to have the little one that I lost. The reality is, though, if I hadn't lost him, I'd be complaining about every single one of those things. I'd be complaining about them with Ephraim. I'd be complaining about the pregnancy aches and pains with the little one currently growing inside me. I'd surely complain about all the struggles of new baby life once she arrived. I just don't want to do that.

I look back on my first few months with Ephraim and see how much joy was stolen from me, or how much I willingly gave up. I had a horribly painful infection that made nursing a complete nightmare. The pain of nursing would be horrific during feedings and then last between them even. That pain couldn't necessarily have been any different, but boy, could my attitude have been different in regard to it. Ransom's labor was this crazy experience in my life that taught me how God can LITERALLY bear our burdens for us, carry our pain, and hold us through our struggles if we will let him. It DOES apply to the everyday. It does apply to parenting. I've seen that. I've experienced it. During those painful nursing sessions, I wish I'd had the insight to say, "Ok God, what are you trying to show me through this? How can I rely on You? How can you grow me and teach me and make me more like You?" Instead, I don't really ever remember thinking about God in relation to my nursing struggles. I might have thought, "God, why did you let this happen to me?" but that was the extent of it.

My favorite, favorite, favorite parenting book is called "Sacred Parenting." (By the way, it's written by Gary Thomas, and he is also the author of my favorite marriage book. ALL his books are excellent.) Anyway, "Sacred Parenting" doesn't necessarily give practical parenting tips or suggestions, as most parenting books do. It is based on the theme that "parenting is a school for spiritual formation - and our children are our teachers." Yikes. I don't know why this thought didn't cross my mind much more often. Being a parent is not just about training our kids, it's about God training us. There is no role in life more sacrificial than a parent's role. There are few things more challenging than going from the season of carefree childlessness to sacrificial love. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Replace friends with children, and you get my point. "Laying down our lives" isn't just a one-time simple act on behalf of our children, though. That's almost too easy. It would be reflexive. If a car were coming toward my son, I would immediately, and naturally, throw myself in harm's way to get my child out of it......... but, here's the tougher question. If my child's needs constantly and consistently inconvenience my life, am I willing to "lay down my life" on their behalf? Am I even considering it to be a spiritual choice?

I probably belong in some foreign country, because most of the parenting choices that God has led me to are much more in line with the rest of the world, not America. America is a pretty self-centered, me-first kind of place. That's how we live. That's how we parent. That's how I parented, a lot of the time, until God changed my heart and started to show me how He parented me.

Anyway, I give you all permission to hold me accountable to the pregnancy and parenting without complaints commitment that I've made. And, don't take this personally if you've been complaining a lot... it's a commitment that I've made, not a commitment that I expect everyone else to make. :) On the other hand, if it challenges you and is for your good, examine it. Pray about it. Make a choice. I can certainly use other people on this journey with me.

Much Love,
Jennifer

P.S. - Note about our ultrasound experience coming soon.

I CHOOSE OPTION 2

Thursday was our big day. Ultrasound day. With Ransom, it was at this ultrasound (the one where they are able to tell you the sex) that we found out he had gone to be with Jesus.

The first several weeks of this pregnancy I had nothing but confidence about this baby. I knew without a doubt that she was a girl, that she was healthy, and that everything was going to "work out." (I hate that phrase. Things ALWAYS work out. They even "worked out" with the child that died. I digress.)

Anyway, on July 13, 2009, I dreamt that Aspen died. It was the first hard day of this pregnancy. I'm going to paste an email that I sent to a few people below.

"OK, so far this pregnancy I have had a great deal of peace, and it’s really been a joyous time.

Well, last night I dreamt that Aspen died. It does feel somewhat crazy of me to be putting so much stock in dreams these days, but it is also really difficult not to do so.

I debated about even telling Quincy, because he’s had many more hard days this pregnancy than easy ones. I think it’s just that when Ransom died, the Lord showed me Aspen and not him. So, I get a slightly greater degree of peace than he does. I told him though. He asked me if it made me afraid. Of course, it did. He reminded me that the Lord does not give a spirit of fear, and was just encouraging me that the dream was not from the Lord. Anyway, I also read “My Utmost” for today, which didn’t help so much.

July 13th.
THE PRICE OF VISION
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1
Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died - I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? or - I saw the Lord?
My vision of God depends upon the state of my character. Character determines revelation. Before I can say "I saw also the Lord," there must be something corresponding to God in my character. Until I am born again and begin to see the Kingdom of God , I see along the line of my prejudices only; I need the surgical operation of external events and an internal purification.
It must be God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever. "In all the world there is none but thee, my God, there is none but thee." Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision."

I know that I know that I know, that when Ransom died, I saw the Lord. It was more intimate than I’d ever seen. So, I continued on my path of fear and yuck.

When I had the dream last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and my first semi-coherent thoughts were, “I rebuke that. In the name of Jesus Christ, I rebuke that dream. You will not invade my dreams. You will not make me afraid. You will not steal my peace.” Then I prayed that if the dream was not from the Lord, that He would help me to forget it. I immediately began forgetting the “contents” of the dream. I can’t tell you now what happened, other than that I know she died. To me, that is confirmation that the dream was not from the Lord.

Despite all that, I’ve had a pretty funky morning, just feeling down and defeated about the situation.

I ended up going for a drive and listening to the song, “Healer.” I was thinking about all the controversy surrounding the song and how the guy who’d written it totally made up a story about an illness, etc. I was thinking how, despite that, God uses all things together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. I was thinking how the people singing that song in his church were surely praying for his healing as they sang, and wondering if he got it. Was he healed of his true ailment? Did God give him freedom? Do those who prayed and sang realize that God understood and would apply those prayers to his true need? I then started thinking, “OK God. What is my true need? I need you to be my healer. Give me peace again. Show me.” I started crying and praising Him, and basically came to the point of saying, “Lord, Aspen is yours. If it is your will for her to be with You and not here on earth, I WANT you to have her.” That was probably the hardest statement I’ve ever made in my life… but it’s true. God gave me peace again in that recognition of releasing her to Him.

I was offered an ultrasound. I declined. One of the promises I made myself at the beginning of this pregnancy was that I would not start adding in more “things” to give me temporary or even false peace. I just feel like, once I start down that path, there is no turning back. With Ransom, we heard his heartbeat one week, and he was gone the next. I had someone else offer me a Doppler. I can’t imagine. I’d probably try to rig a way to keep it attached to my body at all times and definitely become neurotic in the process. Please pray that I can keep this promise to myself.

Pray that I can continue to enjoy this pregnancy and live with TRUE peace.

I’ve been watching LOTR today just to see that Gandalf “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” moment again and remind myself of my true identity, power, and the fact that I truly have nothing to fear.

I’m sure that our friends losing their baby a few days ago, along with a number of other things, have become my circumstantial challenges. I, however, am more than a conqueror. Please pray that I can continue to live in that place."

After I sent that email, Ephraim and I went to pick up Quincy. When we were in the car, we listened to the song, "Mighty to Save." My 2-year-old started belting out the words to this song! He had NEVER done that before. NEVER. I don't know if he's even heard the song more than once. Here is the chorus, if you aren't familiar with it. "Savior, He can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save. He is mighty to save. Forever, Author of Salvation. He rose and conquered the grave. Jesus conquered the grave." You can imagine the waterworks. Since that day, he hasn't stopped singing it.

So, that day was a turning point in this pregnancy. It was the real moment of stepping onto the battlefield.

Since then, I've had good moments and bad moments. I'd say I'm living in more victory than defeat. The days drawing nearer to the ultrasound were met with a bit of growing anxiety though. I asked one favor of my midwife, that she allow us to schedule our ultrasound right after seeing her. To be honest, if the baby's heartbeat wasn't there, I wanted her to be the one to tell us. She met and exceeded that favor. The ultrasound technician would be the same person who told us Ephraim was a boy, and that Ransom had died. The look on her face at Ransom's ultrasound was etched so firmly in my mind, there was a part of me that was not looking forward to seeing her at all.

At the ultrasound appointment, I was relieved to see her when she walked into the waiting room. Her hair looked much blonder than I remembered, and she looked thinner. I don't know why that was such a relief to me, but it was. It was like she was different, so things were different. The fearful part of me was still concerned, though I knew my baby's heart was beating, that something could be wrong with her. Maybe she had the cystic hygroma that Ransom had, but it had not yet killed her. I laid on the table and we began. She knew our history and, though I think she was trying to be sensitive, I wouldn't say her bedside is her biggest asset. She spoke mostly in medical terminology, never really saying, "Everything looks good. Your baby is just fine." At one point, she actually said, "This isn't my favorite 4-ventricle heart." What? What does that mean? What she meant was that the baby was moving around so much, it was difficult for her to get the right view of the heart, not that anything was wrong with it. Our baby is indeed, just fine. All the parts are there and working. We have some pictures that I will upload later.

We decided in advance not to have her tell us the sex. We just want to believe what we feel the Lord has already told us. So, she didn't divulge the secret. (We still believe she's a girl.)

Later that day, we went to Babies R Us and registered for her. It was fun and a life-affirming thing.

I realized, prior to the appointment, I had scheduled nothing for the days following. My subconscious fearfulness told me to keep things open, because the hammer just might fall. Once I realized it, I scheduled a whole bunch of things. I don't want to live in fear.

I am very relieved to be past this "landmark" in this pregnancy. If the entire pregnancy is a going to be a spiritual battle, I feel like I've won the first part. I didn't back down, freak out, or lose hope. I had moments of fear, but was quickly reminded that the Lord doesn't give me a spirit of fear. And honestly, what is the worst thing that could happen? My baby could die. I survived that once. It was beautiful, miraculous, and God changed me through it. If that's the path He's chosen for me again, I am confident that my Father knows best. My baby is His. Even if I hold her in my arms, she's His. All you parents out there know that, despite all our best efforts, we cannot keep our children from all harm. Should we live in fear of that? Or should we live confident in the One who truly holds our little ones in His hands?

I choose option 2.


ONE YEAR AGO

One year ago today, we learned that our second son, Ransom Everett, had gone to be with Jesus. It was probably the hardest day of my life. If you've read the whole story, you know how God drew near to us and carried us through that day, the subsequent days, and his beautiful labor and delivery on November 25th.

It is kind of surreal that a year has passed since that day. In those moments, I couldn't even imagine the next hour, much less the next year, but here I am. One year later. I'm 33 weeks pregnant with our next little one, the child I believe God promised us after the sacrifice we gave Him. I've survived a year. I haven't quite finished a subsequent pregnancy though, and that still holds some mixed emotion for me. The major lesson and help that Ransom's life and loss has been to this pregnancy is just not to be afraid. I truly have nothing to fear. Even if, God forbid, I were to lose this baby as well, I know now that I would survive. I am more than a conqueror, really. Not just in word, in practice. As believers, we all are. What an empowering thought that is to me today.

As this November began, I started to again feel the weight of sadness of our loss. I had a couple weeks of missing my son. I knew it was the one year anniversary drawing near. God lifted me out of that place very quickly though. What a beautiful and amazing life my son had! I am not sad for him. He is so much better off. And, on top of that, God gave us another child that would not even be here if we hadn't lost Ransom. What a blessing this little one is and will continue to be. This month, I definitely felt the attacks and temptation to be overwhelmed with despair, though. Here are the practical things that happened.

We had 2 cars. A Ford Explorer and a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a broken air conditioner. Quincy has always done our car repairs and I am SO thankful that God blessed me with a husband with tremendous mechanical ability. Our Explorer had an issue. Quincy fixed it... or so we thought. It died. We ended up having to get it towed to a mechanic, as the damage was beyond Quincy's tool availability and time. It needed a new engine. Um. Ok. Sure. We'll get right on that. NOT. Now, let me tell you what God did. Three weeks before the death of this car, my dad noticed that a neighbor was selling a minivan. He felt like God wanted him to buy that minivan for us, but he wasn't totally sure. He just started praying. The day that Quincy thought he'd fixed the Explorer, my dad asked to meet with him. He told Quincy what he felt like God was leading him to do. Quincy said he'd pray about it and discuss it with me, and basically told my dad to do whatever God told him to do. Some of you know that I made a commitment at the beginning of 2009 to get back to our roots and not use that credit card again. That was the specific commitment. The heart behind it was not to go any further into debt at all. We don't do car payments. The choices before us were driving the 1 broken air conditioning car, which we would do, or God's miraculous intervention. God intervened. My parents hugely blessed us with a beautiful new minivan, with plenty of room for our expanding family. Every time we get in the car, we thank God for this blessing and for the great blessing my parents have been to us.

In the meantime, our dishwasher broke. Yay. Another temptation to freak out. I can definitely live without a dishwasher though, although it isn't my preference. My husband fixed it within 2 days. Praise God!

I should add that, because of my commitment, I have been faithfully buying Christmas presents all year. Not because I "have" to, but because I want to. One of my favorite things about Christmas is buying gifts for people that they will truly appreciate. I like to spend time and think it over. I like to get things for people that they would actually want. I do not like the holiday rush just to get any old thing to meet a quota. I finished my Christmas shopping in October, and was so happy we wouldn't feel the financial crush of Thanksgiving and Christmas, like we have in years past, and be sorely tempted by that credit card again. The continuous breaking of things was not a predicted result of being prepared for the holiday season, but at least we aren't feeling that PLUS the pressure to purchase a bunch of gifts! :)

Next up, the dryer broke. This one is still unrepaired. Quincy started to work on it a couple nights ago and almost electrocuted himself, so he took a break. :) I have confidence that God will either give him the ability and help to fix that thing, provide miraculously for us again (as that dryer and washer was a gift to us when I was pregnant with Ephraim, because our last set died then), or teach us how to be content with less.

What's next? I don't know. It doesn't really matter. In the whole scheme of things, these are just minor bumps in the road. Little inconveniences. Losing my little boy helped me to get some major perspective on those things, not just in understanding, but in experience. I promise you, I used to really freak out about this sort of thing. I'd be upset and stressed. Instead, Quincy and I both have just been at peace. It's ok. Whatever's in front of us, we'll choose to say "hallelujah." :) So my dryer's broken? Guess what, I still get to have this wonderful, amazing day with my genius 2-year-old son, the wee one kicking me in the belly, and the husband that I love dearly. Do I really want the joy of that day stolen by a DRYER???? No. I don't. It isn't worth it.

So, God has provided for us once again. He comes through. We made a financial commitment to Him at the beginning of 2009, have not taken on a dime of additional debt, and have, thus far, ended up with a new, paid-for vehicle, and guess what else? Someone anonymously paid our bill to our midwife.... essentially free medical care. God comes through. I'm telling you, He comes through. I'm living prrof. I know He has used His people to bless us several times over this year, and for that, I am so grateful. Thank you to those of you who anonymously provided for us. Thank you Dad & Mom. Thank you to those of us who have prayed and lifted us up. What a crazy, amazing year.

Thank you, Ransom, for spending 17 weeks with us. Thank You, Jesus, for the gift you gave us through him.... for the gifts you continue to give us through his life and loss... for the peace and perspective. Thank You for loving us.

LABOR, BIRTH, AND GENDER REASSURANCE

I will officially be "in the window" on Thursday and thought it would be a good idea to seek prayer for certain things and offer reassurance for others. :)

Labor. I basically cry every time I really think about it. Not a bad cry. God used Ransom's labor to really open my eyes to this whole other world... what labor COULD be. Words just can't describe what happened that day. God drew near. That's the best explanation I can give. There was pain, but I wasn't really feeling it. It was incredible. Don't get me wrong. There is certainly still that corner of my mind that remembers all too well that labor hurts. I'm trying not to feed that monster, though. I don't want that to be my focus. I just want God to show up. That's all. My "birth plan" this time looks something like this.

BIRTH PLAN
1. Do whatever God leads us to do.

That's it. For that reason, I have no idea who will or won't be in attendance. At this point, I feel pretty guarded about the whole thing and am only comfortable with my husband, and Sharon (midwife extraordinaire), of course. I don't want to feel distracted by others... but... I don't know that I would be distracted by others. If God did lead me to call others, I'm pretty confident that they wouldn't be a distraction to me. So, be aware. Should I randomly call you at a strange hour and invite you to my birth, it is because I felt like God wanted me to do so. If you can come, great. If not, perhaps my calling you was all God wanted. Please don't be offended if I've been to your births but you are not in attendance at mine. This is a healing, full circle, kind of unusual situation. It is nothing personal. Just really focusing on the God thing.

Gender. I know that there are those of you who are concerned about us, should this baby NOT be a girl. I just want to address that. First, God allowed me to have a dream that has given me hope. In that dream, this baby was dressed in pink, so I suppose even a boy whose mom has made tons of pink clothes could be dressed in pink. At the time of the dream, I took it as indication that she would be a girl. We have both worked to hold on to the crazy faith and hope that makes no sense to most people. Seriously, I'm so thankful that God didn't ask me to spend a zillion years building an ark. I feel crazy enough just believing I'm having a girl. hahah :) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know, if this baby should be a boy, we would rejoice. We would be so thankful for another boy. We would praise God for him. It would take us a couple days to figure out his name. I would pack away Aspen's goodies for a later date. We'd pull out Ephraim's hand-me-downs and things would be just fine. I personally, have a preference for more boys than girls anyway. :) That does not mean that I think this baby is a boy. I don't. I still believe it's a girl. I just wanted to reassure those of you who love us and are concerned about us. Thank you for your love. Just affirm and feed our faith for now. If we're wrong, it won't be the first time, and we can deal with that later. :)

So, here are the things that you can pray for.

Pray that I can focus on God more than fear or pain.

Pray that God would draw near to us again.

Pray for our health and safety.

Pray that God prepares us to be parents of a newborn again.

Pray that God prepares Ephraim to be a big brother.

Pray for whatever else God leads you to pray for. He knows the future better than me! ;)

Love you folks! Thanks for lovin' me back.

COMINGS AND GOINGS

It’s taken us quite a long time to settle on Aspen’s middle name, but as of a couple days ago, our decision became clear. Quincy’s Grannie, Elzie Wainwright, was moved from at-home care to Community Hospice. She will soon be going home to be with Jesus, and our little Aspen will take Grannie’s name as her middle name. She will be Aspen Elzie.

I think it is so sweet of the Lord to work out little blessings like these in our life. He will take someone home and give a new life to the same family all in a short window of time. God never leaves us without hope. When I was pregnant with Ephraim, Grannie’s husband, Papa (Allan Wainwright) passed away. I remember being pretty pregnant at that funeral and although everyone was sad that Papa was no longer with them, they all smiled at me and at my belly. Papa’s legacy would go on.

Though Quincy and I have been married 7 years, I never really got to know Grannie. She has been sick and suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia to some degree, the entire course of our marriage. She’s never really remembered me, but now that we’ve decided to give her name to our little one, I asked Quincy today to tell me about his memories of Grannie, about her life, and about her love for the Lord. It is funny because Quincy is the youngest of the Wainwright grandchildren, so I’m sure that his cousins’ memories are a bit longer. I am the oldest of the grandchildren in my family, so it didn’t occur to me until today how much more I do and will remember of my own grandparents than my cousins. With that said, if any Wainwright cousins (or aunts, for that matter!) happen to read this and want to share, feel free.

I will preface this by saying this is Quincy’s understanding and perspective of Grannie’s life. I’m sure lots of details are muddied, but the important things, I think, will stand out.

Grannie grew up in the Middleburg/Penney Farms area. She had a stepsister named Elsie, which must have been terribly confusing at times. Quincy really didn’t know details about her childhood or family life, but I think he’ll soon ask. We do know that the first time Papa went to pick up Grannie for a date, Grannie’s mom was standing on the front porch with a shotgun. Hahah The good old days!

Grannie was really feisty, vivacious, and funny. I’ve always heard to avoid a game of cards (or anything else for that matter) with Grannie, because she liked to win, and she would cheat! If things went missing or pranks were pulled, Grannie was likely the culprit. Sounds like a fun lady to me.

Grannie was also very crafty. You know, of course, this speaks straight to my heart. I have already inherited an ENORMOUS amount of crafting items from Grannie’s craft room… sewing notions, fabrics, zippers, trash bags full of yarn. In fact, all the hats that I’ve made for Aspen have been crafted from Grannie’s yarn. I told Quincy that when I was going through a lot of the items, I felt like I could decorate the walls of a Cracker Barrel. I have spools of yarn that were sold for 15 cents, for heaven’s sake! She made rugs, sewed clothing, did lots of crocheting, and painted ceramics. She obviously loved to be creative, and I hope that my little one will feel the same.

Quincy told me he remembered playing Tiddlywinks with Grannie at the kitchen table. He remembered going fishing with her often. He remembered that she often read him books, including a family favorite, “Ookpik the Owl.” Quincy even has a toy Ookpik that Grannie gave him long ago. He remembered that she and Papa always had a garden. She was a canning queen. He remembered eating some potted peppers on Grannie’s porch, that he was always warned not to eat. He believes his sister instigated this transgression.

Most importantly though, he remembered that Grannie made him feel important. He started to cry when he was telling me this. He said that it might sound silly, but his Grannie always made him feel loved. She gave him her full attention. She played and interacted with him on his level. When Quincy was with his Grannie, he felt valued. Oh that my children would know and feel as important as Grannie made my husband feel. What a convicting statement. I can’t help but think of all the times I push my firstborn aside because I have other things to do, or fail to engage him fully, but man, when my time comes, if my son can say to his wife, “You know, my mom always made me feel important,” I would be very glad.

Grannie and Papa traveled A LOT. They spent months on the road together, first in a conversion van, and later in an RV. They certainly must have been great companions and friends, to desire and enjoy each other’s company to such a degree. When I tell people that my husband works at home and that I am at home also, I often get the response, “We would kill each other! I couldn’t handle that.” Well, I want a Grannie & Papa type marriage. Right now, we have it. There’s no one I’d rather be with than my husband. I hope that remains true for as many years as Grannie and Papa were married.

Quincy and I were married on Grannie & Papa’s 60th wedding anniversary, on May 3, 2002. Papa died about 3 years ago, so we figure they must have been married about 65 years at that point. That fact, in and of itself, should tell you a lot about the kind of woman Grannie was. Quincy felt as though Grannie was a godly wife, who let her husband be the spiritual leader in their home. This was always his perspective of their marriage.

Over the past several years, when Grannie was ill, she spent most of her time in bed. These are my only and Quincy’s most recent memories of Grannie. One of the things he pointed out was that she always said to him, any time he visited her, that she didn’t understand why things were the way they were, but she knew God was taking care of her. Can you imagine being sick and bedridden for years of your life, and faithfully trusting that God knew what He was doing? That’s faith. It speaks a great deal to her character to know that, despite the constancy of her struggles, she continued to rely on and hold fast to the Lord. She has definitely passed on this quiet perseverance and trust in the Lord to her family. I hope my little one will reap the benefits of this part of her legacy as well.

The day that Papa died was a huge shock to the entire family. He was out tilling his garden. He had been Grannie’s caretaker for several years at that point. Everyone expected that Grannie would go first. The Lord had a different plan, though. Quincy wept as he remembered that day. He said he remembered his mom and Uncle Benny going outside to talk with someone. He was alone in a room with Grannie. He said he was just holding her hand and that he had absolutely no idea what to say to her. Her companion of 65 years had just passed away, her best friend, her caretaker, and the one with whom God had knit her heart. Again, she didn’t understand, but she trusted that God knew what was best. Constant faithful perseverance.

Right now, Grannie is very close to joining Jesus, Papa, and our little Ransom. Isn’t it interesting that if we hadn’t lost Ransom, we wouldn’t be about to bring life into the world at this moment, when Grannie is about to leave us? God certainly sees the entire tapestry of our lives and knows exactly how to weave the pains and the joys together for a much more beautiful picture than we could ever come up with on our own. Grannie is laying in a bed in Hospice, with morphine keeping her pain levels down as much as possible, and I pray that she will soon be released from her earthly body. I pray that she knows her life of faith will live on in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

So, if the Lord needs Aspen to enter at the same time Grannie leaves, it will certainly be worth the wait. What a blessing it will be to have a brand new great grandbaby at Grannie’s memorial service, and one who will bear her name. What a blessing Grannie has been to me, by contributing so much to the mother of the man I love, and to the man I love himself. Quincy would not be who he is if it weren’t for Grannie. I hope that our children and grandchildren will gain as much value and faith from us as Grannie imparted to hers.


A PROMISE FULFILLED – THE BIRTH OF ASPEN ELZIE

God is so amazing. I’m constantly in awe of His perfect timing for all things. I admit I was struggling to be patient for the arrival of this little girl, but yet again, He showed me that His timing is best.

Aspen’s due date was January 7, 2010. The day came and went. Ephraim had been born on his due date, so I did not expect to go past this one. God knew better. I was able to be reminded to enjoy every minute with my baby girl, whether she was inside or outside the womb. I was gently redirected to praise Him while I waited. I had been having contractions on and off for several weeks, so I was frequently wondering, “Is this it? Is it the real thing?” It gave me several opportunities to pray for preparation and increased patience.

On the morning of January 12, 2010, I woke up and told Quincy that we all needed to go see Grannie at Hospice. He had already gone to see her by himself and tell her goodbye, but I really felt like the Lord was prompting us all to go, to let her “see the baby in my belly,” and to tell her goodbye. We went and did just that. When one of the nurses came in the room, she asked when I was due. I told her I was 5 days overdue, and she immediately replied, “Oh, they are waiting on each other. I know some people might think I’m crazy when I say things like that, but I’ve worked at Hospice long enough to know that things like that happen all the time.” I told her I didn’t think she was crazy at all, and that I felt exactly the same way. When we were leaving, I felt confident that Grannie would soon go be with Jesus and that Aspen would soon come be with us.

That night, January 12, 2010, our family joined the Fosters and the Warners for a Tied Together shoe sorting party. We found out that several families were in need after the fire at a Chets Creek apartment complex and spent the evening working to provide their footwear needs. During this time, I had about 5 contractions. They were about a half an hour apart, so I wasn’t sure it was the real thing, though they were more intense. Is it a coincidence that my labor would begin at a Tied Together shoe sorting, the ministry that was born and grew, in many ways, out of little Ransom’s life and death? Is it a coincidence that, after Ransom’s death, God showed me through a dream, the exact little girl that I hold in my arms now? My God is not a God of coincidence.

I went home and contractions continued. They became a bit more regular, so I called Sharon to give her a heads up and started baking a cake! I also called my mom to come watch Ephraim, because it was getting late and he needed a slumber party friend so that we wouldn’t have to worry about him.

The contractions quickly progressed to every 5 minutes, but they were still very manageable. During this time, I was sitting on the ball or on our bed, listening to worship music. Quincy was with me most of the time, and also trying to get the birth tub filled and all the other things prepared for labor. As I was listening to music, praying, and having contractions, I was remembering my dream about this little baby. I was remembering that she was a big girl with little bits of dark brown hair. I had seen her. I cried and cried thinking about how God did not have to show me this baby or give me any sort of promise after Ransom’s death, but He had done it anyway. I was overwhelmed with my own unworthiness. I told Quincy how it felt easier to deal with contractions for a baby that I already knew. It was quite humbling.

Sharon arrived and we sat around discussing life. At around 3 a.m., we had been sharing what we’d learned of Grannie’s life with Sharon. We later found out that this was around the time that Grannie went to be with Jesus.

Not longer after, I decided to get into the birth tub. Contractions continued, but remained very manageable. At some point, I felt “pushy.” This labor felt very different than Ephraim’s had. He was posterior and a full 2 pounds lighter, so it is really difficult to compare the two. I suppose that her size and position allowed me to feel the coming down a little more acutely than I had with Ephraim. To be honest, I felt like I was pushing with every contraction from 5 cm on. I did not notice a real delineation between the two types of contractions. Anyway, Sharon checked me and I was only at 5 cm. It was not time to push.

After 4 ½ hours in the tub, things seemed to be stalling. I had slept between lots of contractions and was really exhausted. We all were. Sharon suggested that I go sit on the potty and try to be out of the tub for awhile. I did. The contractions immediately picked up. After some time in the bathroom, I laid in my bed with Quincy. Contractions became intense. Enter the “Jesus-prayer-for-mercy-labor-mode.”

Those of you who know me know that I am not typically an outwardly emotional person. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I think it really boils down to pride and/or insecurity. I’m convinced that God uses labor in my life to humble me and break through that tough exterior. I am a vocal birther. If you are there, you know exactly what I’m thinking and feeling, because I AM TELLING YOU. Actually, I’m mostly praying. Throughout these next contractions, I was praying a variety of things, like, “Jesus, help me. Jesus, rescue me. Jesus, let me push. Jesus, carry me, etc.” Also, I spent some time focusing on the “Jesus Jesus Jesus” prayer method.

Once we were all pretty convinced that labor had really picked up, Sharon wanted to check me. I was terrified. I told Quincy that I needed him to pray for me because I was afraid of being checked, afraid of where I would be at, etc. He prayed. He and Sharon both reassured me, telling me I had nothing to fear, and I remember agreeing with them and saying, “I know you’re right. I know you’re right.” She checked me and I was at 6 cm. I actually wasn’t disappointed though. I knew that whatever was about to happen, was about to happen fast. Things were intense. I was on the verge of complete panic, and I knew this was transition.

Sharon suggested I get back in the tub and back into a squatting position. I did. I remember looking at the clock when we left the bed to return to the tub. It was 10 am. I remember praying, “Lord, just let me be done before lunch.” Hahah

Wow. Things were intense in that tub. That squatting position really does its job, but it is painful. I was still vocal and praying throughout contractions, but my focus shifted slightly. I was fighting really hard to praise God through these contractions. I knew that I could praise God, but I was hurting. I was praying, “Jesus, help me praise You. I know You are good. I know this is what’s best. Help me.” I’m not sure of the exact timing, but about 30 minutes later, I was complete. Again, I really felt like I was pushing since I had been at 5 cm, but pushing began in earnest at around that time. I had been moaning, grunting, and making all the primal sounds of birth, but it only took 8 minutes to push her out! Her head was a full inch larger than Ephraim’s had been, and the pushing felt much more painful than it had with Ephraim (although a dulled memory is probably the real culprit for that). I know that, at one point, Sharon tried to get me to reach down and feel my baby. I thought I was going to completely fall over into the tub, so I refused.

When Aspen had come out, Sharon told me to reach down and get her. I did. As I pulled her out of the water, the only way I know how to describe the moment was being absolutely crushed by the weight of God’s glory. There she was. It was the baby in my dream. She was big, she was a girl, and she had little bits of dark hair. I wept. I don’t mean that I cried a sweet cry. I wept. It was the whole body heaving kind of cry. We had come full circle. The promise had been fulfilled. God did not have to show me this baby before her birth. He had done it. We had trusted Him that she would be a girl. We hadn’t had a backup plan. No “just-in-case” boy names. No purchasing of lots of gender-neutral items. We’d stepped out and believed Him…. And here she was. My baby girl, the promised child. Quincy cried with me. My mom and Ephraim came to see her. I know my mom was crying, but Ephraim was just excited. My mom said that when the two of them went back downstairs, he started picking out the toys that she could have. What a sweet big brother.

I am absolutely amazed and in awe of our God. The miracle of new life is overwhelming in itself, but to have this little miracle in this way is just crushing, in a good way. Why does the God of the universe love me so much? Who am I that He is mindful of me? I keep thinking of the lyric from Addison Road’s “What Do I Know of Holy” that says “Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be, the slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees.” I have such an infinitesimally tiny understanding of the King of Glory, and He peeled back a bit more of the veil to reveal His blinding light to me. I am astounded. To God be the glory, forever and ever.

Ransom's Story, Part 2

THE FEET OF ETHIOPIA
(This post originally had pictures, which were removed.)


Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you so much to those of you who donated shoes in honor of Ransom. We were so moved when we were first able to see the pictures of the great things that God was able to accomplish through the short life of our little boy.

Manny shared several stories with Quincy about the shoe dispersement… so I’ll do my best to share them with all of you.

The children of Elpis were so thankful to receive their shoes. The adults were washing the feet of the little ones and then carrying them into the feeding center to be fitted with their new shoes.

Many of the children received a pair of brand-new shoes while many others received what Manny referred to as a “bobo” pair of shoes (if you know Manny, you know that is a direct quote). Those kids did not care! They were so grateful to receive any shoes!

At this point, they actually broke out in song because they were so excited about their new shoes!

Many of the children (and adults) had never had shoes with laces so the Elpis volunteers had lots of opportunities to hone their skills! (Note for the future: If you want to buy shoes to donate to Tied Together, Velcro is good!)

The next day, when the children returned to the feeding center, many of them were not wearing their new shoes. They cherished these new possessions and did not want to mess them up.

Many of the mothers who came to get shoes for their children tried to obtain shoes several sizes too big for their little ones. They knew that these would likely be the only pair of shoes that their kids would receive and wanted them to have as much “grow time” as possible.

After providing shoes to the children of Elpis, they sent word to the local churches to send the poorest of the poor to the feeding center to receive shoes. By late afternoon, Manny said that there were probably a thousand people lined up to receive shoes! A THOUSAND PEOPLE! We sent a lot of shoes, but we sure did not send a thousand pairs of shoes! They actually broke down the gate outside the feeding center (not in anger but excitement) while waiting to get their shoes. Manny eventually had to tell the others that there were no shoes left and that they had to go. For the rest of the trip, in several neighboring towns, they were asked for shoes. What a blessing!

Thank you for being part of this mission.

There are many, many more pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/quenifers/TiedTogetherElpisInternationalEthiopia?authkey=EkIuwkw2_wY&feat=directlink

Enjoy, and thanks again!

Love,

Jennifer, Quincy, & Ephraim Richardson
& the rest of Tied Together (aka Mark, Janice, Ian, & Kylie Foster and Jason, Britney, & Lincoln Warner)

A CHAPTER CLOSES

At midnight 2 years ago, my labor with Ephraim began. He was eventually born on the morning of April 20th, around 6:30 am. This Monday, he will be 2. This Monday was also to be the day that our second son, Ransom Everett, was to be born; however, this was not God’s plan for our second little boy.

There are some moments in life that we never forget. Some things are etched into our minds so clearly that we can still see them when we close our eyes. I will never forget the look on our sonographer’s face on November 20, 2008. I knew. I knew before she said a word. I’ll never forget Quincy saying, “Is the baby moving?” I’ll never forget Ephraim referring to my stomach, for the first time, as “boo-boo” instead of “baby.” I still have the gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it now. This loss will never be gone from us. Losing a child is tragic. It leaves a permanent scar. It cannot be reversed. There are some wounds that time cannot heal. The loss of a child is one of them.

These past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotion. I have been blessed to truly know that God draws near to the brokenhearted. I saw a mountain of despair and found, at it’s peak, an eternal weight of glory so magnificent that my light momentary affliction paled in comparison. I found myself thinking, “Lord, bring the pain again. Let me see You that closely again.” My thoughts were tempered with my humanly fear of what mountain of despair would lead me back to that peak. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to feel pain. But, I do want to feel near.

There have been many, many times over the last few months when I’ve thought, “I would still be pregnant right now.” I’ve wondered if I would be complaining about my discomfort or if I would be as big as a whale. I’ve looked around at my multitude of pregnant friends and realized it was just a few short months ago that I was amongst them, awaiting the arrival of my newest little one. I was honored to attend 3 of their births. I thought, in some ways, that those births would be difficult to watch, agonizing to bear. They weren’t. God drew near in those times again. I was so happy for each of my friends who had hiked up each of their own mountains of despair to reach their own mountaintop experiences. I praise God that they each have their own little people to hold and comfort. I praise God that He is using these tiny little people to refine my friends and make them more like Him. God used our Ransom to do that in us. God continues to use Ephraim to do that in us.

I’ll never forget seeing those pictures from Ethiopia for the first time and realizing that so many of those shoes were given because our son was lost. Honestly, it was beautiful and special, but it also hurt. I thought, “God, did my son really have to die for shoes?” He did not die just for shoes, though.

I’ll never forget going to the mailbox and receiving shoes and letters in the mail from complete strangers, many who had similar losses, and who knew my pain intimately.

I’ll never forget attending a funeral for another couple who lost a little one so soon after our boy went to be with Jesus. I couldn’t take my eyes off the mother. I knew her thoughts. I knew her agony. I held her in my heart and lifted her to our Savior.

I’ll never wake up from a vivid dream without wondering what it means. I am so grateful that the Lord used a dream to prepare me for what was to come, but I am sometimes afraid to go to sleep.

I’ll never here someone say, “We’re going to find out the sex tomorrow!” without catching my breath and praying for mercy. I am certain that the temptation to be overcome by this fear in the future for myself will be a heavy burden to bear. I am also certain that the Lord brought us through tragedy once, and in such a magnificent way, that there is nothing that I should fear.

I’ll never forget my first MOMS group meeting at Fruitful Vine after losing Ransom. I almost broke out in a sweat wondering how to introduce myself. Everyone always shares their names and the names and ages of their little ones. It felt like a betrayal to my second child to not mention his name. It felt cruel to a group of many pregnant women to bring up my loss.

I’ll never forget the awkward moments with family and friends. If they said nothing, it hurt. If they said something, it was likely the wrong thing, and that hurt. Loss hurts. It is complicated and difficult for everyone.

I’ll never forget going to Wal-Mart with the news that the child in my womb had passed. I remember wondering how in the world people could be grocery shopping at a time like this. How had the entire world kept running when mine had stopped?

I’ll never forget going to Ross to buy a dress to wear to my son’s funeral. I thought, “I am 27 years old. I should not be buying a dress for my son’s funeral. No one should ever have to buy a dress for their child’s funeral.”

I’ll never forget the songs that we sang at Ransom’s funeral. I will never sing them again without tears.

I look back on the short 17 weeks that we had with Ransom and I know that I will never look at pregnancy the same way again. I will do my best to cherish every ache, pain, discomfort, and illness that I feel on behalf of my future children. God uses those things to make us more like Him. I desire to be a mother who is more willing to sacrifice for her little ones. My Ransom taught me that. My short time with this little one also shouted to my soul what this life is all about. I confess, I don’t care about our economy, politics, religious denominational rightness, or church growth strategies. I don’t want to waste my moments arguing rightness. I want to live rightly. I want to be the kind of wife my husband deserves. I want to be the kind of parent that my heavenly Father is to me. I want to give lavishly, even recklessly. I want to figure out what God’s Word says about things and be willing to look at everything through His eyes. I want to shoe the feet of the masses. I want to feed the hungry. I want to no longer be slave to the lender. I don’t want to sit in judgment of the people who do not know my God. I want to love them with all my heart. I want my Father to be proud of me. Whether I have 17 more weeks, or 17 million weeks, I want to pour out my life in love.

I’ve been thinking about Jeremiah a lot lately. He was this crazy, young, unpopular prophet, especially with the religious leaders of his day. I sort of feel like a crazy, young prophet sometimes. I’ve got all sorts of unpopular views and opinions that can be dismissed because of my youth, but God still challenges me to share them. I want to honor Him. My plans are momentary and fleeting. His are eternal. When we prayed that Ransom would go forth in the wisdom and power of Elijah, I never considered that much God’s purpose for his life would continue to be accomplished through the courage he bestowed on me. So, I have to continue to share truth in love, to honor my God and to honor my son. I have to continue sharing and living God’s Word despite the fact that it’s a pretty isolated and narrow path.

I am thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned through the life and loss of Ransom. It is amazing how God uses the smallest packages to deliver His biggest gifts.

I am sure that Monday will be bittersweet for me. The “I Would Still Be Pregnant” chapter of my journey will officially close. Ephraim will turn 2. We will celebrate. I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to give Ransom a due date that mirrored Ephraim’s. I suppose He knew we could use the distraction when the day arrived. Though this chapter will end, Ransom’s effect upon my life will continue. I am hoping to hold to the “lessons of my youth” that I have learned so far. I am looking forward to learning and growing in the next chapter of my journey. I am grateful for your love. I offer you mine.

Jennifer

PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 40% CHANCE OF RAIN

Today was Ephraim’s second birthday and Ransom’s due date. The weather forecast was partly cloudy with a 40% chance of rain. That was a pretty good description of my emotional state and the overall day as well.

I woke up this morning with plans and expectations about our day. We decided in advance that we would be taking Ephraim to the zoo today, purchasing passes as his birthday gift, and having a great time together.

Ephraim came running into our room not long after I woke up. Quincy and I immediately began showering him with affection and excitement. “You’re 2! You’re 2!” Whether he fully comprehended what all the fuss was about, he definitely enjoyed it. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him. We rejoiced. We told him how we were going to the zoo to see the animals. He was thrilled! We asked him a hundred times how old he was. He excitedly answered, “TWO! TWO!” I took Ephraim downstairs to get a CINNAMON WAFFLE (woot woot!) while Quincy stayed in bed a little longer. Because…

Quincy is sick. He’s congested. He’s got a cough and sore throat. Ephraim has a runny nose. Not what I most desired for this day, but not so big a deal, right?

After cooking Ephraim’s waffle, I sat down to check out the status of our bank account. (I can’t explain this next part of the story without giving a bunch of back story. Bear with me. Also, this may be, to many of you, some of my crazy Jeremiah stuff.) Several years ago, the Lord challenged Quincy and I to make some major changes that had major effects on our financial comfort. We both once worked full time for companies where our paychecks were never in question. We lived in a much bigger home. God challenged us first to sacrifice the home. So much of our money was going to our own little kingdom and we just didn’t feel good about it. We sold the place. God challenged Quincy to leave his job and start his own business. Scary. Those of you who own your own businesses know that, especially in the first few years, your paycheck is anything but guaranteed, and most definitely not scheduled. Next, God challenged me to leave my job. What?! I know. I left the job. We have really been living by God’s mercy ever since. For most of our marriage, we had never used a credit card. We just paid cash for things. If we didn’t have the cash, we didn’t buy it. Last year, our toughest year both emotionally and financially, our credit card got used… especially at the end of the year, with losing Ransom, Quincy needing to grieve more than needing to build websites, and the dreaded holiday money-drain.

On New Year’s Eve of this year, I made a commitment to the Lord. I would actually go so far as to say it was a covenant with Him. He takes those really seriously and so do I. I wanted to get back to our roots. I promised the Lord that, no matter what, I would not use that credit card in 2009. If He didn’t provide it for us, we just wouldn’t pay it, whatever “it” might be. Fortunately, the Lord opened a door for me to make some additional income for my family while still being home with Ephraim. This is a priority for us. Today was supposed to be my pay day. I logged on to our bank account and found, unfortunately, that I had not been paid. My heart sank. In the meantime, Quincy had showered and come downstairs to join us. I told him about my paycheck. Quincy, you must understand, is an eternal optimist. I know that I drive him bonkers sometimes because I just have days or moments when I just want to be sad about something. He said, “Well, that’s no big deal. We’ll just go and have fun anyway. We’ll put it on the credit card and pay it as soon as you get paid.” My husband would never encourage me to break a covenant that I had made with the Lord. I don’t think I’d really told him about that, at least the seriousness of it, until today. I said, “I’m going to go take a shower and get ready. Maybe it will be deposited when I get back. If not, I think I might have a meltdown.” That’s exactly how I felt. Hanging by a thread. Wanting to enjoy the day with my big boy, missing my little boy, and wondering why God would allow this “glitch” in my plan. I’ll be honest, when I was in the shower, I was pretty upset with God. I was thinking, “Lord, why? You know this is already a hard day for me. Why isn’t the money just in the bank account so we don’t have to worry about it and can have fun?” I immediately started thinking of Jonah. He had this HUGE miraculous experience with God. Then, when he was hot and the shade tree situation wasn’t working out for him, he was devastated. He was whining to God about being hot. I felt very Jonah-ish. It felt so stupid to be so upset about money in light of all the things that God has done for me. I thought, “Even if we can’t go to the zoo, we can still have tons of fun together. It doesn’t have to be about the zoo. We can figure out something else.” Then, I thought, “Well, Quincy didn’t make the commitment about the credit card. If he uses it, that isn’t really breaking my promise, is it?” This line of thought reminded me of another conversation in the Bible. “He didn’t really say you couldn’t eat that fruit, did He?” Ugh. No. That’s just the way it is. If we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money.

I got dressed and ready and headed back downstairs. I checked again. No paycheck. My heart sank. I was trying really hard not to be hurt that God would allow this to happen on a day that was already a tangled knot of emotion. I was failing.

Quincy figured out every penny that we could squeeze from his business account in order to write him a small paycheck. He even found a small check that we had forgotten to deposit! Praise the Lord! It wasn’t what I’d expected, but it could work.

We went to the bank first. Our bank teller is a sweet, wonderful lady. She knows us well, because, as small business owners, we see her on an almost-daily basis. She knows Ransom’s story. She also recently lost her mother.

Because Ephraim has the firm belief that the bank is actually a drive-through lollipop restaurant, our teller gave him TWO blue lollipops. Blue is his favorite color. He was thrilled! We told her that we were planning to take him to the zoo. She was very excited for all of us.

Because I had not seen her since her mother passed away, I told her how sorry I was for her loss. With tears, she started to tell us how God used Ransom’s story to prepare her to let go of her mother. She was really grateful that we allowed her to be a part of it. She was thankful that the Lord brought us together. It was sweet. It was difficult.

Our deposit made, we were on our way. I was looking around at the sky. One half of the sky was bright, sunny, and blue. The other half of the sky was thick with black clouds. I thought the sky was a perfect reflection of my own feelings. I could choose the blue sky. I could choose the dark clouds. At times, I wouldn’t even have a choice. At other times, both would thrust themselves upon me.

Once we were at the zoo, Ephraim was really happy. He was running around and climbing on rocks. He was somewhat unimpressed with the actual animals, but he definitely enjoyed all the other children. It began to rain. Again, this was not what I expected or desired, but it wasn’t a huge deal. It was that sunny, light rain. It was EXACTLY how I felt. I was so happy for my big boy, but there was a slight drizzle on my heart.

We rode the train, Ephraim’s favorite part of the experience. He was so excited about the sounds of the train and the lights near the tracks. We explored a little longer and eventually headed home for lunch and Ephraim’s nap.

The next few hours were uneventful as we just waited for our little man to wake up.

On Monday nights, I’ve been taking a cake decorating class at JoAnn’s. Quincy, knowing I didn’t want to be away from him or Ephraim for too long, offered to drive out to the Town Center with me, have Chick-Fil-A for dinner, let Ephraim enjoy the playplace, and keep him busy during my two-hour class. I should mention that this morning, when we asked Ephraim what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said, “Playplace. Plug-it.” (Plug-it = Publix) I have no idea what the Publix thing was about so, we just told him he meant “zoo.” :) Our dinner was fun. The playplace was amazing. Ephraim ran around and climbed and squealed. He really likes the little white car at the top of the Chick-Fil-A playplaces. He drove that joker better than Mario Andretti.

They dropped me off at class and Quincy took Ephraim to Adventure Landing! I know they had great fun. I had a little trouble focusing in class. I just felt “different” today. It wasn’t necessarily a bad class. It’s just been a strange day.

They picked me up and we headed home. I was silent and pensive the entire way. I was thinking, if I had delivered Ransom on his due date, as I had done with Ephraim, we’d be at home with 2 little boys right then. We’d be exhausted. We’d be riding on new baby euphoria…. but it wasn’t meant to be. These were all just my ideas. They were never reality, never God’s plan.

We bathed Ephraim and put him to sleep. Quincy is asleep as well.

I sat down to write this note and got an email from a woman I love and admire. She had an appointment with her OB today and found out that her baby had no heartbeat. My heart is broken for my friend. I am so sad that any women have to experience what I have had to experience. But, I also know her baby is perfect. I know her baby is with Jesus. I know her baby is with mine. I know she will glorify God through her loss. I know He will draw near to her. I know her testimony will be beautiful and miraculous.

I know my own loss was not just about me. I know my loss was about each of you. I know my loss was about my bank teller. I know my loss was about my friend.

I am no longer “supposed to be pregnant.” I am “supposed to be holding a newborn.” This is a new and different part of my grief. And I know my God will carry me through it, as He has carried me through all the rest.

I rejoice for my two-year-old son. He is a joy to me. I mourn my 17-week-old son. He is surely a joy to my God.

The sun shines on, even when the rain falls. The sun shines on, even when the clouds hide its glory. The sun shines on. The Son shines on.


YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned that two friends have lost babies. I have been so sad for them and known their pain a little too familiarly. I hope I’ve been able to encourage them as I truly believe we experience pain for two reasons. One reason is to grow. The other reason is to love. There’s definitely something to the ability to comfort someone else with the same comfort you’ve been given. It’s nice not to be alone. It’s nice to know you aren’t the only one. It’s nice to see someone has survived longer than you can imagine in those first moments. I know it was nice for me. When I first found out about Ransom, I only knew of one woman who had an experience similar to mine in that she birthed her child. I wanted to talk to her. I knew she had survived because I didn’t know her until a few years after that happened but, I just wanted to be assured that she was, indeed, still walking this planet. She called me and ended up leaving a message. It wasn’t anything revolutionary, but hearing her voice made me cry. I thought, “She survived. She’s ok. I’m gonna be ok.” I hope I’ve been able to offer that same hope to my friends.

God is good. God was good when we found out we were pregnant with Ephraim. God was good when he was born healthy and alive. God was good when we found out we were pregnant with Ransom. God was good when we found out we’d lost him. God has been good in all the wonderful moments since and all the tough moments since. God’s goodness is completely irrelevant to my circumstances. He’s really taught me how to praise Him despite them.

So, the circle of life continues. We found out the day after our 7th anniversary that we are pregnant with another little one. We are happy and scared. We are hopeful and cautious. We know that God carried us through a previous loss and, if necessary, He’d carry us through another one. We truly have nothing to fear.

Here’s some practical information. Ransom died of a cystic hygroma. I’ve done very limited research on this topic. Many different things can cause this. We chose not to have testing done on Ransom’s body to find out why he died. We made this choice in faith. We decided, a long time ago, to trust God with our childbearing. We didn’t want information that would affect the choice we had already made. I’ve thought many times about how, when we decided to trust God with our childbearing, I was scared about having way too many kids… about the “financial aspect” of it… about the “impracticality.” I never considered the alternative. Would I trust God if I LOST too many kids? Wow. That’s an even bigger pill to swallow. Ultimately, we made the choice. Until or unless God shows us something different, this is the path we are taking. Anyway, back to Ransom. Because we didn’t do testing, we really don’t know the cause. We could either be very likely to have it happen again or very unlikely. We won’t know until we know. Either way, God is good.

Here’s some spiritual information. Very few of you know this story and I almost hesitate to share it because I feel like a crazy person. I can’t say that’s entirely untrue though, I am pretty crazy. Here goes. For those of you who have followed our story all along, you know about the dream I had about Ransom. The night after we got home from the hospital, I had the same dream. This time, there was a baby girl behind him. She was bald like Ephraim, except that her little bits of hair were dark. She was a “big girl,” not tiny like Ransom. I knew she was a girl because she was all dressed in pink. When I woke up, I felt about a million percent sure that God was telling me we had a little girl on the way, that she would be healthy, and that it wouldn’t be too long. So, here we are. We seem to have conceived right around Ransom’s due date. The due date for this baby is January 7, 2010. I’m excited to see if God will fulfill this dream. I don’t know if I’m quite bold enough right now to say that I am sure she’s going to be a girl with dark hair, and she’s going to be healthy. I have, however, had a few moments in past months, with my closest friends, where I was bold enough to say just that. I guess time will tell.

Rejoice with us. Praise God with us. We hope you have been praising God with us all along, despite circumstances. Pray for us. We are starting each day choosing not to be afraid. We are choosing to thoroughly enjoy every moment we have with this little one, whether it is only a few weeks, or many years. I’ve already had a few headaches and nauseated moments, and I automatically thought, “Thank you Lord that my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing! Bring on the sickness. It’s worth it for my little one.” I am certain this attitude will come and go, but I’d really like to hold on to it as much as possible. Perspective changes everything.

One last thing I want to share. I’ve shared this several times with several different people. I think it applies to a multitude of circumstances. I know it applies to mine. (Bear with the following nerdiness.) In the first Lord of the Rings movie, there is this scene that always makes me cry. They are running across this bridge in the mines of Moria. This monster, a Balrog, to be precise, is coming after them. Gandalf stops on the bridge and faces the monster. He yells, “You cannot pass!” The monster keeps coming at them. He says, “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun.” A moment of silence. “Go back to the shadow.” Another moment of silence. “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!!” Every single time I see that scene, I cry. I think if I had any clue of the power that I have in Christ, I would face my own fears with that kind of confidence. I would slam my staff into the ground. I would say, “I am a servant of the Most High God, bearer of His Holy Spirit. The dark fire will not avail you, my enemy.” “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!” I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Yeah, great. Doesn’t Gandalf fall off the cliff in that scene?” Yes. He does. BUT THAT MONSTER DOES NOT PASS. And if you know the whole story, you know that Gandalf falls and fights that monster and emerges as Gandalf the White. Here’s a youtube clip of the scene. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44kBN340vd4 Knowing Tolkien’s motivation for writing these books, I don’t think my interpretation or encouragement from that scene is far from the mark that he intended. So, as I daily declare to my fears that they shall not pass, join with me. Declare the same to your own. Slam your staffs into the ground and refuse to be defeated. Join with me “until at last we throw down our enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside.”

Quincy’s life verse, and mine too, by marriage, osmosis, and life experience – “The Lord did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, of power, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

That’s probably the strangest “We’re Pregnant!” announcement you’ve ever read, right? :)

Jennifer

Ransom's Story, Part 1

Ok wow. I wrote A LOT during this time. I'm going to have to divide it into more readable parts. I'm also leaving out the Extreme Makeover story, which is and isn't related. I also realized that I can't share Ransom's story without sharing Aspen's, so it begins with the loss of Ransom and ends with the birth of Aspen. Enjoy!

The entries are separated by the bolded titles, and took place over many months. (I should've found the dates, but I'm telling you, I wrote A LOT.)

HE GIVES AND TAKES AWAY


Friends and Family,

Today we went for an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. Instead, we learned that our baby’s heart had stopped beating and that our baby is with Jesus. Obviously, we are grieving and devastated by this loss. However, we desperately want to praise our Lord in this storm and thank Him for the brief life He entrusted to us. Because our child is too old to miscarry, we will soon choose a day to induce labor and deliver our baby. We have not decided how we want this day to take place, so please pray for wisdom and guidance. We ask that you allow us a couple of days of privacy as we grieve.

We do not want the loss of this child to be a secret. Please share our story with anyone and everyone you know who can pray for us as we walk through this difficult time.

To my dear sweet pregnant friends, please know that my loss does not at all diminish the joy and excitement I feel about the impending births of your children. I am so excited to meet your little ones!

We will likely plan a memorial service soon after delivery and will make you aware of the details.

Thank you so much for loving us.

Blessed be His name,

Jennifer, Quincy, & Ephraim

LABOR AND DELIVERY

Dear Friends and Family,

We wanted to let you know about the upcoming labor and delivery of our little one.

Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. we will go to St. Luke’s Hospital to be induced.

We want to let all of you know that you are welcome to be at the hospital, in the waiting room, at your workplaces, or in your homes but still with us… praying for us, praising God, reading the Psalms and praying them over us. We plan to try to read through the Psalms as we labor. We know that this will be one of the most difficult days of our lives but strongly desire to experience the fullness of it. We realized that we will not experience the joys and pains of raising this child but we are so blessed to have the opportunity to experience the labor and birth of this child. Most of you know our views and opinions on natural childbirth and how powerful and magnificent Ephraim’s labor was. With that in mind, we realize this labor can and will be just as powerful and magnificent. We will be given medicine in order to be induced but we will not accept pain medication. We want to feel the fullness of the experience. As this will be our first, and God-willing, only hospital birth, please pray for compassionate nurses and medical staff who will respect our wishes not to be offered pain medication. We aren’t sure yet whether we will invite you to come into the room as we labor but we may ask some of you to join us at particular moments. We obviously don’t know what to expect so please don’t be offended if we decide to just be alone. The labor may be an all-day experience so feel free to come and go if you need to do so. Don’t be afraid to bring your babies around us. The gift of life is so precious and we are enormously grateful for the lives of all those around us, lifting our arms up in this time. Please don’t feel pressured to be at the hospital. Be where the Lord leads you to be. We trust and believe that He has our best interests at heart.

We are hurting… but we are praising God for this pain.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains…” C.S. Lewis

We are desperate and already grateful for the shout of God.

We will try to send you details about the memorial service sometime tomorrow.

Ever hopeful,

Jennifer, Quincy, and Ephraim

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY

Dear Friends & Family,

We are ready to see you. God has used these past couple of days to draw us near to Him, give us comfort, peace, and a new perspective.

Our family has a tradition of making a special cake for each of our birthdays. This cake is made for no other reason. We found a recipe for “Sweet Baby Carrot Cake” and have chosen this for our little angel. We are going to whip up a couple of these cakes and open our home to our friends and family for the celebration of this baby’s life. On Monday, November 24, 2008, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., you are welcome to drop in, have some cake, and celebrate with us. We do not want this to be a time of sadness, but of rejoicing. Since this will probably be our baby’s only birthday “party,” we are asking that you bring a gift. Please bring a pair of new or gently used shoes in a children’s or adult size. Our family and church have been collecting shoes for children in need. We know that our loss can be a wonderful opportunity to collect and give to those in need, in honor of our little one. Please keep in mind that these shoes are for children who are old enough to walk and have no shoes. The first group of shoes is going to Ethiopia. (We will also ask you to bring a pair of shoes to the memorial service, which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, November 27, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Parkwood Baptist Church. We should be able to confirm this tomorrow.)

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support we have received from you all. Thank you for your prayers. We are so grateful.

We just realized today that this email/post is not going to a “comprehensive” list of people so, please feel free to forward this and our previous emails/posts to anyone we may have missed, anyone who can be praying for us, or anyone who can benefit from our story. We are walking this path alongside the Body, not apart from it.

In Him,

Jennifer, Quincy, and Ephraim

MEMORIAL SERVICE

Dear Friends & Family,

The memorial service for our baby has been officially scheduled for Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Parkwood Baptist Church. All are welcome to attend.

We invite you to bring a pair of new or gently used shoes for a child in need, in honor of our little one. We would like to focus our efforts on shoe sizes that would fit school-age children to adults.

We welcome you to bring your children to the service if you would like to do so.

We thank you for your love and support in this difficult time and look forward to worshiping with you on Saturday morning.

Much Love,

Jennifer, Quincy, & Ephraim

LABOR OF LOVE

Dear Friends and Family,

We just wanted to share a little glimpse of the greatness of our God with all of you. There are many amazing and wonderful things that God has done for us during and even before this time, some of which you will hear about at Saturday’s memorial service, should you choose to attend, so we won’t spoil those surprises. We did just want to tell you a little bit of our labor experience and let you know that words cannot possibly explain what we experienced.

Yesterday was a long day. We thought and hoped that the labor would start and progress much earlier than it did. There were emotional and spiritual ups and downs throughout the waiting time, although a very prevalent sense of peace was with us throughout the day. Contractions began to be regular as we were reading the Psalms. As the contractions became more difficult, I began saying the name of Jesus over and over again. I asked Jesus to carry me, many, many times. He did. At the very brief, but most difficult point, in labor I began to weep. I remember saying, “My baby is gone.” I remember praying that Jesus would take care of my baby and that He would help me let go, let me say goodbye. Just as quickly as those brief moments of crying began, they ended with an overwhelming sense of God’s peace. I felt like I could see my baby as he was, perfect and holy, and with the Lord. I knew that his life in eternity was much more magnificent than anything he could ever have on this earth. I began thanking God and praising Him for His glory and His goodness. It was sort of an out-of-body experience but, I feel like I pretty much thanked God for everything that I could think of… I know that I thanked God for labor. I realize that many of you see things differently than we do but, I am so grateful that I got to have this labor without pain medication. Pain truly does draw us closer to God. I was in His presence. He descended on that place. When I started to run out of words, I thought of the song, “So High.” Here are the lyrics.

These are just words
and are not enough to contain You
Jesus just words
and can never suffice
To acclaim You
Father just words and I have so few
I run out too fast
To speak them to You
Father just words and I have so few
I run out too fast
To speak them to You

You are indescribable
You are beyond expression
And I run out of words for You
I cant think that high
So hear my spirit groan in me
A painful sense of urgency
To tell You that You are to me
So high

You are so high
You are so high
You are so high
You are so high

I told Quincy to play the song and to play it loudly. God gave me a peace that, by the end of this song, it would be finished. As the song played, I raised my hands to the Father, we sang and praised Him, and Ransom’s body was born into the world. It was not hard to say goodbye to this body because God had allowed me to see my child as he really is, perfect and holy, and with the Lord.

We encountered God in a way that we never imagined. Labor was not hard, it was beautiful. I told some of the friends and family who came into the room after the birth that I had thought this was going to be the most difficult day of my life, but it was the most magnificent. God was present. He still is present. We are basking in His glory and thanking Him for loving us so much.

We hope that you can praise the Lord of Hosts alongside us. We also want you to know that all the glory belongs to the Lord. We are capable of nothing. The Holy Spirit within us is capable of everything. Give God the glory.

Because of Him,

Jennifer, Quincy, Ephraim, & Ransom

THE MEMORIAL SERVICE

Dear Friends & Family,

The memorial service today was beautiful and exactly what we needed. For those of you who could not attend but have already asked us about it, below is what was shared and done.

Thank You,

Jennifer, Quincy, Ephraim, & Ransom

(PRAYER BY MARK FOSTER)

Hello friends and family. Thank you for joining with us today. I am Mark Foster, co-pastor of the Mosaic church, and friend to the Richardson family.

The Richardson's have asked me to share their words with you today, so that is what I will be doing.

First, if you know the Richardson family, you know that they do things together. They want Ephraim, their toddler, to be with them throughout the service… just as they would like for your children to remain with you if you so wish. With that in mind, please don't be distracted by the cry, squeal, or laugh of any child in this room. Don't feel the need to leave. Instead, we ask that you use that moment to praise God for the lives of the children amongst us. They will be doing the same.

The Richardsons want thank you all for your love and support through what has been the most difficult challenge they have ever faced. God continues to teach them that this journey of faith is not meant to be walked alone and they recognize that you have carried them through this time with your love and prayers. They specifically would like to thank Parkwood Baptist Church for opening their doors for this memorial service. They would also like to thank the Mosaic church, their home church family, for all of their love and support.

Several years ago they chose to trust God with the size of their family. They believe, as scripture says, that "children are a gift from the Lord, and that the man who has many is blessed." They did not understand the fullness of that decision until this baby. Through this experience, they realized that, if they trust God with life, they must also trust Him with death. Although they are deeply grieved by the loss of their beloved child, they have chosen to trust rather than blame the One who gives and takes away. They know that their child is with Jesus, and they further know that they will be with him again. This is why they can smile through the tears, and rejoice in sorrow. They do not grieve as those who have no hope.

Though the life of Ransom Everett Richardson was very brief, the Richardson family believes very firmly that God will use his life in a mighty way. God has already drawn them nearer to Himself, reminding them that He is the only perfect parent, and that He too, knows the anguish of losing a son. God did not choose them without a full and compassionate understanding of what He was asking from this family.

The Richardson family entered the hospital on November 25th with great concern about the impending labor and birth of the body of their son. God, in His infinite wisdom, took a day that they both thought would be the worst of their lives, and made it the most magnificent. They encountered God in a way that they never imagined. Labor was not hard, it was beautiful. God was present. He is still present. They have been blessed of God to be able to bask in his glory in the midst of their sorrow.

Early on in this pregnancy, the Richardson's chose the name Ransom, because of a book that they both love by C. S. Lewis. At that time, they did not know that their little son would also be a modern-day Ransom, and that God would use a sacrifice once again, to draw the hearts of the fallen close to Himself.

On the occasion of Ephraim's birth, on April 20, 2007, Quincy prayed the following prayer over his son, which you may recognize as Luke 1:13-17.

To Our Wonderful Maker on the occasion of the birth of our son, we pray that Ephraim will be a joy and delight to You and that many may rejoice because of his birth. May he be great in Your sight, Oh Lord. May he be filled with Your Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. We pray that he will bring many back to You, their God and that he would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for You, our Great Lord.

This same prayer was prayed again on November 25, 2008, over Ransom Everett, at his birth.

It is the greatest hope of the Richardson family that the life and death of this little one would be used to turn the hearts of many toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are praying that, through this life, God will heal broken marriages and families. They are praying that God will encourage those of you who have not yet fully committed, to commit, and to run this race with reckless abandon, because in the end, the greatest things we will have done are the things we did for God's glory. They are praying that those of you who don't yet know God in an intimate way will unrelentingly seek after Him and the irrational hope and peace He gives. They are praying that God will give you a new understanding of pain, that you will no longer ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" but instead, you will know that "all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose." They firmly believe that this loss, though devastating, is for good. It is for their good and for His glory. They know that their God loves them beyond measure and always has their best interests at heart.

Because they believe that this life is about something much greater than themselves, the Richardsons want you to know that should you, or anyone you know, experience something similar, they are completely available. If you have questions for them about the choices they have made, from the decision to allow God to determine the size of their family, to the decision to labor naturally with this birth and all of their births, they are more than happy to talk with you. They want you to know that they are available and that this story is not their own, but all of ours to share. They also want you to know that they want to talk about Ransom, his life, his death, and his birth. It would be unnatural for them to "just move on" or forget this little life. They want to share their story with you. They do not want you to feel like you should avoid the topic with them. In fact, avoiding it is worse than sharing it. Please give them opportunities to share with you.

One of the many gifts that God has given to them throughout this ordeal came in a dream. During the week that their baby went to be with Jesus, before they were aware of it, Jennifer had a dream. In the dream, she labored and gave birth to a baby boy in the hospital. The baby was so happy. He was smiling in a way that a newborn does not smile. He was laughing and joyful. He was also very tiny. Jennifer awoke from the dream very happy that morning. She thought it was unusual that she'd had the baby in a hospital, as they were planning to have him at home, but otherwise, thought the dream was so special and sweet. She immediately told Quincy of her dream. When she told Quincy that the baby was tiny, he remarked that "that wasn't good," but she reassured him that their little boy, though tiny, was so happy and perfect, that it was good. God gave them this peace and this vision before they even needed it. Ransom is indeed happy and perfect… and it is good.

Many of you have shared encouraging words with them and told them that you would not be able to handle something this difficult. They want you to know that they are not handling it. The Spirit of God within them, the same Spirit that is within you if you know Christ, is handling it. They have realized that that Spirit, through them, is capable of far more than they imagined and they want you to know that the same is true for you. We truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. They now ask that you stand, sit, kneel, lay prostrate, or do whatever you need to do to worship the one and only true God alongside them.

(We sangs the songs below and praised our God. Crystal surprised us by adding "So High" to the list and singing it for us. We were so moved by that gift of love.

Blessed be your name
Solid Rock
Come Thou Fount
Alone in the Silence
Beauty of The Lord
Hosanna
Marvelous Light
Sometimes

Thank you for being with us today and celebrating the life of the Richardson's beloved child, Ransom. If you weren't able to bring a pair of shoes today, or if you did, and want to help further in the future, you can make a donation to Tied Together through the Mosaic Church. Now go and glorify God with every moment of your lives!

(In Christ Alone)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Luv Boopa for the Day

Well, before I get Ransom's story in order, I thought I'd post pictures of the Luv Boopa that I finished today. A lady that I used to teach with at Mayport Middle School ordered it from me. I really like her fabric choices so I ordered a little extra to make some new bags and things for myself.

(And now I will try to learn to add pictures to my post.)

Black with Pink Diversitex Bag Insert


Black with Pink/Black Madison Bag Insert


Here is the Luv Boopa with both bags removed.

Hope she likes it!

I'm Here!

Hello BlogWorld!

It's me, Jennifer. You may not know me because I started this blog a gazillion years ago, Jen Polk became my follower immediately, and I never posted a single thing. At the least, it's been an easy blog to follow so far. Good for me... and more importantly, for Jen. You're welcome, by the way.

Well, now I shall attempt to actually use this thing.

Over the past year or so, I've had several people ask me for Ransom's story in a more useful format than searching backward through my Facebook notes. So, I'll probably start with that. Bear with me. I know it'll be ridiculously long, but at least it will be in one place. More useful for ministering to others, I'd imagine.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Thank you for your warm welcome to this foreign land. I promise to try to assimilate quickly.