The Valley of the Shadow …

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I have been intending to write this blog for some time now, but for whatever reason I have not been able to bring myself to do it.

I really do not want to be the girl with the depressing life that writes the depressing blogs but in this season of my life it has felt like living in the shadows rather than basking in the sun.

On September 18 the life of my family took a tragic and gut wrenching turn. My nephew, Connor Charles Neagle, was born and died the same day. He lived about 3 hours … all but 15 minutes of it sustained by life support. He was full term and a seemingly healthy 8 lbs. 14 oz. What happened you say? That is what we have been grappeling with for weeks and the answer finally came this week. There is no answer. There is no “reason”. It was a one in a million (actually more than that) unfortunate set of circumstances. The shadow.

My sister in law is built to have babies … period. She is one of those lucky women that if her husband looks at her funny she could probably get pregnant. It happened on their honeymoon. Literally. Nine months later they welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Taylor Dawn, into this world. She was 8 lbs. 12 oz. and perfect in every way. Thank you Jesus! When she was two they tried for their second baby and were pregnant instantaneously (it seemed anyway). They pregnancy progressed uneventfully and at the 20 week sonogram they were declared to be expecting a baby boy who was healthy by all accounts. I may be wrong on some of the details but the gist is at 26-28 weeks her doctor reviewed the sonogram and mentioned their could be some complications. Connor apparently had something called Single Umbilical Artery (one umbilical artery instead of two). 93% of the time it is nothing so they were reassured, but referred to a neonatalogist. The neonatalogist was reassuring as well, but also referred them to a pre-natal cardiac expert. He gave further reassurances “Your baby has a beautiful heartbeat!” We were all encouraged and just ready to focus on welcoming this little one into our family. Delivery day arrived and I waited all day as any expectant aunt would for the phone call that would send me soaring up to the hospital to greet my nephew. The call came, but the news was ….

Connor was born and immediately they began to “work” on him. We were called and asked to pray. We did. We were called again. We rushed to the hospital, not because we anticipated the worst but because we wanted to be there for support, help, encouragement. The rest  is kind of a blur. They came in and told the family he would not survive. Everything was perfect on the outside but the inside was another story. We would find out later that internally he never developed past the 8th week. How is that even possible? I don’t even know. It is unbearable. He could survive as long as he was in his mommy but as soon as the umbilical cord was cut he could not make it on his own. His lungs never developed. His heart was not in the right place. His kidneys were malformed and unattached. And that was only part of it. Why? Why? Why?

How could all of this go wrong and NOTHING show up on a sonogram? How is that possible? How can a expert proclaim a heartbeat beautiful when the heart is not even in the right place? In this day and age of 4D sonograms and excellent pre-natal care it seems impossible and yet it is not. These are the questions my precious family has been left to confront. How his momma and daddy have gotten out of bed and faced each day displays a strength that is awe inspiring. Somehow in the midst of all of this there is a grace given to them to realize and believe that their son is in heaven and the baby they held as his spirit passed was not who he was anymore. He was gone.

To be absent from the body it to be present with the Spirit.

We laid Connor to rest as a family on September 21. He has forever changed our lives and impacted each of us in a way that is beyond words or explanation. We are all still struggling, especially his parents. Blessedly and painfully life marches on, especially with a neaarly three year old. They face each new day. They overcome. I don’t know how and yet I do because of Jesus. We cling to him. We cry out for him. We search for Him in the midst of the shadows … and he finds us. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us.

Yey though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death you are with me …

God reminded me the other day that death is but a shadow. The light, the Son, is real.

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Private and Gross

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I have had to set some of my older (aren’t they all older) posts to private because of some disgusting comments I have received regarding pictures of Ephraim in his “birthday suit”.

To the people who left these comments, you won’t have your day because my comments are set so that I have to approve them. For blog stalking people with pictures of their kids captured in innocent moments … shame on you.

Where I Have Been …

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So I realize I have been a little M.I.A. lately and I really wish I had a better excuse. There is really no other way to put it except that I have been in a major funk. Lately it seems that my energy has been very low and I have just not quite felt myself. I have not really faced a time like this in my life before where it seems that I have just lost interest in so many of the things that I used to love. Yoga, decorating, shopping, reading, it just seems like participating in those things has become a vague memory. 

I was discussing with my mom tonight my concerns that I might be battling depression again. I struggled with it a bit a few months after Ephraim was born. I was able to use some Progesterone cream at that time that helped immensely with the hormonal plunge I was experiencing after giving birth. That worked for awhile, but I eventually ended up briefly going on an anti-depressant. It worked its magic and within a few months I was feeling so good that with my docs permission I was able to wean off of it. MISERABLE experience. I was super nauseous and dizzy, it just made me feel like crap. That has definitely made me nervous about ever going that route again. But I am considering it. 

I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced anything similar to what I am feeling. I would certainly not classify this as anything severe. No suicidal thoughts or anything of that nature. Just, blah-ness. No I do realize that part of it is what I call the “end of vacation blues”. You know the feeling when you have looked forward and anticipated vacation all summer long and then it is here and it is over in a week. Much to fast. Couple that with coming home and starting a new job the next day and that can certainly make anyone feel like the proverbial “Eyore”.

I have just started reading Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” which is quite a feat me considering my disdain for any type of Christian Self Help book. So far, I am really enjoying it and is hitting me squarely between the eyes on so many levels. The whole concept of “It is not about you” is something that I strangely needed to here. Not to imply that I am not innately selfish (that is just part of the human condition), but I think I had convinced myself as a new mom that I was all about my kid and not myself and quite frankly, that is just not the case. I have been self focused for a long time and it is high time that I allowed the Lord to drag me out of that. It is amazing how sickly the disease of self can make us. It is a cancer fatal to our soul (Thank you DC Talk) and I am so ready to purge this thing. I am ready not just for the old me to be back, but for the renewed me to make a grand entrance.

So, this is where I have been. A little bit blue and bogged down by some muck and mire. But I am lifting my eyes to the hills, I know where my help comes from. I am crying out to the Lord and asking for His presence, His peace, His healing and His love. And I am waiting.

Summer 2009 So far

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Just some quick pics of our summer so far. It has been eventful. Ephraim started walking in late May, got his first black eye in early June and ran through the sprinklers for the first time. Enjoy!

Hot Tubbing with Daddy

Hot Tubbing with Daddy

 

First Black Eye

First Black Eye

 

Pretty Damn Cute

Pretty Damn Cute

 

SPRINKLERS!!!!!!

SPRINKLERS!!!!!!

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Rain/Mud Puddle Splashin'

Rain/Mud Puddle Splashin'

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Hot Tubbin' with the Cousins

Hot Tubbin' with the Cousins

E and his buddy Malakai on the trampoline

E and his buddy Malakai on the trampoline

Our Friend Baby Claire

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Claire Ivy

Claire Ivy

This is Claire. She is the daughter of our great friends Jason and Tara Gonzales. I am asking you to pray for Claire. She was admitted into the pediatric ICU today. She had been very lethargic for the past few days and also had unquenchable thirst. When they took her to the doctor this morning her blood sugar was above 700. It should be between 50 and 100. They are 97% sure that she has juvenile diabetes.

We are 100% sure that Jesus is THE HEALER. Please join us in praying for Claire’s complete healing and restoration. Please pray that her blood sugar normalizes. Please pray that she will not be afraid or confused by what is happening around her. Please pray that she will overcome, because He has overcome.

Please also pray for her Mama and Daddy. Ask that God would give them strength and courage just like He gave Joshua when he faced the giants. Please pray for wisdom in dealing with this situation. Please pray for rest and peace that only God can give at a time like this. Please pray for financial provision as Claire will be hospitalized for at least a week.

We are believing for a miracle because we KNOW that we have a miracle working God. We are “SOZO”ed … Saved, Healed, and Delivered!

New Season

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It seems like this is all I am writing about these days, new seasons/changes and the like for our family. One thing is for sure, Michael and I have learned and experienced a lot of transitions in our time as a couple. I know this is true for most people and if life and science teaches one anything it is that in order to live, you must constantly be changing, adapting, growing. So hear I am, preparing for change yet again.

I have been feeling for awhile that I might be called back into the work force soon. Although we have made changes (i.e. selling house, living with mom) that would ease our budget constraints the fact remains that Michael’s schooling will last for two more years and he is only about to experience the reality of clinicals and all that entails. This will more than likely mean no more steady tile work, which will be a great reprieve for his achey body, but a shock to the bank account. We have applied for some “assistance” in the form of grants and also programs through the Workforce Commission that help married students with children. Please pray with us for favor that we will recieve some help from these organizations. Our goal is to get through the next two years debt free. So in order to do that, Mama had to get a job.

I went back in forth about it. I knew I could work at Starbucks or the Gap and set a pretty flexible schedule, but the reality is the pay would probably suck in comparison to the hours put on. Also, we need some benefits. Right now, we are self-insured to the tune of about $350 bucks a month and that only covers E and me and it is basically fire insurance. Yes, we have a co-pay and yes it covers well-child visits, but that is about it. I HATE INSURANCE COMPANIES! (I really, really do, but that is for another blog) Anyway, the school district in Amarillo hires certified teachers to tutor kids during the school day. Pay is really good ($20/hr) and you work part-time. That is what I had my eye on, but there are no benefits.

A few weeks ago my sister, Samantha, called me about some Reading Recovery positions available in AISD that were part-time with full benefits. HELLO! So I emailed that ladies at RR and boo, the job posting had closed and they were obligated to interview those candidates first. They said they would keep me in mind though if they didn’t fill all the positions. I figured that ship had sailed…but I was wrong!

They emailed me about 10 days ago and said they wanted to interview mw, but I needed to re-apply with the district first. I updated my info and emailed them back to let them know. I didn’t hear anything so I guessed they looked at my resume and didn’t think it was a good fit. I got a call (last) Monday morning that they wanted to interview me that day and it had to be that day. I freaked because Samantha was supposed to prep me for the interview and she was in Idaho. So basically I called everyone I knew who knew anything about RR and got ahold of Lisa (a friend of Lex’s) who prepped me. I interviewed at 2:00 and kneew the next step, if I was accepted into the program, would be to get a call from a principal to interview me for the position on his/her campus. I went to get Ephraim from my mother in laws house. left my phone in the car, and missed a call. From AISD. A principal offered me a job site unseen based on my interview. CRAZY!

It all happened in such a whirlwind that it took me a bit to process it all. I had been so torn going into the interview. I had always felt I would never go back into education. Should I even be pursuing this? Could I really be away from E, even if it is just a few hours a day? I basically laid it before the Lord and said you work this out. Boy did he. What favor. Even when I wasn’t even looking for it He is shepharding my way. Please pray that I will find someone WONDERFUL and HEAVEN SENT to keep Ephraim.

Did I mention this job is part-time, full benefits and I work with one kid at a time? Amazing!