Two More Days…

Sometimes I get paranoid in my peace.  I go off on some deep pyschobabble in my brain and decide that I am just living in denial.  The mental temptation to minimalize what I know God has done and replace it with what “Google” tells me and what “they” tell me.  Its like, “Wait, did that really happen?  Is it really that powerful and amazing?”

I remember specifically the days before Gideons 18 week ultrasound.  I skipped the kids to our yearly photo shoot tradition with my sister in law, got ice cream after, and laughingly considered the gender odds.  I sat nostalgic, thinking that that would be my last pregnancy.  That I would be walking into my last 18 week ultrasound.  I sighed relief as I had finally gotten through morning sickness and literally raised my hands to God and thanked him that “I would never have to do that again!”  I was blissful, naive, and so unaware of the Mack truck that was about to hit me.

Funny thing is, these past couple of days have been just as joyful and blissful.  I no longer carry the naive part, I know full well that I cannot pretend to know the future.  A Mack truck can come again, it can come in the next minute or on Thursday during our 18 week ultrasound with Samuel or in 2 decades when my children are having 18 week ultrasounds (Lord help me, yes I have already considered those days).  But peace, and true deep down joy, doesn’t have to be based on the confidence I have that tomorrow everything will be okay.  For me, right now, its based on the fact that today is a day I have to be thankful for and I refuse to worry until I have something to worry about.  Today, at this moment, I see no Mack truck…and I’m not going to let my imagination put one there either.

I continue to believe that seasons of life are a sweet blessing from God.  Days and moments, they ebb and flow, and in each one God gives us different things to hold to if we look for them.  John 14:27 is seared into my heart.  Yes the tattoo may still be on its way (sorry PopPop it is happening), but its permanence is already there.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”  In the thick of losing Gideon, in the days of crippling pain…the peace part of that verse gave me strength to continue.  The truth of peace is literally the only thing that got me out of bed.

Today my soul is fixated on “I do not give to you as the world gives…”  In this season it is to that truth that I cling.  Make no mistake, God gives to us…it however does not resemble anything that this world even recognizes as being real.  It doesn’t match up with medical studies or magazines.  It does not jive with statistics or news stories.  It does not resemble any provable theories or “oh I saw that on Facebook the other day.”  It looks like none of that.  And so yes, the temptation is there to think that you might be crazy.  To feel odd, or unwise, or anti-cultural for believing so firmly in something that has been given to you that cannot be seen.  Believe it!  For He does not give as the world gives.  Be confident in that.

That is what I am reminding myself on this day.  That I need not answer to anyone or anything in this world (not even my brain trickery), that if I find it in God’s word and my heart and soul know it to be true…then that is the only proof I need.  His gifts are richest when we allow ourselves to believe fully in them.

There is one place, however, in this world where I can find gifts such as these.  Its in the stories of other sweet brothers and sisters.  Who, through decades and centuries have read the same truths that we read and have experienced the same fruit.  Its through the lives of those around me who radiate the love of Christ and their love for Him.  I see in them the same things I question sometimes in myself and it gives me hope.  Precious, real, and immovable hope.

This is Levi Lusko and his precious family.  Levi is a pastor in Montana and his story struck me dead in my tracks a few years ago.  In 2012 he and his wife lost their precious daughter Lenya at the age of 5.  I wept as I read through their story of grief and hope.  The pain of losing their precious and the God story that came through their loss.  Their story can be found here http://levilusko.com/archives/half-a-year-in-heaven, and for me its one of many many stories that proves that God's peace is real, God's gifts are true, and His promises are trustworthy.

This is Levi Lusko and his precious family. Levi is a pastor in Montana and his story struck me dead in my tracks a few years ago. In 2012 he and his wife lost their precious daughter Lenya at the age of 5. I wept as I read through their story of grief and hope. The pain of losing their precious and the God story that came through their loss. Their story can be found here http://levilusko.com/archives/half-a-year-in-heaven, and for me its one of many many stories that proves that God’s peace is real, God’s gifts are true, and His promises are trustworthy.

So today, though two days away from another 18 week ultrasound…though in a place I never thought I would be…though bearing down through days where Gideon’s precious face permeates most of my thoughts…I will not let my heart be troubled, and I will not be afraid.

 

New Year Woes and Worries

I am so thankful we have a name.  Samuel is already talked about as part of the family (although my oldest son keeps calling him Gabriel for some reason), and it feels like he’s with us.  Its important to me.  I just can’t bring myself to live like there is no chance of losing him too. Its not a sad or emotional thing for me, its just my current state of ‘rational” thinking.

Right before I sat down to write this I learned that one of my dear friends who had an angel baby too right around when Gideon was born, lost her next baby in a miscarriage.  She said she was even more angry than sad, I hear that!  I am angry too.  Losing two babies in one year doesn’t seem fair.  It doesn’t seem right.

I think of her (and other baby loss momma’s too) as I go through my days, wondering how they are making it through.  Things are hard for her right now, and I wish I could take it all away.  But I know she has a strong faith, and so while I am sad with her I am not worried about her.  I know she will be okay and she herself has offered me wondrous words of strength at some of my saddest times.  Faith beyond despair it seems.

Faith…the solution to worry.  The solution to fear and the solution to hopelessness.  It doesn’t take away the pain, or the loss, or the trial, or the difficult circumstance, but that faith is always there to lend a helping hand.  And you don’t have to be in the middle of grief or mourning to need a helping hand.

No joke, I prayed this morning for the strength to do the dishes.  I prayed for help to be a patient mommy in the midst of my fatigue and I prayed for some way to just get through the day.  To be honest, I feel foolish sometimes praying for these things.  Somehow in my brain I decided that I don’t really need help unless I am crying in bed in endless grief and mourning.  “I mean jeesh Maria, seriously you are fine.”  But I am quickly reminded of my humanness.  That no matter how many New Year’s Eves roll around I will still fail at my set forth goals (every year) and that no matter how many things I have to be thankful for my body will still find a reason to feel down some days.  Its just life.  The pains of life and it will not go away completely anytime soon.

I really love family photo shoots.  Actually I am obsessed with them and I drive my family crazy.  But they only tell you a piece of the story.  What this picture doesn't tell you is that 5 minutes before it was taken I was burning dinner on the stove while trying to finish doing my hair, my oldest son decided he was NOT going to participate, my youngest son fell on a stick while chasing the dog, and my daughter declined my best efforts to convince her that leggings might be appropriate considering it was October.  Ya know, the REAL picture.

I really love family photo shoots. Actually I am obsessed with them and I drive my family crazy. But they only tell you a piece of the story. What this picture doesn’t tell you is that 5 minutes before it was taken I was burning dinner on the stove while trying to finish doing my hair, my oldest son decided he was NOT going to participate, my youngest son fell on a stick while chasing the dog, and my daughter declined my best efforts to convince her that leggings might be appropriate considering it was October. Ya know, the REAL picture.

1. For me the starting gate of growth is not being so hard on myself.  To get out of my own head and quit my whining about “all the things I’m not doing right…”  Sometimes when I have days like those I wish I could sit on my couch, with a bucket of popcorn, and watch someone else’s day.  In return of course I would show them a movie of the crazy Furlough home to make them feel better on their down day.  I promise it would not disappointment and any illusions of togetherness would fly far out the window.  Far too many picture perfect fantasies going around, in my opinion, and when I begin to believe them I get hard on myself.

2. Next up, I have to read and I have to pray.  I am hesitant to say this on the heels of talking about painting perfect pictures.  But its not like that.  Its not checking a box or attempting self righteousness, its simply a source of life.  God meets me there.  Face to face, word to word, heart to heart He comes and He shows me that though these days can be evil, He is good.  Just today (during my aforementioned state of self-pity) He whispered these words:

“Is any of you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  James 5:13&16

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”  Psalm 112:7

3. Next up, I need to confess out loud.  Have a heart to heart upheaval to someone I trust.  Honestly for me its mostly in the form of venting to my husband or calling a friend.  But I’ve got to let it out. One, yes, to hear how ridiculous I sound and, two, to allow someone I love to speak words of encouragement to me.  Then I have to rinse, wash and repeat all over again as soon as I wake up the next day.

I just think this time of year is hard.  It is hard for me every year and I am imagining if it is hard for me than it is hard for others too.  Its gray, dreary and cold outside.  Any semblance of celebrations are over.  New Year’s goals have for sure turned to guilt trips by now, dreams of everlasting success dashed.  It feels hard and the temptation is there to think “whoa, something is desperately wrong with me.”  Probably there is something wrong with me, but I am pretty sure we’ve been designed to always have something wrong (lest this world start looking more perfect than the next).

So if you’ve been having days like me, just know you are not alone and that I hope you don’t need to feel ashamed either.  I submit a gentle reminder (mostly to myself) that perfection is never the goal.  Remembering to have faith is.

What’s In a Name?

“Mommy, are you actually even able to have girls?” says my daughter that yes I actually did carry and bear after she found out we were having another boy.  This time around was different though.

Baby gets loved on already.  All three of them complying for any type of picture is an excellent sign.

Baby gets loved on already. All three of them complying for any type of picture is an excellent proof of their love.

Last year, I remember feeling actual sadness and fear at the thought of having another boy and letting my daughter’s dreams of having a sister slowly creep away.  Being in the “control” phase of life/parenting/womaning will do that to you.  I knew my daughter wanted a sister so badly and it didn’t seem like an unreasonable request, and so I clung to my expectations and my hope.  I even did it righteously, afterall it was all for the sake of my sweet daughter.

This time was so much different than last time.  When we found out we were having our fourth boy, instead of tears, fears, or disappointments simply came a little half giggle and a “oh my a house of all these boys!”  Neither was I worried about telling Faith.  I knew that she had grown too.  She suffered Gideon’s loss right alongside the rest of us and she is changed.  Now understanding the value of a healthy baby, I had confidence that even if she had a little bit of disappointment…God would meet her there.  Just like He had every step of the way.

There is no doubt, acceptance.  Acceptance that life does not always go as planned, and even if the road veers away from my “preferences” or “visions of what I thought things would look like,” I’m good with that (especially if that “unpreferred” road still consists of healthy loved ones).  It helps, truly helps, to hold lightly to how I think I want things to go.  Gideon taught me that.

A girl?  Did Faith and I both want to add another girl to our lives?  One to dress in frilly pink clothes and take on all our girl outings?  Sure.  But as I sat down with Faith to talk through those feelings I said, “You know honey, we just don’t know how and when God will bring little girls into our lives.  But just because it doesn’t happen how we thought it might in the form of a little baby girl…it doesn’t mean He can’t still do it.”  I mean I’m talking it could be great grand children before another little girl comes around, but somehow someday it will happen.  And until then Faith and I will snuggle, love, and roll our eyes at all these crazy boys in our lives!

I know we all have people in our lives who amaze us, this is one of mine.  Her depth, her love, her sweetness grip me on a daily basis.  As hard as this road has been, I have been blessed by walking it hand in hand with my daughter.

I know we all have people in our lives who amaze us, this is one of mine. Her depth, her love, her sweetness grip me on a daily basis. As hard as this road has been, I have been blessed by walking it hand in hand with my daughter.

Also different this time around is we let the kids chime in on name choices.  My husband and I have an ever revolving debate over the meaning of names.  I’m pretty obsessed over the name being a type of blessing over the child and my husband thinks I’m way over the top, SO to calm the seas we came up with a multiple choice list for the kids to choose a name from.  The list contained both my “meaningful” names and Dave’s “I just like these cause they sound cool” names (can you tell I am biased?) and then it was put in the hands of the people!  Faith, being my little leader that she is, naturally just picked the name she liked best and then convinced the boys to buy in too.  Mommy just sat there and prayed that SOME meaning would rise forth (I mean really, clearly I don’t even know what over the top looks like)!

And (because God is good) we would like to share with you that little….

Samuel Camden Furlough is on his way, stirring already fully in the hearts of his parents and siblings.

What does his name mean?  Oh I am so glad you asked.

Samuel Camden God Has Heard, Winding Valley.

And so already, whether Samuel is with us for one more day or fifteen million more days…be assured that though the winding valleys of life do come.  Yes, God Has Heard.

Baby Furlough 5 Reveal

The end of 2014?  Really we are here already?  Not sure how I feel about that.

When I went to visit Gideon’s grave site, I found myself honing in on the “2014.”  Its this time of year that we look back, then look forward.  Its this time of year we take inventory of all that last year held, as we look forward to the possibilities of what is to come.  This past year was a big year for our family and I think a part of me will always stay there.

I remember ringing in 2014, wondering how on earth I was going to survive the months to come.  When you know that most impactful day of your life is approaching its hard to look forward to it coming.  I remember feeling timid as I entered into 2014, like “I know I have to keep walking, but I’m not really sure I want to.”  But walk through we did, and Gideon came and touched our lives forever.

When I weep for him its more than missing him, its tears of realization that life on this earth will never ever be the same.  And so then, now knowing this new truth…how does one welcome in a new year?  A new year that once upon a time focused on the promises of joyful days to come, now seems to realistically remind me that certain pains will never go away.   How do I bring in a new year now?  Well…maybe I don’t.

Tomorrow, next year, I don’t know what they hold.  I know what I need to do today, but I’ve learned all too clearly that I have no idea what on earth I am going to need to do tomorrow.  What I do know, what I can celebrate…is that last year God showed up.  Just like He always does, He gave me moments to celebrate and to recognize His presence.  So now, instead of “ringing in a new year,” I think I’m going to instead, bring praise for the last one.

-In 2014 my family got to meet Gideon, we got to hold him, kiss him, and (if even for a moment) he was ours.

-In 2014 my marriage became stronger than it ever has before.  I got to live every day seeing my husband for the knight in shining armor he truly is.

-Last year my daughter turned 7, and a beautiful, amazing, smart, and fun young lady she truly is.

-My first son turned 5 and it was as if over night he grew up, no longer toddling around our house he became a strong, smart  and very talented young man.

-My second son turned 3 and his smiling eyes continue to bring endless joy to our family.  He brings a calm sense of joy and he is relentlessly helpful.

-We added a little doggy addition to our family and (ironically enough even after some nibbles and house accidents) we have been thankful for her everyday.

-God brought new friendships into our lives and brought close family that has been afar through the years.  Gideon unified us all and we saw the hands and feet of Christ working in our lives everyday.  He brought you.

-God abundantly blessed our “From Fear to Faith” Bible study.  Those women have forever changed my life and God showed up and blew us away every single time we met…without exception.

-A new pregnancy…I pause here as even still the thought brings about both pain and happiness.  Though the road has been rocky and will continue to be so, we praise God everyday for this little life inside of me.  These last couple of days have been excitedly blessed as we got to tell our family what the baby is.

And most finally we are excited to end our 2014 by telling you too!  I preface this video by saying it most assuredly reveals some of the vast and diverse silliness of our little family.  I share it with you knowing full well you are getting an all exposed glimpse into us :)

Join us in celebrating 2014 and the little Baby Furlough 5 (BF5) thats in the works in Mommy’s belly.  Happy New Year!

A Christmas Prayer for You (&Me)

Father,

You, better than all, know the tears.  You know the joys and the sorrows that come into our days.  You know the “giddy like a child” feeling we get when all seems to be going just right.  You know the fall from grace that we go through when we experience loss for the first time.  You know the skip in our step from a dream coming true and you know pain in our hearts when we have to one let slip from our grasp.  Father all of this you know, and you know it…because you lived it too.

This time of year, so riddled with feelings and memories, I pray that you would break our hearts for you.  That knowing you could somehow far surpass any greatness or sadness that this world holds.  I pray that that during Christmas, whether we are experiencing thankfulness or grief, I pray we would experience it with you, never forgetting the beauty and the tragedy of your birth.  God come true to give us hope.

Father I want to see you through the lights.  I want to find you in the laughter and I want to remember, that in whatever this next year holds there you will be.  You will be there, because you came to.  I pray blessings upon families this Christmas.  Blessings for those homes full of togetherness and excitement, and blessings in the homes that find those things hard this time of year.  I pray closeness from you Lord.  Closeness.  Forgiveness.  And remembrance that our best Christmas is yet to come.   In name of Jesus to which we celebrate this season I pray all of this.  Amen.

Have a very Merry Christmas, from the Furloughs with all of our love!

P.S I know you are excitedly waiting for us to share our baby gender news with you.  Next week, I promise :)  In the meantime enjoy some yuletide joy from my amazingly talented son David, who might possibly be, the rockingest Joseph in nativity history.  (Please pardon the poor filming, I was laughing too hard to keep my phone straight).

Merry Christmas!  With all of our love from our family to yours.

Merry Christmas! With all of our love from our family to yours.  Thank you Adam for our amazing family pictures  http://thegoodlight.com/