Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Thoughts (Part I)

It's been a rough couple of weeks.
All of those ugly, negative emotions came boiling to the surface and I often found myself crying out to God to get me through it. All the "could have been's" and "if only's" and "I wish's" are so difficult to work through.
Envy is ugly - bitterness is destructive - fear is paralyzing. I'm fighting them with all my might... because I know Who gave me this to work through. But - oh - it has been so hard!
I miss Autumn so much... the other night I found myself thinking of her little nose while touching mine and wondering what she would look like and sound like and feel like now... all the hopes and dreams of the last year... from the pregnancy test and the ultrasounds to her movements and preparing the nursery.... nothing remains of her except pictures.
The grief isn't lifting... it's changing and maturing.
The finality of her death is becoming real. The family pictures, for me, will always be missing someone. This was our first Christmas without our firstborn... and that has just been so much harder than I even imagined it would be. I am so thankful that the Lord is patient with the griefs and struggles that I daily bring before Him. I know He has - and will continue to - grow me through this as a person.
When I was shopping for Kurt's gift last week I saw one of the ladies from my prenatal classes - of course - with her baby. She looked so tired and irritated... and I thought how sad it was that she will probably never completely know the gift she has in just pushing her tiny baby through a mall full of Christmas shoppers.
There is no superiority in that statement. I'm sure I would have been the same had Autumn lived... overtired and frustrated to pack up a baby in freezing temperatures to go to an overcrowded mall. I would have had no clue that not all babies live, and that there are grieving people around who hungrily watch for a glimpse of babies and then go home and cry for the one they lost. Joni Mitchell had it right: you don't know what you got 'til it's gone... I certainly didn't. I assumed so much.
I was happy for her - but it was also a bit of an emotional trauma to see her and her little one. I half wanted her to remember me so that I could share that I, too, did became a mommy - and the other half wanted her to just keep walking so that I wouldn't have to pass on the news yet again that "No... our baby died". She didn't notice me, and I was thankful to just keep walking and get home to the strong and comforting arms of my husband.
Kurt gave me a card on the 25th that said something along the lines of, "My prayer is that we will look back on the Christmas of 2007 as one of the best Christmas' ever because of where God took us because of the events that preceded it."
Amen, sweetie.
You are the greatest gift God has ever given me and He had used you mightily in my life to get me through this season. I really do - despite everything I am struggling with - believe that the Lord does have good in store for us. I don't know what it will look like, or when it will take place, or even what it will be... but I do trust Him.
Thanks for checking the blog everyone - and for those who are still praying for us. We still need it

PS:Yay Shiela (visitor number 10,000)! :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

'Tis the Season...

Christmas means: The 5th annual nursing (former students) Christmas party! :) It's actually pretty amazing how in the first year, Kurt was the only 'husband' - now there are 7 of them (well, Steven counts because he'll be a husband in September...)
Even though not everyone could make it (and we missed you guys lots) it was a pretty fun evening of of catching up, laughing lots and a unusually low-key gift exchange (hardly any stealing). Here are some shots of the evening.

"The Guys" (at least the ones that were present): Jeremy, Steven, Derek, Brendan, and Kurt.

Jeremy with the indoor/outdoor thermometer that he bought for the gift exchange... but really wanted to keep. Good man that he is, though, he let Kurt keep it. :)

Our gracious hostess, Crystal.

Kimberly, Camille and Steven.

Ruth and Derek showing us what 6 months of married bliss looks like. ;-D

Yours truly with a little Christmas cheer - it was yummy, Crystal! :)

Jeremy, Micheline, Roz and Anna during the gift exchange.

Derek, I included this picture because you said I took too many of them. Ha, ha, ha! ;-D

The guys escaped to the back to play poker to let us have girl-type visit time.

Every year, it seems, I take a picture of Brendan where he is implying that I should take my camera and leave - 'or else'. :)
(With Derek and Crystal.)

Me and my sweetie! :)

See? This is last-year's picture... I don't tell tales! :)

Ruth and me.

Brendan, Anna and Rozalind.

It was fun, everyone... thanks - especially the girls - for the visits and hugs. Love you all and Merry Christmas! :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ode to the Spa


I spent a morning at the spa.
For the first time in my life I felt like Paris Hilton... um....
... except for her nutty personality... okay... and all the nutty men she dates... and all that nutty DUI stuff...
So I am completely reversing that horrible parallel and saying that I feel like a nameless and yet super-rich blue blood from New York. Why New York? Because of Gossip Girl! :)

ANY-way: the point is that I was pam-pered with a capital 'P'.
What privilege!
What luxury!

What have I been missing all my life?

I knew I was destined for more of this kind of stuff as soon as the Dead-Sea wrap was applied...

(On a brief rabbit trail: who invented that, anyway? Was some girl just strolling around on the shore of that big, salty sea in Israel and exclaimed, "Wunderbar! I should package the mud at the bottom of this lake and send it all over the world for people to rub on their bodies. I'll tell them it's full of minerals and antitoxins and they'll pay me big bucks to turn themselves into mud babies."
Good luck getting the bank to approve that venture...)

But I digress...
She scrubbed me (with genuine dead-sea salt, no less!), mudded me and then wrapped me up like a sandwich in saran-wrap, a sheet and a thermal (shiny on one side) blanket.
I'm not joking. Like a sandwich.
Then she said, "You'll be like this for a half-hour", turned down the lights, put on soft music and left. The only complication was the itch in my left knee which I was able to ignore because of my active combat with the slight feeling of claustrophobia. It was like, "It's okay... I'm camping... just camping... and I'm just in a really, really snug sleeping bag..." My nose also started running somewhere during that half-hour... but since I had the room all to my muddy-bodied little self, I felt quite liberated to sniff to my heart's desire.

After that was done, she gave me a robe (a dark brown one because of the very muddy Dead Sea mud - clever, no?) and took me to the Hydrotherapy tub. Not a jacuzzi tub... this thing didn't have jets... but gave a super-massage by some other mysterious means.
I actually found myself siting in there giggling like a 3 year old because I was sitting in a gigantic bathtub with huge mounds of bubbles drinking Spa water and knowing I wasn't going to have to clean the muddy tub afterwards.
And the little yellow rubber-ducky sitting by the faucet was pretty funny, too.
It was like being amazed at the fanciest restaurant ever, and then they tell you the special is macaroni and cheese.
I asked myself, "Is it for ambiance (elegance paired with humility, for example), or a cure for boredom when those 15 minutes stretch on too long?"
I quietly sang Ernie's famous ode to the quacking saffron friend: "Rubber-Ducky, you're the one... (ba-bah-ba-bah-da!)... you make bathtime lots of fun... (bah-be-bah-be-bah-dooo!)..."

After that was done, I re-robed (but not with the Dead Sea-muddy one) and went back to my room for my half-hour relaxation massage.
That part was worth the entire morning.
Previously, the only massages I've had are from family - except for after Autumn was born I was so sore before the funeral that I went for therapy a couple of times... but those weren't exactly the most relaxing circumstances.
My analysis of this experience?
Really. That's all I can say - so I'll just say it again for good measure.

The funniest part (even funnier than Rubber Ducky) was when she brought in the stuff for my hand and foot paraffin wax. She took my left foot and stuck it in this big plastic bag filled with hot wax and I was thinking to myself, "!"
She must have clued in at my sudden head-raise and the look of "What the heck are you doing down there?" (which I would never actually say because I'm trying to look like I'm Mrs Uber-relaxed sophisticate) and she said, "Have you ever had a paraffin wax before?"
Uh... nope. And why are you putting hot ziplock baggies on my extremities?
So she explained about how it's good for joints, and feels great in the winter... etc. And by that time, the initial, "I think the bottom of my feet have been seared off" sensation had cooled and it started to feel pretty wonderful.

After that I got a 'mini' manicure (choosing mother-of-pearl polish in honor of the snow or something like that) and Kurt came to pick me up. When I got in the truck I had a severe case of the giddies and informed him that I am totally ruined because I loved the whole thing.
Simple, country-girl Kendall no longer exists because crazy muddy Kendall took over in the Hydrotherapy tub.
Poor soon-to-be-broke man...
... but at least he won't have trouble thinking of gifts for me in the future! ;)

Now I should finish this tale with the disclaimer that I didn't buy this experience for myself. I got the gift certificate from my parents last year for Christmas and it expires tomorrow. I didn't intentionally take it to the last minute, but with the pregnancy and nausea and swelling, and difficulty laying on my tummy it just got pushed back until "later". I figured I'd leave the baby with Kurt for a morning and do it in the fall. Well, the fall obviously didn't progress as I had pictured - so when I found the gift certificate in my bedside table last month I thought I should get out and take advantage of it.

Disclaimer done!
Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
I am reduced to such inarticulateness when lavished with non-essential vanity treatments. Case in point: I used the world 'inarticulateness'. Groan.

If you are a person of the male-sort, and you are having trouble thinking of something for your significant wife-type person... this would be a pretty good idea. Trust me.

That's what I'm telling Kurt, anyway. (chuckle)

And, if you live in the same city as us, click here and see where I went. (And before you cry out at the prices - trust me when I tell you that they are actually pretty reasonable compared to other day-spas.)

So that was my day-spa adventure. Can't wait for the next one! ;-D

Wow. :)

One (or two) More of Oscar

What a handsome face!

He's just so...
... so kissable
, isn't he?

think, "Nope."
But Kurt does! He kisses that rubber schnoz all the time. I feel a tad insecure - maybe my nose is too small... LOL! :-D
For your viewing pleasure I will attach a tiny photo of what the mighty guard dog looked like when we first brought him home:
Awwww... what a little butterball! :)

Goodnight, everyone... and thanks for your responses to the slide show... it means a lot. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wake Up, Kurt!

We went to the farm today to pick up Oscar after our road trip.
Kurt was pretty pooped after all the driving - so I encouraged him to take a nap before driving back to the city. When it was time to wake him up, I thought it would be cute to send Oscar in to do the job. Instead of his designated task, he decided to make himself comfortable. :)
Then I had to wake up both of them!
Who is taller?!?! :)
Posted by Picasa

Autumn's Slide Show

Couldn't sleep tonight - and thought I'd finish up what I've been wanting to get done since October.
The song doesn't exactly "fit" with the subject - but it has been a huge comfort to me with the reminders that God is sovereign and nothing is out of His control.
Hope my "heart on a sleeve" encourages you... it was kinda rough to make, but I think I'm pleased with the effort.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two Months

Two months ago today...

I awoke with a smile when Kurt told me how much he was looking forward to meeting our baby and being a daddy.
I had spent a night dreaming of our little one to come.
I thought, "This could be the day my life changes forever."
... and it did.

The thoughtful anticipation gave way to puzzlement when she wasn't moving... and then the cautious concern became initial denial as we couldn't find her heartbeat... and then paralyzing shock became mind-numbing grief as I realized the doctor was serious.

"I'm sorry there's no fetal heartbeat."

How did 6 little words make hope not only vanish - but completely replace it with anguish? I don't use that word lightly either. It was the single worst moment of my entire life. I feel physically ill when I think of it for too long. I hope and pray that I never have to go through something like that ever again.
And yet how can I deny the impact that our little girl's death has had on so many?
God has used her to reveal Himself as more powerful than I ever could have understood had she not died. He has held us up, and based on what I'm hearing from others, is revealing Himself in a new way to so many. It's humbling, to say the least.
God is not a 'concept of spirituality'. Jesus is not an ideal - a 'good man'. The bible isn't just a moral book. These things I always knew intellectually... but now I know with my heart.

He brought me here.

And because of who I know Him to be, I can rest. He is not inexperienced in taking seemingly hopeless situations and making them glorious. Look at the cross if you doubt this assertion. :)
Could I have anticipated that December 19th would see me blogging about this? Two months plus a day ago, my vision of the future consisted of writing about her 8 week smiles and sounds... my sleepless nights and how she and the dog were relating to each other. (chuckle) This subject was absolutely incomprehensible. In some ways, that is still the case.
But, in spite of myself, God has allowed me to love Him more than I ever would have known because of October 19th, 2007.
So today - on the two-month anniversary of Autumn's death I want to publicly acknowledge Him - and offer Him a prayer of thanksgiving and joy because of Who He is.
Gentle in heart and lowly in Spirit... through Jesus I am safe in this whirlwind of grief and anxiety and anger. It won't take me away because He is very, very strong and holding me very, very tightly.
I hope you can trust Him in whatever circumstances you find yourself in today.
God bless, everyone...

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Scoop

It's hard to categorize the heart-atmosphere (so to speak) for me of the past week. This cold has taken it's sweet time to leave me alone, and that, plus the road trips has been exhausting. It is so wonderful to spend time with Kurt and not be alone, but the living out of a suitcase is hard. Especially when it is a race to get the laundry done in time to leave again in a couple of days. :)

In so many ways, I have been dreading this season since the 19th of October... and to realize that it is here and so vastly different from what it was 'supposed' to have been is hard. Attitude is everything... and I have - admittedly - not been very immersed in the Word or prayer lately. "No time" feels like such an excuse... but the mode of the last week was "Go, go, go!" The old struggles with anger and disappointment and "why me?" came back with a vengeance.

Tears were pretty steady - and my eyes often felt like cotton balls. Yes - an unpleasant description - but accurate nonetheless. (chuckle) Seeing baby clothes in Extra Foods... focusing on a dog with a gimpy leg versus the preferred daughter... seeing my in-laws and thinking, "Grampa should be holding Autumn right now."... coming home to a very empty and quiet house - again... fearing that perhaps she was and will be our only child... remembering how we were so close...

This past weekend was "Melfort Christmas" due to that being the only time we could coordinate all schedules and be together this month. I went downstairs at one point to get my glasses and ended up staying down there for 45 minutes at one point having a good-long cry. God providentially arranged Kurt to come down for something, and he was able to hold me and we cried together over our first Christmas without our first-born child.

It's just so sad... and I am dismayed at how often that turns to self-pity in my case. At times it feels like I am barely keeping my own head above water with my own grief - let alone trying to minister to others. BUT (and there is always a 'but') the truth is that instead of asking "Why me?" I should ask, "Why not me?" God gave this to us, and His character is all-wise and all-good... completely just all the time. If it wasn't the best thing, it wouldn't have happened. Faith is a heart that sees light when the eyes see only darkness...

But the Lord uses many things to bring me back to Himself... what a blessing to trust that this is only one of the things He has planned for me to persevere through - and He has given me many gifts in spite of myself. Like our family...
My husband who loves me.
My mother who understands me as a woman probably better than anyone, and comes alongside me with a heart that yearns to help - and by weeping with me she does just that.
My dad who hurts for Kurt not getting to have his own "pooh" and hopes and prays for more children for us.

Kurt and Dad at the hospital... what comforts hugs can be in the midst of tears!

My mother-in-law who was thrilled with her "grandma" mug... her giving and kind spirit are such a blessing to us.
My father-in-law whose eyes still fill with tears anytime we talk of his beautiful little granddaughter - I know he thinks of her often.
Thank you to all of you - and our brothers and sisters-in-law... God uses you so wonderfully to encourage us!

Anyway, your prayers are appreciated again this week - as we're heading out again tomorrow for a short trip to deliver Christmas gifts to customers. After this, we're home until Christmas day/week and then we have some down time until the new year... praise God. :)

God bless everyone... and I don't plan to take another week off - at least not intentionally. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Post Coming Soon!

Just wanted to say that I've been super-busy, but I haven't forgotten my second career as a blogger. :)
I promise to put an update up soon-ish... like tomorrow, I think. Stay tuned - and thanks to all the people checking even though I haven't written a thing. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Email Me! (if you want to...)

I've had a couple of people comment lately that they would love to send me emails, but there is no link.
Problem solved. ;)
If you look at my profile, there is now an "Email Me" link which allows you to do just that. :)
Thanks Katie and Wendy! :) Both of your messages touched us and made us smile... praising God for the family he has put us into! :)
Random picture of the day:NEPS girls - November 2006! Been thinking of all of you lately - missing you bunches... can't wait to the 21st! Can you believe Judy and Terry have been married over a year now... zoiks! This picture feels like it was taken sooo long ago! :)
I love it because it makes me look tall-ish... considering I'm standing on a 1-foot riser... laugh if you want - I never get to stand in the back for group pictures. :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Greetings from the Sickling

The last time I had a cold this bad was waaay back in April at our friend's (Jeremy and Crystal) wedding. Last time I couldn't take drugs... this time I'd do the Tylenol intravenously if it were possible. Just 'cause I can. ;)
I actually thought I had tonsillitis last night the pain in my throat was so strong... and when the coughing started at 6 am, I knew I wouldn't be going to church this morning - lest germs be passed on in place of greetings. Hopefully Kurt doesn't do my 'passing on' for me... he doesn't show signs of getting sick yet - but you never know...
Monday (last week) I thought I was coming down with something - but it seemed to ease up by Tuesday - but Wednesday afternoon, something bad was happening. So here I sit on Sunday morning, plugged and with a sore throat, puffing out little coughs... but thankfully on the upswing - I hope!
It has also been a few hard days emotionally... sometimes the reality of our baby being gone is so far away - and on others it is close. These have been "close" days for so many reasons, but the Lord is faithful to hold me near. There is such relief in telling Him my heart - knowing nothing is hidden from Him anyway is so liberating! Thanks for your prayers, everyone.
Will post soon... I hope... lots of that emotion in this post, isn't there? :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

From the Home of Maple Leaf...

Well, we made it to Brandon!

We would have left S'toon around 10 am yesterday, but Kurt's boss phoned and said that we should wait because road conditions weren't that great. So that was okay - because we were able to stay a little more relaxed as packing, etc. progressed. We ended up leaving home around 2:30 yesterday and got here by 8:30... so around 6 hours of driving. Not bad, I thought! The last time we came this way was to pick up Oscar waaaay back in February - and although this time it was snowy - that time it was dangerous cold. It seemed longer last time, too.

The roads were really good - except the further we got into Manitoba the bigger the drifts got on the left side of the road... no worries because we were on the Trans-Canada... and wonderful double-lane highway.

They got a LOT more snow here than we did at home! When we got here we went to Safeway to pick up some fruit and stuff for the hotel room (the only time we EVER go to Safeway is when we're on a road-trip... chuckle) and the parking lot had loads of that crunchy, squeaky cold snow - with the super-polished ice underneath from people trying to accelerate.... it made for some interesting driving. Kurt loves his 4x4. ;)

After we got back to the hotel, we decided to go to the restaurant next door to have a late supper. Kurt thought we should go out the "back" way of the hotel... which wouldn't have been a problem if there hadn't been a blizzard - but the plow left a huge pile of snow outside the door so that it would only open about a foot... and then after we got through that (there are advantages to not being pregnant anymore...) we had to leap over a 3 food bank to get to the road.

Yes - leap.

This morning it is, according to the weather office, -25 with a -33 windchill. Ick. For the Americans that is -12 and -18 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Now that everyone has an appropriate appreciation for how cold it is - double ick! ;)

The hotel room is pretty cool. They actually have a computer in here. A computer-computer... with a monitor, keyboard, mouse and tower... I was delighted... and am obviously putting them all to good use. :)

The plan is to work on Autumn's album while I'm here. Tomorrow I'll probably go to the show (we have to check out in the morning anyway) but today I'm going to spread out my stuff and get right to it. Kurt has been really wonderful about letting me pick up the supplies I need for the album. I was bracing myself for a cry of financial agony (or at least a wince) when I told him what I spent at Michaels the other day. Instead he just smiled at me, squeezed my hand and said, "I'm glad you can do this for her, honey." What an amazing, generous, wonderful man I've married... and I'm understating. :)

I've been thinking about the album a lot: How to place things... what to journal... which pictures to use and when... In relation to that - I think so often of her. Working on the album, and looking at the pictures is bringing a fresh wave of longing for her... each day has new struggles.

For example: it feels like "everyone else" (first sign of irrational thought is over-generalization... chuckle) is getting to prepare for their baby's first Christmas... pictures, outfits, baby's reaction to lights/decorations... I saw a "Baby's First Christmas" sleeper in Wal Mart and it brought tears to my eyes! Not that I would take that away from them, or expect them to not share it - it just hurts as we are coming to yet another holiday/event that I pictured sharing with Autumn.

The fact is that I would love to be blogging about how my six-week old baby girl is reacting to our dog, car rides, her grandparents... and I've been struggling with even looking forward to the season - let alone celebrating it. Sometimes it feels like the sadness goes right to my toes... it is so deep. The deep deep tears have been so healing the last few days - and I actually feel better after a few soul-wrenching cries... it is amazing that tears can do so much good. :)

Third Day sings a song about grief and suffering. "There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary and love for the broken heart... grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing - He'll meet you wherever you are - cry out to Jesus..."

Grief has been categorized by those who study human character into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance... all of which make sense and seem to be pretty common among those of the 'human persuasion'.

Depression is a struggle, and denial can be easy. But the anger and bargaining are tempered by the fact that I know whose hands this has come from. Truthfully, for me to be angry is to say to God, "You have done wrongly!" And while that emotion does come, I praise Him for the grace to recognize it and repent. I am the creature, and He is the creator... and I have been given so much. He has sent His own Son to die for me in spite of the fact that I never gave Him a thought! As soon as the seed thoughts formulate, I try to tell myself truth with counter-thoughts...

There is sin in this world, and sin causes death. Even the fact that my sweet baby girl died is a result of living in this world because everyone dies. No one is immune. But here is my hope: the sting of death - ultimate separation from a holy and loving God - is taken away in Christ. Embraced - or unrepentant - anger (for me) is 1) unsatisfying and damaging, 2) insisting that I - not God - know best and 3) a sin - but praise God! - one that He died for.

I have experienced nearly all of those so-called stages through out the last 6 weeks: I am sad - I struggle with accepting the loss on a purely intellectual basis - I get depressed. I would love God to guarantee me happiness for the rest of my life. And I do, occasionally, feel anger... but all these things lead me to cry out to Jesus!

And without fail, He says to my heart through His word: "Come to me, Kendall, when you are weary and heavily burdened - I will give you rest for your soul. I am gentle and humble, and I understand loss and hurt and separation. Someday you will see things fully... and even as you cling to me in pain and confusion now - I promise you will embrace me for joy when the full picture is revealed."

That humbles anger. It lightens depression, it allows for no bargaining - and creates that "soul rest" and acceptance - not because I'll just "get through" but because I know He'll walk through this with me.

So while I tremble because of my circumstances, and the continuing grief, I know I will not be ruled by it. The hands that have broken will bind. He will stand with me until the end. What a Savior! How could I get through this without Him? He gives joy to my heavy heart, and doesn't penalize me for my struggles and doubts... So unbelievable and yet so true!

I pray that He would reveal Himself to you today. He is near to those who are looking for Him. Trust me on that one (chuckle). :)

Thanks for reading - and stay warm!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quick Update

What's been happening - in point form! :)

1) I started Autumn's scrapbook... more emotionally taxing than I thought it would be - have had a few really intense (yet therapeutic) cries.

2) We saw Martian Child. Didn't cry - Kurt almost did because the guy's dog died. This was only hard because his wife died first... overall not a bad movie.

3) My sister-in-law, Jessica, took me for a manicure. It was fun. :) Hers was better than mine for 3 reasons: she has longer nails, she wasn't in a rush to leave and watch Martian Child, and the girl who did her nails wasn't rushing either... mine blitzed through mine and didn't do the best job... aye carumba! But we'll for sure do it again, Jess - thanks again! :) Love you lots!

4) It's a blizzard across the entire country! Kurt's been doing a lot of shoveling...

5) Manitoba Hog Days - here we come!
... so Cody will be doing lots of shoveling. ;)

Hopefully I can blog a little bit from the hotel. If we get there - thanks to la nina (can't put the little squiggles over the 'n') and the universal blizzard. (I like snow, actually... just gets a little stressful to travel in, though.)

Farewell for the moment...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Who is Going to Be Visitor Number 8000?

... some one from Lakewood Washington... almost the second I wrote that question!
Yay! Thanks to all the readers - and pray-ers... we're still so in need!
the Manzs'

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kurt's Grandpa Manz

On Sunday, November 25th, at 2am Kurt's Grandpa Manz passed away. He is the first grandparent that either of us have lost... and it obviously comes pretty closely on the heels of Autumn's death.

The funeral was held yesterday, November 29th, in Markinch, Saskatchewan, and Kurt spoke at the funeral along with his dad.

I think that Dean (Kurt's brother) summarized what we were all feeling when he said after leaving the graveyard:

"I'm okay to be done with family funerals for a while."

Amen, Dean.

It was in some ways easier than I thought it would be... and in other ways harder. In Kurt's tribute, he mentioned the attributes he appreciated in his Grandpa - noting that he sees those characteristics in his dad as well. He also said that one of our sadnesses in losing Autumn was that we weren't able to introduce her Great Grandpa to her - and vise-versa. I wasn't prepared to tear up hearing him speak, but I did - and he had a hard time getting his words out, too. His Grandma told me afterward, "He didn't even cry that much at Autumn's funeral!" (chuckle) I guess there is some residual grief there for both of us. Not surprising, exactly - but still unexpected. Loss is loss... and it just feels like we've had a lot of that, lately.

The minister also gave a good message: encouraging the people there to consider where they stand before Christ before their time comes. Gord (Kurt's dad) also spoke so well... he really stood out to me as the "oldest brother" - and was obviously sad - but strong for his siblings, too.
Overall, it was a tiring day - but a blessing to be there for Gord, and Grandma Manz...

... not to mention seeing all those good-looking Manz and Davis cousins again! (lol!) Shoot! Kurt has great-looking relatives - male and female - but mostly male (only 2 girls in total). (lol!) Perhaps a biased thought: but I did get the cutest of the bunch! ;)Our grandparents: all of them, plus Great Grandma Manz at our wedding (Du-uh, Kendall...) Great Grandma is the one holding my hand. Grandpa Manz is on the right side of the picture, standing on the end. His wife - Grandma Manz - is the one holding Kurt's arm. We're hoping to get to go see her next week on our way to a pork show in Manitoba.

Funny story: Great Grandma Manz is actually Grandma Manz's mom. Mysterious... isn't it? This worked because her maiden name was Manz - and she married a Manz. They were unrelated - but still it makes it easy when people say, "Are you related to the (blank) Manzs'?" and I can say, "Probably." because it makes for a HUGE family! :)

So that's what else has been "up" lately. Thanks for reading, everyone. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's That Time Again..

Yes! It's true... I have - once again - made changes of a most-drastic nature!
I know, I know... it's a quirky color scheme what with all the blues and creams and the greens... but I like it. And it's better than painting a room, right Kurt? ;)


So... any comments? Nice ones? (chuckle)

Besides the obvious cosmetic changes, people who want to comment will have to do a word-verification when leaving one. It's pretty common on other blogs to block spam, but I was doing okay without for a while. Now I've gotten a few: so it was time. For anyone who isn't familiar with this - don't worry - just follow the instructions. :)

Anyway, I enjoyed seeing one of our "old" pictures at the top of the last post, I figured I'd attach another one just because I can. :)

This was taken before my nursing grad - as you can tell by the date-stamp, it was last December (during an awful blizzard, if I recall correctly...). In some ways, I look at that picture and think, "Wow. That feels like a loooong time ago." :) In others, it feels like not much has changed.

But why - WHY - did I ever cut my hair??

It looked great - and I just chopped it off because I was tired of doing it! Shorter hair plus the pregnancy weight wasn't the greatest combo... but it does give me something to aim for as I try to get back to both "pre" states of hair and size.

Methinks I complainth too much, noooo? (Hearing Sylvester's voice in my head... lol!)

So I'll talk to you soon-ish!

How We Became "Us"

Kurt and I have known one another since early October 2002. We met in Political Studies – introduced by Paul C. (Kurt and Paul worked at Dutch Growers together the summer previous.) We were attracted pretty much right away. But I was not in university to find a guy – and neither one of us expected to find someone in an actual university class. :-) I was attending with Grace Fellowship, and he was going to Ebeneezer Baptist. We had some pretty interesting discussions over the next few months on some sweet topics such as election, free will, the Holy Spirit... and many other issues.

The first time he asked me out was to go the ‘Bassment’ (a jazz club) with him to hear some of his friends and their new band play a gig. Of course, Kiley came along to chaperone (my idea, not Kurt’s), but after that, I was hooked on the idea of getting to know this pretty cool guy with the great smile and cute haircut.

Grace Fellowship
was also starting up our Evenings of Theology on campus – to which he came- albeit cautiously at first (the first meeting he met my dad!). But God began to develop a passion for truth and a hunger for godliness in Kurt – and of course, I was rejoicing every step of the way. Not only had I found a cutie – but he was actually a cutie who was eager to think about “God Stuff”.

After a month-and-a-half of “seeing” one another, he decided he actually wanted to be my boyfriend – to which I replied “Okay, you can ask my dad.” Nothing like throwing down the gauntlet... wink-wink. ;) We were both 22 years old, and coming from totally different ideas of dating, courtship... etc. so I had no idea how he would respond, but he agreed. I also gave him the Josh Harris book Boy meets Girl which began to influence his ideas of why you date/court, and what our purpose should be in pursuing a relationship.

December 6th, he asked my dad if he could pursue me – with marriage as the intended end. Dad told him yes with much enthusiasm (they've always had a great relationship), but also told Kurt he expected to see him within the year to ask another question. Basically, "Fish, or cut bait young man." (lol) :-) Those of you who know my dad know I’m not exaggerating his directness at all. (chuckle)

And the rest, as they say, is history. The next 5 (almost 6) months were wonderful ones of trusting His faithfulness to Himself as we encountered some pretty rough stuff. But we were also able to see how He truly had our good in mind. Because of the seriousness of the relationship, we had always seen marriage as a realistic possibility.
I'd known I was in love since January... and it was an extreme exercise in patience to wait to be his wife, but it was during the last month or so (April/May) that things really started to happen.

Kurt had not been baptized as an adult – and was feeling convicted about that. So he called my dad and asked to be baptized on May 18th – in an unheated pool on a 7 degree day. What fortitude! :-) Unknown to me, he had talked to my dad on May 17th and told him that he needed to talk to him about marrying me.

Anyone who knows anything about my family understands that they are not easy to get together with. Especially my dad... with church business, and farm business, and family business... you get the point. :-) But that is where providence came in.

Monday the 19th I woke up with the idea that my dear, sweet, hard-working Kurt was tired and needed some sleep. So when he called before he left for work, I told him that I wanted to give him the evening alone so he could go to bed very early and get some rest. He hummed-and-hawed about that – and left me with a “maybe”.

Unbeknownst to me, as soon as we got off the phone, he called my folks and asked he could go out there for supper that evening after work. They live an hour out of the city – going at full highway speeds – so it was going to be a marathon. He also told my mom that he would try to get in touch with a friend of mine and ask her to ask me to scrapbook that evening – but there was no answer at her house before he left for work.

When I talked to my mom later I told her my idea (remember, it really was my idea) and she suggested that just to make sure I would really let him sleep, I should maybe scrapbook with my girlfriend. I thought that was a good idea, so I called her and arranged my evening so that I would be totally busy. I think anyone who knew me at the time understood that unless I had a distraction I would have no self-control and would need to make at least one phone call… (chuckle)

My girlfriend and I had a great time – and during our scrapbooking fest (it lasted 2 days) discussed the many ways that Kurt could surprise me if he proposed. :-) Of course, our plan did not include the possibility that he could have actually traveled out to the farm to talk to dad and mom Monday night, or that he had bought the ring at EASTER when we were visiting his parents... So when we asked him later if he had used part of his evening to talk on phone with my dad and arrange a meeting – he was able to truthfully answer “Awww... no, I didn’t. But that would’ve been a good opportunity.” :-)

Meanwhile, the two of us (he and I) had been planning since Sunday night that we would go and surprise my parents by showing up on Thursday for an evening visit (Thursday was his day off). So he told me Wednesday night that he had a surprise for me... and let me figure out the fact that he had planning a picnic about 5 miles from my house overlooking the river and the old fort. Because of my week of investigation and questioning, I had completely ruled out the possibility of being proposed to so soon. Furthermore, I was completely distracted by the red herring – the picnic details. He’s so clever…

Once we got there we set up and began to eat - relaxing and enjoying one another’s company. I had known he had written something that I wasn’t supposed to see – and he brought it out (not fast enough for me) and told me to listen.

It was a poem about a “princess” (one of his nicknames for me is princess beautiful - he coined that after we watched Life is Beautiful) who is met by a guy on a quest. He tells her that he has been looking for a wife his entire life (I had no clue yet), and tells her all the qualities about her that make her fitting (still, I’m thinking “good job, Kurt, this is a pretty nice poem”), and then asks her to come to “marriage castle” with him. (And I STILL had no idea!) But he signed it, “Love, Kurt."

From the start of our relationship, we had agreed to not tell one another that we loved each other until he proposed. So I just stared at him for a moment and said, “Are you proposing to me?” To which he replied “I love you, Kendall, and I want to marry you. Will you marry me?” and I said, “You’re really proposing to me???” One of the things I love about him is his patience (chuckle) – so he just laughed and said, “Yes, I am.” I managed to hold back the tears – and ended up just with a simple, “Yes! (Meaning, "Dag-nabit, boy - I love you bunches and bunches!") :-) Then he pulled out a box of chocolates he had been saving for “desert” and there, in the heart-shaped place, was the most beautiful ring I have ever seen (yes, I was in love and super-happy – but this was a gorgeous ring!).

After that we just talked and laughed and cuddled and discussed his most-excellent sneakiness. We also spent some time reflecting on all the circumstances God used to bring us together. Then we went to tell my mom and dad, call his folks, see my grandparents (both sets) and phone some other family.... All the while we kept looking at one another with big grins and saying, “We’re really engaged!” :)

And that, dear friends, is how I got proposed to. :) Here we are, almost 5 years later. Although the circumstances right now are not my most favorite, this is a great story for me to remember on some rougher days. The Lord hasn’t dropped us yet - not even close. I am so thankful He’s the same God who made us “The Manzs’”... 'cause those circumstances were so joyful - how can I doubt His goodness? :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fingers Closing!

Today we ended up going for a stat (ie: "sooner than the health care system usually works") ultrasound because I've been having some pretty heavy bleeding. My apologies to anyone for whom that is "too much information", but it is essential to the story - I promise. :-D
I've been concerned mostly because I had no idea what to expect in the time following birth. Not only have I never had a baby before, but I didn't follow the regular "recovery" regimen afterward: mainly breastfeeding - which helps shrink the uterus back down to normal size by continuing contractions. And Kurt - who is normally concerned - was doubly concerned because of mine.
Anyway, yesterday the doctor arranged for me to get the ultrasound to make sure there weren't any "retained products of conception" which means 'tiny pieces of placenta'. If there is anything left in there, the uterus can't get back to where it is supposed to be - and a woman can bleed, and bleed, and bleed... I'm sure you get the point.
This morning I woke up with some major attacks on my faith. As I lay in bed, I could imagine going there and having them say, "There's placenta present - you need a D&C (uterine scrape - not good for future conceptions) immediately." Or, "Your bleeding will never stop - a hysterectomy is the only option."
On one hand I could tell myself they were just "silly" thoughts. On the other, my perspective on things that are unlikely to happen has changed drastically. We've had unimaginable news given to us in a situation that was just supposed to be a check-up... and I found myself thinking, "I don't know what I'll do if I can never conceive again - never feel a baby move inside me. Please don't do this to me, Lord!" Even considering that our future could be childless after having been so close filled me with paralyzing anxiety. I hate worrying - it never accomplishes anything! But it was so hard to get away from today.
So I found myself fighting the fear and sadness - and all manner of unpleasant things as I waited for the ultrasound. There was another lady there who was a real chatty gal. And yes - I am 'understating'... chuckle. :) She kept going on and on to her husband about all the people that were pregnant at the same time as her, and spring babies, and all the parts of pregnancy that she was enjoying, or not... and I just stared out the window and thought, "Please, please just be quiet."
I've heard that anger is often just displaced sadness... but sometimes it is just plan-old ugly anger... and I had to do some serious repenting. How many times have I displayed joy without being aware of other's around me? How often was I oblivious to other's pain - perhaps even on the days we went for our happier ultrasounds?
When we got to have the ultrasound - with the same technician who had done our last one - the memories were just like a ton of bricks falling on me. I stared at the ceiling remembering how I eagerly watched the screen before looking for little hands and feet - and how thrilled we were to see Autumn suck her thumb and yawn at the 30-week mark.
Yes, it was hard to be reminded of the times we were there and how we had the same excitement and anticipation... and how naive we were about the possibility of anything going wrong. Just like the other girl. But I am glad for her that she was happy about her pregnancy - because truthfully, I understand that thrill.
I just sorrow for me. My wants. My goals. My desires.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone else... but I just miss our baby girl. I want another baby to fill my empty arms - and today the battle is particularly hard to not make that my idol - the source of my happiness. My fingers have been so close to crushing the butterfly today... and I'm praying the Lord gives me strength to deal with whatever comes across our path - to keep my hands open and my heart calm. I don't want my faith to be in my circumstances - I want it to be in who my Lord is.
The good news is that there isn't any obvious problems - so this is probably just "that time of the month" which gives us both relief. My system is kinda screwy - but it seems to be trying to get back to normal... so I'm thanking the Lord for that in a huge way.
Also, I've been reminded of friends and family who are also going through some hard stuff today, so Kurt and I are praying for them... I'm sure you know who you are. :)
Anyway - thanks to everyone reading - and for your continued prayers. I'm so convinced that the Lord uses them to get me through these exact kind of situations - plus the day-to-day struggles. I look forward to the pain not being quite so acute or sudden - and I do trust that will happen, too.
So - deep breath and a smile - that's been November 27th (so far) in a nutshell, everyone! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Postpartum Party

I just want to acknowledge and thank the gals from my unit for the amazing support they've given Kurt and myself over the last month and a bit. The Christmas party was tonight, and while I was relaxed and happy to be there, Kurt didn't feel awkward either. With him being the only guy there, that just shows how great you guys were! :) It was so wonderful to see you all - even the ones I didn't' get to visit with that much... and I missed the ones that didn't get to come - so it is an added incentive to get super-well and get back to work. :) You're an amazing bunch of ladies - and I'm officially adding my coworkers to my list of blessings! :)
Thanks 5100 - we (not just "I" - grinning!) love you guys!


Since last post was about challenges - this one will list a few blessings of the last few days (Yay!). In no particular order other than the way they come to mind:
  • Several cards from friends and loved ones reminding us that they are still praying for us - especially as we were coming up to and passing Autumn's one-month birthday. They were an encouragement and a timely blessing on a few really hard days. Thank you!
  • Some dear friends from my hometown made a donation to the RUH memory Box program in Autumn's memory. That touched both Kurt and I very deeply - as receiving our memory box after Autumn died was part of what made us feel her birth was as valuable as any other... even if we were not going to take her home.
  • I got through my first post-birth doctor's appointment. It wasn't that seeing him was hard - but going back to the office where we spent so many months hoping and not even thinking that we could lose our baby was hard. Initially, I was going to go by myself - but Kurt insisted on coming with me. In the end, I am so glad he did as it was hard to be there and see all the other people with their healthy little ones. I shed a few tears, but I feel like I crossed a hurdle - and it was nice to see my doctor and some staff members again.
  • The Roughriders won the Grey Cup after 18 years! :)
  • The heat is fixed in our basement suite - this is more Kurt's blessing than mine... it's warm upstairs where we live. ;) But really - it was kinda stressing out my dear husband - and knowing it is working again (now that it is -22/-32 with the wind chill - that is -7/-18 F... fyi) is making him happy.
  • I managed to find a couple of sweaters that fit me - and will fit me as I lose (hopefully!) the baby weight. This is a huge blessing for the previously mentioned 'brutal cold' reason, as well as the fact that all my maternity clothes were summer-themed. As the hormones drop, so does the internal heat... and I've been craving some long-sleeves. This blessing, in particular, proves that I am a true female-type person. ;)
And the last one: Kurt and I have found something (I think) to spend the money we were gifted. Are you ready?

Airplane tickets.

Yowsa! If anything defines "blowing it"- that would! :)

It also works out nicely that we've racked up enough VISA Avion points to complete one long-haul (anywhere in Canada and the United States except Hawaii and Alaska) trip. I'm not going to spend too much time thinking about that particular accomplishment (!) but the trip is a nice reward. Seeing as though we have some unplanned one-on-one time, a trip would be wonderful for me - especially now that winter has hit. We're not sure where we're going to go yet... or when... but we're pretty sure that a trip would be really, really nice sometime before spring. (Which seems really far away...) And it has given me something to look forward to - because winter is hard even in the best of moods, let alone when thinking about how much more exciting I thought it would be with our daughter, you know?

So our HUGE thanks again to our anonymous donors - I hope our decision matches what you stipulated and makes you happy. :)

Anybody have ideas where we should go? :)

The view from the Calgary tower. No particular reason to post this other than I thought it was a cool picture... and I kinda hope it freaks people out initially... heh-heh! And yes - those are my feet. Lest you think me brave, however, I must confess it took me almost 10 minutes to step out on the plexiglas despite all the little kids jumping up and down on the stuff... lol!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Today had a few challenges... not major ones - but ones that needed to be dealt with and not ignored - 'cause that always leads to come kind of repressed crankiness that ends with me in tears. And not good tears, either. No, they're the kind that have Kurt going, "What the heck!?" as he tries to comfort me and stay out of my way at the same time. Ick... not my best moments... but anyway - you get the point I hope. :)

They were little things, mostly - like dealing with my own sadness... it was almost like being at the crossroads between depression and contentment - and I had to make that choice. The Lord was gracious, and I was able to battle the sadness to the point where it didn't rule me today.

So I chose to be busy instead! :)

I did laundry - all of it - by myself. I haven't done that in months because of the washer and dryer being downstairs so Kurt always took it down and up. It felt nice. Plus, when I do it, it gets done in one day - versus over a couple of days and then the clothes are all wrinkly from sitting in the dryer for hours and hours. Of course, I am so thankful that he took care of me all those months - lest I be rebuked by him for my ungratefulness. ;)

We also talked to a few builders about some more quotes for house plans so that we can keep looking toward moving to the farm. :) Other than the money they want (!) it is pretty exciting. (chuckle) There are almost too many options out there - but I think it helps that we have our floor plan pretty much figured out... so we'll keep you posted on the (if any) progression towards "the big move".

The most daunting task of today was picking which pictures to put in Autumn's album next weekend. I'm going to scrapbooking 'get together' with my mom, and I think that I need to start the album sooner than later. But sitting down and looking at the pictures is always somewhat heart-wrenching. Furthermore, I haven't worked on pictures in over a year (so much for my "make a pre-baby album"!) and this album feels like so much more than "important". I want it to express the full depth of emotions I feel for Autumn and everything we've gone through because of her birth and death... and that is intimidating. I am actually nervous. But I got the pictures ordered, and they should be ready by tomorrow afternoon - thank you Costco! - so that step is finished. :)

We also took Oscar for a long walk in the snow today - which was fun for him and good for us. I think that God made it that fresh air and exercise was supposed to make us feel better. Other than the chill, and the sore toes (darn shoes...), and the snow down my neck... ahem.

Well - that should do it for tonight... have a good remainder of the weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Family Pictures

I thought it was time to put up a few more pictures... 'cause it is my blog. :)

My favorite family picture of the three of us... and although Autumn's face isn't visible, we look like adoring parents.

Well, Duh. (giggle!)

I don't have one single picture of the three of us where Kurt and I are holding her and looking at the camera... we're always looking at her or at someone else. So this is as good as it will get... and that is okay... it wasn't my best day. ;)

These are some of my favorites of the uncles and aunty who came to visit. :)

(Uncle C0dy - my youngest brother)

This is one of the best pictures of Autumn being held where her face is really visible but her lips aren't so dry. I love it. Thanks, Cody. :)

(Uncle Kiley - my middle brother)

(Aunty Jessica - my brother Kiley's wife)

We really loved that my brothers and Jessica were able to come to 'meet' Autumn. One of the most special moments in the past month was when I gave Jessica and Kiley pictures of them and Autumn. Jessica immediately put the pictures of the fridge and announced, "I am a proud aunt!" Thank you, Jessica, for being a proud aunty. Autumn would have loved her "Aunty Jess" lots and lots - I know her mommy does. :)

Have a wonderful evening, everyone! Thanks for still reading - I know the last couple of posts were pretty heavy to get through (Kurt told me so) but it really is such a release to get my thoughts out there - and tell myself truth. :) But I do hope I'm not depressing anyone too badly. (chuckle)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One Month, One Day (A Letter to My Daughter)

Dear Autumn,

Although yesterday would have been your one-month birthday, today is one month, to the day, that I started to live life after you left us. When I woke up on the morning of October 22nd, there was a new way of existing different from what I have ever experienced and certainly never imagined all those months you were part of me. (Even after we found out that you had died you were still inside me.) But after you were born, and we cried the last tears that would fall on your pretty face, we said our last goodbye and we left you there. We came home, I blogged and your daddy fell asleep in his chair (your parents are nothing if not predictable… chuckle) and then we went to bed. One month later I woke up wondering, “How did we do that?” How did your daddy and I give you one last cuddle, one last kiss, hand your tiny body to the nurse, and then leave without you?

You were such a special gift! But the Lord, in His complete sovereignty, has taken you out of my hands for the duration of my earthy existence. I find my fingers daily wanting to curl around you again through a lack of trust in Him. Like a young child can squash the butterfly in her eagerness to preserve the delight of holding it - allowing the pain of loss to rule me would mean that the sweetness of you would be crushed. The true value of a gift is in knowing and treasuring the Giver. The true value of you, my sweet girl, is that you daily point me back to Him. I have no doubt that He could have spared you – could have pointed me to Him through your life… but I also know without a doubt that had that been best it would have happened.

And so daily I cry out to my Savior to help me to uncurl my fingers from your memories. To let go of envy, and self-pity, and despair and hold you with an open palm – amazed at the value of what I see, but not so fixated on what I perceive I lack that I destroy your beauty and undervalue the One who lifts my head, dries my heart’s tears and promises, “Someday you will understand.” It seemed unfair that Jesus was murdered, too… and yet I know that His death – His willing release of His life and relationship with His Father - secured my future. How amazing that He has hand-picked this for us, and given us opportunity to prove Him trustworthy...

Your daddy told me today that each morning he wakes up and remembers how he planned to spend his mornings: you in one arm and a bible in the other. He is so dear to my heart, and I love him so much. He doesn’t cry as often anymore, but there is a maturity in Him that God has brought about with loss – he always misses you, sweetheart. I would have loved to see you together – to develop the relationship that little girls and their daddies have! I, for one, know how special that relationship is. :) Your Papa is a special man, too. You would have learned so much from him, and in some ways, he could have had a “little Kendall” back again through you. Both these strong, wonderful men loved you so much, and the Lord knows how it breaks my heart to not have you be a daily part of our family.

But something else that I remembered this morning was that God has finally given me that which I pleaded years for: more love for Jesus. Just as you, my precious baby girl, would have learned to love your daddy and me as a result of your complete and total dependence – so I have learned with Jesus.

The strange part is that unlike you, who would have learned it from the start, He has taught me this many years after I first started following Him. He has gently taken from me that which is most precious and brought me to a point when even my basic functioning seems like an overwhelming task – and has then shown Himself to be more than able to carry me.

I can no longer be independent in my plans, goals and desires. I am learning that even when I did not see His worth, He never left me – or I would not be standing today. This knowledge gives me security even facing an uncertain future. I trust Him because even in the hardest trial I have ever gone through, He has quieted my heart with the promise that I am loved and valued by the God who holds atoms together. And while I may have been tempted to doubt His love for me in the past – whether through things not going my way, or because I felt I had ‘messed up’ – I believe it with all my heart now. How could I have gone through this without Him? I praise Jesus that He took my sin upon Himself at the cross and made the love of the Father accessible. The life I now live – and will live in the future - I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Strange how faith totally trumps logic because of Whom it is based in rather than what I understand...

The value of that lesson cannot be measured in earthly terms. Do I love Him yet as I ought? Not even close. But I want to. And you, my sweet, precious baby, have taught me that. I would have gladly given my life for you, Autumn. But, in so many ways, your life was given that I might live more fully. I am both honored and humbled. With tears, I thank the Lord for you, sweetheart.

I love you forever,

Monday, November 19, 2007


Sometimes I walk into the nursery and can imagine picking up our baby after her nap. Without even thinking about it too much, I can hear her baby sounds and feel her soft skin and tiny fingers. These are the imaginings that people tried to warn me about... and they're bittersweet.

Sometimes I look at the change table and can giggle imagining Kurt trying to change diapers.
Sometimes the same thought brings tears to my eyes - because I know what delight he would take in that less-than-attractive task.

Sometimes I can imagine going back to work and bursting into tears the first baby-girl I see cuddling with her mommy...
... and sometimes I can picture seeing it and smiling with only a little misty-eyed wistfulness.

Sometimes I find myself enjoying the quiet... and then wish it was filled with the sounds of a crying baby girl.

Sometimes it surprises me how lonely I get for a little girl who never had a day-to-day impact on my life. But then it doesn't because she was part of me for so long. My life sustained hers.

Sometimes I look at her picture and know - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that she is our child. Other times I wonder it it was real - any of it. The pregnancy, the induction, the labor... and most especially her death.

Because if it was just a dream, or a sad movie or book - then I could get up, and walk away thinking of the sorrow as belonging to someone else. "So sad", I would think. "But thankfully not mine."

But then I remember how it felt when the doctor told us her heart wasn't beating anymore. How my stomach dropped, and the air froze in my lungs, and the way my ears starting ringing - and how my husband's hand tightened on mine, and I heard his breathing change as the sob started... I have to own it. And owning it is hard. There is no walking away. There is no forgetting. It isn't a story. It is real... and it happened to Kurt and I one month ago today.

And sometimes I remember how it is in this valley that I have come to know Jesus more. Can the value of that be measured? Can the security that comes from knowing He holds me be traded?

These "sometimes" give me more to pray about - and more ways for God to show Himself strong and sufficient for such a fragile woman with such feeble faith. He won't get tired of caring for me... and I thank Him for it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bye-Bye BC!

We're going to the Grey Cup!!! :)
Thanks to everyone who came over - even for a little while - to watch the game with us. It was great to have the company and we really enjoyed it. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Double Dating

Our huge thanks to our good friends Patrick and Pam for our "double date" last night. We got to tag along with them as they redeemed their free movie tickets, and then went and hung out at their place until much (and I do mean much!) later than anticipated.
But, in those unexpected extra hours, the guys had a great discussion, and Pam and I got to talk and share - and do a little crying together. Always good for the spirits. :)
The whole secret of last night is that before we left home I really wanted to be depressed. Not that I would have actually phrased it like that at the time - but it is the truth of the matter. I mean, it was cold, it felt like snow (which was an accurate feeling this morning!), I was tired (never a good sign), and was feel really sad about Autumn. Kinda setting myself up for a grumpy, weepy, self-centered evening. Poor Kurt! (chuckle)
But our friends - unknowingly on their parts - pulled me out of that wrong thinking with their wonderful company. The movie was pretty good, but the gift of true friends was a blessing that I'm still thanking the Lord for this morning. :)
So thanks guys - we love you lots! Hope the kids let you sleep in a little bit this morning. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sleeping and Dreaming

My day started with a sleep-in.

I know, I know... the ladies with little ones are squinting their eyes trying to remember what that word means. (chuckle) I wish for what you have, but truly, I wish for it without envy or bitterness. :) I praise God for this fact.

So I spent time this morning praying for everyone I know who has little ones. For patience, for love, for gentleness, for happiness... for gratefulness even in hard-things like tantrums, short naps, really dirty diapers and yes - even the lack of sleep-ins. :) I would give the few extra hours of sleep to have Autumn. But God has changed my perspective on so many things... so that even that 'wish' doesn't consume me all the time. I can only hope others will be praying for me the same as a "new" mother someday... and that I will remember this when my colicky baby cries for 6-months straight. (chuckle)

Kurt had to go to a work-thing this morning... but before he left he told me, "I had a dream about Autumn last night." I had to laugh as I not only perked right up, but asked a bunch of questions.

Me: "How old was she?"
Kurt: "A 2 or 3 year old... talking to her great-grandparents saying goodnight or something and giving them kisses."

Me: "What did she sound like?"
Kurt: "Cute... she couldn't really pronounce all her words - but she was trying hard. She couldn't pronounce "Great-Gramma" very well - but she could get out "Oma and Opa"."

Me:"Awww... so what did she look like?"
Kurt: "Light-colored hair, chubby cheeks, and big blue eyes with dark eyelashes - like her mommy."

(... so I have chubby cheeks?) ;)

Funny how I craved news of her, isn't it? Even though it was just a dream, I wanted every detail... and since Kurt never dreams (or at least remembers them) I was so thankful that he remembered so many details.

That little girl has such a hold on my heart... and I knew this morning that even if I never have another child - I am a mother. :)

I want to thank Pattie for her comments on the last post. I so appreciate your opening up and reaching out to us. Your words are both heart-wrenching because I know you understand the feelings we're going through, and encouraging because I know you've moved through what seems for me to be a long, hard journey. Thank you. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh Yeah...

I also wanted to acknowledge that the visitor counter is over 6000. Aye carumba!!
I am both amazed and humbled. :)
For those who read, pray, and/or comment... and especially for the ones who do all three (chuckle): Although we cannot always reply, both of us read each comment left on the blog. Your reaching out to us across the distances (even not-so-far distances) is neither unnoticed, or taken for granted. We continue to thank the Lord, daily, for the way He strengthens us through you.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! :)

Five Ponderings

1) I was doing the laundry last week and wondering why the "whites" basket was so full. Particularly - full of socks. Then I remembered that not only was it warmer for most of my pregnancy - but my feet were also much fatter. (Is fatter a word?) Hmmm... nevertheless - shoes weren't an option - therefore socks were unnecessary. Not so now. Even if I did have to buy a pair of bigger shoes to fit my longer (really!) feet! (chuckle)

2) I've been thinking about her kicks. In particular, how the specific memory of them is fading. I can no longer feel them - or expect to feel them - when I put my hand to my stomach. Tomorrow it will be November 15th - one month past her due date. On Monday it will be a month since she died - and a month since I felt her. Next Wednesday she would have been one month old. I grieve these things, but I trust that God will fill these voids as time moves on.

3) I used to always wonder that when the rubber met the road (whether through death, or Christ's return) if I was really believing... or if God would look upon me and say, "You never really loved me - just what I could do for you." After all this: I know I love the Lord more than anything. He, alone, in His goodness is getting me through. The trial is from Him - but so are the blessings of family, friends, my husband - and even our goofy dog (who even as I write I can hear snoring at the other end of the house... lol!). In fact, "the end", whatever it looks like, is no longer an anxiety-causing event. I look forward to kissing the hands that bled for me - and having Him wipe the tears from my eyes forever.

3) Psalm 119 says a lot about suffering. It uses the word "affliction" or "afflicted" a lot. That word really jumps out at me now - with a totally different meaning than it used to have. This helps in two ways. The first is that I know that others have suffered in the Lord over the ages... we're not alone - and our Lord is very experienced in holding His own through the valleys. The second is the confidence in knowing that suffering has a purpose: "I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me." (vs 75) and "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." (vs 71). The writer is not saying these things under duress: he knows - as I am learning - that there is so much value in knowing God that even if it takes affliction to drive me to His arms... that His arms are still the best place to be. It boggles the mind to have such comfort in pain... and yet it is no longer a theory to me - it's a reality.

4) At times there can be such a sense of disbelief: Was I really pregnant? Did a baby really grow inside me - let alone come out of me? I said to Kurt the other day, "How did we go from "just about there" back to "wait and see" so quickly?" We were almost parents - functioning parents... but there is no word to identify people who have lost a child. I told my dad it is like being a bride whose husband dies on the wedding night: technically a widow... but never actually "married" with all the fullness that word implies. I am so thankful for the pictures - like the one below - that remind me that Autumn was real. So many of you have also reminded me that yes - I am a mommy and Kurt is a daddy. We were so proud of her... just see the look on his face? I am so blessed to have this man with his tender heart and love for his daughter...
5) We got the bush pushed at the farm for our future driveway. This is very exciting for us! It means that life has not ground to a horrible stop. We will move on, our lives will still progress. We can make plans, and undertake them... and since the driveway was the most stressful thing for Kurt - he feels quite liberated and relieved that it is now ready to be built. :) No pictures yet, though - as it was done by dark yesterday and we had no time to take them this morning. Sorry, Lori! :)