Micah was given the task to do an art project for the school's Art Week. We were told the idea, the conception had to be his. He wanted and did paint a picture of his family. I am so proud. I love the way God uses our children to reveal and remind us who He is.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The other night after putting the boys to bed, we heard lots of laughter and movement coming from the boys room. We knew they were probably out of their beds doing something mischievous, but we let it ride. They were having fun. Later that night after all was quiet we went to check on them...and this is how we found them. Ike had crawled up into Micah's bunk and fell asleep.
Monday, February 14, 2011
(there is no blog post for 2010)
Valentine's Day 2011
Isaac has been telling me all day that this is "my pecial day." Indeed it is son. Today you have been an Atwood for 3 years. I cannot believe how much you have grown and changed. You have melted our hearts and we could not imagine our life without you in it. We thank God for you today. He has wonderfully made you. You are: healthy, cute as a button, independent, curious about life and the world, tender and tough, competitive, boy are you competitive and you love your brothers, Micah & Chai. As your parents, Mommy and Daddy are forever grateful for how God has shown Himself through your adoption into our family.
HAPPY ADOPTION DAY ISAAC SENTAYEHU ATWOOD!!!!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
This is Trevor's take on the one year anniversary of the discovery of Keva's pregnancy as described in the post below.
I'm not sure how many times I've read "I Love You Forever" to our boys, but there is one part of that book that arrests me each time I read it. The story is about a mother who watches her son grow up and each time you, the reader, think he is too big to be picked up and rocked by his Mom, there she is with a 9 year-old, a teenager, and even a grown man in her lap as she sings "I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."
(SPOILER ALERT) Toward the end of the short book, the mother has gotten old and near death when the son reverses the pattern. He holds his elderly mother and rocks her as he sings "I love you forever."
The next page is where I always get a little choked up. It reads, "When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs." The picture on this page shows the son frozen at the top of his stairs, head down, just outside his newborn baby's room. What's he thinking? What's he feeling? I know now.
At the top of the stairs, he pauses, as he contemplates the death of his mother and the new life of his son. Death and life mingled together in a moment. I've been there.
I remember how alive I felt on February 12, 2010. We were finally pregnant. I remember Micah and Isaac's excitement when we told them over pancakes on a cold, February, Saturday morning. In all of the preparation for Chai's arrival, there was a buzz and an expectancy of something great in our house. Then came July 12. I will never forget the moment I knew there was no hope left for Chai's frail little body to make it. I came out of the neo-natal unit and told my sons and our parents the news. Shortly after, my precious little son would breathe his last breath in my arms.
A day or two later, (I really had lost all track of what day it was by then) I had my "top of the stairs" moment. I was driving home alone to be with the boys for a few hours. Before I got out of the car, I couldn't help but think about all three of my sons. Could they just be together for one day? Now, they are separated by death. Two very alive little boys will never be able to hold, feed, and play with their little brother because of the curse of death. In that moment, I prayed for the wisdom and strength to face my sons, to help them to understand both the reality of death and truth of the resurrection to come in Christ. I knew then that my family had been chosen for something special. Not special in the sense of its uniqueness, but in the depth of the results.
At "the top of the stairs", we feel the pain death brings but look to the hope of new life. This is the cross. Jesus felt the pain of sin and death as he prepared to be the firstborn from the dead, and the first of many brothers and sisters for whom death would not be an eternal condition. That Saturday, between the pain of Friday afternoon and the glory of Sunday morning, was a "top of the stairs" moment. The time we are now in, between the cross and the restoration of all things upon Christ's return, is a perpetual "top of the stairs" moment.
The great news in those "top of the stairs" moments, is the immanent new life. That's what I have in Christ. That's what my family hangs on in difficult moments in the year following Chai's death. Death is painful, but new life is coming. My boys will get to see their baby brother, not for one day, but forever. My memory of watching my son die will be replaced with the sight of him in a glorious resurrection body. Sorrow to joy. Pain to peace. Death to Life.
When I visit my son's grave on days like this, I can't help but visualize that memorial stone cracked down the center, lying at the head of an empty grave. Huh- kind of reminds me of another stone that sat outside another empty grave.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus...and bring our little brother with you.
Yesterday was a beautiful day. We got up late (we being Trevor & I, the boys were up by 6am), I made waffles and the boys played Wii. At noon we got the boys dressed for Little League evaluations, went to the ball field and watched our boys do their very best to pitch, run, catch and field. Afterwards we went to Chai's grave and told him all about our day. It was a great day, but one that came with an introspective and meditative heart. February 12th, the marks the one year anniversary of finding out some of the best news in the world: that we were pregnant. Seven months ago was the hardest day of my life, the day my sweet son died after 25 hrs of life.
The other night as I lay in bed with the boys, I told them I wanted to choose our book for the night. I chose Love You Forever. The boys did their usual, "This was me mommy," and "This will be me mommy," bit as I got it off the shelf. But tonight I said, "We are gonna read in memory of Chai." As I read it we talked about all things Chai would have done had he lived and how fun life would have been with a little brother. But the thing that rang most true to me was the song the mother sang to her son each night.
I love you forever
I like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you will be.
You see I needed that night to know and feel, that Chai will always be my son. Just because he is not here doesn't mean he stops being my son. When Trevor got home that night I had a good cry. I just told him how hard this last month and half has been for me. In the past month I have had the hopes of being pregnant, the pain of finding out I'm not, found out several people close to me are pregnant, walked through grief with our neighbor whose husband suddenly died, and met another mom who has lost a son who was able to soothe my soul by reminding me that I'm not alone. All along February 12th loomed in the near future.
One of the things I told Trevor was that I feel strong enough now to answer the question , "How many kids do you have?" with "Three." You see, I think it is a common instinct to desire to protect others from feeling bad or guilty when asking a question they have no idea is going to cause you so much pain. So, for the past three months I would answer that question, "Two." But it always caused me such pain, because I felt I was leaving Chai out, in essence saying, he is not my son because he is not here. This could not be further from the truth. As long as I'm living my baby you will be. I am strong enough now, to answer that question and not fear man's response. I'm sorry if it causes you some discomfort, but it is my heart's desire to share Chai and his story with the world. One day for the fame of Jesus and the glory of God.
In the midst of it all, God continues to be my peace and my rest. It doesn't mean the hurt goes away or the memories aren't painful, but it does mean when those times creep in, I can go to Him and give Him my hurts and my fears and my doubts. In return He graciously comforts me and increases my faith in him. My relationship with God and His gospel has grown and strengthened in this deep suffering. I love Him more with each passing day. I am more grateful for the days He gives me with my children and my husband. It is not promised to me, it is by His grace that we have another day.
So I continue to dance the dance that is grief, but I do it with God as my partner. If I stumble, if I fall, He is right there to pick me up. For that I am forever grateful.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
So, I have been struggling with the fact that this blog was once a family blog with stories of adoption, joys and struggles of family life and suffering, that has now been taken over by food. I did not like the flow of the posts. Therefore, I started a new blog. This blog will be about food, my funny family, art and whatever else I find myself Smitten by.
Hop on over for a quick look. Please forgive the fact that the post are ALL out of order. I had to move them from this blog to that one and in doing so they got out of wack. I hope to have a new post up very soon...maybe on both.
Thanks for following.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I realize it has been a while since I last wrote about Chai. I often have things I want to share but so often cant find the courage to write my thoughts down for the world to see. There are always milestones we are missing and holidays we will never share with Chai and anniversarys of things to celebrate.
February 12th, is one of those days. It was a busy day for me. I was putting the final touches on last minute things to get done for my annual Pink & Red Party for that evening. Trevor was working from home that day and he was encouraging me to go buy a pregnancy test. I had some symptoms, but I pushed them out of my head. We had been married at this point for 11yrs and it had never happened before, so there was no need to be in any hurry to spend $10 on a pregnancy test that would eventually tell me NO. Trevor nonetheless, was adamant I go buy one. We all know the outcome. I was pregnant!! Much to both my and Trevor's astonishment. We just stood and stared at each other in complete shock and utter excitement.
I did not know how in the world I was going to keep my glow and excitement a secret from all my friends who would be showing up at my house that evening. One by one they came in the door. I remember looking around my house at each of the women, Jill was pregnant; Veronica brought Adon, then 6wks old; Anna brought HattieJo, then a few months old; Cher who was also probably pregnant with her kahjillionth son. There were probably many more, but nonetheless I remember looking at each and thinking I am going to go through each of these stages and I was just so thrilled.
It has been a solemn January, with this date looming in the distance. Life doesn't stop going on despite my pain and my grief. People continue to get pregnant and have beautiful babies and there is the constant reminder that death is still a part of life in the broken world.
This week, Trevor and I had the chance to go to Orlando for the Resurgence Conference and Acts29 Bootcamp. It was such a good refreshment for my soul. Tullian Tchividjian and Matt Chandler did an amazing job speaking to suffering. They both said that suffering brings us to end of ourselves and brings us to a deeper and necessary reliance on Jesus. They said suffering has provided a depth to the gospel that otherwise they may never have realized. It is a reminder that the world we live in is broken and groaning for it to be set right again. That until that time, there will be death, sickness, natural disasters, homelessness, starvation, disease and pain. This is not God's punishment for a fallen world. He loves us and hurts with us. His heart breaks over this fallen and broken world.
In God's providence, we met another couple at this conference. I happened to overhear this man telling some other men in a group that he had 3 boys, two that were alive and one that had died. Of course hearing this broke my heart. Once I got back to my seat, I told Trevor what I had just overheard in passing. He said, "I know him, that's Aaron Proffitt, a church planter in Tampa. I have sent him a couple messages on FB." We finally met Aaron and his wife Ashlee. We had the great privilege of having lunch and sharing our stories of grief, suffering, God's grace and unending love. As I sat with Ashlee, I felt so much like she and I were alike, in more ways than one. She was such an encouragement to me and Aaron to Trevor. Their story of death, life, and church planting is one we needed to hear and one we will remember always.
We are so grateful that God is sovereign and brings comfort and encouragement at the most unexpected times from unexpected people.