Friday, August 29, 2008

The "Club"

If you outlive your spouse, you are labeled a widow.
If you outlive your parents, you are labeled an orphan.
But if you outlive your child, there is no word in the entire English language crafted for you. It's just not supposed to happen.

But, it does. And so you become a member of this dreaded club.

Over the past year and a half, we have heard of other parents who are living this nightmare and our hearts ache for them. But specifically, there have been two families that have come behind us and impacted us greatly.

This past weekend was the 1-year Heavenly Anniversary of little Jude.

Some of you may remember his story. But 2-year-old Jude and his family were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon and were visiting their extended family in our city last summer. After falling into the grandparents' pool, Jude was on life support for about a week. We all prayed and begged God for a miracle. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people all joining together to plead for God to intervene and revive this little boy.

We did not even know Jude or his family but had heard of this situation through church prayer chains. It was a very difficult week for me personally as I felt like I was reliving all of those intense early emotions in slow motion. You see, we didn't have a week to pray for Robbie to be revived. We only had minutes. I remember crying, "Oh, God, please. Please. Give him breath." That was all I could say.

But these little boys did not awaken and they were not revived on earth. I do not know why. I mean, Jude's family were missionaries for crying out loud. That's what I kept saying in my mind. They were home looking for rest and relaxation from a very intense ministry. And then this tragedy happened bringing their world crashing down around them.

Bob and I went to the visitation for Jude and waited in the long line to speak to his family. We quickly told them that just a few months earlier our little boy, in very similar circumstances, had also gone to heaven. We told them that God is faithful and His promises are true. I slipped them a letter with our contact information, and we left. The next day we attended Jude's funeral. It was very surreal. It almost felt like we were hovering over Robbie's funeral watching it again. But it was also encouraging. Here were people who had gone through the same devastating loss and were raising their hands to praise God for His gift of salvation and eternal life.

The following day, Jude's father called us and arranged for us to get together with them one evening. We were instantly connected and established a tremendous bond as we were discussing all of the questions we had and the answers we didn't have. Robert and Chantal (Jude's parents) have returned to Lebanon with their 3 children and are continuing to minister and testify to God's love and faithfulness. We miss them greatly and, selfishly, wish they were here!

We continue to pray for this family daily because we know that the prayers are still desperately needed. Robbie's memory is not something that just creeps back into our minds on birthdays or holidays. I am still consumed with him almost every waking (and some sleeping) moment.

I feel that the Lord let us become involved with Jude's family so we could get to know one of Robbie's heavenly playmates. As I've posted before, I struggle with not knowing what my little Robbie is up to. But after following Jude's story and spending time with his family, we got to know Jude a little better. He sounds a lot like Robbie. They both LOVED being outside and the Veggietales. They were a bundle of energy, and we are all sure that those little boys are wreaking havoc on the golden streets.

We do not know why the Lord did not intervene in these situations. He could have. But that is another post. But we do know that He did not abandon us. Just as angels carried our little boys to heaven, the Lord is right beside us carrying us through the remainder of our earthly journey.

I will post about the other family that has influenced our grief journey later.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

For Better or For Worse

Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary! Part of me can't believe it has been 5 years and the other part can't really remember my life without Bob.

Bob is from upstate NY, and I am from TN. We met in law school and were scheduled to have our first date on September 11, 2001. After the attacks, our campus was closed so we rescheduled and went out the following Friday evening. From then on, we were pretty much inseparable.

I had prayed for my FM ("future mate") for years and had journalled some of those prayers. Of course, in those early years, my prayers were for a hunky model or movie star. But then I 'grew up' and began to realize what was truly important. I began praying for a "strong" man. I knew that I needed someone who was strong in his faith, strong in his ambition and strong in his convictions.

I will have to let Bob tell his side of the story, but supposedly Bob knew that I was the one for him during my first year of law school. He was a year ahead of me and his friends referred to me as the "tall blonde". Because the first year of law school is so unbelievably grueling, Bob didn't want to ask me out (or even introduce himself) then. But as soon as I arrived for my second year, we began chatting. And...the rest is history.

We were engaged on Christmas Eve 2002 (don't we look so young and in love!!).

And we were married at 2:00 p.m. on August 23, 2003 - just a few short weeks after I took the bar exam. We had a lovely, Southern wedding in Tennessee with all of the old southern traditions. I loved it!!

These pictures aren't the best since our wedding photos were not digital, and I had to scan these in.

Arriving at the church with Shana after hair and makeup!

Throwing rice is a southern tradition but, let me warn you, it really hurts!

Early the next morning, we flew to Kauai and had a wonderful honeymoon.

We vowed to love eachother and remain ONE in good times and in bad, and for better or for worse. We had no idea exactly what that would mean -- but, truthfully, no one does! I could not have gotten through this past year and a half, nor could I get through the remaining years on this earth, without my beautiful husband and his love and support. Most importantly, through all of these "bad times", Bob has turned to the Lord for strength and let Him prove His all-sufficiency. It is only through this constant focus and reliance on the Lord and His promises, that Bob and I have been able to draw closer to eachother and walk through this fiery trial together.

Bob is funny (don't tell him I admitted that), but he has the perfect amount of craziness necessary to sometimes counter my rigidity! And he is a wonderful daddy!!

Today is also Bob's parents wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary!

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Farm

Since Bob was going to be out of town this weekend, Eveley and I decided to take a road trip. We drove to TN to visit my family on the farm and had a wonderful time. Remember, give Eveley some dogs, chickens, and plenty of outdoor space, and she will have a blast!

The family dogs are always a huge hit. Condoleeza is my brother Will's chocolate lab "puppy."

On a side note: My brother got this pure bred lab for his birthday last year and was told that she is an extremely intelligent dog. Although a young teen, my brother is into politics and government. He watches Fox News and Bill O'Reilly at night and has said he wants to go to law school too. So, the dog's full name is Condoleeza Independence. I hope no one was offended by this. It was not intended to be demeaning.

Lilly (the golden retriever) is a wonderful dog and she never left Robbie's side when we went to visit.

I was sad to realize that I had not gotten nearly enough pictures. But it's hard to man the camera and chase after an energetic little girl. Eveley got to play with her counsins, Anna Lea and Layla. These are Rob and Beka's little girls (my brother and sister-in-law). Layla loved bossing "Ebby Joy" around!

We went to a beautiful park in Chattanooga on Saturday. Eveley got to run around, play in the sprinklers, ride on the carousel, and eat a sno cone!

Here is Eveley walking with my mom and my mom's mom (Eveley's namesake).

My college roommate and her family were able to stop by and see us. Again, I can't believe I didn't get a picture of me and Shana but here are some pictures of the kiddies.

Avery was born one week before Robbie. He's a cutie.

Alana is in kindergarten.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Big Reveal!

Well, today was the day. Time to meet Baby #3.

I tried to play it cool, but I was so excited I could hardly stand it! We let Eveley run out some of her energy outside before going in for the appointment. Here we are just moments before the Big Reveal!

The first question from the tech was whether we wanted to know the baby's gender. We said, "Of course! No surprises for us!" Within a few seconds, she said, "Whoa. He is really active." "He?" we said. Bob and I looked at eachother. "Is it a boy?" I asked. "Oh yea," she said, and showed us "the turtle."

Wow! That's really all I can say. Although we would have been tremendously blessed by a boy or girl, I truly longed for a boy. In no way will this little booger "replace" or "take the place" of Robbie. I'm sure you understand that is impossible. But I am so thankful that the Lord answered my prayers for another son. He is perfectly healthy, likes to keep his arms up by his head (just like his mama and older brother), and is very active (just like his sister)! Praise the Lord!

Here he is!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Each morning begins the same way. Eveley wakes up and looks longingly outside. She can't get enough of it. And even though Robbie and Eveley have their differences, this is one area where they are exactly the same.

We have lived in our neat, little city for almost four years, and, sad to say, we haven't even begun to explore all the wonderful things it has to offer. Blessed with beautiful weather yesterday, we decided to make it "Eveley's Day!" We realize that the new baby is going to rock Eveley's world, so we're trying to spend some quality time with her now!

The day began by letting Eveley play outside at the house while we took care of a few things.

Then, we went to a great area downtown where there are fun shops and parks.

Eveley insisted that we eat at Five Guys! Yum Yum! This was her first visit and she thoroughly enjoyed her grilled cheese.

There is an outdoor pavillion where concerts are held. But, this day, it was completely empty and the perfect place for our rambunctious little princess to explore. She had the run of the place (literally)!

When Eveley was completely tuckered out, we remembered a little crepe place called "The Flat" that my friend Bridget had told us about. You would never find it on your own, but oh my goodness! This definitely goes on my Top 10 list of best desserts I've ever had. I had a crepe with strawberries and nutella. Deee-licious!

Side note: I know I'm going to look back on these entries made during my pregnancy and be embarassed at how much I talk about food. But it was truly divine!

Miss Priss had another wonderful Saturday.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The County Fair

If Eveley were keeping a journal, I believe she would note that today was one of her favorite days ever! She went to the County Fair!

One of the nearby counties was having its agricultural fair. Personally, as I posted earlier, I do not care for animals. But I was so excited to take Eveley today.

Robbie and Eveley shared a love for farm animals. The nursery is decorated with them and, of course, we practice the animal sounds daily (almost hourly). When Eveley saw and heard the animals today, she squealed like a pig! There were cows, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, ducks, and lots of dogs!

There were many "events" at the fair, and at the last minute we decided to enter Eveley in one of them. NO, not the fair beauty pageant! We entered Eveley in the toddler run! I have no pictures of this to share. But it was pretty hilarious. We heard the announcement for the contest and contemplated whether to enter Eveley. We finally decided to do it as they were lining up toddlers at the starting line. Eveley would blow the competition away, Bob and I said. They rushed us to the line and then I realized there was another parent at the finish line to coax the toddler. So, Bob ran over to stand across from us. The horn blew and the toddlers took off. Except for Eveley. She just stood there. She didn't move. Then we realized it was bad planning to have Eveley with me and tell her to run away. No way was she going to do that! Not even for a big stuffed duck!

And what would a fair be without fair food! My favorite! Eveley had a snow cone and a funnel cake. (No comments from the food police, please!) She had a fabulous day. So did we!