31 July 2008

In this past year I have taken a particular interest in the value of life and the importance of protecting it. Particularly unborn babies. I have experienced firsthand of the reality and value of life in the womb and the sad truth about how many people may not see it that way. In the past month I have become aware of the reality and rampancy of abortion in the United States, especially as it relates to the African American population.

My attention has been brought to this topic by Dr. Grant's Blog "The Quick and the Dead", which is, I believe, a response to his 1992 book, "The Quick and the Dead: Ru 486 and the New Chemical Warfare Against Your Family". I encourage you to visit this blog and explore the truth about abortion, Planned Parenthood, and it's particular aim at the African American population in minority neighborhoods.

Following are some statistics from the website Klan Parenthood:

In America today, almost as many African-American children are aborted as are born.

Every three days, more African-Americans are killed by abortion than have been killed by the Ku Klux Klan in its entire history.

A black baby is three times more likely to be murdered in the womb than a white baby.

Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by over 25 percent.

Twice as many African-Americans have died from abortion than have died from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer, and heart disease combined.

Planned Parenthood operates the nation's largest chain of abortion clinics and almost 80 percent of its facilities are located in minority neighborhoods.

About 13 percent of American women are black, but they submit to over 35 percent of the abortions.


30 July 2008



Okay, I realize this is my 3rd post today, but I just found something that makes me really happy and I have to share it.

I love good design. And when someone combines something that is aesthetically pleasing with something that is useful and practical, even educational, good design is at it's best. This is why I have just recently fallen in love with Crocodile Creek. They make useful things for children like place mats and dishes and puzzles, but they make them attractive (not obnoxious) and educational.

This place mat, for example, is beautiful to look at, keeps the table clean (at least the part of the table that if covers...) and it is useful to teach Oliver about the alphabet, about different countries in the world, and animals that are indigenous to those countries. So cool!

That's all about Crocodile Creek. I'm a fan.

Good news in the Myers home! We are excited to announce that we will be Aunt & Uncle to some new little ones! Rebecca and Caleb have just recently announced that they are planning to adopt twin boys from Africa. We couldn't be more excited for them (or for ourselves... we're going to love them!)


I would like to share here their letter of announcement and request for support:

Dear Friends and Family,

We believe the church is called to do some crazy things: sell all you have, turn the other cheek, and love your neighbor. The church, though imperfect, has been trying to do these crazy, inconvenient things for thousands of years. God is faithful to redeem our feeble efforts into something beautiful. Caleb and I want to do something crazy and inconvenient, and we are trusting that God will redeem our paltry efforts into something beautiful.

We believe that adoption is a spectacular picture of the gospel. God lovingly calls us out of our great need and makes us His own. Christians are called to imitate God in many ways, and Caleb and I are called to imitate Him in this way. We have been thinking about the 40 million orphans in Africa. And we really want to adopt a few.

Christian World Adoption has an Ethiopia program and we are trying to adopt twin boys. These babies have been orphaned by poverty or disease and just need homes with food and families. We learned that this agency has a much higher demand for African girls than boys, so right now there are many more orphaned boys than families who want them. We want them! We want to raise African boys to love the Lord and serve Him and share with them the Christian legacy we have inherited.

We have begun this process on faith. We have no idea how God will provide the money for us to do this. The total cost to adopt two children is $30,000. If we have the money to progress rapidly, and get our paperwork done, we could be a family of five as soon as Christmastime.

Please be a part of this journey through your prayers and financial support. We have already paid about $3000 and we also are applying for grants to help fund our adoption. Caleb and I know that we sometimes limp along in our calling, and we know this sounds like more than we could ever manage, but we truly believe that God is redeeming even our stumbling efforts.

Please limp alongside us.

Please help us with creative ideas of how to raise the money. You could involve your kids and teach them about adoption as they help raise money. One of Caleb's students is hosting a big garage sale for us. Let us know what you come up with.

The easiest way to help us with money is to donate online through CWA, and they will immediately send you a tax-deductible receipt. Our fees through the agency will be around $14,000 and if we donate more than that they will send us the rest of the money to help us pay for the other half of the expenses. Go to cwa.org and click on the bottom left hand link that says "Donate now to CWA online". Under the "Optional" section there is a pull down menu that lets you "Choose a Person". Choose "CWA Family" and enter Caleb's name and that will be enough.

Blessings and love,

Caleb, Rebecca and Beatrice

615.513.0595
1245 Carriage Park Drive
Franklin, TN 37064

Please join us in praying for the Faires' and in particular for these boys who may, even as I write tonight, have beating hearts across the ocean in Africa. We love them so much already!

This past weekend we went to the "Bluegrass on the Harpeth" festival on the square in downtown Franklin. There was a whole lot of pickin' and grinning' as well as a square dance competition that was, if nothing else, a lot of fun to watch! (There was even an 18-month-old little girl who had some pretty convincing moves!)

Just another weekend in Franklin!


Also, while were were walking up and down the streets (traffic was blocked on Main Street for the weekend) Oliver left the group and ran to the on-street parking paint shouting "T! T!". He was very excited about his alphabetical discovery and chose to sit near the "T" for a little while.





24 July 2008

Our friends Matt & Ginny Morrison have offered to lend us their toddler bed for Oliver to use. (Thanks again, guys!) We got it all set up in his room and he danced all around it and rolled all over it. I think he's very excited about the freedom to get in and out of a bed all by himself.

Last night we let him have his first go at the big boy bed and it went very well. We checked in on him throughout the evening and at one point stuck our heads in to find all the toy bins pulled out and a little figure running and jumping back into bed. At least he knows where he's supposed to be!


Apart from the new sleeping arrangements, we are also working on learning letters. We have been working on the letters Oliver has in the bathtub to begin with and he has learned to identify 10-12 letters by name. It's so funny to watch him learning to make new sounds with his mouth.

Oliver's favorite letter is "M", perhaps because it's the first one that we taught him. As a result, every time we show him a letter, the first sound out of his mouth is "emmmmm" before he takes a moment to see what we're showing him.

Tonight we had a rather relaxed dinner time (Oliver and I sat on the countertop eating Spaghettios and yogurt - the result of a long day and an impatient, hungry boy). I noticed that they were ABC Spaghettios, so I started asking him what the letters were. He got pretty enthusiastic about the game, so Ryan turned the camera on and captured a bit of it.

The video's actually pretty long, so feel free to watch as long as you like and then move on. I figured grandparents would want to see it in it's entirety, so feel free to give up on us if you start dozing off. :-) Oh, and you'll also probably want to tell Jack Johnson to hush for a bit so you can hear...


This morning my dear, sweet friend Susan sent me an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon's Morning by Morning July 24 devotion. It was such an encouragement to me today and I hope it will be to you as well.

"Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."—Exodus 14:13.

THESE words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do?

The Master's word to him is, "Stand still." It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions.

Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles." But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What, if for a while thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.

Precipitancy cries, "do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once—we must do it so we think—instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle."

But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands. "Stand still";—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward."

23 July 2008

My friend Tracy (Brooks) Abney from high school drove up from Alabama today with her kids for a visit. I don't think we've seen each other in 7 or 8 years (wow, it makes me feel old to say anything was "7 or 8 years" ago...), but it didn't feel like that at all.

The kids had a great time pulling out every toy in the play room. Then, we made several failed attempts at naps. After lunch we threw the nap idea to the wind and went downtown for some ice cream and shopping. The ice cream went well, the shopping was cut short by overly-tired, overly-hot, overly-sugared children.

After a weepy and sleepy ride home we made several more nap attempts (some successful, some not), then went back downtown to finish off our fun day with some good, old fashioned Mellow Mushroom pizza for dinner.






22 July 2008

It hurts tonight. My arms hurt. My heart hurts. My whole body is aching.


I'm having a hard time falling asleep tonight so I've been paging through a journal I'd been writing the past several months. I came across a dream that I had shortly after we learned that Evie was sick:


I dreamed that Ryan & I were on the beach in Miami where we honeymooned. The beach was very narrow, though, and the sky was gray and stormy. Not far behind us was a 10-foot tall stone retaining wall and behind it were the streets and hotels of Miami.

The weather was terrible and there was talk of a tidal wave. As we looked at the horizon we saw a huge, dark mass getting taller and darker as it came toward us. As the darkness came upon us I grabbed Ryan and pulled him toward the stone wall thinking our best chance of survival was to cling to it to keep from being washed away.

The tidal wave grew and grew and the sky became eerily dark. At the last possible moment we drew a deep breath and held on tightly to each other and the rock. Water surrounded us for a long time and we were in real danger of drowning, but we were able to find pockets of air in the rock that kept us alive.

When the water retreated we climbed up to the street, afraid that another wave would come soon. We knew we couldn't outrun the wave like all the other people were trying to do, so we found the highest building and started climbing the stairs as fast as we could. If we could get high enough, the waves would not be able to reach us.

We climbed and climbed - we couldn't take the elevators because of the storm. Sometimes the stairs were very steep, and other times the ceilings were so low that we had to crawl on our bellies. There were no windows in the stairwells, so not until we reached the top could we see what was happening outside.

We finally reached the top and when we looked out we saw that the storm had passed. The sea were quiet and we were safe.


As I read and remember that dream, I can't help but think of Isaiah 43:1-3

"But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'"


Oh, I ache for my sweet baby tonight. I wish I had more of her - more memories, more things to look forward to. I wish that so many of the memories I do have of her weren't sad ones. As we move forward, I wish she were moving forward with us.

I thank God tonight that though I am pressed, I'm not crushed; "... perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8,9

Thank you, Lord, for your mercies. Thank you for preserving and protecting me. Remind me in my grief that I will not be crushed or destroyed, I'm not abandoned, and I don't have to be driven to despair. Uphold me tonight with your righteous right hand.

20 July 2008

Here are some photos of our week:

Oliver wore a tie to church last Sunday
(and a dewey and blankey...)

Oliver was having a hard time eating his peas.
So, one night for dinner, we let him bring down some
toy dishes and silverware for his meal.
It worked! Peas are tasty when you eat them out of a funny spoon!!

On Saturday my Mom bought Oliver a big boy quilt for when he's ready for a big bed. He was very excited about the cars and trees on it. (On a related note: as I type he is sleeping in the guest room on a big bed for the night! This is the first time he's fallen asleep in there and it feels so funny for him to have this big freedom. We'll see how the evening goes!) ***Update*** He did great! Slept through the night in the big bed. When I came to check on him this morning his door was far more ajar than when we left it, leaving us to wonder if he may have taken a midnight stroll??

We celebrated National Ice Cream Day by going to Susie's Sundae Shoppe
(a.k.a. Grandma's) for an ice cream party.
Oliver wore his new "fast!" shoes from cousin Chloe (thanks, Clo!)



15 July 2008

At Parish Pres right now we are studying the book of James. We are now two weeks into it and only 4 verses deep.

This past Sunday Dr. Grant preached from James 1:2-4:

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."


Now, this is a right Christian worldview.

At the end of the service one of the Deacons gave a benediction from
II Corinthians 12:9,10:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong"

Oh, my. Am I boasting in my weakness? Content in my hardships? Am I counting it all joy when I face trials? What about when Oliver is exhausting me, or the bills aren't being paid? What about when my baby girl is deep in the earth instead of my arms?

-----

I have been putting off visiting Evie's gravesite since we buried her 3 months ago. I've been afraid and sad and unsure of what it might feel like to stand over the grave of my daughter.

Last Wednesday I grabbed my Bible, my tennis shoes and my courage and made the trip.

Some sweet friends of ours at church lovingly offered a place on their land for Evie to be buried. We didn't want to put her in a big cemetery, it just didn't feel right. She is buried high on a hill in a small, old, family cemetery in the most beautiful part of Franklin. Wednesday afternoon I sat with my girlfriend on her porch and we talked about Evie and lots of other things. I shared with her a short video of photos from her birth and our time with her and we cried and laughed together while it rained.

Then, it was time to face my fear. She set me up in their Ranger (?), complete with roll bars and a very tight seatbelt. (I figured it would be responsible to buckle in... so glad I did!) Did I mention that she was high on a hill? I wasn't kidding - it was an ADVENTURE to get up there by myself. Once I left the gravel road behind, I charged uphill through weeds and grass taller than the vehicle, all the while being pelted rain, branches and bugs that I tried not to think about. I got lost twice (there was no path to go by) and turned around the huge machine in the huge weeds and got pelted with more rainwater, mud and bugs.

Finally, I made it to the entrance of the woods. I turned on the emergency brake, grabbed (and wiped the mud off) my Bible and started on foot. I wandered around the woods for probably 10-15 minutes without finding her. I was trying to remember what things looked like on the day we buried Evie, but I just couldn't remember much about the scenery from that day.


I remember feeling a twinge of guilt that I couldn't find my own daughter. Why couldn't I remember where she was? I'm her Mother, I couldn't possibly have lost my baby! Fortunately, I remembered something Ryan had pointed out to me that day in April and looked for that. It worked! Before I knew it I just came upon the three trees and the other headstones and the lovely pink fabric hanging from the tree they'd hung for her burial. I liked that it was still there. And, the little white cross was there that her Daddy had laid on top of her before we left that day.

It was a lovely place. I had a hard time seeing it through my tears for awhile, but it really was a sweet little place.

I took a while to walk around and read the other headstones. It was important to me to know who was with Evie. Like I said, it's an old family cemetery. The Peach family (of downtown Franklin's former "Pigg & Peach" menswear store) is buried there. Most of them were born or died more than 200 years ago. There is an eight-month-old baby girl there with her Mommy. I somehow liked that. (The photo is of her headstone)

-----
I know it seems like I have completely lost track of my first thoughts in this post, but stick with me, there is a point.
-----

As I sat in the dirt under the tree next to Evie's grave, I talked to her and sang to her. I don't have any idea what people do at grave sites, but it felt nice to greet her and to let her know that we are doing alright. I still had my Bible tucked under my arm. I didn't have a plan, but I brought it because I knew that once I was up there I was definitely going to want it.

I thought it would be appropriate to read a Psalm. I opened my Bible to Psalms and a bookmark brought me naturally to Psalm 139 ("I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."). I love that chapter and it has brought me much comfort and truth in the past six months. But, I wanted God to show me something new. Psalm 138 was on that same page, so I began reading it aloud,

"I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;"

I do give you thanks, Lord, but this is not exactly what I had in mind, (maybe something more sorrowful?) I'll keep reading...

"...On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased."

Oh, Lord, it's true. You have always been right here; answering me when I call. You have strengthened my soul.

"...Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me."

You have protected me Lord; you've preserved my life.

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands."


I realized as I read that last portion of Psalm 138 that the Lord was doing a greater work in me. As I read at my daughter's graveside I was reminded that he will fulfill his purpose for me, not that he has.

-----

This season of my life will forever shape me, but it will not define me.
It is not God's one and only effort to call me to himself and to mold me.

As Dr. Grant talked to us on Sunday about our "trials of various kinds" I immediately thought of Evie. But this is not the only thing that God is using or will use to mold me. James tells us to "let [our] steadfastness have its full effect that [we] may be perfect and compete, lacking in nothing". This is a part of my story. It is a sad, terribly sad, part of my story, but I can count it as joy because it is a part of God's greater work in me.

Dr. Grant said on Sunday, "It is not God's job to make us happy. It's his job to make us holy".
And, still, there is a great, unspeakable joy in trusting in Him.

Oh, Lord, do not forsake the work of your hands.



09 July 2008

I decided to take a bath today during Oliver's nap. As I got settled in to the warm water and candlelight I realized that it has been a very long time since I've had a bath in my tub. As I soaked I remembered quite clearly the last time I'd been there.


It was the night Evie died.

It was a Monday. I had worked in the yard that day and cleaned the front porch fan during Oliver's morning nap. Oliver and I played on his swing set and blew bubbles when he woke up. I read a book that afternoon on the back patio while Oliver entertained himself in the grass. I remember noting what a lovely day it was and how grateful I was for my sweet son.

I felt her kick at 1:00 that afternoon. I remember making note of it because she was moving less often and with less force over the previous days. This was a mighty kick, high in my tummy and I remember mentally congratulating her on a good firm hello. I was rooting for her. I looked at the clock because I had been told to make note of these movements and to notify my midwife if 4 hours ever elapsed without movement.

That afternoon I clicked my way to a blog by a woman who was also 32 weeks pregnant with a baby girl that she would not get to keep. That day she was having a cesarean and would meet her daughter not knowing what would happen. I followed the updates on the blog that day and watched and prayed for her family as they met their daughter, as Audrey passed away, and as they said goodbye to her.

I was so sad for the Smith family, and sad for our family as well. I knew that we would be saying hello and goodbye to our baby girl someday soon too.

Ryan was out of the house working that day and by the time he arrived home I was feeling anxious. We had planned to attend an Architectural Discussion at our church that evening but I told him to go ahead without me because I just didn't feel right.

While he was gone I waited and waited for more movement in my tummy. I called Rebecca and wept on the phone with her. I told her about Audrey and how that sweet family had met their baby today and that tonight she was in heaven. It all happened so quickly and I was so scared.

Evie was in heaven with Audrey even then.

Ryan returned home from church and calmed me, comforted me and prayed with me. There was still no movement and we called my midwife to let her know. She said we could come in that night or to try a few things to stimulate movement and come in the next morning.

Ryan was tired and Oliver was already asleep. We'd had one false alarm a couple weeks earlier and I didn't want to put my family through all of that again if it was nothing. We decided to get a good night's sleep and not to disturb Oliver. We could go in the next morning if there was still no movement.

That night Ryan and Oliver slept. I rested for a while but my intuition kept me from sleep. I knew that something wasn't right. I did everything I could to relax but was feeling very anxious. Being productive helps me, so I finally decided to take a bath and make a list of things I would need for the hospital when the time came.

I remember the bath that night. It was 3:00 am. Once I'd thought of everything I could possibly need I set the list aside. I soaked there in the dim light of the candles and prayed for courage. I asked God to give me the strength I would need when the time came. I tried to imagine the possibility of giving birth to my still baby, holding her and letting go. Preparing for that moment was impossible. I asked God to give me grace for that moment when it came.

Today marks three months since Evie was born. Three months since we kissed her soft cool skin and held her in that sweet blanket we'd picked out for her. Three months since they wheeled me into my recovery room on the new moms floor without a baby. These have been very sad months for us. But, I can say with confidence, that God has indeed been with us. He was there to give us grace for that moment and for every moment from then till now.

Thanks be to God.


02 July 2008

It's late and I don't have time to write much, but I have something I just can't wait to say!


We went to the Faires' this evening for dinner, and while Rebecca, Caleb & Ryan were busy in the kitchen, I was watching the kids in the living room. Oliver disappeared for awhile and then reappeared carrying Bea's potty chair.

We don't have one at our house yet, but he'd played with Bea's once before (we'd told him that this was where to go potty, they took turns sitting on it and that was that).

Anyway, he brought it in to me saying "potty, potty". I figured we had a bit of time for an educational moment before dinner so I took of his shoes and shorts and removed his diaper. He sat right down on it and with very little prompting from me, produced a very small bit of "poops" in the potty seat!!

I know, this is a silly thing to be writing about - but it's quite an accomplishment for our little 20-month-old. Well, we made a big to-do about what he'd done and Auntie Rebecca gave him a chocolate chip for a reward. He wanted to keep trying for a while but didn't do anything else. I guess it's time to buy a potty chair!

Apart from Oliver's latest achievement, we are also planning to leave in the morning for a short family vacation to Pigeon Forge for the 4th of July weekend! The Penningtons (my Dad's side of the family) have never done a family reunion before, but as all the cousins in our family are growing up and moving away and starting families, we're having to be very intentional about seeing one another. It will be lovely to have everyone together again.

Ryan and I were talking today and realized that we hadn't left the Franklin/Nashville area since last Thanksgiving. No wonder we're excited to get away!

For the past six months we haven't been able to make any plans because of the uncertainty of my pregnancy and so on. It's been really fun to make plans for something. I really think I'm looking forward to this change of scenery. Nearly every morning for the past three months I've woken up (and often fallen asleep) thinking about my baby girl. Three mornings this week I woke up and the first thing I thought of wasn't sad - I was looking forward to our vacation!

It is definitely time to turn in for the evening. Looking forward to a good night's sleep and a happy wake-up tomorrow!