Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Esther's Song

I want to thank everyone for your prayers, cards, texts, remembrance gifts, flowers, Facebook messages and love you have sent to us in our time of uncertainty and loss of Esther Jade. I can't describe right now what we are going through, as we are just going through it. Someday I will though. We laid Esther to rest yesterday in Babyland in Lynden. I felt anxious, sick and so very sad as we pulled into the cemetery. But as we walked over to the graveside I did feel a peace come over me. I think the anxiety was the unknown of what that experience was going to be like. We had to answer questions ahead of time about the service, and i didn't want to make the wrong decision. I wanted it to be so right. For Esther, to honor her. But how does one know what to do in that situation, one you have never been through before? We didn't. We just walked. Put one foot in front of the other and as we did, God's grace and peace and mercy met us there. That's what He does. We fear what we don't know, but the crazy and the thing that is so cool is that when we are actually in the situation that we feared, it is there that His presence meets us and we wonder why we were so fearful. I don't know if that makes sense, but that is what we experienced yesterday. Was it sad? Yes. But God is good. Am i sad? Yes. But God is faithful and walks with us through it. The sadness is there even though i believe everything about God to be true, and we do have hope. That has not changed, but it also doesn't take the sadness away. It will be there for a long time as we work through the loss of our firstborn, Esther Jade. I love the name of our daughter, even more and more everyday. Esther means Star, and as a dear friend wrote me, Esther has been our small but bright star guiding us on the journey to see Jesus through the eyes of sorrow. It is a picture that up until this point in my life, I have not seen. I also was looking online and found that Jade is the Stone of Heaven. That was again another gift from God.

My cousin Carissa is a gifted writer and wrote the most beautiful song for her. I can't get it out of my head. I hope you are blessed by it, and by Esther's life. We will never be the same....

Esther's Song

I wonder what you see, saints on bended knee,
singing Glory Hallelujah to the King?
Your little eyes behold the sight, God's great City dressed in Light,
and beauty beyond our imagining

We miss you precious jewel, shining star in our hearts
And we know because of God's great love, we'll never really be apart

Hallelujah, blessed be His Name,
Hallelujah, we'll never be the same
Hallelujah, blessed be His Name,
Hallelujah, we'll never be the same

I wonder what you smell, perfect daisies on a hill,
the aroma of purity and peace
Fragrant grass so sweet, is it tickling your feet,
or the freshness of a cool ocean breeze?

We miss you precious jewel, shining star in our hearts
And we know because of God's great love, we'll never really be apart
We miss you precious jewel, shining star in our hearts
And we know because of God's great love, we'll never really be apart

Hallelujah, blessed be His Name,
Hallelujah, we'll never be the same
Hallelujah, blessed be His Name,
Hallelujah, we'll never be the same
Hallelujah, praise the LORD
He's given us His Life a gift we never could afford
He's given us His Life a gift we never could afford

I wonder at the sound, when the saints all gathered 'round
And welcomed you to Heaven on that day
I wonder what you hear, when Jesus holds you near
And a million angels sing
And a million angels sing
When a million angels sing
Happy Birthday

~ Carissa Krause

"And we know because of God's great love, we'll never really be apart....." I am so thankful to God for sending His son Jesus to make a way for us to be with Him for eternity. Never more grateful than I am today, this season. We have hope. He is our Eternal hope. Pastor Kim shared at Esther's graveside yesterday: "She will be forever ours, and we will be forever hers." Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Esther is with Jesus........

Esther Jade was born on Monday December 20, 2010. I am sure she went to be with Jesus sometime before that. We saw her heart beat on Wednesday last week at our dr. appointment but i think she was nearing the end even then. Weird things were happening over the weekend in my physical body and i knew something was different. Thank you for faithfully praying for us since we found out about our baby girl. We are taking one day at a time and depending on Jesus for each moment. I am thankful to God for sustaining us through that sad and hard day, the few days since, and the way I know HE WILL in the days and years to come. God was WITH us on that day in a way I have never experienced in my life. As Christmas Day approaches i am reminded that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, He is Emmanuel "God WITH us." Jesus, God in the flesh sent to us to save us, to give us the opportunity to have a relationship WITH Him. Again not something he will ever force on us. What kind of love is that??? True love. It doesn't matter what church we go to, what religion we say we are a part of, but what matters is Jesus and who we say HE IS. Do you know Him? Have you said yes to Him? It is the most important question we will EVER answer in this life. I have cried tears I have never cried before, from a depth that I did not know existed. And yet we have hope because we KNOW we will see her again. I know this because she is with Jesus and I will be with Jesus for eternity, which is forever, a lot longer than our time will be on this earth. For that i am so grateful. I am going to sign off for now. Thank you for being a part of our story with Esther, and for loving her. It means so much to her mom and dad.:) It is not over, nor will it ever be although our brief time with her here on earth is through. She will forever be in our hearts. Merry Christmas, and i pray that if you do not know Jesus as your Savior that you will discover Him THIS Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I have no title...:)

Most days i don't really do a whole lot. I thought that when i stopped working for Young Life, i would maybe be bored. Funny how i haven't been bored once. God knew what was lying ahead and what i would need. Some people need to be busy to be distracted when going through hard things, but i am not one of those people. Sometimes i like to have a distraction, but mostly i have been so exhausted and just need to process stuff and have been thankful on those days when i can just be home and not have to pull myself together, or be "on" to go to work - again, God knew what i would need. I woke up yesterday with a cold - headache, stuffed up nose and sore throat. I was like seriously? I think I've used almost a whole box of Kleenex, the big Costco kind in 2 days. Now i am SUPER exhausted and all i can do is lay around in my trailer. For those of you who don't know Brian and i live in our 5th wheel behind my parents house, which is another huge blessing. There are many days when the thought of making dinner is overwhelming, and my mom will call and invite us to walk over and eat with them.:) I don't often turn her down. I try to make myself useful by bringing hot coffee and snacks out to the jobsite to Brian and my dad, and anyone else who is working on our house during these days. My sister was even out there today in the freezing cold helping to lay the sub-floor. It makes me feel like i am doing something, even if it is a supportive role. Hopefully when i feel better i can help somehow. I really can't believe how fast the house is going up. Brian is awesome, and my dad has made himself available to help whenever he can, which is quite often. He said too, the Lord knew that his own work would be slow and that Brian would need the help. God is so good, and knows what is ahead, again i say. :) I made an appearance today with coffee and pumpkin bread my mom made, and then a few hours later came back out with lunch that, again my mom made for the crew. I said thank you so much, i feel like i should be making food for our crew and especially my hubby, but i just say thank you. It is 6:20 right now and it feels like about midnight. Winter is so crazy. The nights seem so long, especially when we are in our trailer. Makes me want to hibernate. Will probably be going to bed soon. Thanks for your continued prayers for us and for Esther. We went to see Dr. Cook on Wednesday and things continue to look grim for her. I still pray and hope for a miracle. I really have no idea how her heart is still beating, other than the Lord:) but she continues to fight. So that is a miracle in itself. At this point i can't tell if the fluid is the same or if its getting worse, but it just looks bad. We may skip our appointment next week because of Christmas. Dr. Cook said that even if we came in and her heart had stopped, we may not be able to do anything next week anyway, so we could come in on the following Monday if we wanted to - he will see us anytime we want, he is wonderful. I really don't want to go in, i know he thinks that at the rate she is going it wont be much longer. But i love that he always talks about "betting on the baby" and knows we are praying for a miracle. I wonder how situations like this affect doctors? It has got to be hard. He goes from one patient with a healthy baby, to us with an unhealthy baby, and then walks into the next room to see a patient with a healthy baby. You would have to switch from compassion and sympathy to excitement. Somewhat of a rollercoaster i would say. I asked him last week how often he has seen this, a baby with Turner's, and he said maybe once every 4 years or so. Now i know he is only one doctor, but i thought that was interesting. I feel like i have heard of several baby's with Turner's pretty close to home since we found out about Esther. So this is where we are at. Sometime's it doesn't seem real, but it is. Thanks for your prayers and for standing with us!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I woke up yesterday feeling really sad. I don't know why some days i am good, and some days i am so sad. Well, i do know why, but it is just an interesting thing. We went to church. I was excited because Starfield was there leading worship. If you haven't heard their music you should look them up. They are awesome. They sing Son of God, Remain, Reign in Us, and a plethora of other songs. We worshiped with them and it was awesome. Pastor Kim preached about how God is bigger than our fears, and we are never alone. My how i have experienced that in this season. It has been one month since we found out the news about Esther. Nov. 11 is a day i will not forget. It was really an awfully sad day. Kind of like our own personal Sept. 11. I am so thankful that God is bigger, and that i am not afraid..........most of the time. Yesterday i came to church and said, God here is my sadness. I don't know what else to do with it. I know it is ok to be sad and i am, but sometimes it is more overwhelming than others, and i just want to cry all day. I get so desperate for Esther to live and i feel like i am holding on so tight, but then i feel like i just need to let go. When i am clinging, i am not peaceful, because i get scared. Hmm.. fear. Where there is fear, then there is not peace. The two cannot live together in the same place. And i have realized that in the past 2 days especially. This morning i woke up and felt the same way, even after having a great day yesterday with my sister and my dear friend Lesha. I was given a gift card to the Chrysalis and they each had gift cards so we went and got massages and pedicures. It was so great. I had a prenatal massage which i have never had of course. It was wonderfully relaxing. Lesha is getting ready to go to Mexico with her family and renew her vows with her husand of 10 years. How awesome is that? She is one of the most wonderful people you could ever meet. On days when i am really sad, she will call me. I don't know how she knows i am not having a great day, i think it is a gift the Lord has given her. That is another way that i feel loved by God. Through his people who overwhelm us with love and support, and phone calls and cards. Wow. After our massages, we got pedicures and went out to eat, and laughed. A lot.......... It was so good. And yet i wake up this morning and am exhausted from a not good night sleep, feeling sad and just wanted to sit on the floor and cry. I let out a deep sigh, and said Lord help me. And Brian told me to look up. I looked up at the ceiling fan. No that's not what he was talking about. He said, look up and i knew what he meant and it's what i need to do today. It is so easy to get dragged down by feelings and emotions, and i know that is normal, but i don't want to stay in that place. Brian is beautiful. I cried, he hugged me and i felt so thankful for him. I am so thankful for him. I think we have both realized the toll that this has taken on our physical bodies. He said it the other night because he has been fighting off being sick, and other things, busy building a house, but has felt in a fog. And for me even though i can sleep all night (some nights) i wake up and still can't get it together. I think it is just the underlying sadness of what is going on that is always there. Even though God is good, which he is all the time, and we trust him and he is in charge and we have peace, there is still sadness. As Brian said, our baby is dying. Unless God intervenes, our baby is dying. I had not thought of it like that before. Weird i know. I know she is not well, and full of fluid, and not expected to make it, but i guess i hadn't thought of it in those words exactly. I just want more time with her, but i need to cherish every day. I don't want to waste one single day.

So when Pastor Kim talks about God being bigger than all our problems, our storms our struggles. I believe it. I know it to be true. And i need that today. One of my favorite entries in Jesus Calling (if you don't have this, you should buy it:) maybe i have said that before) is Nov. 24. I need to practice this daily, but some days more than others. I can't say it better myself so i will quote it (again these entries are written as if Jesus is speaking to us):

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why i have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience - at times, blind obedience. To people who don't know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties remain. Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to my thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity."

This is a hard thing to do, especially when we don't feel it. But something ive learned over the years is that feelings are not fact. They are valid, but they are not necessarily the truth. That's why i love how Jesus says, (my own words) I promise you, if you thank me even though you don't feel like it, it will trade that and give you back joy!!! It doesn't make sense in our human minds, because our circumstances haven't changed, but he promises it and so i believe it. Its being obedient and trusting him, even though we are sad, or heartbroken, or mad, or not at all thankful for what God has allowed to come into our lives. It is an act of obedience. I am so thankful that He offers us His perspective. When we believe that God is bigger, then our circumstances don't seem so overwhelming and huge. Our view of God seems huge instead! We can still be sad, or upset, but we see a different view about why God has allowed things into our lives. That perspective is so much better and that is where the hope is. Not that life is without storms, but that we know HE WILL BE WITH US in the storm. Storms aren't easy. Life isn't easy. But Jesus will bear the load with us if we give it to him. So i need to go now and do that. Spend some time with him. Now that i have gotten this all out, i feel lighter, like a load has been lifted. I am going to choose to give Him thanks today, and wait for the Joy he promises to give me in exchange. God is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

She's a fighter..

I went to see Dr. Cook again today for my weekly appointment. Everything was fine with me as it has been. I've really felt better than i did the first 5 months. Esther has less amniotic fluid in the sack than before, and more fluid in her body. She can't move around much and is working so hard. Her heart is still beating though! She is a fighter! A friend gave me these adorable pink boxing gloves after Brian had mentioned a few weeks back that Esther is fighting for her life. When i opened the gift, i just cried. I love what they represent. It reminds me that she is fighting and it is not her time to go. Even though she looked worse than the last time, it doesn't really change anything. I know that if God wants to heal her, he can and it doesn't have any bearing on how "sick" she is. God raised Jesus from the dead for crying out loud! He has the power to do anything. He spoke and the world came to be. So HE can do anything, can create something out of nothing, and can take fluid out of our baby and heal her if he wants to! I have no doubt. Today i prayed, God please do a fluid switch! Take her fluid from her little body and put it in the sack. He could. I am also aware that he may not, and if that is the case he will give us the grace to walk through that. In the meantime we are still just taking one day at a time. I really wish i lived my life one day at a time before this all happened. I really didn't. It is an amazing thing to wake up each day and just focus on today. I thank God for today, that we are alive that Esther is alive and we have him to be in relationship with and will give us everything we need! He is with us and knows whats in store, who we will talk to, what we will do, so just giving him the day. Things are usually so busy, i would be living today, but thinking about the rest of my week. Not truly living in the moment. I pray that when this part of our journey is over, that i will still live in the present. I don't want to miss anything. This experience has made me depend on Jesus like i never have before, and truly look to him every moment, for every thing. He gives me confidence and hope, and is the foundation in which i can stand firm. We are partnered together as He walks this journey with us. God is good!

Monday, December 6, 2010

our new house

So interesting that in the middle of all this, we are building a house and just broke ground last week. A house seems insignificant in many ways compared to life. I was really hoping that we would have the house done by April 3rd which is Esther's due date. Isn't it funny how we make our plans, but ultimately God directs our steps? Even though it seems insignificant, i know it is not. I am thankful how God sets plans in motion. When we started designing the house, we had no idea we would be here today. It has taken the pressure off of Brian to finish by then. I'm not saying that Esther is not going to make it, but just that we really don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day. We will just move ahead, take the pressure off, and see what God has in store. One day at a time is how we are living now, and it is good. God provides for our daily needs.........each day. Not giving me what i will need next week or the next, but today. I trust in his promises for providing for us, giving us grace, and new mercies each morning. What a reality and hope to depend on! I have thought alot about life, and the journey that God has each of us on. I have friends battling cancer, friends who have lost loved ones, friends with children who are battling cancer and other illnesses, struggling with relationship issues. When we decide to follow Jesus, he does not promise a pain free life. He promises that he will walk with us through it all, and i think when we actually experience that, ahh it is so beautiful and comforting. Jesus is acquainted with grief and pain. So what a better person to have walk with us through our own pain....one who has been there. And in the life of the believer, nothing is insignificant. Some friends have said, that their own struggle in light of what i am going through just seems.......... fill in the blank....silly, selfish. And i say again, no, not silly or selfish, in the life of the believer, nothing is insignificant! God is using EVERYTHING for our good, and for his glory...especially the painful journey. And every journey is different.

Ginny Owens has a song called, If You Want Me To that says:

"the pathway is broken and the signs are unclear,

and i don't know the reason, why you brought me here,

but just because you love me the way that you do

im gonna walk through the valley if you want me to..............

it may not be the way i would have chosen,

when you lead me through a world that's not my home.

But you never said it would be easy,

you only said i'd never go alone."

And when it comes down to it, we all have a choice of how we will walk the journey through life. We can go it alone and suffer on our own, or we can take Jesus' hand that is held outstretched to us, and walk it with him, and let him carry us when needed. I tell you what, every day i am so thankful that i have Jesus in my life, to walk with me. I am not, nor will i ever be strong enough on my own. A dear friend sent me the verses 1 Peter 1: 3-9. She said they were rocking her world, so i thought dang, i should read that! Lo and behold Jesus rocked my world with it too. I enourage you to read it. Peter says that we have a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for us! We rejoice in what we know is coming - salvation - eternal life! We rejoice in this, though "now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Each of us are on the journey that God has us on and it is all part of our inheritance that God will redeem. The good the bad and the ugly. I believe nothing will be wasted. It is part of who we are and God is getting eternity ready for us.

So we are building a house, and that is exciting. It is part of our journey. God knows, he knew we would be here and i am thankful for what he will do in the middle of it all. God is good all of the time.

Blessings~ Monica

Friday, December 3, 2010

back from Iowa

You may or may not have known that Brian and I went to Pella, Iowa to spend time with his family the day after Thanksgiving. It was SO great. We had a wonderful time and that is why although i wrote 17 blog posts in my head over the week, they never made it to my blog:) We stayed at his brother & wife, Mark & Gina's house. Got to see Brian's sister and her family as well as Mom and Dad Zylstra who were there for a few weeks visiting. And Brian's aunt and uncle from Michigan drove to Pella for a few days. It was nice to relax and be together. I felt normal for that week. We talked a lot about Esther and our life. Mark's 3 girls are precious. Lucy is the oldest and she understood what was going on and didn't really say much. Molly is the middle and kept saying she can't believe she is going to have another cousin:) And Ruby is 3 and is a ball of energy to say the least. Every day she asked me if i still had a baby in my tummy. Our conversations went like this:

Ruby: "Do you still have a baby in yo tummy?"

Monica: "Yes i do"

Ruby: "What's his name?"

Monica: "you know HER name."
Ruby: "Oh yeah, its Estow _(she can't say her r's so it sounds like Estow) and then she would laugh and pat my belly.

So stinkin cute. Gina was concerned if that was bothering me, the girls talking about her, but i thought you know what? I want her to be talked about. And no matter what happens, they DO have another cousin. It actually made me happy talking about her with the girls. I love those kids:) I must post a few pictures so you can see what i am talking about. (Gina, i hope its ok!)They love their Uncle Brian and the picture below is what you would find them doing on any given day.

Yep that's Brian on the bottom. Most of the time he is the horsey, however he isn't as young as he used to be. But he loves it! We got back from Iowa Wednesday night and i went to see Dr. Cook again on Thursday morning. Have i mentioned how wonderful he and his staff are? Really, i feel so taken care of. I have to go see him weekly so they can keep tabs on me and make sure i am in good health. We also take a peek and see how Esther is doing. Yesterday she was ok. Her heart is still beating but there is less amniotic fluid now, which i think means her kidneys and things are slowing down. She is having to work so hard! Fluid keeps increasing. We did also get the results back from our amnio that we had at Swedish last week. It confirmed that Esther does have Turner's Syndrome. As best as i understand it, this is a genetic mutation of the 23rd set of chromosomes, that make up the sex of the baby. She should have two X chromosomes and she has only one. This is a blessing to find out for future babies, this means that it is random and the likelihood of it happening again is the same as for anyone. So there is no problem between Brian and my chromosomes. As for Esther, according to the statistics, she has a 1% chance of survival. That statistic does not matter to me, but just letting you know where we are at, unless the Lord intervenes and wants to heal her. And i believe he has the power if he so chooses! Thanks for your continued prayers. I tell everyone that i know that is why i am doing ok. Well not all the time, but you know what i mean. The Lord is near, he is present and is walking with us through this. Thanks for walking with us too:)

Blessings~ Monica