Remembering 5 years of Grace

Remembering 5 years of Grace.

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Anniversaries are for remembering.

Sometimes the remembering is marked simply by joy.

Other times it’s much more complicated.

Pascal’s anniversary of birth is both.

Complicated. Joyful.

 

If I didn’t page through his baby book, and the albums of photos I have printed of him, or read through all the blog posts I wrote after he was born I could easily get caught up in the current and forget all that God has done up to my son turning 5 years old. 5. Years. Old. One more time for posterity….. FIVE YEARS OLD.

 

This year, as I remember, my heart was drawn to all the little triumphs throughout the journey of pregnancy and raising Pascal, and all the people God used to make those triumphs a reality. It’s all grace, the trials and victories alike. If you care to read about my ramblings, continue below as I express thankfulness for things that the Lord helped me to remember as I walked down memory lane.

 

When I got unexpectedly pregnant with Pascal, finding out on the day my Grandfather passed away, michael and I were somewhat forced into telling our family because I experienced heavy bleeding at his funeral and had to go to the hospital. After finding out he was good and I had a “missed miscarriage” I came back to my sister Ashley’s house and it came up that if it was a boy, he would be named Pascal. I remember her running down the stairs randomly leaving us all confused, only to emerge with a big wall sticker of a lizard. “I just know you’re going to have a boy, here is a sticker of Pascal the lizard from Tangled”. So Ashley. But that vote of confidence lifted me, just enough in that moment. That sticker is in Pascal’s baby book.

 

I really was stuck in a rut about this pregnancy and honestly God was doing some MAJOR work on my heart and he was just getting started. In the midst of these early pregnancy weeks I went to a women’s retreat with my church. These women heard some pretty negative stuff come out of my mouth. I was acting pretty childish. They surrounded me with love and encouragement and not judgement. They knew the Lord was working on my heart and that I just needed women to speak love and let the Lord do the work. They were exactly what I needed in that moment.

 

A mere 6 weeks after my bleeding episode, I got into a pretty bad car accident in my work van. After a man rear-ended me at 45 mph without stopping while I was picking up plants 45 minutes from the arboretum I found myself terrified for my child, for myself, for my job. My boss, Abbie, I swear had to drive 90 mph and made it to the hospital to meet the ambulance in 25 minutes flat. She sat by my side the rest of the long day and didn’t once make fun of me or look down on my for ruining the company van (like maybe some coworkers did haha), she only cared by me and my baby’s safety and showed nothing but selfless love and compassion.

 

A week after the accident I bled heavily again. This time, my heart couldn’t take anymore and I just KNEW I was losing the child I was just starting to fall in love with. I was heaving with sadness as they drew my blood and I’m not even sure I could see michael I was so swollen with tears as they did the ultrasound. The ultrasound tech, who is not at all allowed to comment on the results, leaned over and whispered to me “honey, i’m not supposed to tell you, but your baby looks good in there, it is alive”. We ended up having to wait 3 HOURS for doctor to see us and give us the report, but we were able to laugh and praise the Lord and hold each other instead of being steeped in sadness simply because that ultrasound tech broke the rules.

 

The morning I woke up with a swollen face at 30 weeks, I had to cajole a pharmacist tech at the 24 hour walgreens on Western in Chicago at 4 am to take my blood pressure. She resisted, and finally relented, and then said I needed to call my doctor. I’m really thick headed and do weird things like consider calling a doctor on call “an inconvenience to them”, so God had to use another woman to finally get me to call a doctor. I arrived at work an hour drive south and casually asked a coworker who is a mom of 4 if I should call the doctor with a bloodpressure like I had. She grabbed my arms and told me I needed to leave NOW. I am very thankful for both of those women.

 

When the ambulance finally got me to Northshore evanston hospital the nurse in the ER had to try at least 5 times to get an IV in my arm, without anesthetic. I’m not thankful for her.

 

…..just kidding, she finally got it, i’m thankful for her, but she’s my least favorite character in this story. (hahaha)

 

Michael was off work 11 days and spent every one of those nights with me in the hospital. He left my side almost never, and when he did it was to field phone calls, or bring my pumped drops of milk down to pascal and hold him when I couldn’t. He handled my sometimes psychotic behavior in stride, he was and still is my perfect partner in raising our children. Anything I could type about him would be a severe understatement. From the moment we got pregnant until last night when he was by pascal’s side helping him when he could be sleeping because he got his first cold of the season, he is All in and more than a partner in raising our boys. I would die of sleep deprivation if it weren’t for him…..seriously, though.

 

Of the slew of doctors and nurses i’m thankful for, one moment stuck in my head. After I had pascal, just before my uterus infection set in, and things were calm for a moment, a nurse from India took care of me for one shift. She felt compelled to urge me to look at my circumstances and be thankful. She told me about her sister in law in India who had preeclampsia and I can’t remember if she died, or her child, but she told me multiple times that she wished she had as good of health care as I did. That there were others all over the world a lot less cared for than I was. She gave me perspective in that moment. She turned my eyes away from myself. The Lord was turning my eyes away from myself. It’s exhausting living in sadness and not thankfulness. He was trying to give me rest.

 

My sister heather sent me so many encouraging letters and verses, and even sent Pascal little “lovey” blankets for his Isolette in the NICU. I slept with them so they would smell like me, and then I put them in his bed. He still sleeps with them today. She definitely went out of her way to reach out and show me love. So did Ashley, and all my sister in laws. They all knew it was a tender time for my heart, and they championed me.

 

I didn’t get a chance to have a baby shower. It was planned for 4 ish days after I had pascal and was canceled, obviously. But when I got home from the hospital we were inundated with gifts in the mail every day. I had worried that I had nothing for my baby yet, but it was all provided and then some. My work sent gift after gift. Church, family, friends, michael’s coworkers. We were very well loved. Then, 8 ish months after he was born, my sister and sister in law still threw me and pascal a party and people still came to love on us. It was very heart lifting to not be forgotten.

Oh, and did I mention that the owners of the condo we were renting had their property foreclosed and the bank told us we had to be out of our home one week before pascal ended up being born? And that our friend from church, Jeremy, offered his home to us and gave us HIS OWN ROOM to move into? And that he allowed us to take over his home with a newborn premature baby and all that went with that? We even “made” him get a whooping cough vaccine. I probably got breastmilk all over his couch (sorry, Jeremy). We took over his world, and he offered all he had with open arms to literally a homeless couple with a tiny tiny child for 6 months.

 

Having a nursery ready for baby before they come home, yea, that was never a thing for me. But I had a roof over my head. The Lord supplied our every need. We HAD to rely on him to fulfil each one.

 

My mom and michaels mom took a week or more to stay with us and help me get to the hospital to visit and make meals and clean the house and clean my pumping supplies and generally to alllll the things and were essentially the only reason we survived the 35 days Pascal was in the hospital.

 

Guys, we finally made it back to Michigan because the Lord provided michael with the right job at the moment to get us back here. We had an apartment! I remember walking into our two bedroom apartment at Timberview behind Meijer with  my 6 month old baby thinking we were walking into the Taj mahal! It was MASSIVE and it was all ours. Having everything stripped away gives some perspective. Im thankful for that apartment for helping me ease back into normal life. I had a place to nest for the first time. I didn’t have a car, so I was SUPER thankful for my Ergo carrier and being able to wander around Meijer, and D&W and goodwill with little Pascal.

 

Then we started looking for a house, and I quickly realized that we couldn’t get anything nearly as pretty as I would of hoped. Michael calls me about this UGLY neon yellow house in ferrysburg (not spring lake like I hoped), and he and the realtor convinced me it was perfect. I wasn’t actually convinced, just relented because I was realistic. I was ready to be out of that apartment i once was SO thankful for because our neighbors were loud all hours of the night.

We moved in with mismatched furniture and odds and ends and were INUNDATED with generosity from our parents to get the place looking a little more like home. My father and michaels father have put more hours into our home than I can even quantify. My mother and michaels mother have spent more time playing with Pascal (and lewis) so that I could get anything down than I could even quantify. Im not sure thankful is the right word. Blown away would be better.

……did I mention that home ended up having the PERFECT backyard for raising two boys? I may not have a mansion, but I have the perfect house for us that I love and am beyond thankful for the provision for. I would have to be really convinced to give up this house and yard, which is very shocking considering how much I disliked it all 4 years ago. Sometimes I’m really slow to recognize the blessings the Lord puts before me ;) I’m grateful he is patient.

 

Oh, and then a few months after we move into our first and current home in 2013, the Ellen show is doing their 12 days of give aways for Christmas. I was still feeling pretty sad about not being able to contribute to our finances even though I new being home with Pascal was where the Lord wanted me, so I was crying out to the Lord on this particular cold December day. The giveaway popped up on facebook and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to enter. As I was putting pascal to bed I got a call from California and it was the Ellen show telling me that I won. I didn’t win silly useless gadgets either, I got a 1,000$ giftcard to TARGET! Sometimes the Lord sends manna from heaven, in a literal sense. I was able to furnish our house with beautiful things as well as relieve our grocery budget of some essentials for the entire year! I remember michael using his last deodorant from the “ellen money” the following december. I still look at my aging throw blankets and smile. This was the Lord’s provision for a mother crying out to him. He shows his glory in the most surprising ways sometimes.

 

My aunt lynn helped me with pascal more times than could even be counted and let me feel liked I could keep my head above water. Then this one time when I got pregnant with Lewis, she let michael I drive her car back from California and then let me KEEP IT…..because for the last 1.75 years we only had 1 car and I was stuck a home a lot. This was like hitting the jackpot and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for that car.

 

But, oh, Harvest Bible Chapel Spring Lake. They took this weary mamma and daddy and wrapped us in their arms and fed us truth and invited us to serve and ushered in spirit filled worship and convicted us with teaching and gave us a community and support group. Stepping into that church after barely leaving the house for 6 months was a healing balm to my soul. It took me a while to be able to trust leaving pascal in the nursery because I didn’t want him sick, but when I finally did, those sweet nursery workers were my favorite people ever. I got to go to a women’s bible study on monday nights and leave Pascal with michael and have a small group with women who were so encouraging. Michael and I got to have a small group on wednesdays that all had small children like us, and we all were pointing each other to the word to guide us in how to parent a growing child and shepherd them to the Lord. It was exactly what we needed, it was and still is a safe place, dare I say our favorite place.

 

I met some really sweet girls when I lead a women’s bible study small group on monday nights. Some of those girls babysat for me when I really needed it, and I know they prayed for me. One of those girls even came to my HOUSE to cut Pascal’s hair because he was not keen on going to a salon, and he just loved her (and I did too! It was so helpful!).

 

I have girlfriends that went out of their way to have me and Pascal over for playdates and they were such precious moments to connect and encourage each other and watch our children play together. The Lord used some of those times to get after my heart about a lot of things, and helped re-calibrate my heart to be able to keep mothering well.

 

Did I mention that we live next door to two awesome neighbors? They are both so helpful and loving. One of them even go to church with us and have a boy the same age as pascal, so we never fail to have sweet little meetups in the backyard (or sometimes crazy moments), and we have such a blessing in knowing they are always there to lend a hand with our boys, or give us ingredients we forgot at the store, or even hand me down clothes to share! It’s the Lord’s grace that we get to have perfect neighbors, it’s not missed on me for even a moment.

 

Preschool is confusing, but once we decided to go with GH christian (because you have to pay for preschool everywhere) and I met Mrs. Devries, I knew we had made one of the best decisions we have made thus far in Pascal’s life. I cannot sing her praises enough. It’s hard leaving your child not knowing if they are going to behave, if they are going to be sad, how the teacher with treat them, what those few hours a time will look like. She is basically like leaving your child with the most capable, loving, fun, consistent, stern yet soft, brilliant, creative aunt ever. Pascal adored her and I saw him start to blossom into a little man under her care.

Guys there is so much more, this just scratches the surface of the past 5 years and really doesn’t account for some of the most recent ways God has blessed us as Pascal has grown, but this is a short story now haha.

 

It’s not all directly about Pascal, and it’s a mix of big stuff and little stuff but it all paints a picture of the grace that the Lord has lavished on us since that moment our world changed and we realized we were having our first child.

 

There are moments that I want to scream, and sometimes I do. There are moments that his energy, his need to work with his hands, his need to socialize and adventure, his need to “help with everything”, his need to be right or ask questions until he figures out what is right drive me crazy. There were long stretches of time as an infant that he wouldn’t sleep without me holding him, there were long stretches when he threw terrible tantrums that felt like nightmares, there were long stretches that I couldn’t get him to eat anything but bread.

 

BUT, you guys, all the beauty in between outweighs it all.

 

Raising a boy, my first boy, has been a new adventure every day, every week, every month. He has the strong willed first child personality, and the fiercest kind of love.

I think he gives me more compliments than anyone I know, and even though he isn’t always capable he truly has a heart for helping me in any way he can (though, often not the thing I ask him to do haha)

He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and already has a strong work ethic. He loves nature and he sees his Creator everywhere he looks.

He makes me get out and do more than I would typically on my own, and leads us on many adventures.

Watching his social ability blossom makes me laugh, and how many headaches he gets makes me sad, and his need for a consistent and insanely long bedtime routine brings me to Jesus every night to ask for patience. He has the cutest smile dimple by his mouth that I get to see very often because he is always looking for a way to laugh. He is in a phase of always trying to make up jokes and they are rarely funny but his attempts still make me giggle.

 

I pray as he continues to grow he really does realize how much he needs Jesus because he sees how much his mom and dad need Jesus too. I pray that he leads lewis in that way, and even me.

 

These 5 years of your life, Pascal, have been supported by a flood of Grace from God who clearly wants you here, wants you and your family well loved and cared for, and wants us to be microphones of that grace to the world.

 

I will keep looking back in thankfulness as we continue to walk forward and as you continue to get older way too fast. I’m thankful for all of this and more, and I can’t wait to see where the Lord takes you.

 

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