I wanted to write tonight and tell you a few things before I turn in for the night. Firstly (and with her permission), I want to introduce to you my friend Adrienne. She is the girl I asked you to pray for in my last post. Click on her name and meet her sweet family…they are amazing. I would update you here, but I would love for you to hear it in her words. She has had a hard week, and I want to thank you for your prayers on her behalf. I know how much it means to her….and despite the sadness, she says she is feeling peaceful. One of my prayers for this blog has been that it would be a place where women with shared experiences could connect, and feel safe sharing their stories with each other. If you feel led, I would ask you to continue to pray for her, her husband Jim, and their son Owen. I am sure she would love to hear from you; I know that so many of you can relate to this season in their lives.
I cannot tell you how encouraged I am to see how many people are praying for our family. I spoke to Nicol this afternoon (they are in town for a week or so), and she said that she had read through most of the comments, and was so moved by them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love and devotion as you walk with us. You will probably never know what your words and prayers have meant…we are so blessed to have you.
Amy Perry (who sings in Selah) came in town on Tuesday to just “be” with us. She lives in California, so this was not an easy thing to do. She has been cooking, cleaning, and watching our kids all week, and they are as sad as Todd and I are to see her go. It has been so great to sit around and talk and watch gymnastics on T.V., and laugh together while the kids color ten million pictures and “Aunt Amy” acts like each one is more beautiful than the last. You are a gift that we treasure dearly, Amy.
Speaking of women I love and respect….guess who is coming to visit me next weekend? I’ll give you a clue…this time, she knows she’s going to see me….:) I will make sure and post pictures so you can see what their family is up to these days. I can hardly wait!
As a sidebar, I have to share this story with you because it has had me laughing all day. Last night as I was putting the girls down for bed, I was reading them a story and Abby started trying to make her hair curl up on the ends. It was still wet from her bath, so it was actually working. She would cup it in her hands on each side of her head and press it up so it kind of looked like Patty Duke. This is the conversation that followed. I’ll warn you now, there is no Bible lesson hiding, just a good giggle.
“What are you doing, Ab? You look like you’re hard at work on a hairstyle.” She releases her palm and her hair turns up at the ends while Ellie stares, fascinated.
“I’m doing it like the lady at Kroger with the ponytails.”
I have no idea what she is talking about. In fact, I shop at Publix.
“What lady at Kroger?”
“You know, the one with the bows and the ponytails. Where you buy your burgers.”
No clue. I stare at her.
“Do you mean Pippi Longstockings?”
I don’t know why I asked, because my kids have 1)never seen the movie, and I’m pretty sure Pippi never 2) had a part-time gig at Kroger or 3) sold me a burger. But for some reason, she was the only flip-out hair person I could think of. What can I say? I dressed up like her for Halloween and I was really proud of my ingenious “undo a wire hanger and wind it through your ponytails to make them stick out” trick.
Which would have been extra cool had I not been in the eighth grade.
Let’s just say, I missed the memo that all girls should wear football jerseys with black lines under their eyes or animal costumes to be “festive and adorable.” Awesome choice, Ang. For future reference, if you don’t want to make Homecoming Court or be invited back, you should definitely wear big black boots and a torn dress and paint freckles on your face for a Junior High Party.
I might as well have gone as a giant hot-dog.
Abby looks at me. She is confused, and I realize she has no idea what I am talking about. Suddenly it hits me.
“Oh, like WENDY!!!!” I immediately picture the familiar fast-food redhead. Now it’s obvious. The ponytails, the bows, the flip, the burgers. I am still not sure where the Kroger thing comes in, but I decide not to press my luck. I give her a kiss and start to giggle because I am thinking of my ridiculous costume, and how many stories I have like this from my childhood. She smiles and starts to laugh too, even though she has no idea what is so funny.
“I love you, Abby. Sleep tight.” I walk to the door and turn the light off. From her bed in the darkness, this is what I hear.
“I love you too mommy, but I have a question. Who is “Pee-pee Longstalker???”
I literally cannot stop laughing as I type. And it reminds me that I haven’t told you about their “adorable” haircuts you all keep asking me about. Let’s just say it involves my eldest daughter, a treehouse, and a pair of scissors.
With much prayer, thanksgiving, and laughter,
So many of you have written to ask me about Greg and Nicol, and I want you to know how much it means to me (and to them). We went to Chattanooga and spent the day with them last Thursday. We ate some delicious pizza, then went for ice-cream and on to the Children’s Museum. It was a day of just watching our kids play and talking about this and that. There were many conversations about life in general and then we would talk about what they were feeling and what we were feeling, and just the whole thing. There were moments where we just laughed in spite of the hurt, because our spirits grow weary of the pain. There are days where we drift farther into the abyss of sadness, where the thought of life ever being normal again is painfully absurd. There are other days where God just sits beside us and we know that we are going to survive this. Mostly, it’s a mix, I guess.
When we were at the Children’s Museum, the kids did a little “archaeological dig” where they got to wear hats and jackets and climb in the sand to dig for bones. It was really cute. There was also a giant Clifford display that they loved, as well as a human-sized bubble-maker. The girls loved being together, and do did we. It was fun to just let them all play and love life together (and also to laugh as several moms STARED at me while I ignored Kate’s nasty diaper because I so wanted to finish ONE grown up conversation…my resistance is strong…they cleared out.)
There are some things I would like to ask you to pray about. The first is about their house. They have mixed feelings about wanting to be there anymore, and are currently staying with friends. It has been an incredible blessing to them to have so many who are loving on the and making themselves available. It is a hard choice to make, and they don’t want to feel rushed in it. Please pray that the Lord will urge them in the direction they should go, and then give them a peace about whatever that is. If you feel a strong desire to pray for them to move to Nashville, maybe even to my neighborhood, go with it.
Please pray that God will use this time to strengthen their marriage. Anyone who has lost a child understands the strain that is usually put on the marriage. They are holding up really well, but I am praying this because I understand it firsthand. It is such a foothold for Satan.
Please pray that Summer will not remember more than the good memories she has of Luke, that none of the fear and sadness surrounding the events after his death will stay with her.
Please pray for wisdom and discernment as far as “the next step in life.” Where do they go? do? Who are they going to be in this “new life?”
Please pray that God would erase from Nicol and Greg’s memory the horrible moments from the night Luke died. I know for me it is so easy to just play things over and over, and I am asking the Lord to simply erase the hard parts and help them to cling to who he was.
Please pray that the image of heaven will be so overwhelmingly joyful that they will be able to fully resign their hearts to the image of him being there. I remember someone telling me that Steven Curtis Chapman was praying this for Maria, and I also prayed it for myself. Lord, show us the Glory of your dwelling place.
As I have prayed about this post, I have felt led to ask something of you, my readers and my friends. The other night I had this idea that we could organize a way to pray for the Sponberg’s specifically through scripture. I asked the Lord to tell me which scripture He wanted us to pray for them, and He brought to mind one of my favorite Psalms. It is Psalm 84, and no matter where you are in your walk, I hope that this blesses you. It is truly one of my favorites, and I think that the idea of so many of us praying over the same words on their behalf would really open a new, fresh flood for them.
Please prayerfully (and sloooowly:)) read the following Psalm. I could meditate on this one all day long. As you read, think about what heaven must be like, and ask yourself if your soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord. Do you want to be there with Him so badly it hurts sometimes? Does your flesh cry out? I know that most of the time I don’t feel that way, but now that Audrey is there it makes me want it so much more.
This is my prayer request for today, on behalf of The Sponberg’s. If you feel comfortable, read Psalm 84 (maybe even a few times, or tape it up at work/home so you can see it!), praying for them as you digest it. These are the words that tell us where our babies are, the words that tell us what we can do in the wake of loss…to remember what heaven is.
Do you know what my favorite part of this Psalm is? It is verse 84:6, where it talks about the Valley of Baca. So easy to skip over, because, seriously, what is Baca????? Well, I want you to find out for yourself so that you can see how easy it is to “dig down” into scripture. I hope this will become a great tool for you….here we go!!!
1. Go to crosswalk.com
2. You will see the “Resources” heading on the left, and under that you will see “Bible Study Tools.”
3. Click on Commentaries. I really like “Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible” by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown and also the Matthew Henry Commentary (the Concise one:)…you will see that option.
4. After you select a commentary, you will see all of the books of the Bible. In this case, find Psalm 84….click on it… be blessed by their amazing insights about scripture…how easy is that!!!! You’re learning already!!!
The Valley of Baca….they make it a place of springs. This is my prayer for them.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
8 Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.
9 Look upon our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
12 O Lord Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.
And if you do, feel free to post a comment that just says “praying.” what an amazing gift to be able to see all of those faithful names, sending prayers for our sweet Nicol and Greg.
I also wanted to let you know that the friend I spoke of the other day did not receive good news at her ultrasound. It appears that her sweet baby is no longer alive. She will more than likely have further testing this week, and I am not afraid to pray for a miracle. Maybe you could pray with me for her as well.
A.F., you are a pilgrim of the rarest sort. The Lord Himself knows your heart, and your longings. I want you to know that I am doing as Jacob did once, and I am committed to holding fast until He chooses to bless you, one way or another. I am thankful for you, and with you in spirit.
May God bless you each today, and again, thank you for your prayers.
p.s. the clip that follows is Nicol holding Luke, singing at Audrey’s burial. You will want to pause the blog music to hear her amazing voice. Lord, Jesus, we long for your courts…
So many of you have asked about how I came to be so close to God. I want to talk a little about that here, and I hope that it speaks to you and encourages you to seek His face. Before I start, I want to say that if you are not a “believer,” you are welcome here. I hope you read these words and feel blessed, even if you and I do not share the same Lord. Your letters and emails have spoken volumes to me about the legacy of my sweet daughter, and I hope you will continue to spend time here with me. My deepest prayer is that you will feel safe here, and that if you do have questions about the Lord, you will email me and allow me the great honor of trying to fill in some of the blanks with you. With that said…
One of the best days of my life, no question.
So many of you have emailed/posted to ask about my sweet miracles Ellie and Abby, and it means the world to me that you care enough to ask. I just poured a cup of hot tea (thank you, Kristin), the house is quiet, and it still smells like a home-cooked meal (I haven’t cooked in weeks…progress!) I thank God for these simple moments, where normalcy sneaks up on me. I sat with the girls as they fell asleep, and I thought about a time, not so long ago, when we didn’t know if we would get to have them in this life. I am a terrible at keeping journals (although I have a full stash of fresh, beautiful ones in my kitchen drawer…I have an addiction to buying pretty notebooks), and I don’t (everyone, prepare to gasp!) scrapbook. No, seriously. I get stressed out because there are too many options…brads, paper-crimpers, stamps, special pens…I am sweating as I type. I can barely buy shampoo without spending 10 minutes smelling them all. So, this is a great way to talk about my life and have something to look back on years from now. And it’s just black and white and true. I love that.
A little background…Todd and I were married on August 26th, 2001, just before 9/11. We found out in December that we were expecting our first baby, and we were shocked. I was only about 7 or 8 weeks along when I miscarried, but it was long enough to fall in love with the baby. I have vivid memories of standing in the bathroom of our little apartment brushing my hair and crying tears of joy because I was going to be someone’s mommy. It wasn’t meant to be. I wasn’t where I am now with the Lord, and to be honest, I felt like I had been abandoned. I went to the library and checked out a book about miscarriage, crying and clinging to it every night. In March, I was on the road with Todd in Maryland and I told him I thought I was pregnant again. I went to the store and bought a test, and when I got back to the hotel I said, “You know if I’m pregnant, you are never going to forgive yourself for not coming to Walgreens with me.” We laughed and I walked into the bathroom. Todd says I walked out about 10 seconds later with a huge smile. He also said he should have gone to Walgreens.
I checked out a book on being pregnant, and walked on eggshells for a few weeks waiting to see what would happen.
At our first ultrasound, we were staring at the screen to see a heartbeat, and Susanna kept saying, “You see it, Todd? Right here.” He looked confused. I told him he could tell us if he didn’t see it; he didn’t need to be embarrassed about it. He told us that he did see the heartbeat, but he was wondering what this other flickering was.
Susanna moved the ultrasound wand up a little on my tummy and there they were. Two little heartbeats. I screamed.
I went back to the library (same check out girl) and got a couple books on twins. She smiled at me and laughed.
“Quite a year you’re having, honey!” She scanned the books and told me about her twin cousins, who, based on her description, are probably in prison by now. She thought it was hilarious. I thought I was going to puke on the counter.
In late September, I went to Alaska with Todd for some concerts. I felt uncomfortable, but I figured that it was part of pregnancy, so I didn’t really think much of it. We had a great trip, and when I got home (I was 24 1/2 weeks along), Dr. Trabue said he thought that even though everything was going well, he thought I should have another ultrasound. I know that was the voice of God, and I am convinced that we would not have them if he had not been obedient to this prompting. It was a terrible day. Many of the feelings I had with Audrey’s ultrasound were bad memories from this one. The sweet man started the scan, and instantly, his face dropped. He told us that something was wrong, and I started shaking. I asked him if they were alive. Actually, I think I told him to tell me they were alive. I will never, never forget what he said.
“They are alive right now.”
The supervisor came in and explained what was going on. Basically, I was dilated more than the size of their heads, and my bag of water was “exposed.” My cervix was about 3 mm (if you are in this business, or have any experience with this, you know that this is bad…really bad). They barely let me stand up to go to the car. We went straight to the hospital. There were a couple days in there where they weren’t sure what was going on, because my cervix looked normal…it turned out that it was changing constantly, and depending on the exact minute they did the scan, it either looked normal or horrendous. They told me I needed to check myself in and plan on being there until I delivered. One of the first nights I was there, a nurse came in and found me crying. I told her I wanted the truth about what they thought was going to happen to my babies. She was incredibly sweet, but she explained that they were both well under a pound, and on “the cusp of viability.” I remember the words. I remember the smell of hospital soap. I remember that I already loved them so much that I fought every minute I could to have them.
It turned out to be a lot of minutes. Ten weeks to be exact.
I was on magnesium sulfate for three and a half weeks (the stuff is nasty…I hallucinated that my IV pole was a robot and told Audra to let the trick-or-treaters in one night…she told me she loved me, put on a Jim Brickman CD, and turned off the lights). I was on a lot of medication to keep me out of labor, including a pump thing that I had to inject myself with. Time passed slowly, slowly. I was really scared and depressed, and I want to tell you something else, because we are all friends here, and I think you should know.
I hardly ever opened my Bible.
I believed in Him. The whole story. I loved Him fully, but I learned to keep Him at arm’s length in the event that He let me down. I hate that part of the story, and if I could do it over…well, I can’t. I just have to know that He pursued me even when I acted like a jilted bride. He wanted me when I didn’t want Him. He taught me about Himself, even as I resisted loving Him back. I am forever grateful for the tenderness He showed me during that time, and the grace He showed me when I came running back with remorse in my heart.
At 34 1/2 weeks, they had to send me home because my insurance wouldn’t pay for me to be there anymore. I went home, and a few days later they let me stop taking some of my medication and I went into labor. I pushed twice and Anna Elisabeth was welcomed into the world. Two minutes and one push later, Abigail Grace followed. At 4.11 and 3.11 respectively, they were really tiny. Abby wouldn’t cry when she was born and they were worried about her so they whisked her away before I could see her. They brought Ellie to me and I squeezed her and kissed her and smelled her and just loved her completely.
Abby was in the NICU for almost 3 weeks, trying to get her weight up. She kept having “spells” where she would stop breathing and they would have to keep her for a few more days. Todd and I brought Ellie home and about 10 minutes after we set down her baby carrier, he left to go on his Christmas tour. I would nurse Ellie, pump, drive to the hospital, nurse Abby, pump, nurse Ellie, go home….and on and on. I felt so divided. My husband was gone, my baby was in the hospital, and Ellie was with me. I cried every night dreaming about when we would be together, praying Abby would be with us for Christmas (she was).
I want to tell you more, to tell you who they are and how many ways God has blessed us through their miracle, but I know it’s late, and my tea has gotten cold.
Another day, right?
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the incredibly kind Tippa, who bid almost $600 on a purse that she will never carry. She actually lives in Belgium, and I have truly been blessed getting to know her heart. She asked me to keep Coco, although I had already taken it to be mailed when I got her email (it had gone into my “junk” folder, so I almost deleted it). Todd ran to the UPS store and they were really confused, but handed the box back to him. I cried when I read her words to me, not so much because of the purse (although I am blessed by that generosity), but because God showed up in her kindness. I am going to The Hope Clinic on Friday with a check that I have no doubt God will use for His glory. Tippa, may you be blessed in return (you and I both know what we’re praying for!!!! Quickly, Lord!!! )
I also want to tell you that it is great to “know” you all. I want you to know that I read what you write, and it matters to me.
Lastly, I want to ask for your prayer for a friend of mine who is early on in her pregnancy and praying that God will bless her with a healthy baby…there are some complications, and I covet your thoughts on her behalf. I will keep you posted when I have her permission, but for tonight, know that there is a woman with life growing within her, and she is asking the Lord the same thing I did almost 6 years ago…may God bless her as richly as he did me, and may He be glorified in the midst of it.
Love and thanks,