As Christmas approaches (at an insanely incalculable speed, I might add) I am constantly bombarded with memories, emotions and desires. To me Christmas conjures up feelings of warmth. The atmosphere is just warm and inviting, the glow of a Christmas tree seems warm, the hot coco, the P.J's, the snuggling under blankets watching movies you only watch once a year... it all brings an aura of warmth. I enjoy feeling warm and happy. I look forward to the glow and the warmth Christmas brings.
This year, along with wanting all the family, food, pretty decorations and a desire to see Rigg really take notice, I desire to grasp meaning. I want not be drawn to my warmth so much as be drawn closer to Christ.
As I have been pondering ways I can learn and grow in my faith this Christmas, I have been struck anew. Not about Peace, or Joy, or how completely miraculous the entire Christmas Story really is... (each one of these things is amazing and awe inspiring) but about Hope.
God's gift of Hope...in the form of a baby.
I love all of the promises the bible offers to me about my hope for the future. Since Caden died, I have clung more desperately to my promise of salvation. (Ephesians 1:13) I look forward to the day Christ returns. I long to hear the trumpet sound and see the clouds rolled back. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) I rest upon the Hope that is promised to those who have put their trust in Christ,( John 3:16) in one word.... Heaven.
Hope has become a very real thing for me...an almost tangible thing to hold.
As I have reread and become reacquainted with the story of the birth of my Savior, I have discovered the beginning, the start... the foundation of my Hope.
A promised King.
A prophesied Messiah.
A perfect Lamb.
My only Hope.
Without Jesus' s birth, without His life of sinlessness upon this fallen terrain, without His willingness to die in my stead... I would be hopeless.
But He was born, He did live a sinless life, and He died for me. And because of Him, I have Hope.
Hope of Heaven.
Hope of true rest and no more pain.
Hope of eternity with Him.
Hope to see my Caden again.
So this Christmas, while I soak up and praise God for all the many ways I experience "my Christmas warmth" I am also praising and thanking Him for my Hope... the Hope that started with a baby, was solidified by a man on a cross and will end when He returns to take me home.
Thank you, Father, for your plan and provision.. for your Hope.
We had an ultrasound on Monday and were able to view our newest addition. He is head down: very good news because they thought he was transverse... or maybe breech. He is, fortunately, none of the above. Head down and ready to go...or at least he feels like he is ready...he is causing me large quantities of pain... when he moves it feels like his foot, or his knee, or some other appendage or body part will just shoot right out of my side, or something. Anyway, it is very painful... and there is nothing they can do.
One reason he might be causing so much pain is because he is HUGE. Ryder is already 6 & 1/2 to 7 lbs. He is considered in the 94th percentile at this point. My Dr. brought up the subject of induction as to avoid birthing a babe the size of which might be worth mentioning on the cover of a tabloid magazine. I am fine with that... the induction part, not the part about being on the cover of a magazine in the Wal-Mart check-out lane, thankyouverymuch.
We have started moving rooms around. Our office is now in the back of our kitchen, and after this weekend the once-was-office will hopefully be painted and become Rigg's new Big Boy Room. My mom is going to help me go through clothes and wash and ready them for Ryder,as well as move Rigg's to their new location... a freshly painted lime green dresser... I know you are just as stoked as me about that!
So, to sum up: Huge baby. Causing lots of pain. Due in 4 ish short weeks. nothing done.
Mother trying not to freak about lack of preparedness.
Do you ever go back and re-read your old posts? Sometimes, I get caught up in reading about my life... I am a nerd. It is always interesting to me to see where I was and what God was teaching me... and where I have fallen into old sin patterns again...
Anyway, I was doing this the other night and 2 old posts hit me in the face and smacked me around a little...
Let's start at the beginning... shall we?
I am in a bible study that is studying Isaiah this year. Just a couple of weeks ago we were in chapter 26. The verse that stood out and was "camped on" so to speak, was verse 3. Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
We were asked where in our life we might need peace. Then were told if we, like the verse promised, kept our focus on Christ, we would have perfect peace... the peace only God can give.
Confession #1 I am stupid.
I hem-hawed in my own mind about where I really needed peace. I guess in my twisted mind I thought that if I don't acknowledge an area of need in my own life... then God won't know either...
Confession #2 I am scared.
When I finally dug down deep... or just admitted to what I had been constantly pushing aside, I confessed to God (and later to a room full of women) that I was scared.
Well, terrified, really, of having a newborn/ infant at home. I want all the soft quiet cuddles. I look forward to all the firsts, first smile, first laugh, first spit-up on dad... That baby-after-a-bath smell... the sweet angelic face while they sleep.. all the good stuff.
I am terrified about the "what-ifs". What if they get sick? What if they stop breathing? What if... Caden?
Confession #3 I do not learn.
I was reading a book recently and it had an awesome quote by C.S. Lewis. He said: "We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
This stood out to me, because this is right where I am. I trust God... I do, but I want to trust God if He does it my way...and it is painless. In my mind, I have had enough pain. Trust is easier if is is comfortable.
As I was re-reading my old posts I came across this one, ironically titled Trust...
As I read I came to a paragraph that met me right where I was.
"I shared all of this with my friend. She shared with me that the was listening to a sermon recently and it brought up a similar thread. Moses asked God to show him His glory. (Ex. 33:18) Which is a huge thing to ask…and in the sermon the lady said, do you now why we do not ask this same thing from God? Because we believe a lie from Satan. We believe that if we ask God to show us and demonstrate His glory in our lives that it will be too much of a risk…it will cost us too much…God will demand more then we can give or want to let go of. Do you see the lie friends? God is a God of goodness, love, compassion, and mercy. He does things for our good. Suffering is a part of this fallen world…but to the Christian, suffering is never wasted. God brings about the good…because that is who He is…He is goodness."
It even ended with the verse Isaiah 26:3.
Evidently this is a battle I have fought before...
I do not learn.
Confession #4 I have a bad memory (it might just be selective)
As I was pondering all of this, and God was starting to break through some built up walls of pride, faithlessness, and shame... I came across another old post. I stopped to read it because it was about snow, and we had just recently had our first snowfall... This post was a powerful reminder to me of what God has already done...what He will be faithful to do in my future... If I continue to fully trust and rest in Him and His plan.
At one point in this older post I said:
"Now I know different. To me, the first snowfall is not a reminder of what never was, but of healing and making new, because that is what God is doing. He is taking what was broken in my heart and making it whole. My emptiness is becoming full. Full of faith in His word. Joy in what he has given, and hope for what he has in store."
Where was this lady now? How had I fallen so far in just one year? Where was my trust in His plan? My joy in His work... my peace with His decisions?
I have a bad memory.
Confession #5 I am working on it... or letting God work on me.
I have since declared my pride and inability to "do it on my own" to God... and to a room full of women. I have prayed for God to work in me and through me... to let me truly rest in Him and his plan... No matter what that looks like...for me, my family... for Ryder. I have asked to be reminded daily of His Faithfulness, His Promises...His Hope, His Peace.
As I was washing dishes the other day I remembered a hard/terrifying prayer and confession I made to God about a year ago. Rigg was sick... later we would discover it was RSV and he would be hospitalized for a few days. I was really battling with him being sick and trusting God... and trying with all of my might not to panic. I was in the car on my way to bible study when I openly confessed to God the hardest thing I have ever told him... and I meant it. As I was washing dishes I remembered this painful confession and the feeling of truly giving something up... of handing something over.
That dark winter night as I drove down the highway, I gave my son to God. I told God that I was scared, that I was almost in a panic because of it. Then I told God, in no uncertain terms that I did not want to lose Rigg, or any other child for that matter. BUT then I told Him that I wanted His will more, and even though the pain of losing Caden was still so fresh, I had seen His provision. I had seen His faithfulness... and even though the hurt and pain are almost too much at times... He had brought me through it all. He carried me through and I knew He could do it again. So even though I never wanted to do it again... if it was Gods plan, I knew I would be alright... and I gave it up.
And the confession scared me... but it felt right, to let God have His rightful place... as terrifying as it was.
So as I stood in front of my sink, bubbles up to my wrists, washing leftovers from the plates and bowls...I gave God Ryder. Use his life for Your glory... whatever that might look like.
And I would be lying if I said it was easy, or that I was not scared. But Just as I knew a year ago I had done the right thing... I knew it again.
Not that God needs my permission... but it is a step of trust on my part. And hopefully it honors God.
Santa looks a lot like my Dad...being that he is my dad. You might remember from last year that we took Rigg to visit Santa/Dad for the first time...
Rigg just sees Pop. Not Santa. Although, this year, the red suit did throw him for a bit of a loop and he totally lost his head. Because after Rigg saw Dad/Santa/Pop he said "Elmo?"
No son... not Elmo...sorry.
It is always fun to go see my dad play Santa. He is so gentle and kind with the kids... and there are a TON of kids. When the Captain and I pulled up into the parking lot it was SO full that people had taken to parking in the adjoining field...and made a bigger make-shift parking lot then the real one. Hundreds of cars... really. I looked at Andy and said "I think it is really weird to think all of these people are here to see my dad."
I hesitate to put this pic of me on here... my double chin and outrageous midsection scream "Don't do it!" but my rational side thinks... "ahh, well, for prosperity's sake..." So please, view with mercy the huge, swollen pregnant lady.
And because I love to remember... Caden, Me and Santa/Dad.
One challenge the Captain and I faced after Caden died was finding a place for "her" in our home. By that, I mean, all of her stuff, the tangible things we had that held precious memories.
What do you do with things you want to keep... but you do not displayed in some shrine/alter-like fashion?
We kept all of her pictures up... until Rigg came along and then we had to find a healthy balance. We packed away all of the baby stuff we would use for other kids. All of the girl clothes went into a plastic tub in case we have another girl someday...but what do you do with all of the things that are special to her... the "Caden stuff" no other baby will have?
What I came up with was a memory chest. We put all the things that were just hers in the chest. Caden's chest. Some clothes... her coming home outfit, her Easter outfit, her paci's... those wonderful/horrible hand molds, and gifts and photos we wanted to keep but had no other place for.
I saved all of the clothes that I remembered her in... and could probably never put another child in and not burst into tears...and I had a quilt made. It turned out wonderfully. The edge of the quilt is the bumper from her crib and the center is all of her clothes. The back is my favorite blanket she would always use.
My friend Stacey made me a scrap book. It is a treasure. It is gorgeous and makes me cry every time I open it up.
We also saved and framed one of the photo boards from her memorial service. It is just beautiful and holds some of our favorite pictures of her. This we hung in the office. It seemed like a good place... somewhere where we can still see and enjoy it, but not in such a place of prominence that it was jarring.
Well, now we are getting ready to turn the office into Rigg's big boy room and I struggled with what to do with her frame. Like I mentioned before, I do not want to make a shrine to Caden in our home. I want her to represented as a part of our family.. not a more important part then anyone else...
My friend Mindy and I made another for Rigg... and I plan on hanging them both in the hallway. I will make on for Ryder too, after his first year of life, and for any subsequent children that happen to come along.
Now we all have a place... don't you just love it when everything works out.... and in such a stylish manner too!
Tuesday November 30th started out as any other "normal" day at the Chastain house. The Captain was off to work, Rigg was fed and enjoying a lovely 30 minutes of Curious George, I was doing dishes, cleaning up breakfast...mom stuff.
Rigg was playing well by himself, climbing in and out of an empty laundry basket and driving his dump trucks around, so I decided it was OK if I busied myself in the other room for a minute.
It turned out to be NOT OK.
Whilst in the other room I heard a strange clicking noise, made note... did not skedaddle to see what it was. Clicking continues. After a few minutes, I finally get up and go see what it is.
What met my eyes when I entered the room could be considered the most horrendous moment of my being Rigg's mom...
Rigg was sitting on the floor in front of the TV cabinet gleefully whacking the eject slide of the Captains brand new XBOX with his tiny fist.
As I stood frozen in place from shock... he started to giggle.
I think steam might have billowed out of my ears.
I ran* over to him, removed him from the XBOX zone. Firmly stated NO (maybe a few dozen times) and smacked his little hand. I placed him on the couch and turned back to the crime scene... and burst into tears.
( *it was probably more of a fast waddle)
I sat on the floor in front of the mangled XBOX and tried with all my might to get the eject slide to go back in. It wouldn't budge. Whatever Rigg had done, he had done it well. I was gentle... not going in. I was not so gentle... still not going in. As I sat on the floor cradling the broken XBOX, I cried. Rigg sat on the couch cradling his red, throbbing hand and cried...
I was so upset...the XBOX had been the Captain's birthday present. He never asks for anything, but this year he said he would like a XBOX. So with a good sale and a great gift card and a little extra $$ we were able to get it. He really liked it...played it all of 5 times...
and then along came a 17 month old... and a mom who wasn't watching.
When I realized I was not smart enough, nor talented enough to fix it... I knew I had to call the Captain and relay the bad news... the death of his new toy. He picked up on the second ring... "I have some really bad news. Rigg broke your XBOX. (burst into hot tears) I am SO sorry."
His response... "Oh, is that all, I thought you were going to tell me Rigg got into a cabinet and he drank some bleach or something."
IS THAT ALL? WHO IS THIS MAN?
He then proceeded to try to calm me down and said it was just a toy... a piece of plastic, that he loved Rigg and me much more then any game...
I reminded him it was a very expensive piece of plastic and that it was something he really wanted and Rigg and I turned out to be much cheaper per use then the XBOX... I am not sure why I was trying to persuade him to be angry or upset... I just knew I was both of those things, and I hadn't even played the thing. He continued to say he was not upset... these things happen when you have little children ( I was thinking... they shouldn't if they had a mother who was watching them!) and that it was going to be OK.
He was right. I called the store they said it was returnable... we went out last night and exchanged our broken, sorry excuse for a gaming system for a(nother) new XBOX.
The Captain suggested we put it on top of the TV cabinet this time. I agreed.
When I recounted this story to a close friend, she replied. Well, that is the response of a man who has lost a daughter and has had brain surgery... perspective and priorities...
God had much mercy on me yesterday. I am so thankful... for a really great return policy, for the store having one in stock, for a husband that didn't even flinch at my "horrible news", for a husband that is a GREAT example of what I should be and how I should forgive, and for a moment I can now look back on and see how much God cares for me... even in the "small" things of life.
I just hope He doesn't have to care for me in that way again...
Hey all,If you do not know us, the first thing you should know is how much we love the Lord our God, and we are striving to live lives worthy of the title, Believer.
The second is we are praying everyday for His return. On that day we will be reunited with our precious baby girl Caden, the treasure of our hearts. Since the death of our daughter we have battled grief, hurt, tears in public, brain surgery and chemo. We have also celebrated new life in the birth of our 2 sons. So come, read, share and enjoy the life God has given us. Although it is not perfect, or even what we had planned it is what He wants for us, so we choose to rejoice.
"Michael said Caden's funeral felt like a wedding. I smile to type that, because in many ways, it was: a celebration of one little bride being united with the Lamb."
our big Rigg
things that make me laugh
I came back into the room from treating myself to a nice, cold diet coke when I saw the Captain playing with Rigg. He was making the stuffed animal dance in the air toward our son and saying in a sing-song voice “Here comes the zebra.” I looked at him and said in the exact same sing-song voice “It’s a giraffe.” To which the Captain, with only the briefest pauses, sing-songed back the reply… “Daddy had brain surgery.“