On your 8th Birthday


Dear Andrew,


Today would’ve been your 8th birthday. This year it doesn’t seem as difficult as other years and that’s probably because my hands are full right now with your baby sister. Not that anyone would ever take your place, but it is a joy to hold a brand new life and marvel at the wonderful things God does. Thankfulness seems to surpass the grief this year.

I like to pause and remember on your birthday what a blessing you have been. Over the years your story has given us the opportunity to share our faith with others around us.  When tragedy strikes someone close by, we no longer turn the other way or shy away from the pain. Instead we can share our story - your story- as a testimony that God can bring good out of the most unthinkable of circumstances. When someone is hurting because they’ve lost a loved one, instead of saying ‘Just trust God!’ we can now understand their feelings of anger and doubt. And that it’s normal and not a sin to feel this way at times.

It is a blessing to be able to connect with the most broken hearted of people, and be able to walk alongside of them during their grief. These are roads that very few walk down upon and they can be very isolating. It is a privilege I never wished or asked for, but now that I’m here I wouldn’t give it back.

My heart changed the day you were born, but it changed even more the day you passed away. It had always been easy for me to trust the Lord when things were going good, but after you were gone I had to learn to trust God in dark places where life didn’t make sense. It wasn’t an easy process, it was hard and messy, imperfect, and certainly there were more bad days than good days. But God used that season to draw me closer to him and get to know some qualities about him I wouldn’t have known anywhere else. And when it’s all said and done, what I strive for in this life is to know God more, even if the process involves some difficult and hard places along the way.

The blessings that came from your life also came with a cost. My pregnancies since you’ve been gone have been very difficult. I’ve wrestled with fear of loss in all of them and wished I could’ve enjoyed them more. I thought about you every day during this last pregnancy. Even to this day I often wonder what life would look like with you in it.

These last three months have been joyful and difficult at the same time. I don’t take for granted the miracle of new life, but I also know how fragile it can be. During the newborn season I try so hard to be perfect- to make all the right decisions to protect this new little human that’s been entrusted to me- and I’m really hard on myself when I don’t make all those perfect decisions. I know it’s my own way of trying to be in control and prevent something bad from happening. Thankfully God extends His grace when I give in to worry and fear of losing another child. Because the fear is still there and I’m not sure it will ever fully go away.

Today I remember your life. I am so thankful for being able to hold you for those short 10 days, even with the countless tears that have come over the last 8 years. You were and are a great blessing, and I dream of the day when I will get to hold you again. 
"The Lord gives and He takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord" Job 1:21

The Last Week

It seems surreal we are getting ready to meet Lillian in less than a week! While we are very excited there are other emotions that always seem to creep up the week before my due dates.

In my past pregnancies with Jack and Palmer it was difficult for me to allow myself to be excited. Because we had lost Andrew so unexpectedly after he was born, I didn’t want to go through the pain of cleaning up things for another empty nursery. I didn’t really talk to them in my belly like I did with Andrew, and when I did it was difficult and painful. I didn’t really post any pictures of my pregnancy with either. I was very private about both pregnancies.

In this pregnancy I have tried really hard to allow myself to be excited and it hasn’t come naturally. Not because she’s a girl, but Lord willing, because it will be my last pregnancy. I have many regrets of how I’ve done things in the past. I regret not enjoying my pregnancies more and staying so stuck in fear. I regret not getting ready for them as I should’ve, not singing and talking to them like I did in the past, not allowing myself to anticipate their arrival with joy.

Even after they were born, I regret wishing away that newborn season because it was just plain hard and exhausting. Looking back it went by in the blink of an eye and I wish I wouldn’t have looked so much forward to the future.

So this pregnancy has been different and I have enjoyed it more, much thanks to the help of friends and family. But as we get close to welcome her this time around, I am often reminded of Andrew. I have thought so much about him these last few weeks, multiple times a day. And I feel the same anticipation and excitement this time around as we did with Andrew… and it bring back all the memories I have of waiting for his arrival. There have been a few other things that have felt similar to my pregnancy with Andrew (and even Steve agreed with me the other night) that it has left me feeling unsettled and wondering how life will change after this baby. One way or another it will change significantly in five days, and I hope and pray that it ends with a healthy delivery and baby.

I sometimes wonder how I can miss Andrew so much even though he was only with us for 10 days. We have very little memories together other than our time at the hospital with him. We never got to know his laugh, his personality, or his perks. And yet somehow I miss him so so much all these years later. It is incredible how God gives us the ability to unconditionally love our children from the moment they are born, and even during pregnancy. I not only long for the short time we had together, but I think I also grieve all the dreams we had for him that didn’t come to happen. And so these days I miss him a lot.

Other than this mix of excitement, fear, and missing Andrew- physically I am doing ok. I didn't think I was going to make it to my due date (per my big belly, pressure, and increasing contractions) but I think I will probably make it after all. I don't have the energy to do much these days and I've been resting a lot so I don't go into labor early. 

Really appreciate everyone’s prayers for delivery next week. I don’t quite feel ready yet here at home, but I’m hoping that I’ll have time to wrap everything at home during the days I’ll have at home before delivery. My c-section is scheduled for Friday morning at 9am on April 22nd. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Baby Briggs # 4: Boy or Girl?

We had our big ultrasound for baby Briggs this past Tuesday January 5th. I was 23 weeks and 6 days, and we mostly decided to wait until 2016 due to insurance reasons. While I would’ve been happy to wait until the baby was born to know (we never found out with Jack and I loved it!) Steve was very set on finding out this time around, so eventually I gave in.

Since the beginning of my pregnancy Jack was hoping for a girl and Palmer for a boy. Mom and dad were hoping for a baby human :)

After being blessed with three beautiful baby boys….

Andrew

Jack

Palmer

Baby Briggs # 4 is a…

Girl

We are so excited to welcome a baby girl!! I would’ve posted the pic of her bottom, but then who wants their first facebook picture to be of their butt right? We are thankful from the ultrasound she looked healthy and growing as she should be. I did ask Cathy (our ultrasound lady) to check multiple times since we were very surprised and didn’t quite believe her at first... We could tell from this ultrasound this baby has big hands and feet, just like her big brothers :)

And while we are excited to welcome a girl to our family, we would’ve been just as thrilled had we been blessed with a baby boy. (I have to say this because I don’t like comments like ‘Oh you finally got your girl!’ as if we were holding our breath hoping only for a girl). What an adventure and honor it would’ve been to raise little men to love the Lord. I so love being a mama to boys- doing all things boys like Star Wars, legos, and gun fights.  I can’t even fathom what princesses and dress-up will look like in this house, but I’m looking forward to that too.

We praise God for the gift of new life. He deserves all the honor and glory for the little miracles He creates! The verse below has always been a good reminder that God alone has the power to give forth new life- no matter how at times I wish things were under my control or go according to my plan. It has been encouraging during times when I've struggled to get pregnant or wrestled with worry during pregnancies. Truly He deserves all the glory, honor and praise.
 
'You are worthy our Lord and God  
to receive glory and honor and power
for you created all things
and by your will they were created and have their being'
Revelations 4:11

The Last Year



We are so incredibly grateful for the blessing to be expecting another baby Briggs next year! But I can’t bring myself to share the news without also sharing about what this past year has looked like for me.

It has been a difficult and rather humbling year. After quickly getting pregnant with Jack on our first month, Palmer on the second month, waiting a year to become pregnant this time… well it felt like a very long time. I know it may not seem like a long time compared to those who have been in a season of waiting for many years, but it was still a season in which I struggled and questioned God at times. The longer time went by, the more I felt that God surely was closing this door for us to grow our family.

This season of waiting tested my faith. I prayed countless prayers for another baby, in every way I could think possible. I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do. I ate all the right foods, cut all the bad ones… all the things that had worked in the past that seemed to have helped me get pregnant- and yet for a period my request was not answered with the’ yes’ I was hoping for. It was particularly more difficult on the days when friends announced their pregnancies, and while part of me rejoiced for them there was also a part of me that felt discouraged and forgotten by God.

I knew after 9 months that something needed to change and I began attending Celebrate Recovery. CR is a Christ centered recovery ministry that helps people overcome any type of addiction, hurt, habit or hang-up (and you can learn more about it here). I had been part of this program for many years in the past, and it had always been a blessing to me and brought healing to many different areas of my life.

May 4th of this year was the day I went back. I remember the date because it was Palmer’s 3rd birthday, and I unexpectedly broke down that morning in tears at his birthday party, something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. His birthday was particularly difficult because it was a very tangible reminder of how quickly time goes by and how fast children grow up. The fleeting newborn stage is something I had wished away so many times on long, sleepless nights (I had two really colicky babies!), and now it was something I was not guaranteed I would ever have again.

That night I walked back in to Celebrate Recovery at the Crossing Church. Even though I should’ve been at home celebrating Palmer’s birthday with family, Steve encouraged me go because he could see how broken I felt. I walked in with my hair pulled back, no makeup, and a puffy, tear stained face. I quietly made my way to the back of the place hoping no one would notice I had been crying.

Celebrate Recovery did not have all the answers or magical solution I was hoping for. But I realized two very important things while I was there.

First, I quickly realized I simply did not trust God. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? If I could only trust God my worry would go away and it would all get better. But my lack of trust went a little deeper than that. As it turns out I trusted that God was good, that He was sovereign, and that He would only allow something difficult in my life to happen if he could ultimately use it for good. I have had the privilege of watching Him do this time and time again. But the truth is some of the trials He had allowed had also hurt A LOT, and I was scared he would allow something that painful to happen to me or our family again. And that fear of pain kept me from fully walking in peace with Him, and it kept me tied to uncertainty of the future and worry of the pain it could bring.

I also falsely believed I could be stuck in a place of worry and discontentment for years, if not for the rest of my life. What if it just wasn’t God’s plan for us to grow our family? I wondered if I would always have this sense of longing for more children, or feeling as if something was missing from our family. And that fear kept me paralyzed.

From what felt like a very difficult season, I am grateful God took the time to bring to light areas where I was holding back from him. And even though there were many things I surrendered to the Lord, I still was unable to come to a place where I completely trusted him. I certainly wish I had come to that place. I couldn’t understand why I was stuck in this place again after being pregnant THREE other times. But somehow I was here, I was stuck, and I couldn’t seem to find my way out.

I realized nothing I could on my own would work. I began to cry out to the Lord for deliverance from being in this place of waiting. I knew He could answer in different ways- with a no (He could’ve changed Steve’s heart and mine), try something different (he could’ve led us to adoption which I would’ve been thrilled with), wait (it will take much longer) or yes (he could do what I was hoping he would do).  By this point my pain was much greater than my own will being done (for a lack of a better word I was desperate to come out of this season) and I was ready to accept whatever His answer was.

I was surprised to find out I was pregnant just a few weeks later. To be honest I thought he would answer with a no. I was taken back to find out I was pregnant but of so incredibly grateful. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not any prayer, my ability to stop worrying, or anything I did on my part to be graced with a yes. I do not understand why God says yes to some prayers and no to others, but I do know when he says Yes it is undeserved, unmerited grace.  

God is a God who delivers from pits. It took me a long time to know He finds no delight in us being stuck in there, no matter how we fall into the pit. At some point I had begun to blame God for allowing me to be in this place, but I don't think His intentions are ever to be in these dark places or to stay there. Beth Moore says it very well: 

“We must never cease to believe God cares about those in physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual prisons. When we are suffering because of captivity (or any other reason) we must learn to cry out! Yes God sees our suffering and cares deeply for us, but acknowledging the slavery is a crucial place towards authentic freedom.  God is intimately acquainted with the sorrows and suffering that result from slavery of any kind. He also has a remedy and is the meter of our needs. Whether we fall victim, or fall into slavery because of our own sin or disobedience… God has deliverance in mind. As long as the sun comes up in the morning, God will keep offering to deliver His children”
-Beth Moore from the book ‘Breaking Free- Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life. 

I don’t know what the future holds. I am not guaranteed the health or safe delivery of this baby, and part of me knows that no matter what happens God would still be in the Throne, He would still be just, and He would still be everything He says He is. I believe that whatever trials I experience here on earth, there will be a day where He will wipe away every tear and make everything new. His word says so… and I hold on tightly to those words on the days where I question his goodness. On the days when I read about Christians being persecuted, wars in the Middle East, mass shootings at churches and schools, and the countless tragedies on the news.

But just for today I am trying to take it one day at a time. I want to rejoice on the miracle that being pregnant is and what joy it has brought to our family, no matter what tomorrow looks like. Looking back what felt like a very long time really wasn't that long at all- and I wish I would've lived more in the present and not in the future as much as I did.

I know at some point down the road I will experience disappointments and trials, and when that time comes I am confident God will be there to meet me with grace, as He has done faithfully in the past.