Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Cards

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! This is the first year we have sent out cards since losing Caleb. Christmas season is always hard and up until this point I haven't felt in the mood to put a happy picture of our family out there. But there has been a lot of healing and for whatever reason, this year I was ready. I think part of my desire was to make Judah a part of our family, just in case things don't work out. Like I wanted proof that he is actually here, right now. Grief is weird, what can  I say? 

Anyways, I love the pictures my friend took and overall the card turned out better than I hoped. When I showed Nathan my list of 73 people to send it to he laughed and said "cut it down to 25!"

25!!! But I agreed that spending $100 (or more!) to send Christmas cards to everyone on my list was not the best use of our money, especially after the financial stress of the last few months. So he designed the card himself and we printed it as a regular 5x7 to save money. Add a stamp and envelopes and you see why 25 was our limit. Sometimes, no most of the time, I hate budgets! Hoping that next year we can plan better and I can send out more.

Merry Christmas!

I also had no idea if I wanted Caleb's name on the card or not. We use the teddy bear in our family pictures to represent Caleb, even if only we know about it. In the end I let Nathan decide about adding the name and I'm glad he did. He also was hesitant to put "Baby Judah" just in case he comes out a girl! I told him we've had so many ultrasounds by now that this baby is for sure a boy! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

Its no secret that one of my favorite books is The Hunger Games. I read them the summer after Abigail was born and I found so much correlation between the journey of pregnancy after a loss and going into the arena. The phrase that the Capital repeats over and over again to the tributes,

strikes me to my core. Because that's what pregnancy after a loss is-somewhat of a joke when people spout off statistics. You have already been on the losing end once and just like the tributes who have already had their names drawn, you can't help but be cynical. I especially like the scene from the second movie when Katniss and Peta are traveling for the victory tour. At one point Katniss cries out,

"I just want to go home and get off this train."

Her mentor's response is a sobering one when he says,

"Wake up! There is no getting off this train! They own you now and for the rest of your life."

 I feel that. I really thought birthing a live baby would trump the dead one, but in the end the experience of stillbirth seems like something that owns me and one long train ride.

The end of pregnancy is hard. I just made our final appointments and realized we have 14 of them in the next 4 weeks. Each appointment is filled with doubt and fear that the other shoe might drop. The whole thing makes me want to scream just like the people of the districts

Because that's what pregnancy will always feel like to us. And even if we do bring home a live baby there's a part of my heart that will still break because I know that same day others will leave the hospital empty handed. So this time we might get victory but at what cost? Just like winning the Hunger Games, bringing home a live baby seems to emphasize  how many babies don't make it out alive. 

But our story isn't exactly like the Hunger Games because we have the hope of Christ. Death is a part of this world and in the end none of us are getting out alive. Death is around every corner and threatens us like a thief in the night. Just ask the mothers of the Holy Innocent. Christ is born and just days later innocent baby boys are slaughtered in their homes because of the Christ child. Death scandalizes us, terrifies us, and leaves us in despair. That is why Christ came to overcome death.

In the end, the odds of getting out of this world alive are not in our favor-they never were to begin with. But eternal life is our hope. Christ came, He came. And as we read in Isaiah 61 He came on a mission to the afflicted,

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

He came to free us eternally from death. He's like the ultimate mentor in the Hunger Games, always watching and helping. In the end, the battle has already been won. That was my hope after Caleb died and that continues to be my hope this time around. That even if the odds our not in our favor this time, that ultimately they will be when we are reunited eternally. 

Hope. That's what Advent is all about, right? Trying my hardest to have hope this season. To go with Mary as she whispers to me "follow me to the crib this time, not the cross." One week until we celebrate Christmas, one month until our baby is born. Holding onto hope even in what feels like we are trapped in the arena. 

"The one who calls you is faithful and He will also accomplish it." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

"The Lord Himself will fight for you, you have only to be still." Exodus 14:14

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." Matthew 1:23

Friday, December 12, 2014

In Honor of Our Lady of Gaudalope

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! In honor of her Im going to share one of my favorite things to make-homemade flour tortillas!

Over a year ago I went to stay a few days with a friend in North Dakota. She is an excellent cook and you can read all about her recipes on her blog here. While we were visiting we made corn tortillas from scratch! Then we made flour tortillas! They were the best things I've ever tasted so naturally I came home from the trip wanting to incorporate them into our weekly meals.

I tend to make only flour and this is the recipe I use: Chef John's Flour Tortillas. They cost next to nothing to make and have only a few ingredients in them. I have found that buying vegetable shortening from Aldi is the cheapest.

First you roll them
Then you flatten them

Then let them cook!

I would defiantly recommend getting a tortilla press. I think it cost me $20 from amazon and its way easier than rolling them out yourself and trying to cut them into circles (though my North Dakota friend doesn't have a press and she doesn't mind the extra steps). 

We eat them with chicken (shredded in the crockpot with salsa-so easy!), eggs, beef, veggies, just about anything. And for dessert you can put sugar and cinnamon on them and yum!

This is my go-to recipe for a meatless meal that is really cheap. Tortillas with scrambled eggs with cheese and everyone is happy and filled up. 

Happy Feast Day-Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

All 3 of them

Love this picture from our maternity/family photo session this past weekend. All three of my babies!