May 8, 2018

#7 Went Straight to Heaven.

9 months ago we got news, exciting news. We were expecting our 7th child!

At first I was shocked, wondering HOW we would survive the pregnancy (since I am always very sick the entire time). I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, but settled into knowing that God knows best and He has the perfect plan for our family.

The first few weeks were a breeze, but around week 8 I started to get VERY sick. Morning sickness isn't near the close to the correct term, 24-hour sickness is more accurate. Thankfully the kids are older now and were able to help out a lot (along with my mother in law), lightening my load a ton.

At 10 weeks we got the genetic testing (which came back fine) and gender reveal blood work. We had our midwife call the gender into the Publix bakery and we ordered cupcakes for the big reveal.

Half the kids were thinking it was a boy and the other half a girl. After dinner on a Wednesday night we counted backwards: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1......PINK FROSTING!!!!

"YES! I knew it!", shouted Jamey (with a fist pump).

Lila smiled the biggest smile....yet a bit confused as to where the baby was (I think she thought we were getting the baby that night).

It was all so exciting....I can honestly say that this was the most excited I have been at any of our gender reveals, even more exciting than Lila's (our first girl after 5 boys). Many reasons for the excitement, but mostly because I knew how badly Lila has wanted a baby sister. She has been dreaming and praying about a baby sister as long as she's known how to dream and pray.

That very next day, with a spring in my step, I dragged my super-nauseous-exhausted self to Target, accompanied by the Littles, to buy my baby girl some clothing. The 3 excited siblings each picked out an outfit and we settled on some adorbable accessories that her little head would look amazing in.

Knowing that there was a baby girl waiting at the end of this intense sickness made it so much more bearable and even an honor of sorts. I was carrying my beloved daughter's baby sister that she had been so deeply longing for. I daydreamed of matching outfits, coordinating costumes and twin beds separated by a nightstand.

That glorious pink frosting reveal day began a daily (sometimes hourly) beautiful dialogue from big sister Lila on all the wonderful things our ROSEVELT JOY would: do, see, be, taste, have, smell,

I brought Wilson & Lila along to one of my second trimester appointments, thinking they'd love to  check in on baby Rose.

After chatting with the midwife and sharing on how excited the kids were, she had me lay down so that we could listen to the heartbeat. Lila & Wilson close by we waited silently as she put the "microphone" up to my belly.................


I never thought in all the talking about her and all planning of her future that we would lose her. NEVER. It was never a thought.




We had a sonogram to confirm the devastating news.

Telling Lila was THE hardest words I've ever had to speak. The look on her face was utter devastation, she let out a deep exhaling gasp, with very sad eyebrows and then she leaned into me and just sat there awhile without speaking.....


Almost immediately after the initial silence, she began to draw. She drew dozens of pictures of her baby Rose in the days following. It seemed as though it was helping her with the sadness.

She began talking, talking, talking like we were still awaiting her arrival. Talking about her clothes, her bottles, just everything, and when I'd remind her that she wasn't coming, she would say "I know, but we'll see her in heaven, I can give her the clothes when I get to heaven!".


Yes! What a glorious day that will be. These two sisters that have a bond stronger than I can understand will be united at last.

I still had morning sickness, I still "felt" pregnant, basically my body didn't know that her heart had stopped. After a few painful weeks of literally not being able to bring myself to take the Rx that would empty my uterus, the day eventually came that I delivered her. I am truly thankful that we were able to do it this way and to see her perfect and tiny body before we buried her.

We brought her home in a tiny box. I cut the sleeve of one of her newborn sleepers that Wilson had picked out and slid her tiny body into it and made her a bed and pillow from Lila's favorite silk scarf.

As Rich carried the tiny box out into the woods, I couldn't help but notice how protective he was of this box that was holding his baby girl. This amazing and protective father who had plans of walking her down the aisle, was now walking her to her grave. The same father who picked her middle name before we even picked her first name: JOY; because the first thing he did when I told him we were expecting was laugh with excitement. "Watch! It'll be a girl!!!", he had said.

We found a perfect and private spot under a tree in the wooded area that the kids love to play, where we have our yearly easter egg hunt and make such beautiful memories together each year.

We prayed together, thanking God for our baby sister and thanking Him even more that we would one day meet her. The boys' had each had very different and difficult reactions when they had heard the news that she had died: anger, crying, sadness, confusion. But they had each seemed to understand and have peace about the whole situation by the time we were burying her.

Jamey marked the spot with a large river stone from our favorite family vacation spot in North Carolina and Wilson immediately started gathering flowers and laying them on the stone.

That was December...

Today May 8th, 2018 was my due date.

Mary-Lila still talks abut her baby sister numerous times a week and she occasionally get her tiny clothes out to fold them for her.

I think of her everyday. Sad, longing thoughts, but all while knowing I will one day hold her in my arms and squeeze her so tightly, letting her know how much she was missed and how much we love her! I feel such guilt for how much I complained about being sick in the beginning, I wish I could takes back my words. I would be sick for the rest of my life if I could have her back. If someone gave me their baby today, it wouldn't soothe the longing I have in my heart. She wasn't just another baby, she is ROSEVELT JOY; our baby girl and Lila's little sister.

I thought I would hold her in my lap and tell her all about Jesus, but instead He is holding her and I pray He has told her all about us: her 5 older brothers, her wonderful big sister, her protective loving father and me.

My dearest friend Maranatha and I were due on the very SAME day, which was totally amazing. She has been so sweet throughout this whole 9 months; sending me texts and *Rose* gifts, including these beautiful pink roses. I had the pleasure of helping her nest last week in preparation of his arrival, which was super helpful for me in my sadness. I cannot wait to meet her baby Hudson, who will hopefully be here very soon.

We also had the surprise last week of being in town when my brother Joel's baby (Ezra Nehemiah) was born. Lila was so excited to hold a brand new baby cousin. 

In a world that does not value children, I am grateful for each blessing that God has given Rich and I. The six healthy ones we get the honor of sharing life here on earth with, for our Rosevelt Joy who we will meet one day and for the two other *first trimester* children that we lost in previous years. EACH ONE is a blessing from God and I cannot wait to spend eternity worshiping our Creator together.

December 3, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving starts the season of family 'traditions" in our home and this year we added a few new ones to the mix. --- This first one is definitely my favorite and the kids sure like it as is the THANKFUL TREE. We have been doing this for about 6 years now, I came up with it as a twist on the "Thankful Jar" that I had read about in a parenting book a while back. Each year the kids find a dead branch out in the woods that will bloom to become a tree flourishing with gratitude by time Thanksgiving rolls around. The end result will be revealed at the end of this post.
(Harrison is not pictured as he was working this day)

A new tradition that Wilson and Lila started this year (mostly Wilson) was decorating the whole downstairs with paper chains that they individually colored and hand drawn turkeys that were hung from the dining room light. They were so proud of their work and could not wait to share it with friends and family on Thanksgiving day.

Another tradition we do each year is Plimouth Day at Master's Academy. The eighth grade class puts on an interactive walk through of the Pilgrim's journey to the New World. Each year it is a little different which keeps it interesting.
(There was a woman demonstrating wool spinning.)

(The live animal section is always one of the kids' faves.)

(Eddie arm wrestling Chief Ryan N.)

(Sweet brother Eddie holding Lila so she could jump rope - she was too embarrassed to try it herself.) 

(Mackenzie Williams had a part and the kids were so excited to see her.)

(Squanto JJ)

Another new thing we did the year was the Life In Plymouth Colony History Pockets. Each morning we would add a little to our booklets. We teamed up in groups of 2 (with the exception of Harrison): Eddie & Lila, JJ & Wilson, Jamey & I. We had never done a history pockets book before and I will say it was a success for all ages. They really seemed to enjoy it and learned a lot about the Pilgrims along the way.

Another first this year was our Thanksgiving dinner at church on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. It was a fun and crazy evening celebrating with church family.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year at our home again and our guest list count was up to 36 (Our Family & Amah, Uncle Lamar & Aunt Elizabeth's Family, Uncle Joel & Aunt Denaye's Family, Uncle Sam & Aunt Joanna's Family, Aunt Tracee & Vincent, Ampah, The Williams Family & The Brewer Family)! With numbers this high we opted to rent tables and eat outside. Wilson was so excited to set up and decorate the tables, he had been planning it for weeks. It turned out perfect!

It was a beautiful morning, but unfortunately just as guests were arriving and we were about to eat the rain started forcing us to move all the tables inside. We all gathered outside for a quick prayer though.
(Everyone brought a was all so yummy!)

(Moving all the tables into the house was a crazy and tight ordeal, but it worked our just fine.)

(It was so nice to have Rich's sister Tracee and nephew Vincent join us this year fro California...hopefully it will become a tradition!)

(Marcus & Jason's birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year, so Aunt Elizabeth brought cupcakes!)

(Before they left Jedidiah, Abigail, Anna Grace & Esther made sure to add to the Thankful Tree.)

That night Uncle Lamar & Aunt Elizabeth's family and Uncle Sam & Aunt Joanna's family slept over. We woke up and had a lazy morning and a big breakfast together. Baby Jonathan was having a blast with a wooden was quite entertaining!
(Wilson, Gideon & Lila played for hours with the foam Thanksgiving set they had built that I had bought at Michael's.)

(A handful of us girls went for our annual After Thanksgiving was so fun having Lila there, I love having a girl!)

It was so great having Tracee and Vicent join us this year. Although Vincent has been out to visit a few times, this was Tracee's first (of many I hope) time visiting us in Florida. We enjoyed a restful week that included numerous trips to the beach. 

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving we decorated for Christmas which meant the Thankful Tree had reached full bloom. Not sure why Lila was so upset, but at least Harrison made it in this photo! ♥
(The kids (especially the Littles) were thankful for many things this year. Lila drew as well as write hers and there were a lot of repeats..."Lila & Mama" ♥.)

(This was the tallest branch and the coveted spot to hang your leaf.)

We found out at the beginning of the month that we had lost our sweet Rosevelt Joy who was due in the Spring. This leaf (below) that Wilson drew was so precious, there were a few other leaves that referenced her as well. It is an important lesson to learn that even through very hard times God is still good and worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. "The Lord gives and He takes away...BLESSED be the name of the Lord" -Job 1:21