From Tracie: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Message About Saving and Sharing

A door was left open.

Something snuck in.

There was a buzzing...all day! 

I chased the buzzing around the room to no avail.

Then I saw it...

Is he trying to send me a message about saving and sharing? 
Is he just a tech-loving fly?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bits and Pieces

I am so ready for fall...

We don't get much of a fall down here in Florida, though, so I'm excited for all you northerners to start posting pictures of deliciously beautiful, crunchy, color-changing leaves!  I have to live vicariously through your pictures, so please don't hold back. Thank you.

Heard at my house recently: "Dad, don't mess with the that. You know only women can defrag computers!"

My fabulous friend Sheena had a birthday this month, and to celebrate, she has been giving things away on her blog. Not promotional items, or stuff that she is reviewing, just gifts from her heart. I was so excited that I won, not one, but two of her giveaways. The box arrived in my mail, and it was so great I just have to give you a peak inside....
Lots of fun books, a journal (I've been needing a new journal, so this was perfect timing), a gift card, a beautiful necklace, and a.....wait, what is that green thing?  What, little green thing, what are you?  An Ipod?
How awesome is that? This is the first Ipod to ever enter my house, I'm feeling very fancy now, and dancing more than ever!  Thank you Sheena

I'm thinking about making some changes around here. More color is what I'm wanting. No stress is also what I'm wanting. With that in mind, it might be a while before changes happen.

A fairy visited our house. I know this because I caught just a bit of her shadow, there at the right, on film before she flew away!
(or Katarina was using her Tinkerbell toys to make wall shadows. I'll let you decide)

This weekend, my to-do list is to finally respond to blog comments from the last week two weeks three weeks.

Do you have fragments of your week that you would like to string together to make a post? Stop by Mrs. 4444's place and link them up with her Friday Fragments! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rape - It Still Happens (even in Africa)

I read the news yesterday. Rwandan and Congolese rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women and some baby boys over four days within miles of a U.N. peacekeepers' base in an eastern Congo mining district. I was talking to my friend, Debra, at the time. After reading the article, Debra said, "I didn't think they were still raping people over there like that. I thought that had stopped."  That statement surprised me. She thought it had stopped?  

As I debated whether or not I was going to write about this on my blog, I couldn't get Debra, and what she had said, out of my mind. It occurred to me that I live in a different world than Debra. She works full time, doesn't catch much news, and is unaware of things not happening in the immediate circle of her world. That is true of most of us. The difference between me and Debra is what happens in the circle of my world. 

Being a survivor of sexual abuse, speaking out about my story and doing activist work, has changed my life. I hear stories of abuse and rape almost every day. I don't have to look hard for these stories, they come to me: in emails from survivors, people who have a sex offender move into their neighborhood and are wondering what can be done, parents who discover that their child has been sexually abused by a family member or friend, the list goes on and on. I also get emails about news stories. The circle of my world is filled with these things. Debra reminded me that this is not true for everyone out there, and that is okay.  No one can be focused on every issue. People have different passions. 

This is my passion, to end the stigma and silence that surrounds sexual violence. To see survivors of abuse and rape heal and have lives full of joy. To see awareness, education, and prevention of sexual violence increased worldwide. 

Today I want to remind you of these stories that fill my world. They are horrifying and true. They happen every day in this country, in other countries, and all around the world. Rape is never about sex. Rape is always about violence and power. Speaking specifically to the situation in the Congo, rape is happening there as an act of war.  The United Nations estimates that more than 8,000 women were raped by warring factions in the Congo last year. Sexual violence is practiced systematically by both soldiers and rebel fighters. This includes gang rapes and assaults. Many of the victims are children. In this attack, many of the women reported that they were raped repeatedly by three to six men.  The youngest reported victim was a baby, only one month old.  By the time the survivors were able to get medical help, it was too late to give medicine against AIDS for all but three survivors, out of the 179 who were treated.

These stories don't make our news every night. The rapes in the Congo might not be a part of your world right now. It is easy to forget they are happening, or to think that they stopped, as my friend Debra did. But for the people living there, the fear is real, they can't get away from the violence. There is little protection for a woman in the Congo. Many times rapes are committed in their own homes, in front of their children and husbands. The health and psychological issues that follow these brutal attacks are huge, and expensive to treat. Many women who have been raped are shunned by their families and have nowhere to go, no money to pay for medical treatment and counselling, and no money or employment to support themselves.

I don't want to pour out all that information on you without giving you some hope, something to do with it. Recently, my friend Erin sent me a powerful blog post from Cherry Woodburn, about rape being the most powerful act of war. Please go read it. At the bottom she has some resources and books listed. 

If you find, after reading this, that the women of the Congo have entered your world and you want to do more to help them, I would encourage you to start researching the Congo's rape epidemic. Check out organizations like HEAL Africa and Women for Women International. They are there in the Congo working with rape survivors, providing medical care, safe places to live, counselling, educational opportunities, and more - all important parts of healing and having hope for a future.  Pray for these women. Don't let them get too far from your heart. Speak out to your friends and family about what is happening. Spread awareness. Rape is happening around the world every day. In Africa, and other places, it is being used as an act of war. We can't go on with our lives ignoring what that means for the very real people who are touched by this reality every day.

Where I Say Everything That I Was Thinking To My Husband

When my friend with the Cluttered Brain told me that I had better link up with What I Meant to Say this week, I was scared! I thought she might come after me with an empty bottle of Dr. Pepper or something. Eek! Just kidding, she is too sweet to do anything like that...but just in case I think I better do it! 

These are both stories that I have told before, but since they are still issues at my house, I thought today would be a great day to revisit them.

-My husband, Thomas sits down to the computer and starts playing with facebook (this is dangerous already) He reads someone's status update, and then I hear it, the click, click, click of the keyboard and the muffled chuckling.  "Honey, come look at this.  Read what I wrote-out loud, read it so that I can hear it.........isn't that funny?"  I respond, "okay, you can post that if you want to......"

What I meant to say.... "Did you take psycho pills this morning?  I know that person!  You are not actually going to post that craziness on their facebook page, are you?  Really!?! You know we might actually see that person again in real life.  Don't you think about these things?"

-Sometimes Thomas goes shopping.  Isn't that sweet? He loves to pick up little presents from the store, some flowers, a candy bar, cookies, cupcakes (just in case you didn't know, sugar is the way to my heart!) but sometimes he gets detoured in the clothing department.  I'm not sure why there isn't a woman working in department stores whose only job is to keep husbands out of the women's clothing department, but that is a subject for another day.  So, my husband comes home with this shirt - I really should have a picture of it here so that you could bask in the scariness, but I didn't take one.....just imagine with me the worst shirt you have ever seen in a store, or all the clothes that your grandma wore in 1982- Thomas says, "Here honey, I saw this and it was so pretty that I wanted to bring it to you.  Try it on and see if it fits"

I put on the shirt, place a smile on my face and say, "That was so sweet of you honey to bring me a shirt.  I think it might just be a little too small though, if I dry it in the dryer it will shrink.  I should probably take it back and see if I can get a size bigger."

What I meant to say......."I'm sorry, were you shopping for me or for your imaginary wife who is 95 years old.  I am not a grandma!  Why did you buy me this crazy, applicay-flowered mess.  On what planet are shoulder pads attractive in the year 2010?  I would never wear this in public!  I will, however take it back to the store, have a difficult time finding the rack it came on and replace it with a shirt that doesn't make me look like a crazy person"

I think I am happy this week with these two stories.  I will restrain myself from telling you that what I really mean to say to my husband when he invites me to play computer games with him is, "No I will not play World of Warcraft with you.  I do not want to be a troll.  I do not want to kill giant lizard thingys, and I will not hang out with your friends when all they talk about is how cool it is that they can turn into a bear.  If they want to be a bear, that is fine with me, as long as they are a bear.....way over there.........far away from me!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Solitude Without Hiding

I have been basically offline for the past few days. Not checking my facebook, twitter, reading any blogs, or even responding to emails. It wasn't a situation where my internet went down, because it was working the entire time (amazing, I know!) it wasn't a situation where I was particularly busy with any one huge thing, or even several little things. It was just life. Stress. A desire to not be so connected for a bit.

Usually when I find myself stressed or depressed, my first instinct is to bow out of life, avoid relationships, and retreat into the darkness....allowing myself to wallow in the delicious silence, embrace the pain, and walk away from light. It is a coping technique that I know doesn't often serve me well, but I find myself fighting my instinct to return to it time and time again.

I had several moments the last few days when the stress was mounting and things that had seemed to fall in place, fell so out of place that I didn't even know where to look for them. In those moments I checked myself. Why was I making an effort to be disconnected? Was I hiding? Was I embracing solitude as a form of depression?

It feels good to be able to honestly say that this wasn't the case. I was simply quiet. My spirit, although troubled, was quiet. My mind was quiet. My heart was quiet. I would even say that in those moments I found bits of peace amidst the stress and unsettling situations around me.

This afternoon I spent some time in quiet meditation (as quiet as it gets in my house!) and realized that I was ready to rejoin life. There wasn't any great revelation of the path I should take. No resolution of situations that surround me and answers that are just out of reach. But peace, nonetheless, is there. Stress is there too. I won't lie. But within the stress is a circle of solitude, a place of peace that isn't surrounded in darkness or pain. For the first time in my life, I have found that even though it is a place of solitude, it doesn't require seclusion from life or relationships. It is solitude without hiding.

(This is some of the noise that was happening today during my meditation. Music that opens my heart and soul to see and think and sometimes even hear from the Lord without distraction is a blessing to me.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Twitter Has Turned Me Into a Criminal

Twitter...Oh how I love thee. 

Too much maybe.

There is a problem with tweeting.

Twitter becomes a dark and scary place late at night.....

Just look what I was forced to do after a little tweeting with @SupahMommy and @ChiefsHiding last night.....

It's not my fault that they were tweeting about yummy things, is it?

Will someone send me some toffee?

Just think what will happen to Twitter Bird if you don't.

I will let her speak to you for just a minute now...

"Chirp Chirp. CHIRP! Chirp, Tweet! Chirpity Chirp."
"She has me locked in a cage. A CAGE! Help me! Send her the toffee!"

You have 24 hours.

*Will you bloggers pay my bail when I'm caught and thrown in twitter jail?*

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It is a Blogapalooza!

I'm not writing anything exciting for you to read today. Instead, I want to tell you about this Blogapalooza that is going on (well, this might be I guess I am writing about excitement after all. lol) Three of my fabulous bloggy friends are participating in the Blogapalooza today. That means they will be posting every hour for 24 hours!

I did a 24 hour blogathon earlier this year, and I remember clearly the sleep deprivation and tiredness that comes with it. Actually, I don't remember much from hour 21 to hour 24 at all, because I was so tired!

Who are the fun and crazy women staying up and posting for 24 hours today? 
I'm glad you asked!

Fabulous Blogger Number 1:


One Cluttered Brain. She is awesome. Never ceases to make me laugh. (If you don't follow her on twitter you should go do so immediately!) She also does some great dancing vlogs, so hopefully she will do a few of them  today!  Yes, not just one, I want to see lots of dancing today!  She has already had a toilet explosion this morning and she is trying to figure out how to fit in life and a shower with all this blogging going on. (No, not showering on the blog. Get your mind out of the gutter people!)

Fabulous Blogger Number 2:

Angel Believes. She is awesome. When I read her blog I laugh, I cry, and I cheer! She doesn't do dancing vlogs, but she does incredible singing ones, so I'm hoping for a few of those from her today.....or one dancing vlog. One vlog of Angel dancing will equal three singing ones. Angel stayed up with me for a lot of my blgoathon earlier this year, and brought friends, and even her kids watched. Super supportive and wonderful!

Fabulous Blogger Number 3:

Not Your Average Teen

Not Your Average Teen. She is awesome (do you see a trend here, I only hang with awesome bloggers!) I love to read her because she makes me think, and laugh and sometimes cry. (Apparently I'm all about the laughing and crying today) She doesn't do very many vlogs, but she did talk about cereal earlier this morning which is nice. Except that now I am wanting some Reeses Puffs and we don't have any at the house. Brittany, I want to see you sing and dance today too please! =) Brittany was the very first person to visit my blogathon this year. I'll always remember that!

Those are my fabulous, crazy, 24-hour blogging friends. Please stop by their places today and show them some love and encouragement. With 24 posts from each of them today there will be a lot for you to choose from commenting wise. Tons of fun....and I know from experience that all the comments and love helps keep you going when you have a goal to reach like they do!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Water is Life

Sometimes it is dark.

Sometimes it seems fiery. 

Sometimes it is cool, sweet, and refreshing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Embracing My Body

Do you look in the mirror and see all the things that you don't like about your body? Do you you immediately focus in on that zit, or those thighs, or your stomach....not the stomach!  Do you give those thoughts life by voicing them, to yourself and others, "I hate my thighs are huge.....if only I could look like her"?  Do you think that affects you? Does it affect your kids, your daughters? It sure does!

I have definitely been in that place before. Criticizing everything about myself. Unhappy with every part of me. Unsatisfied about how clothes fit (or didn't fit). One day I was visiting a family member for a wedding. While we were getting ready, I noticed we were both standing in front of the mirror unhappily adjusting out clothes, leaning in close to inspect unsee-able marks and spots on our faces and complaining about all our "problem areas"......and then I looked over and saw my daughter standing there watching us. What an example.

Mary the Mommyologist wants to break this negative cycle of hating our bodies. Enter in the Embrace Your Body Week. It is a time to point out all the things you like and even love about your body. Celebrate your body and your beauty!

Here is what I love about MY body.....

Did y'all get that? (I know I talked super fast-it was my first vlog and it felt like I was talking forever! Next time I will slow down.)

  • I love my toes. 
  • I love my hair, it is long and beautiful and I especially love all the silver hairs I'm getting. I'm embracing the grey and embracing wisdom. 
  • I love my eyebrows. 
  • I love my stretch marks. In one way they are one of the most feminine things about me. They are a visible reminder of a time when life grew inside me. They aren't scars....they are more like medals of honor. I feel the same about my C-Section "medal", but thought it would be best not to show that to the world, even though I think it is beautiful! 
*sidenote-It was fun to make this video with my daughter. She giggled and laughed (especially when I talked about the other camera turning me blue!) And I told her she could say one thing she loved about herself (not specifically about her body, but whatever she wanted to say) and she told me that she was the director and throughly enjoyed telling me to "move a bit to the left" and "talk louder" and saying "action!".

What do you love about your body? Share it with me here, or better yet, make your own vlog, or take some pictures and link up with Mary the Mommyologist and share it with everyone!

The Last Phone Call We Shared

I am an only child, but I have many cousins on both sides of my family. I have written about some of my them in the past, most notably the cousin on my father's side that I reconnected with last year. Today I have another cousin on my heart, Felix*, who is also from my father's side of the family.

Felix is three years older than I am.  We grew up together, but we were not close. His family moved away when I was in Junior High, but came back to town often to visit our grandparents. He was clearly the favorite grandchild in our family.  Firstborn and a male on top of it, the rest of us never had a chance. I despised him for this, and other things. At the same time I tried terribly to earn his approval. It makes me sick to admit that, even to myself, but I am committed to speaking and writing truth, so that truth must be acknowledged.

After our grandparents died, our relationship grew apart in a very natural way. No big fight or conscious decision to part ways, just life and circumstances. I never gave it much thought.  I described my relationship with Felix as not close, but the relationship between me and his brother Peter was completely different. Peter was the closest thing to a brother I ever had. I would have loved to have been able to stay in touch with him, but it just wasn't possible.  He went to college and moved around. I never knew a phone number or even what city he was living in most of the time. I did maintain contact with their mother, my father's sister.  There was a time when she and I became very close.

Three years ago I had one last conversation with Felix. He knew through his mother that I no longer had a relationship with my father. I don't know exactly how much of my personal story she chose to share with him (because I had certainly never shared a single word of my story with this man) but he clearly had some indication of what was going on from things his mother had told him.

He knew, also, that my family was going through a serious crisis (something totally unrelated to him, my father, or anything stemming from my childhood) and he called me to speak about it. I was surprised to hear from him, and totally unprepared for what he was going to say.

He immediately brought up my father and our relationship. He told me in no uncertain terms that it was very possible this crisis my family was in was because of my choice to cut off the relationship with my father. I was in total shock. He started probing and trying to get me to explain to him how I could make such a decision. It was an hour long conversation. He did most of the talking.

I felt like a small child being berated, and powerless to make it stop. I also felt angry. There was a part of me that wanted to scream at him all the things that my father had done and allowed to be done to me as a child. I wanted to pour out every horrid detail, some of which he was a witness to when we were children. I wanted to ask Felix how dare he make judgments about things of which he did not have full knowledge. Another part of me felt that I didn't owe Felix any explanation for a situation that had nothing to do with him. I wanted to hang up on him and make the conversation stop.  I wanted to make him eat his judgmental words........I wanted to crawl under the covers and hide.......I wanted to........but all I did was silently cry, and listen as he continued to criticize me and the lack of a relationship with my father.

I stayed silent throughout all of this. I wish I could say that I stayed silent because I made a conscious decision to not share myself and my story with someone who had such little regard for me or my feelings. That wouldn't be the truth. The truth is that I was so dissociated by the end of that conversation that I had very little control over my mind or my body. I physically shook for two hours after I hung up the phone.

I got in the shower and played the conversation over and over again in my mind. I intended to call him when I got out, and really let him have it. This time around I would be the one who was prepared.  I would be the one to make him listen.

I didn't make that call. I could never come up with just the right words. I couldn't balance my anger and sadness. Because I was so new in my healing, I couldn't (at that time) talk about the abuse without breaking down and there was no way I was going to give him that satisfaction. On that day, when I chose not to call him back, I knew that was probably the last time we would ever speak.

Last week I got an email with some third-hand news. Felix and his wife had a baby. When I first read that, I had a moment of excitement. Then sadness. I realized that I will probably never see this child. A whole little person out there I am related to, who might never even know I exist. It seems so strange. I don't fully understand my sadness, Felix and I never had a good relationship, I don't know why him having a baby would change that.

His brother, Peter, is the family member who I was closest to. I thought Peter and I would live near each other when we grew up, and if we had kids they would grow up together. I'm sad those things didn't happen.

I now have a feeling that I didn't expect to have......there is some part of me that is sad that Felix and I never really got a chance to know each other as adults. Maybe things would have been different, we might have talked and found that there was a relationship there to build on.

My family thinks that I am hard, calloused, ultimately unfeeling.  Even the ones who are very supportive of me wonder at my ability to just cut someone out of my life, and move forward. They seem to think it must be easy for me. It isn't. I mourn the loss of my family. These are the cousins, and aunt, and father that I grew up with. We share the same stories, the same history. I talk about the bad things from my childhood, but there were good things, and so many of my good childhood memories have these people in them.

I know that sometimes family is the group of people that you choose to surround yourself with, and I am blessed with a chosen family.....but there is still something about the family that I was born into. They are in my blood, they are in my head, they are a part of my life and who I was...and they are even a part of who I am now.

I make the hard decisions, but does that make me hard? I know the right thing to do to protect my daughter, but it doesn't mean that it is easy for me to do it. I know how to protect myself and my mental stability, but that doesn't mean that I always want to. Just because I wasn't able to speak up three years ago during that phone call and tell my side of the story, it doesn't mean that I don't still imagine how that conversation might have gone if I had been in a place of strength that day. It doesn't mean that on Father's day I don't hurt. It doesn't mean that on Christmas and birthdays I don't think about presents I will never buy, cards I will never send, and family I may never see again.

I'm not really hard at all.....but I am strong.

*The names of my cousins have been changed.

Monday, August 09, 2010

How I Opened My Home Spa

Let's face it, we all need some pampering and fun in our lives, and those trips to the spa are too few and far between. I figured if I opened up my own, in my house, I would make it there far more often.  Also I could stay in my pajamas while being pampered.

First Step - Hire a nail technician.
I thought this would be a difficult process, requiring lots of interviews.  I am happy to report that my first candidate was so perfect, I hired her on the spot! Who could resist that smile? Also, she wanted to be payed in cookies, which was a plus.
She even provided her own tools, work table, and refreshments. 
(Nail polish and hair bows she bought with birthday money, and an ice chest)

Second Step - Test out he new hire. See if she is any good. 

Technician Katarina quickly got to work on my nails. 
This nail polish color is named Silly. 

After she finished my nails I painted hers. Then it was time to turn Silly into Awesome. All that was required was sticking one hand in the freezer for a couple of seconds.

Is this not the coolest thing ever? The nail polish changes colors! I knew the bottle said mood color changing on it  when she bought it, but I didn't really believe it would do that. Here are my and Katarina's nails after we each stuck one hand in the freezer! Amazing. I think of it as nail polish that is also a toy...and a thermometer.  Pretty and useful. Good stuff.

Step Three - Hire a Hairstylist.
I lucked out again, my nail technician was also able to do hair. Since I pay my spa employees in cookies, the fact that I didn't have to hire a hairstylist means more cookies for me, right?
I like the matching bows.....they go nicely with pajamas and color changing nails. 

Step Four - Relax. 
We watched The Shaggy Dog, the original with Fred MacMurray, and ate cookies deposited our paychecks. 

A good opening day for my home spa. I think I will definitely have to open it up for business again this week.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Where Did I Put That Phone?

It was already a frustrating day. Hot as an oven outside. Maybe even as hot as my microwave. I had been going all day and I was tired. Trying to find the right thing at the store had been difficult. Although shopping can be one of the most wonderful things in the world, it can also be the least wonderful. This was one of those times.

I had a gift card with some money left on it. It wasn't enough for the entire purchase, and I knew that. I assumed that I could use the balance on the card and then pay the difference. Apparently I went to the one store in America that won't let you do that unless you know the exact amount on the card down to the penny, which I didn't.

Cue unsuspecting clerk, "Thank you for shopping with us at Overpriced Store today. Did you find everything you need?"

Tracie, "Yes, thank you. I would like to use the balance on this gift card and pay the difference"

Clerk, "What is the balance on the card?"

Tracie, "I'm not sure of the exact amount, but just use all of it and I'll pay the difference."

Clerk, "That isn't possible. Our computer requires that I type in an exact amount. How about half. Does the card have half of the purchase amount on it?"

Tracie, "I really don't know...maybe?"

Clerk, very cheerfully and very loudly, "Okay, we will try running it with half the amount. I'm sorry that card is DECLINED. There isn't that much money on there. Would you like me to try another amount?"

At this point Thomas walks over from where he was looking at other things to find out what was happening, and why the woman was yelling declined across the store.

Tracie, teeth clenched, trying to quickly calculate how much was left on that gift card, "Thirteen. Try thirteen."

Clerk, "Okay it looks like thirteen worked. Your balance will be. Oh no, wait. Thirteen didn't work, that is also DECLINED."

I hear the people in line behind me sighing loudly. I can understand. There aren't many things more annoying than someone who takes forever to pay for their items and move out of the way. At this point I just want to get out of the store, be done with shopping forever, and go home.

Tracie, "Never mind. I don't have to use the gift card." Opening wallet, pulling out alternate form of payment, shoving the gift card back in my wallet.

Clerk, "When you have a gift card like that you can call the number on the back and see what the exact balance is."

She stands there, staring at me. I wonder if she is waiting for me to call the gift card number at that very moment.

I envision my cell phone sitting in the car.

Tracie, "I know I can call and check the balance, I just didn't know I needed to do that in order to use the card. It will be okay."

Clerk, "Well you can call the number and find out the balance. That is what I always do before I use one."

I had a fleeting moment where I thought about asking her if I could use a phone and call to check the exact balance, but the thought of standing there any longer was just too much for me. I snapped.

Tracie, "What do you want me to do, pull the imaginary phone out of my butt and use it to call the gift card number right now?"

With that, I grabbed my bag off the counter, stuffed the receipt into it, helped pick up Thomas' jaw from where it had fallen on the floor during my outburst, grabbed Katarina's hand, and flounced out of the store.

Thomas, "What did you just say to her? What was that? A phone in your butt? If that doesn't make the blog, I don't know what would."

I don't normally freak out like that, and after the initial shock, I think he kind of enjoyed my reaction. But as we were driving home, I wasn't so sure that I enjoyed it. I though about Katarina standing there while her mother yelled at the store clerk over something that really isn't that big of a deal, I realized that what I wish I had said was...

"Thank you ma'am. That is a good idea. Next time I will be sure to do that just in case." .....with a smile.

The clerk can't control how the computer operates, and certainly doesn't deserve to be yelled at for doing her job using the system that is in place.

I don't want to be that person - the one who makes other people's days awful over things that don't really matter. I want to be encouraging, kind, understanding, and bring peace and joy with me wherever I go. Especially when I have a young daughter watching every thing I do, and listening to every word I say.

This new memory of her mother yelling in the store - not one of my proudest moments.

Of course, since I am being honest here, this won't stop me from writing a strongly worded email to the company about how stupid their computer system is...and it may or may not include a reference to my butt.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Katarina Story - A Birth Celebrated

I have shared my daughter's story in other places, and on other blogs in the past, but I thought that today would be a fitting day to share it with all of you...

A Katarina Story

I found out I was pregnant on a Friday night using a home pregnancy test. Thomas and I were so excited. He even put the pregnancy test in the freezer just in case we needed it. I don't know what he thought we would do with it, but first-time parents can be a little crazy. (Don't worry, I cleaned the freezer!) We started dreaming about baby names right away.

The following Sunday night I started having horrible cramps and some bleeding. We went to the emergency room, and they said I was definitely pregnant but needed an ultrasound to make sure it wasn't an ectopic pregnancy. They set up an appointment with a doctor for the next morning.

The doctor was very nice and friendly. But once she started the ultrasound, and looked at the screen, she didn't seem very happy. Then she excused herself.

A few minutes later she came back in the room with two other doctors who also looked at the screen and did a lot of head shaking, before they all went outside together. The first doctor came back in and said I was definitely more than 6 weeks along and there should be a heartbeat, but there wasn't one. Also, my uterus was misshapen. She said that I should immediately get a DNC because without a heartbeat it wasn't a child, just a mass.

Thomas and I were heartbroken and shocked. I wanted to go home and pray and think about it before I decided to let her do surgery on me. Surgery is a big deal. I asked her if I really had to have the DNC right away.

These are her exact words, because I will never forget them, "If you leave the office today, you can have an appointment to come back next Monday for the procedure. But I am warning you, you will miscarry and you very well could bleed to death. If you leave today without the DNC and die, it won't be my fault."

We left anyway, and went home scared and depressed. We didn't have insurance, and didn't know who else to go see, or what to do. We just started praying, and cried all night.

The next day, Thomas went to work. He was up on a customer's roof crying and praying while he trimmed their trees when he had an incredible peace come over him, and he heard from the Lord, "I have servants who sit outside of abortion clinics and offer help to mothers. Talk to them." Thomas called me and said, "Stop crying, I heard from the Lord. I don't know what it means, or how we are going to find one of these people, but I know that God has a plan."

When Thomas told me what he had heard from the Lord, I immediately had a person's name come to my mind. It was a woman I had known for a long time before I was married, Marcia Frame, but Thomas didn't know her. I called Marcia and poured out the whole story. She said she would call her OB-GYN and see what could be done. I told her that there was no way he would see me because we didn't have any insurance.

Ten minutes later her doctor personally called me. He told me not to worry about the insurance - it would be taken care of. He wanted me to come to his office on the next Monday so he could do an ultrasound. If I needed the DNC, he said he would do it, but until then he told me not to worry. He also told me go to the emergency room if I had any serious issues before Monday, and tell them he was my doctor so he could meet me there. I could hardly believe it. That conversation was like a tiny ray of light.

This day was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and our church always had a special prayer service on that night every year. Our pastor knew what was happening, and when I went that evening the church prayed for me. The next day, the morning sickness (or in my case the all day sickness) started.

On Monday we went to Dr. LaRose's office. He did an ultrasound, and it was a totally different picture.

A healthy little heartbeat and a perfectly shaped uterus!

He told me nothing was wrong with the baby, and I was going to be fine. A few months later, he got the copies of the ultrasound pictures from the other doctor's office and showed us that they had done the ultrasound correctly, but my body had definitely changed between the first and second ultrasounds.

It was a miracle.

I threw up constantly through the whole nine months I was pregnant. I had to go to the hospital for many iv treatments due to extreme dehydration when I got to the point that I couldn't even keep water down. It certainly wasn't an easy pregnancy, but in the end, a precious little girl was born, healthy and wonderful. Katarina Hope.

Katarina means purity.
Hope, because there is hope in Jesus, and even when things look dark, He has a plan.

Today my sweet Katarina turns seven years old!

I love you Katarina. I can't wait to see all the growing and maturing and wonderful things you do while you are seven.
It is going to be an incredible year!