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Happy Birthday

*One year later, can you believe I’m still writing thank you notes! We are still overwhelmed with gratitude for the love, support and prayers we received from all of you. If it were physically possible to hug and say thank you to each and every one of you we would! Thank you.* 

How do I say thank you to 6 lbs 13 oz of Brave? How do I begin to celebrate the sweetest gift ever given?

This week we celebrated Leilah’s first birthday. I can’t believe one year ago we welcomed her into the world. The words of the David Crowder Band song filled the delivery room ‘Oh how He loves us..’ as she was placed in our arms. Peace like a heavy blanket engulfing us as we wept with sorrow and overwhelming love. 365 days later I find myself weeping once again with sorrow, love and a deep thankfulness that were given the gift of her beautiful life.

As I prepared for this week I felt stuck – How do I celebrate Leilah? How do I honor her life? Do I run a marathon, climb a mountain, jump out of a plane, release a thousand pink balloons, scream in the middle of the busy street. Nothing seemed good enough, none of my ideas seem sufficient. Everything pales in comparison to her and all that she was to us. How do I honor this short life that forever changed mine and hundreds of others?

Nick confronted me on my mission to celebrate her birthday. He said ‘Aubrey this is going to sound insensitive but I think you’re getting too wrapped up in a day – it’s just a day. Yes it’s special because it marks one year but we honor her and celebrate her everyday.’

His words were so relieving and so true. We honor her everyday, we celebrate all that she brought to our lives in a million different ways. What she did in our hearts and how she changed our lives dramatically affects the way we operate daily. The deep joy in the little things, the overwhelming gratitude for life, the perseverance that was engrained, the faith that burned, the contagious hope, the risks that are no longer scary, the fear that no longer holds, the dreams that we’re now allowed to dream because we saw a All Powerful God move on our behalf. This feeling of being alive like we have never before. This priceless intimate knowledge of the heart of our Heavenly Father and the ABSOLUTE conviction that He is GOOD and for us. These are the gifts we were given, these are the values that now shape our walk and altered the course of our life. As we walk in them, as we run to Jesus, as we splash on others -we honor her.

So instead of celebrating a day we choose to celebrate with a life led full of passion, with a heart that leans into the goodness of God and asks boldly for the impossible.

My prayer as we close this week, our week of Jubilee, is that hearts again would be drawn to the Lord, that dreams and hopes would begin to awaken, that we would run with reckless abandon to the heart of a Good Father. That we would Pray expectingly, Believe undoubtingly. Love sacrificially. Dream unreasonably, Hope for the ridiculous and SHOUT from the rooftops that we love an Amazing God.

Happy Birthday Leilah. You were the sweetest gift, we love you and miss you so much.

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.

“The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.”

Mark Batterson

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The End of Our Path

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The end of our path….After what seemed like the longest 5 months of my life leading up to Leilah’s birth- I was so surprised it was over so quickly. 3 1/2 days of non-stop cuddling, kissing her perfect lips, her hands wrapped so tightly around my fingers that they turned white. She was so beautiful, so strong. 3 1/2 days of love and pain, joy and sorrow like I had never expierenced. Going into this uncharted territory I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised by the peace of it but yet side swiped by how hard too. It was much harder than I imagined because I didn’t know I would love her so much.

The end of our path. I write it but I have a hard time believing it. There are moments throughout my day where I feel like I can’t breathe, my heart aches and in disbelief I think ‘did I really walk through that? Is this journey really done?’ Today is 3 weeks since Leilah was born. Everyday that passes I find difficult. It’s one more day away from her, away from the smell of her skin, the sound of her breathing, her perfect lips that always puckered when I kissed them…I keep looking at pictures, listening to the recording of her heartbeat, anything I can do to keep it all fresh in my heart, to keep those memories alive. I know they will fade. I resent the days going by but I shouldn’t. Yes they feel like they are taking me away from her but really they are bringing me closer to her. Closer to the day that I walk into heaven and hear her squeal MOMMY! and watch as she runs into my arms, whole & healed. I am homesick for that day.

I’m still trying to process all that has happened so forgive my long and chopping writing. Also I’m still discovering things God did in the midst of the craziness. As much as my prayers were for a miracle – meaning that her skull would be formed perfectly and she would live a long happy life – we had so many other miracles surrounding us during our time with her. For starters her defect was pretty extreme, worse than the pictures I’ve accidentally seen, worse than I understood from the ultrasound, but she was born ALIVE and beautiful- so beautiful. About seventy-five percent of anencephalic babies are stillborn, those that are born alive may live minutes or hours, we had 3 1/2 days. She felt no pain, she was so peaceful and cuddly. We were surrounded by nurses, doctors and a beautiful midwife that were so supportive and loving. The children’s hospice home was incredible, it fulfilled all our needs at such a delicate time. And it was surprisingly completely covered by our insurance. I could go on but basically it was like every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed in this grand finale. In a situation where all I could do was surrender and just live in the moment, God proved that He was very much in charge and very much a good God. He was there every minute, every step. There was a blanket of peace surrounding us the entire time.

The blanket of peace…when we were at Bethel we asked a rather well known man to pray for Leilah, when he prayed it wasn’t this crazy healing prayer like I expected, he simply asked that the Shalom of heaven to be over her, for His complete peace to be over us.

Her birth-
When it came time to push Nick and I looked at each other nervously, this is it- she’s either healed or not healed. Life or death have been in the balance for months as we prayed and in the next few seconds we would find our answer. We felt a mix of emotions, a bit of fear of the unknown but nervously excited. As I gave the final push, she slipped out and Nick started crying. I knew in an instant she wasn’t healed. Like a scene from a movie a song started right then, ‘He is Jealous for Me’ by David Crowder Band. ‘Oh how he loves us’ the lyrics rang out and into the deepest fiber of my being there was peace. As my midwife put her on my chest I saw her unformed skull and held her close it was like a blanket of peace engulfed us. In these moments I knew His love hadn’t failed, He loved her more than I did or ever could, He loves us more than we understand, we were still in His hands, still anchored in His love even though we didn’t get the answer we wanted. He had and has a plan. There in the hospital room there was Shalom, His complete peace.

The night she was fading I held her hands and put my face close to hers soaking in everything I could, telling her that I loved her. I had the image of my heart breaking but all the broken pieces were in His hands. As painful as it was this ridiculous unrelenting peace anchored my heart. Then the final moments the next morning as she simply stopped breathing, still tightly clutching my fingers in her hands – there was still a deep peace. And unexpected joy – joy that this was not the end. She faded into the arms of the One who IS LOVE. In a situation where faith is shattered and hearts are wounded HE pulled us close and completely covered us. In the midst of my heart breaking I have never known peace and love so real.  And THAT is a miracle.

At the beginning of the journey God gave us the scripture Psalms 27:13-14 about believing that we would see His goodness, to be brave and courageous, to wait and hope for and expect Him. There were moments (sometimes weeks) where I failed, when fear closed my heart and I had no courage. But in the end we put our hopes in Him and expected His goodness whether she lived or died.
I won’t pretend to understand why she had this defect or why we didn’t see healing. But I don’t regret hoping for a miracle. I don’t regret believing and asking that He do the impossible. We risked our hearts but I now know deep in my heart that even if our petitions ‘fail’ (meaning we don’t see a miracle), that He is still Good, He’s still there right beside us in the midst of the pain, His peace and grace are more than sufficient. HE DOESN’T FAIL. I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father that redeems these hard unfair parts of life. He made our broken path beautiful. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. (yes I would trade it for a healthy girl.) If I could go back in time knowing what I know I wouldn’t choose to not walk through this. Carrying her, knowing her, loving her, knowing the tangible presence of God, the deepening of my trust in Him- this path has been priceless.
Our path to Leilah has ended and we’ll never be the same.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Thank you for the prayer that obviously availed much. Thank you for loving our Leilah and risking your hearts as well. We appreciate it so much.

“It is much better to try and to fail than never have the courage to go after something. Too many missed opportunities lead us into the valley of shadow, where we are a pale version of what we could have been. Passivity, procrastination and caution are all forms of regret. It is where we look back at our fainthearted approach to life and discover how timid we have become. The future is still stretching before us. It is vital that our past does not become our future or regret will shadow us all our lives. Failure is less traumatic than regret.” Graham Cooke

Psalms 27:13-14 [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

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Celebration of Life & Worship Service

Celebration of Life & Worship Service

Saturday, February 22, 2014
7:00pm
Please join us as we celebrate the goodness of our Loving Father and honor the life of Leilah Jubilee.

38325 Cedar Blvd Newark CA

Psalms 27:13-14 [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Glory

At 7:42am Leilah faded into glory. She was blind so her first sight will be the face of the One who loves her more than we can imagine. She was deaf so her first sound will be the angels singing, welcoming her home. We feel peace but pain. We love her so much. We thank you for all the prayers and support. We couldn’t have gone through alone.

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This morning I get to cuddle with my Leilah. She’s such a gift and I am so proud of her. Not sure what today has for us but we are treasuring every moment. Every breathe is a miracle and we are so thankful for this gift. God is good and His grace is so sufficient.

And we’re still waiting…

We’ll still in labor. We’re going on 24 hrs of labor. Plenty of pitocin happening and contractions 2 minutes apart. We’re in good spirits again, we (I) had a meltdown for an hour earlier. I certainly didn’t except this long of a process, my courage waxed and wanes and I just feel tired. But we are still in awe of the amazing Grace of God! Thank you for your prayers and continued support!

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Welcome to Tuesday! We definetly thought we’d be over and done with everything by now but no. With increasing doses of pitocin and close contractions we are still waiting. We are in high spirits despite a rough night of awkward sleeping positions and incessant beeping. Our biggest obstacle currently is convincing the nurses to let me have coffee 🙂
Thank you again for your prayers!!!