Every January I choose a word to guide the year. Something I feel God has put on my heart to help reshape my life for the better. For 2017 my word is Decrease.
Lately I have felt a strong urge to put my life through a sifter. Allowing what is heavy, distracting, or unnecessary, to fall away. So there might be space on my plate. So I might be able to see and hear more clearly what God is trying to say.
And I’m on board with that, until I’m not. Until the whisper to drop it involves commitments I consider invaluable. Surely God doesn’t want me to let go of that. Right? It’s a good thing. It’s not like it’s a vice or a sin.
I’m learning though, that it doesn’t have to be “bad” to trip you up or muffle God’s voice. Too much of a good thing is a real thing. You could put all the best musicians in the world in one room but if they aren’t on the same page, they’ll only make a bunch of noise.
Still, making cuts…as many as God seems to want me to make…stings. I have spent the last 3 months questioning Him. Positive that I was just interpreting Him wrong. Maybe the intense need to dial it down was actually new mom anxiety. Some sort of mental disorder I needed to medicate.
But the harder I tried to hold on, the more roadblocks I encountered. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall an AWFUL LOT. Over multiple things. So recently in prayer time I asked God to make His will abundantly clear to me. Sorry Lord, I simply cannot move forward without a map. I’m too afraid of getting it wrong and making a mess.
And immediately, two words crossed my mind: Season and Family. I pondered them for a bit and felt reasonably sure I knew what He meant. But still, STILL, doubt lingered. Until I opened my Instagram app and the first post was this:
It was like a gigantic interstate sign reading THIS WAY.
I carry a weighty burden on my heart to make the most of my blessings. I don’t want to sit back in a comfortable existence, biding my time until I get to heaven. Therefore my first instinct is to give give give. Yes I’ll donate. Yes I’ll be there. YES. Whatever you are asking for, you can have it. My time. My energy. My resources.
If I’m going to be a Christian I better darn well BE A CHRISTIAN. My walk needs to match my talk. My son needs to see me setting the absolute BEST example.
It has lead to so much stress and inner turmoil. I’m never doing it right, I’m never doing enough. Until God finally sat me down and said Are you done? I don’t give rewards for the most checked boxes. I give favor to those who listen and then follow through. LISTEN to what I’m telling you. In this season of your life, what is little is big. I gave you a baby and I will give you more. And though raising them may seem insignificant in terms of missions…it’s not. To you the world is huge and full of need, but to them the world is you. There will be a time to look out and give, but for now, Eyes In.
Eyes In. It’s not about making my baby an idol. Allowing him to grow up thinking he is the center of the universe. (Trust and believe, that will not happen.) It’s about being what he needs, and right now his needs are MANY. He may be little but being his parent is big.
So I’ll be reigning it in. Hitting pause on the yes train and handing out more Not right now’s. I hope I’m met with grace and understanding. And I hope if you’re an overburdened (that looks different for each individual) mama, or father, you’ll join me. There’s a season for everything and when it comes to parenting fresh faced babes, it’s not time to be everything to everyone. It’s time to be everything to your little ones. <3
Cards on the table: My writing has sucked lately, in both consistency and quality. Blog or book, doesn’t matter. It’s all awful, because I’m either writing scared, or not at all.
In part due to secular pushback. To grow deeper roots you have to write below the surface, and that comes with significant risk. Namely being buried in criticism.
At the end of the day all I want is for more people to know and understand the Jesus and Christianity that I know. The hope and the grace and the mercy that I feel every day. But I have to be cautious in that pursuit. I’m human and I have a tendency to want to respond as such when things upset me. Christianity and the values it promotes come under frequent, usually ignorant, attack and I get riled up about that IN A HURRY. But I’m pretty sure hasty blog vomit in retaliation to any slight is not what He had in mind when prompting me to write. As King and Country sing in Ceasefire:
So easy to cast the first stone Much harder to search your own soul No one ever wins When the goal is to settle the score
But secular pushback will always be there and I knew that when I started. Lately what gets to me more is spiritual pushback. It seems like the more honest I am, the more I’m tested.
I say I’m going to be brave as I face a new pregnancy, 30 minutes later I have a scare. Nearly every second after, for months, was an all out war with anxiety.
And on and on and on. My mind is a battle ground that never goes quiet and I often feel ill-equipped to fight it.
Last Spring when I started writing faith blogs, they were light and fluffy. And that felt like enough at the time. Now I’m in a place where skipping rocks won’t cut it. The more I try, the more fake and unsettled I feel.
There are so many things I want to say…about pregnancy after loss, this baby’s health, this baby’s future in this crazy world, the future of The Frederick’s as a family. How God has been present…so present I start to question my sanity.
The problem is all that requires a lot of honesty. And I know that when I open my mouth I’m opening myself, my husband, my home, up to rejection, misinterpretation, and tests of all kinds.
But I believe that’s also when words have the highest capacity for beauty and impact…when they’re real.
If you want to succeed as a writer or a Christian or just a human being in general, authenticity is important. People might be drawn to your fancy trappings, but they won’t stay (and they certainly won’t trust) if that’s all there is to you. They don’t want your carefully curated image. They want your heart. Mistakes, scars, and all.
If my goal is to make God known, I can’t show only the instagram-worthy part of my soul. I have to also share what I wrestle with, because that’s where His power shines brightest. Easier said than done though. Hence the recent lack of faith-related writing. Or writing but never posting. Or posting but taking down. A lot of taking down.
I had a literal come to Jesus talk with myself recently about not prioritizing what I want (comfort, essentially) over what God wants for me. I’m going to work hard at silencing the doubt, turning up the trust and writing with guts. I wanted to address this as a topic of its own first though, because hesitation is a common thing among those trying to grow in faith, especially at this stage in life with so much adulting and uncertainty. (Pretty sure this isn’t even the first time I’ve written about it. Probably won’t be the last either.) (ALSO. ThisBeth Moore blog post came through my feed today and speaks straight into all this. If you feel like you’re getting hit from all sides right now, and I know I have several friends who are, it’s a good read.)
So if you’re where I’m at, feel free to reach out and we can keep each other accountable. :)
Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not Living life afraid of getting caught There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy’s waiting on the other side If we’re honest If we’re honest
It would change our lives It would set us free It’s what we need to be
What is the first trimester of pregnancy after loss like?
Boot camp for your nervous system.
Which is foreshadowing for life after the baby is born, I know. The definition of raising children is balancing blessing with struggle, I’m aware. And certainly all pregnancies come with their own set of anxieties.
What makes PAL different, for me at least, is grief. I’d worked through the loss and overcome the sadness, but it returned the second I saw two lines. Not as intense, yet always there. The images of our tiny child’s beating heart followed by its lifeless body are seared into my soul, and that forced me to manage the new excitement and hormones with a raw heart and fragile hope.
It was interesting state of being, caught between gratitude and grief. Not everyone felt I handled it well (I know because they told me), but I took comfort knowing God understood. That when He looked at my heart, He didn’t see a “pessimist,” “worry wart” or “faithless” faux believer. He saw a mama full of praise and surrender.
My life, and the life of this child, belong to Him before they belong to me. I don’t know what He has in store for either of us, but I know He is with us. Every time I have opened my bible, hoping to hear from Him directly…He has answered. Through verses I could never have landed on, on my own. And from that I’ve learned He doesn’t want me to feel guilty for my wide range of emotions. He just wants me to lean into Him all the more. And I am. Oh man, I AM.
Now the joy finally outweighs hesitation. I’m ready to celebrate a little, which is why we announced publicly and I’m blogging.
But before I share the lighthearted details of the first 17 weeks, I want to acknowledge those who are still in the midst of infertility and loss. If I’m aware of your struggles…please know I think of you often and pray for you every night. Truly.
If you haven’t shared your story with me, and you would like another person to petition heaven on your behalf — please message me on Facebook or e-mail me at KarenFrederick14 at gmail. I would love to add you to my prayer list.
I also want to sincerely thank everyone who has prayed for my dadand this little life. It goes beyond our framily. There are people I’ve never even met praying for them nightly. It means the world to us. Thank you so much.
**When I do updates in the future, they won’t be so long because I won’t be covering multiple months.
How far along: 17 weeks
Gender: We’ll find out in May! If baby cooperates, of course.
Symptoms: I had no appetite for the first 8-9 weeks, and only mild nausea at night. I was a little more tired than usual but nothing like what some people experience. The first trimester was nice to me physically, maybe because it was so brutal emotionally. Now I just have occasional heartburn and constant trips to the bathroom.
Cravings: At first it was pizza and pasta. I was like GIVE ME ALL THE CARBS AND CHEESE. Now it’s lemonade, frozen grapes and Penn Station clubs (extra honey mustard. I could drink that honey mustard). So obviously I have been eating some meat. I ate it regularly those first several weeks because I was concerned about protein with my lack of appetite. Now that my appetite is back it’s not so common but if I crave it, I’ll give in.
Aversions: Coffee (I had been on decaf but by week six it made my stomach turn), McAlister’s veggie spud (GAG), and Cake Bake cakes. I can handle cupcakes, but those dense tiered numbers? One bite for Ron’s birthday and it was: OUT OF MY FACE. We had another one for his brother’s birthday and I couldn’t do it then either. Tragic.
Workouts: A lot of walking and stairs. I quit running at 5 weeks because I would feel sick and dizzy for hours afterward. My OB said it was fine to try again so I’m hoping to pick it back up a little. I ran a tortoise-y 2 miles this weekend and felt pretty good. I don’t expect to maintain in the third trimester though. If I can, great. But my pelvis still bothers me when I train hard and something tells me the weight of a baby will be worse on it than training hard.
Weight Gain: Ummm…more than recommended. I blame the excessive cheese and carbs. Not worried about it, but I am trying to focus on healthier meals.
Movement: I *think* I’m starting to feel some. Ready for it to get stronger so I know for sure!
Best Moment(s): Each time we see/hear the baby. Seeing it so active at 12 weeks was amazing. Also Ron. He’s so sweet when it comes to all of this. Minus the night when I couldn’t stop crying for no reason. He instructed me to call our friend Nadine because he didn’t know what to do with me. Haha fair enough!
Worst Moment(s): That time I ate some questionable queso, got violently sick the next morning, and worried I might have listeria. So I asked to be tested and when I went to get my blood drawn, I was informed I was a delinquent because for some reason (I’m dumb) I thought my lab bills would show up on MyChart. Therefore I hadn’t paid any of them yet. Whoops. Once we got that straightened out, the nurse couldn’t get blood from my arm vein. This is a common problem with me, but not everyone is so…persistent with a needle in my arm. She finally gave up and tried my hand, which was quick and successful and I will forever request that from now on. Anyway I don’t have listeria. I also don’t have an appetite for queso anymore. Go figure.
Looking forward to: Officially feeling movement!
Baby Frederick #2’s first photo. 8 weeks, 5 days.
We put the picture below inside a Cake Bake box for Mom and Dad. I was 9 weeks around Valentine’s Day. They tried to leave our house without any cake, because we were all still full from brunch so I had to be like Ummm how about you just try a bite?? Haha.
Announcing at work. It says Hurry, grab some before they’re gone. Karen is eating for 2, so they may not be here long!
When I got back from my daycare storytimes that morning, they’d already made a sign.
We waited until we were in Little Rock to tell Todd and April. I handed Todd a grocery bag with these items in it and said we brought them some snacks. He rifled through and was like Syrup? Rice? These aren’t SNACKS! April got it right away, without even looking. She said I knew it! as I was laughing and trying to tell Todd to look at the front of the rice. Apparently when I said snacks, he was expecting girl scout cookies and was very disappointed. LoL.
We told Ron’s parents and grandparents with gift bags containing these:
For the record, I wanted our Facebook Official announcement to be a bunting on the door of the nursery, but when it arrived it was way too big. Boo.
When I went to buy a gift for a baby born on Brave’s due date, I saw this. <3
GI started documenting the bump at 13 weeks. I decided to do aerial photos, holding something that signifies what was going on that week. I got the idea from this:
I chose this route because I’m very picky about how I look in pictures and it drives Ron crazy. 7 months of weekly photo shoots might kill him. ;) We’ll still do occasional side bump pictures and we’ll have maternity pictures done too so I’m fine with seeing the progression without always seeing my face. I may switch it up for month 5 though, I think the way I’m doing it is fun but a little too busy looking. We’ll see.
In New Orleans on vacation. Baby and I loooooved us some snocones:
First day of Spring, with a bloom from our backyard tree:
This one doesn’t have the normal number graphic because I really wanted to use an egg for Easter. It’s actually my favorite so far.
This one is super lame. The first week I haven’t had something notable going on. I settled on 4 fingers for 4 months (I know, technically the 4th month isn’t over until 18 weeks, whatever). I did get my rings polished so they were extra sparkly, but it doesn’t really show through. Oh well. Moving on to Week 17.
Week 17 didn’t pan out as planned. It was bad lighting and my attempt to get the Sunday Dinner dog brigade in the photo with me ended with Mark’s girlfriend’s dog puking up mini marshmallows (Sorry Kelsey) so….dog-free redo coming soon.
There were some nights that felt like They would last forever But you kept me breathing You were with me right then And all that you have done for me I could never hold it in So here’s to me telling this story Over and over again
Oh the mountain where I climbed The valley where I fell You were there all along That’s the story I’ll tell You brought the pieces together Made me this storyteller Now I know it is well, it is well That’s the story I’ll tell
I found out I was pregnant the same day my dad was diagnosed with cancer.
There had been rainbows in the sky that afternoon. Not a hint of rain, yet I saw them twice. On opposite sides of town. It felt like a sign from God…confirming yes, this is your rainbow baby. Your beauty after the storm, joy after the pain.
That evening as I was driving to meet a friend for dinner, mom called to say she was taking dad to the emergency room. Recent labs indicated his hemoglobin was so low he may have a GI bleed and the doctor wanted him to go right away.
They were headed to the same hospital where Ron works, so he met me in the lobby and we walked to the ER together. It was the first time I’d seen him since I’d taken the test, so I showed him the stick reading “pregnant.” He put his arm around my shoulder and I put my arm around his waist and we walked happily, confidently, to go see mom and dad. I wasn’t all that concerned, honestly. I actually felt relieved. I figured if it was a GI bleed causing his recent health troubles, they could fix it and he would feel better.
And then we walked in the room. Saw dad sitting in a hospital gown, skin so, so pale. Heard mom’s voice saying I really think it’s going to be fine. He was at work when I picked him up. He’s okay.
He wasn’t in immediate distress, no. But sometimes those slow, silent creeps from health to illness are more disturbing than a sudden emergency. Signs ignored on paper until they’re visible in person can be more dangerous than a shattered bone or torn muscle.
I sat down in a chair, and tried to hold off the panic with deep breaths and funny youtube videos. (God bless Kevin Hart) Then the ER attending came in and promptly sucked the air out of the room.
Cancer. Stage 4. Spread to the bone.
Dad. My dad. The one who has wanted nothing more than a grandbaby for the past decade. Who was heartbroken with us, when we lost Brave. Now that we have new hope, he has a struggle of his own.
Not long after, we all silently exited the ER. Lost in our own thoughts. For me it was I’m not ready.
I’m not ready for parents with health concerns. I’m not ready to consider raising a baby without its Grandpa Bower. I’m not ready for this high to be countered with this low.
Mom and Dad went home, Ron and I went upstairs so he could change out of his scrubs. I stood in an empty nurse’s station while I waited for him. All the lights were off except for a strip that runs under the upper cabinets. A small radio was tuned to a country station.
There’ll be days your heart don’t wanna beat You pray more than you breathe And you just wanna fall to pieces And nights, those two AM calls Where dreams become walls And you just need a break Break on me
Shatter like glass Come apart in my hands Take as long as it takes, girl Break on me Put your head on my chest Let me help you forget When your heart needs to break Just break on me
This is poetic, I thought. Freaking poetic.
The next morning I had an appointment for a blood draw to confirm pregnancy and get some initial numbers. Dad’s appointment with the oncologist was across the street an hour later, so I prayed in the chapel in between. I asked God to slow the progression of the disease. To give us time, options, and doctors who knew not just how to treat it, but how to explain it in a way we could understand.
When I got to the cancer center, I tried not to cry. Showed mom and dad the new mug + decaf coffee beans I bought from the hospital Starbucks on my way over. All the while praying silently…Please God, Please God, Please God. Hope. Hope. Hope.
After the initial inventory, the oncologist came in. One of the first things he said was: Don’t go home and sell all your things, you’re not dying. He asked a few more questions and then told us, in simple terms, what he saw and how he planned to proceed. He was kind, funny, and above all…full of hopeful news. The diagnosis was serious, certainly, but he considered it manageable, like treating a chronic illness.
In other words, I got everything I prayed for. Time, hope, options, and a truly awesome set of doctors. Words can’t describe how high my spirit had been lifted.
That weekend was the weekend our church held it’s monthly Miracle Prayer. I wrote in Due Date that we asked for the miracle of a healthy baby. We also asked for the miracle of health for dad. One line he said while praying for him stuck in my head: Father, that cancer has GOT to GO.
Since the start of 2016, I have knelt beside my bed every night and prayed. Hard. For family and friends. For this country and world. But I always start with our baby and my dad.
Lord protect and bless this baby. Help it to be healthy and strong. Help it stay in, for 40 weeks. And God, heal my father. He deserves time on earth with his grandbabies. That cancer has GOT to GO.
Help the baby stay.
Make the cancer go.
Ironically, dad’s chemo appointments were on the same week as my ultrasounds during the first trimester. At my 12 week appointment the baby’s heartbeat was strong and it was such an active little peanut. Touching it’s toes, kicking my placenta, waving, and hiccuping.
Later that week dad got his first blood test results since starting treatment. The doctors said that if a particular number had dropped just below half, that would be good progress.
It had dropped almost to 0.
That number still needs to officially hit 0, and our baby still has many weeks left to grow. Uncertainty remains and the final outcome is unknown. But one thing I can say with complete assurance:
God is on the move, ya’ll. He is ON the MOVE.
I know – I know – I know – I know God is on the move, on the move Hallelujah God is on the move In many mighty ways God is on the move, on the move Hallelujah God is on the move On the move today