Nine Months

Nine months it took to perfectly form you in my womb; to grow each organ and form every bone; to expand your lungs and strengthen your beating heart. Nine months to lengthen each finger and toe and to shape each vessel; to awaken your five senses and fill your brain with the necessary knowledge to survive outside of me. Nine months for me to feel like I’d known you my whole entire life; nine months to prepare to be your mother forever. Nine months for me to know a connection so deep, and nine months for me to anticipate meeting you face to face. Nine months to imagine all you would be and all you would do. Nine months to feel you grow inside of me and nine months for me try and grow up for you. Nine months for me to decorate your nursery and plan what you would wear home from the hospital. Nine months of a love that I’d never known. Nine months of talking to you and sharing my dreams with you. Nine months of feelings not known before – exuberant joy, giddy excitement, hopeful expectation were just a few. But, there were also times of worry, fear, and anxiousness. Nine months to be ready, prepared, confident. Nine months to know that one can never be ready. Nine months is all it took to bring your beautiful life forth to me. And, in one moment you were gone. It doesn’t seem right. I doesn’t feel fair. I wanted you with every ounce of my being from the moment I knew you were conceived. For nine months, I carried you. And, it’s been nine months since I carried you for the last time. 

It’s been nine months. Nine months of hell. Nine months of not talking to you or kissing you or hugging you. Nine months of shattered dreams that will never be and purposeful plans placed on a shelf. Nine months of pain and desperation; chaos and confusion. Nine months of anticipation;  when will I get to be with you again? Nine months of giving up and surrendering all and nine months of wrestling against my own flesh and blood. Nine months of an extra chair at the dinner table and a closet full of your clothes. Nine months of regret about things that were said, but even more painful are the things left unsaid. Nine months  looking at life through a new set of eyes and nine months to remember everything that you taught me. Nine months of reminiscing – replaying every good laugh, recollecting each kind word and cherishing every past hug. Nine months of falling on The Lord like I never have, and resting in His promise. Nine months of knowing that I don’t know. Nine months of being changed into His image. It’s been nine months, but this time I’m the one being carried; carried by the same God who has carried you then and is carrying you now. And, I’m being shaped, molded, changed and reformed to look more and more like Him.
 It’s hard. I don’t want to spend one more day without you, Christiano. I don’t want to forget anything about you. There’s so much of you still inside of me. Maybe that is why they say that having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body. We are forever connected, and a part of my heart is forever missing as long as I’m here without you. I love you, my baby boy. Always and forever. 

A Day Of Freedom

Over the years, I have heard and seen the many breaking hearts of military mommas. If I overheard a mom talking about her son serving oversees, and how much she missed him, I would feel so sad for her. Or, if I’d see a Facebook post from a friend missing her military daughter, who wouldn’t be coming home any time soon, I’d think of how hard that must be. The ones that really got me were the mothers who hadn’t heard from their baby in quite some time, and they weren’t sure if their child was even safe. Those posts would tug so hard at my heart. But, the ones I feel most for are the parents who have said goodbye to their children, only to never see them whole again; either by way of physical death, emotional death or, worst of them all, spiritual death. I pray for these moms and dads specifically on this Independence Day.

Independence Day represents so much for our country; freedom, liberty, justice and more. It is a day that we give thanks for living in the land of the free, but more importantly, the home of the brave. Without the brave men and women who risked their lives, even unto death, we would not have the luxuries that we do. 
A few weeks after Christiano passed away, I had lunch with a friend. I was explaining to her that through this tragedy my heart was so broken. But, not just for me, for other moms who had lost children, the grieving moms who nursed their sick child until death, moms who lost their child in an unexpected accident, and the military moms who lost their children fighting for my freedom. I could relate now to how it felt to send your son out into the world to be independent for the first time ever; to be free to make his own choices, even though you’d really just like for him to stay under your care forever. I could relate to waiting for a call from him and feeling so excited when the phone finally rang. But, worst of all, I know what it is like to never get that chance to say goodbye; to be robbed of that last hug or those final words. Sharing this with my friend was helpful. Especially, because I will never forget what she said to me. She said, ‘Shannon, you can relate because you are a military mom. Your son is a soldier who fought in an army, too – the Lord’s army. And, he has probably received all kinds of medals and honor.’
How that blessed me that day and continues to now. Because, as free as we may feel in America, we are never fully free until we receive this truth – that there is One who truly paid the price for our freedom, so that we never have to die. His name is Jesus, and He is the most brave. Even though He was innocent, He took on all of our pain, our sin, our death, so that we might LIVE forever to be with God for all eternity; to a place with no pain and no death – where we will see our loved ones again. And, that is my hope on this first Independence Day without my soldier. Life is not easy, and the pain we experience is real, but there will be a day with no more suffering and no more pain. My friends, it is there that we will see the best display of fireworks; and what a glorious day it will be. 
‘And [Jesus] being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient unto death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2:8-11

A New Day

So, I have an announcement for you, my friends…

After living on this earth for thirty- something years, I have my first full time job, and I start next week! It’s crazy, scary, exciting, overwhelming, timely, and ‘right,’ all at the same time. I’ve been looking for just a little while and just started to send my resume out nine days ago. It is all happening so fast! I had my first interview last week, and they offered a second interview that same day. Preparing for an interview was kind of scary. I have only had a couple formal interviews in my life, and they were years ago. Most of the jobs I’ve gotten in the past have just come to me, so going out and seeking one was a little out of this lady’s comfort zone. I dropped my keys, (which made a really loud noise) put my previous work experience in the previous address column, ( I had to ask for a new fourth page) and dropped a bunch of change out of my wallet when I was placing my license back into it. This was all BEFORE my first interview. As I looked around at all the people waiting for their first interview, I felt very inadequate. I thought a few times, ‘What am I even doing here?’ ‘They aren’t going to hire me.’ I had to fight off some pretty negative thoughts as I waited to be called. I just kept praying and asking God to make a way if this was Him and to calm my nerves and anxieties. 
When my name was finally called, the interview went extremely well, except one part. The interviewer let me know that there were only two day positions left and what they were really looking for were night employees. I explained to her that I needed to have days because I needed to be with my family at night. She understood, but was honest enough to tell me that there was a good chance I would have to work nights until at least January.

She then asked me to have a seat because I had been chosen for a second interview. As I waited for interview number two, I pondered all kinds of scenarios in my head. Could I do this? Could I make it work just until January? I would get home at 8pm, which would give me just about an hour with the kids. Through the scattered thoughts, I heard my name being called for part two. 

The second interview was a little more intense. The woman asked lots of questions that I hadn’t prepared for, but I was grateful that God gave me answers to provide. I know it was His help because the interviewer kept saying, ‘great answer.’ Once the interview was over, she told me I would hear back from someone the following week. I left still wondering how I could make a night schedule work for our family.

We had church that night and as I was sharing with a friend about the interview and the job, I just said out loud what I needed to be saying all along. ‘I’m not going to take it if they offer me nights.’ Sometimes, talking things out leads you to your answer. I told my friend that I was just going to trust God – that if He wanted me there, He would make one of those two jobs available to me. Of course once I made that decision, my mind became a battlefield of thoughts, again. ‘Why would they give one of those day position to ME?’ ‘I don’t have previous experience in this particular field.’ ‘But, we need the money, so I should just take whatever they will give me.’ I just kept doing my best to hand it all over to God. I know that, ultimately, I can cast my cares upon Him because He cares for me. It wasn’t an easy task for me to just let it go, but I kept doing it each time I realized I was obsessing or dwelling on it.

Thankfully, I got a call the very next morning because waiting for Monday night would have been difficult. The call came from the Senior Recruiter in Human Resources. She congratulated me and told me they’d be glad to have me on their team. I was excited, but nerves came right away as she began to discuss wages and hours. The wages were decent, but the shift she  was offering me was not. In that moment I had to decide to either take the job and just make it work for now, or speak up. You know, just like the weddings ‘speak now or forever hold your peace!’ I decided to speak now. I told the woman that nights would not work for our family and that I really needed days. She said, ‘Well, we really liked you and we really want you with us. We have two day positions, and I’d be happy to offer one to you.’ I was so appreciative and beyond excited; for about twooooo seconds. She explained to me that working days would mean full-time and that it wasn’t a typical M-F, gig. I would also have to work on Sundays, but I would have Wednesdays and Saturdays off, and I could reevaluate my schedule in January. Ultimately, what I felt was excitement that my prayer about days had been answered, but I knew I had to talk with my husband before agreeing to anything. I told her I had to give my husband a call and see if that would work for us. I explained to her that Sunday is a day of worship for us, but that we also go on Wednesdays. She was very understanding.

 I hung up with her and called Chris right away. He was one hundred percent on board with it. My next call was to my daughter. She was very excited and glad that I’d be home for them in the afternoon and evening. My last call was to a friend who is a good voice of reason. She said she thought it would work well for our family and that I had to keep in my mind that it was just a season.  I explained to her my hesitancies regarding missing Sunday service, and she reassured me that my relationship with God goes far beyond that; that I would still have Wednesdays and Chris would take the kids to church. She pointed out some other families that have made this type of schedule work. I was grateful for her wisdom. So, I called back, accepted the position, and the rest is HIStory!

I venture out next week towards a new and unknown journey. And, although its scary and different, I’m relying on the One who goes before me and knows the beginning from the end. He’s not scared or surprised, and He’s not limited by my fears or doubts, my inexperience or unsteadiness. And, even if I had all the skill, knowledge and peace in the world, I’d rather forfeit all of that for what HE has. It is through Him and by Him that I am strong and able to stand in the sinking sand of this life. I know that Christiano is up there, cheering me on. He’s happy that I’m choosing life and and all it’s creativity over the box I’ve been held captive to for so long. God is creative; in His love and in His service. His thoughts and acts toward us are rare, vast, and beautiful. 
‘Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!’
Psalm 139:17-22