"I must be courageous with my story so that others can be courageous with theirs." -couldn't find the source of that quote but I absolutely love it. :)
Five years ago today, Denali Pearl was due to arrive as the third blessing in our family. Instead, she arrived January 30, 2008, as a tiny little human that just stopped growing inside me. Brian built a box, we put her in it with letters from both of us, and we buried her next to Brian's dad. Just the two of us. A sweet little ceremony in the rain to honor her short life.
The weeks and months following were dark and desperate. What was that all about, God? Why did you even let her live at all if she was just going to die? I kept wondering what I did to make her die. Was it the morning coffee? The chlorine in the pool at the Y where I swam every day? Was my body just not able to carry a baby anymore? Would I ever have the joy of carrying a child again? A few months later, to our joy we were pregnant again with the baby who would become Penelope Delia Rodgers. Was I full of joy? Not at first. I was full of apprehension. I went cold-turkey off caffeine, causing days of headaches just as I was embarking on the homeschool journey for the first time. I stopped doing my water aerobics at the Y, something that brought me such pure joy, but something I had become afraid of because what if that's what killed Pearl? I was suffocated for the first few months, especially since I started bleeding at 7 weeks and just knew that she was leaving us too. Much to my surprise, an ultrasound revealed a strong heartbeat, but I found out that my progesterone levels were very low, probably due to the recent miscarriage. I had to take progesterone for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy to keep her alive. But alive she stayed, and joy He restored to me, as around the 20th week God gave me complete freedom to return to the coffee and the pool, those tiny little things that make such a big difference in my day. And those of you who know Penelope know what an endless source of joy and awesomeness she is. But on this day five years ago, I didn't know Penelope yet and just wanted to know if she was going to make it to meet the world.
Five years ago today I was also embarking on the homeschool journey for the first time ever. I really knew nothing about homeschool except that God was calling me to do it. My only educational experience was in public school settings, so I started out with that mindset and that expectation of what our school at home should look like, setting myself up for colossal frustration. I remember that very first day. One side of the room had been set up like a 2nd grade classroom, the other side like a playroom for the recently mobile 14 month old Maggie James. As I started reading my scripted lesson to Allie :), all Maggie wanted was to climb the fence between the two sections and join us. Wait a minute, she's supposed to be over there playing! Why doesn't she play? I bought new toys for this and set up a fence just so this would go seamless! It's not seamless! Ugghhh!!! I wanted to throw in the towel in those first few days. But God fortified me and gave me the courage to keep chugging along. By day five, we had removed the fence and just let Maggie J come on over and color with us. That made all the difference in the world. Peace was restored, and she really wasn't a distraction as long as she could be right there in the middle of class. Down some of the walls came that were built in my expectation of what homeschool should be. By day ten, we had figured out that there was some stuff at the library that would really help in our learning, and by day twenty we figured out that there was some stuff outside too that would help. Somewhere around day 30 I let her sit on the exercise ball instead of the desk, and we read books we wanted to read instead of the readers that came with the curriculum. Freedom. God had given us freedom. And we were learning. At the beginning of the year, Allie was exactly on a second grade reading level. By the end of the year, she was devouring fifth and sixth grade level chapter books. Not because I'm a great teacher. Remember, I'm over there trying to build a fence between the "school area" and the "play area". I'm clueless. But she, she is over there learning and growing and I just couldn't stop her. It was magnificent. We signed on for another year after that, and another year after that, and we haven't stopped yet.
Five years ago today I was learning that God really was good, that He really delighted in me, and that when I walked with Him in obedience He would blow my mind with goodness and richness and fullness that I could never have fabricated apart from Him. He makes beauty from ashes, strength from fear.