The Story of Us…Part 3❤️

We spent a lot of time on that trip ministering to each other and praying and seeking God. I was opening up about the anxiety I had over Christian and how all these things seemed to be pointing to him but I didn’t want to be making things up in my head just because I wanted to be with him. That’s when one of the ladies prayed over me and as she did she began to speak prophetically into my life. She said Christian is the one God has for you but first you need to drop all your own expectations of what you thought this would all look like. She also told me that when it was time to date again we would move quickly into engagement and then have a short 2-3 month engagement before becoming married. I remember exactly where I was standing on the stairs in the place I was staying because I had to sit down and cry but I was so happy I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d heard stories of others getting crazy confirmation that they should marry someone but I never thought it would be me. Prophecy is always something you should take back to God and pray on and I trusted the woman who spoke it over me. There was also no way she knew that I was struggling with my expectations of what my future husband was supposed to be like and so it helped me to trust that what she was saying was Truth. She also told me to get a jar and decorate it and save money for my wedding. That same jar had enough money in it when we got engaged to buy Christians wedding band to the dollar. Crazy!

It was weird going back home and seeing Christian. I didn’t tell him what happened in Charleston because I didn’t feel that I was supposed to. Things would happen when they needed to happen. I didn’t know at that point if it would be years or months or weeks before we started dating again. To help me have somewhere to keep my thoughts, I started writing my prayers and my thoughts and my excitement over getting to marry him one day in a journal and I gave it to him after we got married.

We ended up getting back together May 1st 2013. It was nothing romantic we were hanging out at my apartment and I was up studying and doing massive amounts of homework for classes and Christian had been up talking to me but obviously got bored because he fell asleep next to me. I finally finished and woke him up and he sleepily asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend again. I smiled and agreed. May 27th we got engaged. Come to find out he bought the ring when we were broken up. I guess he really was confident we would get married. The engagement story is a story all in itself but it was at sunrise on Hilton Head beach beside the ocean and surrounded by our favorite friends.

We set the wedding two months out to July 26th 2013. People thought I was crazy for going so quick, my parents thought I had lost my mind, I at times questioned if I had even heard God right, and I’m sure some people thought we were with child 😂. I wish I could tell you how every detail of our wedding just fell into place. I had friends asking if they could make invitations for me or make my cake for me or do pictures for me and somehow my wedding was planned and beautiful in 2 short months. Christian was 20 years old and I was 22 when we stood up on stage and said “I Do”.

We’ve been married now for 5.5 years and I love that man more than I did then. Marriage is work and we’ve dealt with the ugly side of each others insecurities, became parents together with all the intense emotions that brought, and lost a child together. He’s been by my side as I graduated first with my bachelors then my masters and I’ve been by his in job changes and now as he started his career in law enforcement. We’ve yelled and screamed at each other. I’ve pushed him and slammed doors. He’s calmed me down more times than I can count and we’ve had to learn about vulnerability and communication and we still have tons more to learn. Our friendship from the beginning has been absolutely everything in our marriage. We pick on each other constantly and laugh together and he’s my very best teammate in this crazy life we now have with two little ones. I’ve never once doubted my decision to marry him but instead have often felt in awe of this man that God gave to me and how beautifully he compliments my weaknesses and my strengths if I let him.

Our story is my favorite story and I love to sit and replay it all in my head but I promise it wasn’t without lot of tears and struggles and hitting my knees in prayer over and over again! God blows me away with the way He’s led my life and I’m excited to continue learning beside my husband!

The Story of Us…Part 2❤️

At this point Christian and I hung out constantly and talked even more. I remember the exact spot I was sitting on the couch watching a movie with him when he first put his arm around me. I felt this overwhelming feeling of just being “home” although at the time I thought I was losing my mind because how could this guy be someone I would date? He stood up to put his shoes on to take me home and I remember asking myself “what are you doing Skyler? You can’t have feelings for him you need to back up!” I fought it so hard!

Our first kiss was December 27th, 2011. We were hanging out at his family’s house and watching tv and talking. He was joking around with me and picking on me about something so I laughed and turned away from him. Then he said my name all serious so I turned around and he kissed me. We just kind of sat there with each other for a minute quiet as if we both knew that this changes things. Then we went on about our night and didn’t say anything else about it.

A few days and a few kisses later I told him again that we should back up and just be friends (poor Christian 😂). I was really struggling with not wanting to get into another relationship that would just end later down the road. I had been in enough relationships and I was tired. My prayer was I didn’t want to date anyone unless it’s who I’m going to marry. Big prayer right? I wanted to know that I know that God was placing this guy for me.

February 29th, 2012 I finally gave in and told Christian I would date him. I had prayed and prayed that God would remove guys from my life that weren’t for me and He did, except Christian was still there. The first few weeks of dating took me a while to get used to. This guy I had so adamantly put in the friend zone was now my boyfriend and I was finally facing the fact that I liked him. I really liked him. Our friendship was still the base of our relationship and it made things fun. I always felt comfortable with Christian. I had always shared what was in my heart and mind with him so I felt able to still do that. He swore we were gonna get married one day. Me? I was still not convinced. I was actually convinced that I wasn’t hearing God and probably going to end up hurt or hurting him. Right before our year anniversary my anxiety over the situation was so bad that I just couldn’t do it anymore and I broke up with him. And I cried. And I prayed. And I tried to clear my confused head.

It took backing away for me to really hear what the Lord was saying to me. In March a month after we had broken up I took a trip to Charleston with some women from my church, including Monica. I was still moping about breaking up with Christian and although we stopped hanging out as much we still texted a good bit. I was wearing the ring he had given me for Christmas on my ring finger as a promise ring in hopes that maybe we would be able to get back together. I remember one day on the trip shopping in the Charleston marketplace I bought a ring with a purple pearl on it to signify my relationship with Jesus. It was small and may seem silly but I needed to be able to say to God that no matter how bad it hurt I wanted Him over any boy. As someone who used to date a lot and always need to attention of a guy this was huge for me. I texted Christian that night and told him I was taking off his promise ring and replacing it with my new ring. I cried when I did it because it was a huge shift in surrendering that part of my life and finally putting Jesus above my relationships.

The Story of Us ❤️

The first time I remember seeing Christian was on a Sunday at church with my arms raised in worship I glanced at the family coming up the aisle and saw him coming in. I recognized his face that he went to my high school although I had graduated a couple years ago. I instantly felt shame because I wondered if he recognized me and remembered who I was in high school and if he wondered why I was now raising my hands in church. In reality I don’t think he even saw me in that moment but how’s that for a first memory.

He was in the high school group, I was in the college group and we saw each other at church but never had any reason to talk so we didn’t. I remember meeting his mom months later as she was greeting one Sunday and enjoyed talking to her. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that she and I would be close friends but I shrugged it off cause why would this woman want to be friends with a college student! However sure enough sometime later she spoke of going to Virginia for a conference and I decided to tag along! I remember praying that it wouldn’t be awkward in the car for the 8 hr drive but to my surprise we had tons to talk about and I found myself opening up to her about my own life and journey. I stayed with her and her sister (Christians aunt) and had a great time! I remember her telling me on the way home that her oldest son was turning 18 that week and I said “Oh Christian? He’s a little cutie!” you know in the way that you would talk about a kid that you know is younger than you! 😂

That was the start of mine and Monica’s friendship and soon I was often coming over to her house to ride with her to different events or to sit and talk and get advice on different things. I would see Christian usually coming or going to hang out with his friends and if he was interested or attracted to me he sure didn’t show it. I don’t really remember when we actually started talking to each other between church and me being at his house but it was slow with a few words here and there or in passing. We slowly became friends and I remember the first time I agreed to hang out with him I met him and his friend at a frozen yogurt place but really thought nothing of it. Our friendship quickly became us texting all of the time and I remember the day he graduated from high school I went over to his house to chat and congratulate him and ended up just staying and hanging out with his family. I came back the next morning to hang out again and I remember realizing I wasn’t just coming for Monica anymore. Soon I realized I wanted to talk to him just as much as I did her and at church I would catch myself looking around for him and find him across the room looking back at me and we would both just grin and look away.

But it wasn’t that easy. Because I was a sophomore in college and I couldn’t let myself have feelings for this guy who just graduated high school! So I stayed in denial and anytime I felt Christian was moving into relationship territory I made sure to communicate to him that I thought we were best as friends. He never argued and never pushed my boundaries but he never backed away from me either. He just remained constant and happy to be my friend and keep hanging out.

This went on for 10/11 months or so until Thanksgiving 2011. I came over to his house to meet his extended family as I had already grown close to his immediate family. I remember feeling so welcomed by all of them and so at home. I stepped outside at one point to get some air and remember standing out by the garage when Christian came out to check on me. I have no clue what we talked about but I looked at him and realized what I felt for him was more than just friendship and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I was also in love with his family and had no clue what was happening to me.

God I Don’t Understand You

I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it if Levi passed away. When I was pregnant the thought of losing him- of possibly never holding my baby boy alive- it sucked the air out of my lungs. I thought if I lost him I would be emotionally broken beyond repair.

My testimony is that I wasn’t destroyed.

God was growing and teaching me throughout my pregnancy and the very truths I learned during that time are the very things I needed to stand on when the unthinkable happened.

Did God take my baby to teach me these lessons? Does He lead us into tragedy so that we can learn? No- I don’t think so. Although I believe He can use anything for the good of those who love Him. God is kind, loving, and a good Father. His will was for my Levi to live. He didn’t create life in me just to destroy it.

Christians often say “we can’t understand the will of God”. We often grieve and say “God’s will isn’t meant to be understood”.

I think that’s a lie too.

What good father wouldn’t want to bring understanding to his children? Sometimes we may not be mature enough to get that understanding and God is so big and so infinite I think there will always be more we don’t yet understand…oh but He wants to teach us.

What would it look like if Christians pushed for understanding? If we took our questions and laid them before God instead of pretending they aren’t there? I know for me it made me confront feelings about God that I didn’t even realize I had. I was angry at Him. Angry at a God that would do this to my child. That’s when He taught me about His character. He is always good and He brings life. The enemy is the one who steals, kills, and destroys. We live in a sin filled world and we have broken places that we don’t let God into and it gives the enemy a foothold in our lives. There’s so much!

When I pushed and asked for understanding instead of applying the statement that we just have to trust and not understand I got freedom, I got deeper love for God, my faith became more rooted, and I got power in my prayers. No wonder the enemy would have us continuing to believe we can’t understand God.

I’m not saying trust doesn’t have a place. Do children still need to trust their parents when they can’t understand? Absolutely! Until they grow in maturity and can understand better. And understanding may be a process. It could take years to gain understanding for certain things. God loves to grow us and we can trust Him in the process. Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean God is not good or is not who He says He is. It means we lack understanding and our faith comes in when we have to choose to trust and believe Him through that process.

Are there questions you’ve been struggling with? Things you can’t seem to understand and situations that left you wondering where God was? I encourage you to bring those things to Him. Express those feelings in prayer and ask God to show you who He is. He is faithful to show us! And He wants to grow you in understanding!

I thought my husband was supposed to lead me…

When I first got married I found myself confused and disappointed with my new husband. In the church I was always told he was supposed to be my spiritual leader. Why then was he not setting up time for us to read our bibles together, talk over devotionals, or pray before bed? What else was a spiritual leader supposed to do? I mean that’s what it meant right? I found myself frustrated and questioning what this was all supposed to look like and wondering if I was going to have to do it all on my own.

5 years in we still don’t do any of those things in the ways I pictured doing them and having two small kids makes it really hard to do any of that even by ourselves. But it’s funny I find myself thinking just how much of a leader my husband really is…just not in those ways I had pictured in my mind.

Christian is a quiet leader. He is a man of integrity and it’s just who he is. I often find myself in awe of how effortless he walks in that integrity. It oozes out into everything he does. I watch him show patience to not only those around him but also to me when I’m being difficult. I watch him show kindness to people who aren’t that kind. I watch him strike up conversations effortlessly with people that most would overlook. I listen to him struggle with his convictions on the smallest details that most wouldnt even think about.

The other day we went shopping for groceries with our newborn and our toddler. As usual it was hectic and I was hungry and done and ready to go home but as we were loading groceries into the car we found a pack of $4 razors in the car that we forgot to pay for because it was under our jackets. I threw it in the trunk and shrugged because it was crazy busy in Walmart and we have two fussy kids and Walmart isn’t gonna take a loss for a $4 pack of razors. Christian went back inside and paid for them. He showed me integrity even when nobody would have known. Even when it didn’t matter. Even when it was inconvenient.

Christian leads me in his actions. In the quiet way that he leads himself I’m watching and I’m learning and I know that our children will too. In the way he loves me when I’m irrationally screaming at him. In the way he is the first to apologize even though I was the one picking the fight. It humbles me. It reminds me how much Jesus loves me despite all my shortcomings and craziness.

Wives, how does your husband lead you? Have you been overlooking it because you had some other idea of what his leadership should look like? Find those qualities in your husbands and call them out. Tell your husband what you admire about who he is and how it leads you.

To my Christian- as always I’m honored to be your wife ❤️.

Beckham Isaiah

I’ve put off sharing Beckham’s birth story because honestly it was a lot to process. I had all these ideas and expectations of what his birth would be like especially following the traumatic birth of Levi. Turns out this birth was traumatic in all its own ways and there would be new challenges for me to make sense of.

At 38 weeks I allowed my doctor to schedule me an induction but I just knew that surely he would come before that date. I didn’t want to be induced but I also was extremely tired of being pregnant and the doctor assured me this was the best way to insure a successful VBAC. Well a week and a half went by and still no baby despite every single early labor sign you can think of. So I ended up going in for induction. I was contracting on my own and already 4cm when I checked in to be induced and I just knew that I would go into active labor that night at the hospital before the induced me that morning. But once again…nope… the contractions became irregular again and tapered off.

The next morning the doctor broke my water and said I was far enough dilated that my body would probably take over and start active labor after that without any pitocin. She said there was no reason why we shouldn’t have an easy VBAC! I was so excited and ready. Buttttt once again…nope. I remember somebody coming in to visit me 6 hours after they broke my water and making the comment that only 1 cm progression in 6 hours wasn’t a lot and it hit me that this wasn’t going the way it should. Sure enough my doctor came in and voiced her concerns about not making progress and told me in an hour if I’m still at 5cm she would take me back for csection.

I was terrified of a csection. My csection with Levi was traumatic and fast and scary. The nurse tried to explain to me how it would be different this time not being an emergency and I told her it was very important to me that I hold my baby immediately after. I never got to hold my baby last time and it felt so crucial to me to be able to hold him and know that he was healthy. My mother in law prayed over me thanking the Lord that this time was different than last time and I just sobbed because the emotions of last time were flooding back over me and I surely didn’t want to go through this again.

They prepped me for surgery and Christian was able to come back with me unlike last time. I remember thinking over and over “Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. He will not forsake you”. This would be a much easier csection….nope. I could hear my doctor taking about something about how she couldn’t get into where she needed to. She asked the nurses to go grab the other surgeon to help her. My scar tissue from last time had attached itself to my abdominal wall completely adhering my uterus to my abdomen. She said it was like concrete…she couldn’t see where in the uterus she was and couldn’t get to where she needed to get to. After what felt like forever I finally felt her push out my baby and it took what felt like minutes to hear his cry. Christian left my side to go be with the baby that they couldn’t give to me after all because of the surgery complications. I apparently was losing a lot of blood and they still had to get me stitched back up. My doctor told me that I need to wait a while and think long and hard about having another child because it would probably mean a high risk csection and I would have to go to the hospital in Savannah and they would have to take the baby early to make sure it didn’t get too big. I felt terrified and furious.

Christian brought Beckham over for me to see before he was taken away again for his bath and stuff but I wasn’t able to even touch him. I was finally taken back to my room and I completely broke down. I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating and so upset that everything had gone the opposite of what I prayed and hoped for. Then the thought of any future children being at risk or my situation making it hard to have children down the road made me furious. It didn’t feel fair that after losing a child this would be so difficult and could impact my future. The doctors were trying to calm me down and make sure my crying was from emotions and not from pain which was also intense where they just cut into me. It took 2 hours for them to bring my baby to me after everything and I was extremely upset that I couldn’t hold him.

It got a lot better when I finally had my sweet baby who was perfectly healthy in my arms and I could begin the long healing process from a csection. I remember several nights crying just from being tired of being uncomfortable. I also could feel the bitterness in my heart and all the disappointment I needed to bring to God. I felt let down and had so many questions on why things happened the way they did.

I wish I could give you guys some profound answers on what I learned through it all but really all I’ve done is slowly begin to open up my clenched fists and give over all these emotions to God and choose to trust Him that if future children are a part of the plan that He has that taken care of. I also have to chose to believe the things I’ve known of God before. He is good despite what my circumstances try to tell me. He is trustworthy despite what my bitterness tries to speak to me an just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean that God has failed me only that I have more to learn.

Perhaps I should have had my focus more on God than on my perfect expectations of what I thought SHOULD happen. Maybe if I had focused my prayers less on how I thought it should go and more on Him and being with Him then He could have spoken to me clearly on what to prepare my heart for. Either way I still praise Him for a healthy little 9pound 3 ounce baby born that day! I know that He is still a God of redemption and that if I step out of the way with my plans and expectations He will be faithful to do above and beyond what I could have ever come up with on my own. ❤️

Pretending we are “Doing Fine”

The Lord has been showing me how much I pretend without even realizing it. It comes like second nature to me and sometimes I’m so good at it that I trick even myself. I’m willing to bet it’s a problem many have especially in our culture.

It was a few months after losing Levi and I was washing dishes and randomly thinking about how I had bought a double stroller several months back when I was still expecting Levi. The thought that the stroller is now folded up in the attic and my Levi is no longer with me caused a pain to shoot through my emotions. Just as soon as I felt that pain I tucked it right back away in my thoughts and tried to press on with the thought of one day having another baby and having a reason to bring down that stroller again.

That’s when I caught myself.

I was trying to pretend like the stroller didn’t bother me. I was trying to ignore the pain that was so obviously there and rightfully so. I lost a son. A son that I never got to know and see grow up. A son that I never got to nurse and feed and one that I miss deeply when I allow myself to do so. When I pretend like the pain isn’t there then I don’t have to deal with it. But pretending like it’s not there also doesn’t allow God to heal it. How can God come in and heal something that I refuse to admit is there?

There are so many areas of my life God seems to be pointing this out in. There are times when I’m frantically trying to think of what to tell a friend when I feel like I have to cancel plans or when I feel like I haven’t been there enough. I get so caught up in trying to fashion my story in a way that sounds good that I forget I can just tell the truth. Doesn’t that sound so silly? A lot of my pretending comes from expectations. I try so hard to be what I feel like I’m supposed to be, feel how I’m supposed to feel, do what I’m supposed to do, know what I’m supposed to know. Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m thinking this way. As Christians I think we do this a lot without realizing it.

We are really good at quoting quotes and scriptures because that’s what we are taught but not because we believe it. One example would be when we say “God is good”. The Bible says He is good, the church says He is good, even the songs say He is good. I would sing it and recite it and pretend I knew it and I would kick myself mentally anytime I felt my mind question it. There was a point in my pregnancy with Levi when I couldn’t pretend anymore. I didn’t feel like God was good. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t trust Him no matter how many times I said I did just because that was the right thing to say. I finally told God that I was struggling to see how He was good all the time when so much bad happens and how could I trust a God like that? He wasn’t offended He actually knows my heart so He already knew that I didn’t believe it. When I finally admitted this to God He was able to take it and teach me the truth. He was able to shine a light into all the areas of my thinking that were incorrect and when He did my heart began to really see that He was indeed always good even in the midst of so much brokenness in a fallen world and certainly in the midst of my own circumstances. My relationship in Him was strengthened as well as my faith.

Somehow we are taught to ignore our feelings and ignore our thoughts and just recite scriptures or pray more. Somewhere we decided that we shouldn’t show God the doubting, hurting, grieving, frustrated parts of ourselves. Isn’t that so silly? Isn’t that what it means to be intimate with somebody? To show them all that you are, the good and the bad, and allow yourself to feel loved despite it all. I’ve learned when I take my emotions to God then He can show me the root of where they may be coming from so that He can then heal those places instead of continue to ignore it. When I condemn my feelings or push it away because I’ve been taught that I shouldn’t feel that it causes me to miss the opportunity to see why those emotions may be coming up in the first place. I then miss the opportunity to get healing because I’m too busy pretending like I’m not having those issues. If I pretend like I know the answers then I’m not teachable to God. This culture we live in can easily get caught up in performance and reputation and what we look like on the outside. In that we miss the authenticity of life and then miss the authenticity of God’s love that wants to see us healed and whole.

Rest O My Soul

The idea to start an official blog with a new name all it’s own and the potential to actually grow it came months after I lost Levi last year. I often felt drawn in times of prayer but would always ask myself “who am I to start something like this?” and “why would people want to subscribe and read my stuff?”. Not long after this I went up for prayer one Sunday not even knowing what I wanted prayer for . The lady that prayed over me sought the Lord and then began to tell me that I was supposed to start a blog. She said it would bring encouragement and healing to others and God would show me things to write about. She had no clue that this was something I had even thought about! I went home super excited and started researching anything I might need to know about running a blog. Soon my excitement turned to overwhelm. I knew nothing about how to do most of this.

How was I going to learn it all?

What would I even write about?

How would I even find the time?

What if I failed?

I then began my search for a blog name. I brainstormed with friends and family and had name ideas in my phone and all through my notebook but none of them clicked. I prayed for months. One day as I was laying on my couch in and out of sleep and feeling particularly raw in my recent grief that day I heard the Lord whisper “Rest, O My Soul”. As I heard it I thought back to all of the things He had taught me in the recent months and I smiled as I realized it all came back to that phrase-Rest. Not just a physical rest but a rest from deep within.

Within my emotions, within my desire to control, within my anxiety, within my soul. 

This was a rest that I had to learn as I walked through the months following losing my baby. A rest that I came to know in the midst of my uncertainty, my grief, my worries. All the words He spoke to me they all pointed my soul towards that deeper rest in Him.

My hope for this blog is that as I share thing I am walking or have walked through that you would find encouragement and hope. I pray that you may find healing in the words I write just as I have found it. As I experience who God is I pray that you also learn more about Him and I pray that as you do- you also find rest for your own soul.

Psalm 116:6-7 “The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”

 

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Crowns of Beauty for Brokenness

In that moment after holding our Levi as he passed I felt like I grew up years above my age. Something in me shifted. I also felt I now identified as a mom more than before. If I had held back or had a hard time integrating that part of my identity before, well now I was fully submerged in motherhood. I had experienced the highest joys and now the pain that comes with loving another being with my entire heart.

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Levi Josiah

It was a Thursday and I was at home with Asher as usual. I was 34 weeks and 1 day and I was very large and very uncomfortable. I actually had spent all morning trying to figure out which doctor I needed to see about a sore throat to make sure I didn’t have strep. I never got an appointment but made lunch and ate with Asher before sitting down to rest on the couch before I put Asher down for a nap. That’s when I felt my water break.

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