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June 30, 2011

Revive us again...

When Rick was asked to preach a revival the 3rd week of June, I wasn't sure if he would be able to go or not. Since he works full time for another job outside the Church, I didn't know if he would be able to take off of work. If he could, I knew that it would cost him his vacation time.

Without hesitation after being asked, he knew God wanted him to go. He scheduled his days off and we went. Since we were coming right out of Vacation Bible School and him working a full work week, I knew he must have been exhausted, but I never heard him complain..... not once.

I spoke a little bit in my last post about our first service and Father's Day. By the end of the service on Sunday night, we were feeling more comfortable with the people and the Church. I knew God would allow it to be a great week.

We spent our afternoon's having fun and hanging out with Nathan and Bethany and their kiddos. We remembered "college days" and old times. We went to Rainforest Cafe', the mall, and even Chuck E Cheese's. The boys were having a blast and so were we, but I could see Rick's heart and his focus was on those evening messages. He has such a heart for the ministry.

Since becoming a part of the ministry, I have learned that one thing that really can be good for Church's is revival. Sometimes we just have to let our hearts be revived. We have to kind of come where we can "re-boot" (if you will) and start fresh. We have to let our hearts get on fire for the Lord.

So, many things can get into our lives and tear us down.

Gossip
Anger
Guilt
Bitterness
Frustration
Acceptance
Faithfulness
Exhaustion
Pain
Disappointment

All of these things can come into our lives and pull us away from being at our absolute best potential for the Lord and for those around us.

It happens.

So, when you fully surrender your heart and whatever it is that is taking over your life, God will revive your heart and help you to start fresh.

During our week at Faith Bible Baptist, as the messages were being preached, I could see hearts being changed. Including mine and Rick's.

There is just something about being under the Word of God. You feel clean and pure and better. The word of God is our guideline on how to make ourselves... better.

We will never be perfect because only God is perfect, but we can always be better.

Since the passing of Madeline, Rick and I have allowed the Lord to work in our lives. We are better because of her, because she taught us how to fully surrender and depend on the Lord.

I don't know if we would have gotten to this place without this tragedy in our lives. When some tragedies pull people away from the Lord, we have pulled ourselves closer. We have clung to Him and His word and He has gotten us through.

Everyone needs revival in their hearts and everyone can have a better relationship with the Lord.

I'm just so thankful that in going to a little country Church in Michigan, where we were supposed to help encourage and be a part in their reviva, they encouraged us. Our hearts were revived once again.

There was a lot of love there. Once they learned and heard our story, there was even more love and compassion shown towards us. So many tears were shed for us. There was a lot of heart there.

The final night of revival, after a week of wonderful messages preached by my Husband, I was able to get up and share my testimony.

I wasn't nervous, because to be honest, I love to talk.... I'm sure you've learned that about me by now. =)

I have shared my testimony in many Church's and to many people, but this time it was different. This time, Maddie Grace was a part of it.

I stood and began to tell my "story" to this precious group of people. I felt that the Lord was giving me the words to say. Yes I was telling my story, but He was showing Himself through it all.

As I was talking, it made me realize just how much the Lord has done in my life since I was that 16 year old girl. He has brought me so far. I'm very grateful.

As I was talking, I was thinking about how different I am now from then. How much I have grown up and grown "in" the Lord. I was thinking how from now on when I give my testimony, it will include Maddie. Part of this made me sad, but part of it made me happy that I will always be able to tell her story. She is such a part of my life even though she is nog longer here. She will continue to be carried with us the rest of our lives.

As I finished up my testimony I shared something that I don't believe I've ever shared on my blog. Something that through my daughter passing away, has reminded me over and over again of the love of God.

That is the heart of God.

I remember at Maddie's funeral service talking about her little life and how I wish so much that I would've had her longer. But that wasn't God's will. I didn't choose for my daughter's life to be taken and if given the choice, Maddie would be here right now in this moment. I never chose that.

However, God did choose to give us His Son. His only Son. He gave His life for us. For sinners.

He gave Jesus for us.

Do you see the love in that?

 What. Love...

Madeline's little life has changed us forever. Her story has pointed people to the Lord. Her days here were precious and wonderful and they changed everything.

She was my heart. She was my daughter. I can't imagine giving up her life for anyone.

God freely gave His Son because of His love for us. This has helped me to see the heart of the Lord even more clearly. He gave so much. He gave His child.

Yet, everyday people reject Him. Every day people ignore His sacrifice as they "selfishly" live their lives. The very life that God could choose to end tomorrow.

Oh, if people could see the heart of God.

Then we would all live revived and holy lives for Him.


After I gave my testimony and poured out my heart, I watched Rick do the same. I saw people flood the altar and men and women getting things right. I watched a Church come together and stand behind their Pastor. I watched God work. It was a wonderful thing.

After the message as Rick and I stood at the back of the Church and people came by, I could see the heart of the people. People we have only gotten to know in 4 short days, but I felt a connection to them. I had 4 precious ladies hug me and tell me that they have lost children too. They told me their stories and I could see the pain in their faces. They each told me how much God had worked in their lives through it all. I shook hands of men who had tears in their eyes. I can only imagine what God has in store at Faith Bible Baptist.

What a blessing to be a part of revival.

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.
Hallelujah thine the glory,
Hallelujah Amen.
Hallelujah thine the glory.
Revive us again...

At the end of the night we walked out to the most beautiful sight.


What an amazing way to end the week, and what a precious reminder of God's promises...

June 28, 2011

Father's Day and Faithfulness...

Father's Day came this year for us while we were in Michigan.

Rick had been invited to come and preach a 4 day revival in Lapeer, Michigan. Some of our best friends from College, Nathan and Bethany(who I set up way back when :) wanted us to come and be a part of their revival at their Church. Rick agreed and we headed out the Saturday before Father's Day.

We got into the hotel and got settled. It was kind of nice to get away just the four of us. The boys thought we were vacation and couldn't wait to get down to the pool. They were so cute. =)

The next morning we got up and headed to the Church early. When we walked in, we were greeted immediately by some really sweet people. I made my way in and found a seat with the boys as Rick headed up to get set for the service.

We were having a sad morning but we knew we had a job to do and we tried to push aside the pain and sorrow and be excited about the days ahead. After I got settled in my pew, the sweetest  lady came up to me and was fussing over the boys. She said how cute they were and then she said how I need a girl. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to A. embarrass her and B. I didn't want to start crying right before Church.

So, I just said "Yes, we would love to raise a little girl."

Then she started talking more about how wonderful little girls are and how every Mom should get to have a daughter.... She went on and on.

By this point, my eyes were welling up with tears and I just kept my head down. For the first time ever, I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to say what happened to us. I was feeling so heartbroken.

I looked up to Rick and he could just tell by the look on my face, something wasn't right.

I slipped out to the bathroom to collect my thoughts and pull myself together.

When I walked back in and started to my pew, I saw that there was a pink car seat now directly behind where I was sitting. As I got closer, I could see the little newborn baby girl. She was beautiful.

I sat down and started to make small talk with the boys but I couldn't focus on anything except the baby behind me and how everyone in the Church was fussing over her.

I heard her Mom say that she was wearing a "Daddy loves me" shirt in honor of Father's Day. It was so sweet but so sad to me at the same time. I think after I found out Madeline was a girl I bought like 20 "Daddy loves me" shirts. Rick wanted to be a Daddy to a little girl so bad. I wanted to see him with our little girl so bad. It made me sad.

I just prayed and asked God to give me strength in that moment. Satan was really fighting me and trying to discourage me.

Rick did a wonderful job preaching Sunday School and I was starting to feel a lot better.

During the morning service, I was so proud. I was excited to be there at Faith Bible Baptist and to be a part of an exciting time and week in their Church. But, I knew these people didn't yet know us yet. We have a story. Everyone has a story.

That morning in his message, Rick shared ours.

There wasn't a dry eye that morning as Mother's and Father's listened to my Husband talk about Grace and Faith and the passing of our little girl.

Rick preached that morning on Making your house a home. He talked about how we prepared this perfect room for our little girl. We had the closet and drawers full of clothes. We had everything a little baby girl would need or possibly want, but we were lacking something.

Nightly Bible devotions were not a part of our lives. We didn't have family prayer time. Of course we were in Church faithfully 3 services a week. We run many of the ministry's at our Church. God is a part of our lives always. But, before Maddie passed we had so much to work on in making our house a home.

Maddie made our house a home.

We are more faithful than ever to the Lord. We have only gotten stronger.

I watched my sweet Husband up there and I couldn't help but be so proud of him. Here he is in on a day that I know is so very hard on him, and he is pouring his heart out to this Church of people that we don't even know. He is faithful to the Lord and He is faithful to the Ministry. I'm so lucky to have him.

After the service, everyone was coming up and giving us hugs and words of encouragement. It was nice to feel so loved, but Rick and I had heavy hearts. We were missing our Baby Girl on a day when children and Daddy's are celebrated. It hurt.

Yet, I was so thankful for faithfulness. I am thankful for God's faithfulness to me and I am thankful that we have continued to be faithful to Him even during the hard times.

Every day is a challenge for us. Everyday is hard. Yet, everyday God continues to provide grace and faith and hope to get us through our days.

I'm so thankful for faithfulness.

I Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry...


I have many more stories to share about our week of revival in Michigan... Stay tuned. =)

June 26, 2011

Today...

6/26/11

Today is Sunday.

Last week was an amazing week and soon I will catch up and write all about it, but today,

Today was hard.

It's been a long while since I've had a melt down and I really don't know the reason for it. I was in Church this morning. I was encouraged by my SS class. I was inspired by the morning message and all the songs, but I'm struggling.

I know that Satan would love to see me struggle and get down and off course. I know that He knows my heart is revived right now and I feel so close to  the Lord.

And I'm not going to let him win. I won't.

I just need to vent to people who I know love me and to some of you who can empathize.

I JUST MISS MY DAUGHTER.

I just miss her.

I want to hold her. I want to call her name. I want to make her giggle and coo. I want to give her a bath. I want to cuddle her and feed her. I just want her.

It's been a while since I've had a break down like this and I know that it's still pretty normal in the grieving process. (whatever that is)

Some (well all) my heart just hurts. My arms just ache and I just need a little more reassurance from those who love me.

Today is one of those days.

I think Rick knew pretty quick this morning, today would be one of those days and he's been doing his dead level best to keep me on track and a smile on my face. Some days I don't know what I would do without him.

I decided to come home after Church and rest (which I'm totally not doing by the way) lol and He took the boys over to his Mom's for a nap while he worked on our boat.

As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I headed strait in the house and upstairs to Maddie's room. Even though she never spent one night there, I still go there to feel close to her. That room is a reflection of my heart for her. The preparation just shows my love and my excitement while expecting her.

I found myself in there weeping. I was clinging onto the tiny bassinet of the few items she used. I cried out to God and asked for strength, and He provided.

I just wanted to hold her, touch her, just one more time.

I just miss her. With every ounce of being in my body, I just miss her.

Call it emotions running high from my pregnancy hormones. Call it sensitivity. Call it what you want.

Maddie Grace passing away is the absolute hardest thing I've ever been through. Living without her every day is a challenge. Getting through this life is painful and challenging.

If you've lost a child, then you know.

If you have never been here, I pray you never will be. It's awful.

I really don't know what it was today. It might have been the new baby at Church this morning. It might have been the anxiety I'm having as I go through this new pregnancy, I don't know.

But this I do know. I love and miss my daughter more than words can express. More than touch can heal. More than time can erase. It's that deep.

Going through life knowing someone is always missing. Counting your children and knowing there should have always been one more... It's not for the faint of heart.

It. Is. Hard.

But today, I'm going to keep going. I'm going to vent and cry and ask God for strength. Then I'm going to press on, for my family, for my Lord.

I know there will be hard days, probably for the rest of my life. But as my sweet friend Tabatha said in her blog post that I just read...

 "My life is not defined by her death, but by her life"... I love that! Well said Tabatha!

She also said this..

"I'm going to live like she did, breathing precious life into Her death was and continues to be a painstaking reality. But I don't have to live my life dwelling on the questions, beating myself up and continuously asking why. I'll get my answers one day, not in this Earthly life... but one day I will.
For now, I will live and love for the life my daughter lived, for the life she breathed into her existence. The existence she breathed into me. That my friends is what it is about." 
http://savannaswings.blogspot.com/2011/06/letting-go.html

I agree with her. That is what it is all about.

So today Maddie Grace, Mommy really misses you. Today, I have cried out and wished I could hold you just one more time. Today, my heart aches.

But. Today, I will live and love for the life you lived and for the joy you have given me.

I love you Madeline Grace. Thank you for your love.

June 24, 2011

Vacation Bible School 2011 (Ministry)


Every year when Vacation Bible School comes around, I immediately get excited! Yes, there is a ton of work involved and I hardly see my Husband for almost 2 weeks strait, but it's totally worth it.

The smile on the kids faces.

The excitement in their eyes as they see all the decorated rooms.

The children who have never heard the Gospel and accept Christ.

It's priceless.

You can't put a price on eternity. It's far above and beyond anything else. Every ounce of hard work was worth it once again this year!

This year's theme was so amazing and I just have to share about it!

Every year, we try to come up with a theme that is outside the box of the normal VBS themes. So, this year we did board games.

Our theme was "Ministry" instead of Monopoly.

We took ordinary board games and put a Biblical application to all of them. It turned out amazing! Rick dressed up like the Monopoly Man aka "Ministry Man" and he looked great! We decorated the gymnasium up like the the board game and made the cards the books of the Bible. They turned out so cool. We made a bank and a jail and decorated the stage up like a giant treasure chest. It was great!
Here's some pic's!






Isn't that fun!!!



Here is my room... Enjoy!








This year, I really enjoyed decorating my classroom, The Promise Land aka "Candy Land"... We put so much detail into every corner of that room in hopes that the kids would love it. Every day I shared about Heaven and how we can go there. I mentioned Maddie and her little story and talked about how we don't know how long our lives will be... I had the opportunity to lead dozens of boys and girls to the Lord each day. It was truly amazing and humbling. I couldn't help but think of my sweet girl every time a soul accepted Christ. I thought of her with every hug I received from all the the little girls that week. I missed her. I wanted her there, but I was so thankful for how the Lord worked throughout the week in the lives of all the children.

I thought of how just one year before, we were announcing sweet Maddie Grace's pregnancy on this very week of VBS. Annette made us shirts that said "Future VBS kid" for me to wear. Everytime someone would read it they would realize what it meant... Baby #3 was on the way... Here is a pic of Annette and I at 3 and 6 months.


 I dreamed this year about seeing Maddie at VBS and thinking how big she would have been by now. This never came to be but I could still feel sweet Maddie Grace with me all week long. She was there too.

Our theme for the week in our class was "Heaven gets sweeter every day." And this I can first hand say I know to be true. Heaven is so sweet to me and I'm so excited to go there one day and see my Savior and my sweet little girl...

The rest of the rooms were lots of fun too, Here are a couple more pics...


Operation Miracle...

Jacob's Ladder... aka "Chutes and Ladders"


And The Clue-cifixion...


So much hard work and detail went into these precious rooms. We stayed working until 12 am some nights the week before. We were exhausted before the week even started, but God gave us strength to face our most amazing week of VBS yet!

We had around 200-250 kids and workers everyday almost 400 the last night. We had 89 children accept Jesus as their personal Savior. 89! The hard work paid off and God blessed above and beyond what we could ever imagine...

This is what it's all about...



I'm so thankful to be a part of an amazing Ministry for the Lord. I found myself in tears that week thinking about how much the Lord was doing in our Church and Ministry at the Emmanuel Baptist Church. Even in the hardest days of my Husband's and my life, God has been able to use us to do His work hear on earth. I'm so thankful that though we feel like broken vessels some days, He can still use us. It truly is an honor and privilege to serve the Lord. We are grateful!

I think my boys enjoyed the week too!


Aren't they cute with their faces painted? Love them.


So, I know I've been off here for almost 2 weeks and I apologize for no updates. Stay tuned. We have had so many wonderful things happen in the last 2 weeks and I'm excited to share. Thank you for being here.

Much Love,
Natalie




























June 14, 2011

Birdie Blessings...

I think by now everyone knows just how much those little birdie's mean to me and remind me of my sweet Maddie Grace. It seems like I see more and more bird things throughout the day and I love to hear those sweet birdies sing and fly through the sky. I find myself just day dreaming about my  little birdie girl.

It's been 5 months since she went to Heaven but I still can feel her. I can still see her little face and her little expressions. I can still remember those beautiful eyes and lips and how she would smack them together when she was hungry. And Oh... that precious hair. I've never seen such beautiful hair on a baby. I just wish I could wash it and put a big huge hair bow in there...
I miss all those things.

Anytime I see another baby around the age she would be if she were still here, it's such a strange thing.
I had a baby. I saw her, I held her, but she isn't here. She isn't meeting those milestones like those babies I see. It's heartbreaking.

The other day, Rick and I were out at a house because we were buying the boat they had for sale. The seller's sister actually owned the house and she came out to talk with us while her brother was on the way to meet Rick. She looked about my age and she was. She was 28 as well.

I asked her if she had any children and she said that she had 3. All boys. Their ages were almost exactly the ages of my babies. 5, 3 and 4 months. I just kept thinking how lucky she was. I wondered if the baby was sleeping... Sitting in his high chair. Rolling around on the floor. So many thoughts ran through my head.

I have found happiness again. I'm finding it's easier to smile, and laugh again. I definitely feel the happiest I've felt than in the last 5 months, but in my heart there is always an ache. There is always a miss and a want for my little girl.

So, for those of you who are wondering, I'm doing good and I am getting on my feet again. But... I still miss Maddie just as much as I did and probably even a lot more. I just have to fill those moments of quiet sadness with something productive and happy. I'm staying busy with Rick and my boys. I'm staying busy with all my Church ministries. And, I'm trying to focus on the happiness ahead with sweet Baby "Hope".

It's funny because it seems like in those moments I'm missing her the most, God is still sending little blessings along my way to make me smile again...

The other day, I was sitting out side watching the boys swim and I noticed the sweetest little sparrow on the wire overhead. I watched it for a while as it sang and hoped across the wire. I noticed that it never flew away. It stayed there the entire time I was outside with the boys. It made me smile and feel like she was watching over us. She wasn't in her little swimsuit splashing with the boys like I had pictured,  but I could feel her. She was with us.

Just in the last month, I've received so many sweet little "birdie blessings"...

I've receive a beautiful necklace with Maddie's name and a birdie charm from my friend Katrina.

I've received the sweetest card and Bible bookmark that says "Grow in Grace" from my friend Jami.

My mom got me the sweetest little yellow bird to go in my kitchen.

My sister in law got me a beautiful necklace with a flower that looks like the bloom off of Maddie's Dogwood tree.

My Mother in law got me a birdie wind charm and a bird that can go in Maddie's Memory Garden.

I've been given little notes from my Sunday school girls with pictures of birds with crowns on their heads. =)

And I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now.

So many precious blessings to remember my girl over the last month.

This last Sunday was really special...

My friend Jessica who I've known for a long time, has been following our story since Maddie passed away. She came to Church this past Sunday with such a special blessing for me. She told me a little while back that God had laid something on her heart to make me and she wanted to give it to me.

She said that she had gone into a Fabric store a little while back and she was walking to go find what she needed and she saw this birdie fabric. She said immediately God brought me to mind and she knew that she had to make me this blanket.




I love it. Every time I use it now, I think of sweet Maddie Grace. My birdie girl.

Thank you Jessica and all of you who have given me things to remember. I will never forget of course, but it's nice to have pieces of Maddie all around giving me comfort and helping me to continue to keep her close.
What a blessing.

So many people have sent me this song and it really helps me. The words are powerful. Take a moment to listen.
Love, Natalie
http://youtu.be/4mmgV6mPvb0

June 9, 2011

A little bit of everything...

Well I have SO much to talk about and have had such a hard time finding the time to hop on here...

First things first. I got a new haircut! =)

I decided I wanted a fresh new look, so last Friday I chopped off about 4 1/2 inches and went super blonde. It's been a nice change and the perfect cut for summer. Not to mention, it makes for the cutest little pony tail ever. ha ha. I usually keep my hair really long, but I thought why not change things up a bit. My life has changed so much and so have I.

Also, over the weekend, God was really moving and working in mine and Rick's life. He preached on Sunday morning a message about "Don't waste your Valley." He talked about making the most of the trials in our lives and honoring and praising God through them. I think the entire Church was in tears and before the service even ended, people were making their way forward to the altar. Rick was still preaching! It was amazing to see a revival break out in our Church. The altar was flooded and people were talking to the Lord. I even saw 3 elderly couple's come forward as I was going back to my seat. God was moving in an amazing way.

It reminded me of a service that Rick preached back at Camp Victory when we were just teenagers. You could feel the Holy Spirit across the auditorium just like I remember feeling that night in Somerset, KY. I enjoyed watching the Lord use my precious boyfriend then in the work of the Lord, and now 13 years later, He's still using him. It's moments like that, that I'm so very honored and thankful to be in the ministry. It's emotionally and physically exhausting at times, but I'm so happy to be a part of it. God is really working in the lives and hearts of our Church and we will be forever grateful for what happened on Sunday the 5th of June. As Rick said "Services like that can't be manufactured, it was ALL GOD."

Sunday afternoon on our way home from Church, I decided to stop by the cemetery. Maddie would have been turning 5 months old the next day, and I was really missing her. I thought that it might be a little easier to go back this time since some time had passed and I have been having brighter days, but it wasn't. I found myself really sad and crying the whole time I was there.

I sat and just talked to Maddie Grace that day. I told her all about what was going on and our family. I told her how much we missed her. I told her how proud she would have been of her Daddy for preaching a revival that morning. It maybe sounds silly, but just talking to her in that quiet cemetery really helped me. I was asking God to give me strength and to take care of my baby girl. I know He is. She is with the One who created her.

As I pulled away, I felt better. Yet, I just don't think I will ever get over the fact that I have a child who is no longer with me. I will never be able to wrap my head around the fact that I have to go to the cemetery to visit her. It's just such an unnatural thing. I'm just so thankful that we have kept her little memory so alive in our lives. Even that morning, Rick was talking about her in his message. She will always be with us.

So, this week it has been all VBS, all week. Rick runs our Vacation Bible School each summer and I have to brag on him and say that he does an amazing job. This year our theme is "Ministry."  We have life size game boards with a spiritual application for each one of them. We decorated the entire gymnasium like the game Monopoly and called it "Ministry." We made poster board size cards in place of all the game cards with the books of the Bible on them. We also built a jail and a bank. It's going to be so fun! Instead of get out of jail free cards we have the gospel on "get out of hell free" cards. I'm really praying that God will use next week to allow many boys and girls to come to Him and get saved.

My room is a Candy Land theme aka "Promise Land." We have been working hard to make it look like the actual game. It's looking great! I really think the kids are going to love seeing the room and hearing all about the true promise land, Heaven.

Please pray for us as we prepare this week for next week. If any of you live in the Lebanon or surrounding area, our VBS will be held Monday June 13th- Friday June 17th from 6-8 pm. It's going to be a blast!!!

One more thing, that I am so beyond thrilled to share!.... My brother and his precious wife are expecting their second baby! We have been praying that God would bless them for a while now and this week, He did! They are due in February and we cannot wait to meet this new little boy/girl. I absolutely love being an Aunt to their little boy, Kaelan and I am thrilled to become an aunt again.

God is really working in our family. After so much heart ache and loss for us all, God is really blessing. He is pulling us closer than ever through the lives of these new little ones on the way. I'm so thankful for the smiles on the faces of my family again. I'm so thankful for these new lives that will be joining us this winter. Please pray for them, along with us and our pregnancies.

I feel like it is quite a testimony of just how good God is on our lives, that we are able to find such happiness and joy again. God is blessing and we are so grateful for that.

In closing, I would just like to thank ALL of you who continue to write me and encourage me. I appreciate all of you who have shared just how much Maddie Grace has made an impact on your lives. She sure has on ours as well, and it's nice to know that even though she is no longer here, God is still using her little life to do great things on this earth. I'm still so proud to be her Mama. I miss her dearly, but I'm so thankful for what she has done and continue to do with her life. What a blessing.



Much Love,
Natalie

June 6, 2011

Baby "Hope" at 12 weeks...

We are busy around here but I wanted to take a little time to post an update.

Last week I went to the Doctor to check on little baby "hope."

 When I got to the Doctor, I was a ball of nerves as usual. I just wanted to hear the heartbeat and know everything was okay.

They had me fill out my paper work and pre-registration forms. The whole time I was filling them out ,  I just kept thinking "I just did this..." It was a mixture of sadness and excitement for me. Sadness because I loved every second of being in the hospital and the memories of Maddie's perfect delivery and day there. Excitement because I'm hoping this time around will be just as happy, but this baby will come home to stay. So many different emotions.

After I went through my routine of checking blood pressure/ weight etc, It was finally time to listen to the heartbeat. It's something I dream about. I remember after Maddie passed away, I could still hear the little fetal heartbeat in my dreams. There is just no sweeter sound.

So, after a quick hello to my favorite nurse and everything was set, my Doctor came in to check on the baby. I laid back anticipating hearing that precious sound.

My doctor was moving the Doppler around and pointing out the different sounds to me. But we couldn't find baby's heartbeat... I was a mess. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I just started thinking all the "what ifs."

After a few more minutes, my sweet Doctor said that sometimes the heartbeats are hard to find at this stage and suggested we take a peek at the baby on ultrasound.

Walking down the hallway, I was so scared. I have been in this very place at almost this exact stage in my pregnancy and there never was another heartbeat. I had lost that little one. So I just started praying.

My Doctor seemed to think that everything was just fine, and he assured me that we would see a happy healthy baby.

He was right. =)

As soon as he started the ultrasound, there was our little one jumping around like a jumping bean. It had a good strong heartbeat and everything looked perfect.

It was a little too soon to see what the gender was, but I didn't even care. I was just so happy that our little baby hope was okay. God is good.

Meet our little guy/girl. <3


After the ultrasound, my Doctor came back in in to let me know that everything once again looks great and not to change one thing. He told me that we have a lot to look forward to and that this baby will help us so much. He's right. He really truly cares about Rick and I and how we are doing. He's more than just a Doctor, he's a friend. He goes above and beyond to help us feel good. I don't know many Doctors like that. He really is one in a million.

So, after an emotional appointment, everything was great. I left that day with a smile on my face and my baby's sweet picture in my hand. God is good.

I miss Maddie so much, but God is good. He is giving us a glimmer of hope through a time when all hope seemed lost. I'm so grateful for this.

Today Maddie Grace would be turning 5 months old. It's still hard to believe that this much time has passed. I wonder so many things, but I know God has a plan.

Please continue to pray for us as the pregnancy progresses and as we still miss our little girl.
I appreciate you all being here and continuing to walk this road with us. It means the world to me.

Much Love, Natalie

June 2, 2011

Heaven is sweeter every day...

So, I promised to share my story about Sunday...

Well, my Pastor (Father in law) and his wife are out of town on vacation. So, Rick (who is our Assistant Pastor) will be filling in for him the next two weeks. I always get really nervous but excited when Rick has to run the entire service and preach, but he does so well. He really is a natural in front of people and God has given him the amazing gift of preaching.

So, Sunday was going great. I had been in prayer for Rick all morning and was asking God to bless the service. Rick preached a message on "The greatest Soldier who ever lived." It was so good and so educational! He made remembrance to all the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our country. He talked about all the sacrifices they made.

He talked about how they gave up their "old address" to travel and make a new dwelling place somewhere else. They left the comfort of their homes and the company of their families to go out and fight.

He talked about how they gave up their "old apparel" to take and put on a special uniform as they fight for our country. They put away their everyday clothes and were robed in a uniform that honors our wonderful country.

They traded in their "old accomplishments" for new ones. They left their lives and accomplishments at home. They fought and paid the price for all the freedoms we enjoy today... They gave so much.

They stepped onto a harsh battlefield ready to fight fully knowing it could cost them everything, and they gave their lives for a great cause... The freedom we hold today is not free at all. It cost such a price.

But the freedoms we have in this life, are not the only freedoms that we should hold dear.
The freedom we have over hell and the grave cost more than we can pay... It cost Jesus His life. For there is no way to Heaven, but through Him.

As we honored those who gave their all and sacrificed for our freedom, we were reminded of the greatest soldier who ever lived. Jesus Christ.

Jesus left his Heavenly address and he put away his Heavenly apparel, to come to this earth with a purpose in mind. He sacrificed His own life for ours, fully knowing it would cost Him His life.

He so willingly gave His life, so we can have the opportunity to have the ultimate freedom. The freedom from Hell.

As he preached this message, I was so encouraged. So aware of just how much Jesus gave, His all. Praise God!

In closing, Rick said something that really spoke to me. He said "If Jesus was to walk into this Church right now and stand before you. Could He look at you and say that you have accepted him? Or would he look at you and say, No, they denied me."

After all He has done, how could anyone deny Him?

Many do and this is a sad, sad shame.

He didn't do all of this without a purpose, just like our braves soldiers today, He entered this battle for our lives with His whole heart. He wants you to go to Heaven, and you can.

After this amazing service, something so wonderful happened. A sweet girl around my age came forward and told Rick she wanted to be saved...

Rick asked me to show her and we went into the Preacher's office. Before we got started, I shared with her what a blessing it was for me to get to talk to her about these things.

I told her how since Maddie passed away, Heaven has become even more real to me and I get so thrilled knowing someone else is headed there. She told me that she had been following my story with Maddie and that I was an inspiration to her. It was a blessing.

So, I sat there that day and told her how to go to Heaven. How God loved her, but we are sinners and our sin has to be paid for, but that Jesus paid for this sin. I told her about how Jesus didn't just die but that He rose again. I asked her if she believed these things and she answered that she did. Then I told her that she simply had to "ask" Him to forgive her and save her... Guess what?

She did.

I couldn't hold back the tears as I told her that was the best decision she will make in this life, because it affects her eternity. She told me with tears in her eyes how much "better" she felt.

I knew what she meant. I remember as a 16 year old girl feeling that weight lifted from my shoulders. No more fear. No more doubt.

I couldn't help but smile knowing that Maddie Grace was a part of that celebration going on up in Heaven. Another soul was saved. Another name written in the book of life.

I can't wait to go there. I can't wait to see my Lord and Savior. I can't wait to hold my little girl again and kiss my sweet grandparents, and family who have gone on before me.

Until that day, I have made it my mission. Maddie had made it my mission, to tell everyone around me about Heaven, and how to go there.

Thank you Jesus for sacrificing your life for the ultimate freedom.

Heaven really is getting sweeter everyday.