Thank You

I’ve found myself saying this pretty much her whole life so far, but Adele is at a really fun stage. She is able to express herself fairly well for a 19 month old and her vocabulary is exploding. While she is learning so many new words, we have also been trying to teach her some manners to go along with them. “Please” and “Thank you” being some of them. Instead of “MELK!”, we gently instruct her to ask politely with a “Please”.

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We were at the dinner table a few weeks ago, and Adele accidentally dropped a piece of food as she was handing it to me. It made a bit of a mess. Artie and Adele had just cleaned up the kitchen floor the night before, so with a sigh (in response to the mess) and a grunt (because of my belly being in the way of reaching down) I reached down to start picking up pieces of food. Artie got up and got a paper towel to wipe up the residue. While both of us had our hands on the ground tending to the mess, Adele said,

“Thank you, Mommy. Thank you, Daddy.”

We both looked up, looked at each other, looked back at her as she smiled at us. Oh, how that made my heart swell with love for her! Up to this point she’s been like a parrot, repeating the words she hears. But in this moment, Artie and I hadn’t said a thing. Unsolicited, those words came out of her mouth. Who knows if she actually knew the meaning of what she said, but it was quite a special moment and the mess on the floor was long forgotten. There is something good for the heart to give and receive thanks.

The joy and pleasure I got out of that moment carried me for days. Why did it feel so good? By her saying, “Thank you, Mommy” it acknowledged that we had done some thing for her and she recognized it. When she said our names, she directed her gratitude at us, the ones who had served her. It also created a positive emotion for her. It caused me to reflect on my own giving of thanks to the One who has done so much for me. Is this how God feels when we acknowledge him and give thanks to him? Our thanksgiving isn’t just an acknowledgement of the gifts, but a recognition and love of the Giver. The Bible admonishes us to do this and gives us examples all throughout:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. Psalm 30:4 ESV

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1 ESV

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 ESV

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Got a little crafty for the Thanksgiving holiday

What about thanksgiving in suffering? When life is really hard? When you are a couple of weeks away, maybe just days from saying goodbye, in this life, to one of your children? While there are many emotions I am feeling in these final weeks of pregnancy, when I take the time to give thanks to the Father for what He has done, I am filled with a peace and a confidence that He will continue to do the very things He has done and been doing and carry us through what lies ahead. There is MUCH for me to be thankful for and He is worthy of giving thanks to.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to a real hope – one that I don’t deserve.

Thank you for giving us Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, our high priest who can sympathize with our weakness, our Savior and Redeemer, the One who has made eternal life with you possible.

Thank you for giving me your Word that is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Thank you for the faithful people, from old times and new, who have suffered well and faithfully followed you.

Thank you for the mysterious way you use suffering and hardship to bless us and grow us.

Thank you for tangibly displaying your love to our family through the body of Christ, the church.

Thank you for the kindness and generosity of so many, even strangers.

Thank you for giving us strength and endurance thus far.

Thank you for giving us Arthur, he is such a beloved member of our family. Thank you for using the smallest and weakest among us to do big things. Thank you for letting us take care of him for this long, a point we were unsure we would get to.

There are also hundreds of people I could individually thank for the many things you have done for us. If I had the time, I would list each of you out here in this blog post. If you have reached out to us in any way, whether just a simple text message that you are praying or whether you have given a meal or sent a package – Thank you. My heart is full of sincere gratitude for the kindness you have shown us in these past few months. We would not be where we are today, grieving with hope, without you.

Whatever you are going through right now, I hope you can take the time to express your gratitude. Both the things you are thankful for and who you are thankful to.

#mcm

If you are on social media of various kinds, you might see people posting on Mondays with the hashtag #mcm. Man Crush Monday. A tribute of sorts to a certain man in one’s life. Well, let me participate in this with a special shout out to my little man:

Little Arthur has been my constant companion since late March. He has done quite a few flips inside of me, although they tell me he is currently head down. Over the summer he had a few too many Southwest Chicken subs from Dagwoods. He has had a recent preference for raspberry sweet teas and soups. He helped me discover the great lunch deal at Olive Garden that has satisfied this craving: unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks for $6.99 – oh my! He enjoys playtime in the bed and goodnight kisses from his sister. He has completely stolen my heart ⚓

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He’s grown up so much since this day! Our first look at him back in May.

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We had some fun on skates this summer with the college kids

Arthur Neale Van Sciver

Arthur Neale Van Sciver

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Arthur being a little risky near the edge trying to get a good view 😉

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Playing in the corn pit with the other kids at the farm. Almost couldn’t get him out!

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Arthur, left, and some of his friends!

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Sweet cheeks

 

Gallery

Our Family Of Four

I love photos. I have been working on my own photography over the past few years and I have thousands of pictures of Adele and Artie. I don’t have many family pictures, ones with me in them – since I am usually the one behind the camera. Hidden Pearl Photography has blessed us again. Karen took some photos at Arthur’s Blessing Shower and it is great to have photos of the four of us, especially of little Arthur (who is getting so big!). Me and my 3 A’s!

More Than A Picture

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I snapped this picture, didn’t like it and was just going to delete it when I got home. But after going through my camera after our trip a few weeks ago, I saw something more in it. Artie and I went on a walk our first morning during our mountain getaway on a path just across the road from the place we were staying. It was cool, but comfortable. The sun was starting to warm up the area. We had just walked over a bridge that crossed a creek that runs alongside a highway toward Boone and came to this spot. I told him, compared to the rest of our walk, this looked like a spooky enchanted forest, like what you would imagine in a fairytale. When we came to this section, it was dark and much colder. We eventually found a nice spot with some picnic benches beyond this place and up a hill where sat for an hour evaluating and talking about our marriage and family.

Are we meeting with God during this season? What are we learning in the Scriptures? How is our communication? Is it loving and biblical? What are some things we are doing well? How do we intentionally or unintentionally irritate or hurt each other? How is our technology use and what boundaries do we need to put in place? What do we want our family to be about? These are some of the many questions that prompted good, deep, productive conversation between the two of us and helped to put us on the same page. My husband spent time over these days leading our family, pursuing my heart and sharing his. And it felt so good.

Did we spend time talking about details of what’s to come with Arthur? A little. We’ve made some plans, but at this point it’s hard to make many decisions because there is still uncertainty about many aspects of his birth, just as with a normal, healthy pregnancy. Most of our conversation was thanksgiving for all that God has provided for us so far and big picture stuff for how we want to lead our family in the months and years to come, however many children the Lord entrusts to our care for however long we have them.

I think we have made some great memories so far with Arthur – played in a volleyball game with himmade some crafts, have some special 3D photos, fun little moments with his sister, a special party for him, a getaway with Mommy and Daddy, and some Halloween dress-up fun. He has eaten out at quite a few restaurants (thanks to many friends who have sent us gift cards), has had some good home-cooked meals from our friends, and has enjoyed afternoon nap times, just like his sister.

Today, we are a month from his due date, December 6th. At this point in your pregnancy, it is wise to have a bag packed for the hospital because it could be go-time anytime. Usually an exciting thing. But for me, it is terrifying being this close. It’s not his birth that scares me. I anticipate that and seeing him will be a joyful event. It’s the goodbye. It’s the empty tummy and empty arms. It is when he is no longer with us, THAT is what is dark and scary to me. I honestly don’t want to go through the next few months. I contemplate the time ahead of us and I don’t see how I can do it.

But back to the picture. What do I see in this picture? We are getting closer to entering a dark season in our lives. But there are some other things I see…

The gift of marriage and my husband. This is not a picture of just a forest, it is a picture of my husband leading the way. Big, tragic events tend to result in one of two trajectories for couples: 1) they begin to drift apart or 2) they are brought closer together and have an even deeper relationship. By God’s grace, so far, I believe this event is growing our love for one another and has strengthened our relationship. I am the one writing this blog, but I am not experiencing this alone. I often pray prayers of thanksgiving for Artie and I have told him a number of times, “I am glad I am doing this with you.”  While we most certainly are grieving and will grieve differently, Artie is in this with me, by my side. For better or for worse. As it was during this mountain retreat, his leadership will be of great blessing to me as we walk down this road together. What brings me comfort in his leadership is what he has in his hand, which is the second thing I see…

God’s Word will lead us. Artie is holding his Bible, journal, and some notes in this picture. The promises and encouragement we have found in the Bible have upheld us up to this point. If you have been keeping up with this blog, many of my posts contains something I have been learning or clinging to from the Scriptures. It’s not just an ancient text that was meant for another time. It has been extremely helpful today. I know even in the dark times ahead, God Himself will guide us through His Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:1-4

There is a light on the other side. Through the little “forest” in this picture is some sunshine. There is a clearing beyond this dark section. For the Christian, the dark times will not last forever. There is great hope in the things that are to come. There are times of suffering and grief in this world. I know my grief will be intense, but it will not be so forever. I don’t know that this side of heaven my grief will ever fully go away, but for me, there is a beautiful hope – both in my lifetime and in the life to come.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29 ESV)

A beautiful quote from Elisabeth Elliot’s A Path Through Suffering, a book about the relationship between God’s mercy and our pain:

“I pray that I may be responding now to all the Lord’s dealings, for I know that the best fruit will be produced by the best-pruned branch. The strongest steel will be that which went through the hottest fire and the coldest water. The deepest knowledge of God’s presence will have been acquired in the deepest river or dungeon or lion’s den. The greatest joy will have come forth out of the greatest sorrow.”

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)

I am thankful that day is coming. God knows my tears (Psalm 56:8) and will wipe them all away. What a relief it will be. I know the grief won’t be so intense forever. I know there is a glorious light at the end of the tunnel, where we will be with God Himself face-to-face — an experience that my son most likely will get to tell me all about when I get there. ⚓

**One other thing I don’t see, but I imagine in this picture is an army of people standing behind us as we head into this forest. Based on what we have already experienced, I anticipate so many family and friends seeing us through this hard time ahead of us.

 


 

Prayer Needs

For the praying types that like specifics, here are some things you can keep in mind:

  • The closer we get to the due date, the more my anxiety increases. I am having trouble resting and controlling my thoughts.
  • Pray for his complete healing
  • Pray that I would find rest for my body – back and ligament pains are increasing as he is getting bigger
  • Pray that the overwhelming mark of his birth would be JOY
  • Pray for us to have clarity to make decisions when we need to make them in the coming weeks and months (for delivery, for his time with us, for funeral/memorial decision if we need them)

Pumpkins & Treats

We had a fun family day this Halloween Saturday. It was Artie’s favorite kind of weather – high in the 50s and overcast. Adele and I had gone the previous day to pick out some small pumpkins – she picked one for Arthur and one for herself. Artie and I have been talking about her brother with her for months, and she is finally saying “Arfur”. It is so sweet. This is her below with Arthur’s pumpkin at the farm where we got them.

I already had a costume for Adele, but I didn’t have something for my boy. This was probably my one shot at getting to do dress up with him and I didn’t want to waste it, so I bought some fabric paint on Friday and got to work. Artie and I aren’t super into Halloween, but a day to dress up, have a little family fun, and eat some candy sounded like a recipe for make memories with both of our kids. After Adele’s nap, we got to work on our pumpkins, and Adele helped me out with Arthur’s.

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After we cleaned up the pumpkin mess and had our finished products, we got dressed up – for our “Booritos” at Chipotle and a little trick-or-treating to see our neighbors at a few houses on our street. Adele was the cutest bumblebee I have ever seen, and Arthur was a pretty great ninja, doing his moves and jabs as he has for the past few months. I loved the comments and compliments from strangers on his costume – it means the world to me for his existence to be validated.

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The treats came in many forms today. I’m a momma with a full heart (and full and crowded belly).