When I was in 10th grade, I completely messed up a research paper that was probably the biggest grade I’d get in English class that year.
The teacher took me aside and gently told me the ways in which I had failed to complete the assignment and I began crying enough tears to fill a swimming pool.
But as I sat there with my cheeks all wet and thinking that I would never be asked to move up to the 11th grade, my teacher (who happens to be a famous author and blogs over HERE) said that she would let me have a second chance.
If I redid the assignment correctly, she’d toss the other paper and it would all be like a bad dream.
When we got pregnant with the Happy Baby one thing that kept marching through my brain was this thankful spirit that the Lord was giving me a second chance.
You see, with the Happy Buddy, I was a hot mess the whole first year of his life.
I fretted constantly about his growth (is he gaining enough??), his nursing (what if my milk supply dwindles and I have to put him on formula?!), his schedule (I can’t possibly go to church today because it might interfere with his nap), his health (did that stranger really just kiss my baby on the cheek?!), his pacis falling on the floor (I wonder what kind of deadly disease is now lingering on that MAM), his diaper rashes (should I be doing cloth diapers?), his first foods (is he going to die if I don’t feed him organic?), his sleeping (will he remember that we let him cry-it-out and hold it against us forever?), his playing (why hasn’t he rolled over yet? So-and-so-friend’s baby is practically walking already!), what kind of soap I used for his baths (I’d never read ingredient labels for soap until I had a kid)…
But then I worried about bigger issues, too (hello vaccinations). Almost to a point where I felt paralyzed by the fear.
The fear that I would make a decision and somehow ruin the Happy Buddy forever.
By the time the Happy Buddy turned one I looked back and felt kind of sick to my stomach that I had missed out somehow.
I had spent so much time being anxious that I don’t fully remember the moments where I just plain enjoyed his sweet baby-ness.
I could not wait to get a do-over. Another baby that I could say, “Eat artificially colored M&M’s and greasy pizza for all I care, just let me kiss those chubby cheeks a hundred million times a day.”
Naturally, when the Happy Baby arrived and before I could even kiss his precious cheeks twice the doctors were whisking him away uttering phrases like, “It could go either way…”, I had the thought What about my second chance?
And then the days turned into weeks and suddenly the fears I had about the Happy Buddy seemed kind of silly in light of the obstacles the Happy Baby was already facing at the beginning of his life.
Suddenly I didn’t care so much that the NICU uses Johnson & Johnson soap for bath times.
Suddenly I didn’t care so much when the doctor said they needed to start adding formula to my breastmilk because he’s breathing so fast and burning so many calories he needs the extra boost to help him grow.
Suddenly vaccinations seemed like a walk in the park when we were faced with the decision to put the Happy Baby on chemotherapy-powered drugs for 6 long weeks to try and fight this virus.
Suddenly the things I am anxious about are more about how no one is there to hold him in the middle of the night, respond to his every cry, stroke his hair back, turn his mobile on, or hold his paci in place for hours at a time just because it makes him happy.
And when I am with him, I study every single God-painted feature on his sweet little face is and consider how precious each of his tiny toes and fingers are.
I drink in his smell, thank Jesus for every diaper change, and cherish the feel of his peach-fuzzed earlobes.
I hold him and sing to him and find peace in the moment that is ours.
When I am with the Happy Baby there is no time to think about the long-term consequences of all that he’s endured the last 5 weeks.
Because I’ve learned that I have no control over the outcome of the Happy Baby’s life.
No amount of organic food I ate during my pregnancy could have made a difference in how the Lord designed the Happy Baby and this season of our lives right now.
With the Happy Buddy I had let my pride rule my faith – bearing this unnecessary, strangling burden for every single decision.
Jesus says parenting is a whole lot easier than that (check out Matthew 11:30).
Now don’t get me wrong.
I am not saying to throw all caution to the wind and let your child eat chicken nuggets, fries, and chocolate milk every day (although if your baby is in the NICU for an extended period of time, this action might be unavoidable), stay up late every night, and exist without any boundaries whatsoever.
I am also not bashing my sweet cloth diapering or organic-food-growing friends. I’d totally do cloth if I wasn’t so addicted to convenience and I try to buy organic whenever our budget allows.
You must find what’s best for your Happy Home (and never judge another Happy Home that may choose to do things differently than you).
What I am saying is that while making well-educated, prayerful choices for our children is super important (you can bet the Happy Hubby and I have been on our knees about every little thing we’ve chosen to pursue concerning the Happy Baby’s health), when we let ourselves be overwhelmed by the responsibility, we take our eyes off of Christ and the very fact that our kids are not our own.
They belong to Him.
We are not in control.
This is the second chance I have been given.
To choose to treasure the time I do have with my baby – however long it may be – and not be afraid of what the future holds.
Because He is God’s child.
A child who was fearfully and wonderfully made by the very hands of Christ, who had all the days ordained for him written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139).
A child who is covered by the promise that God has good plans for his life – plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
And I’m pretty sure that whether or not he wears cloth diapers is going to change that.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”
*Update – God has blessed us with good progress this week! The doctor took the Happy Baby’s Superhero Hat away (phew) and he is now on a high air flow machine. We are praying that he will be weaned of that soon. He continues to seem stronger each day – a credit to our great God. Next week they will repeat the swallow test to see if he is strong enough to nurse/take a bottle again (please pray for victory in that!). We are also waiting on some test results in order to move forward with a diagnosis. Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and support. I am eternally grateful for the strength your faith has given mine!*
What a sweet and powerful testimony you have. Thank you for this post. I really needed it.
Praise God for progress in the Happy Baby’s Condition! He’s looking older. He has lost that new born look. He’s sooo precious. I faithfully pray for him each day, Hugs to all of you!!!
Thank you for the update, He is adorable and I am thankful to hear the lessons you have learned. It helps me to stop and think about what my priorities are. Someday, this will all be a blurr and you will wonder how your boys got to 18 so fast. You never regret the time spent on your children, even when you second guess your decisions. I came to the conclusion that you do your best and God fills in the gaps, We love you and miss your smiling glittered face. Praying.
Praise be to our awesome God! What a beautiful, precious baby!! Praying always!! Your faith is inspirational.
Thank you for being so real, open, and honest! You have truly spoken to my heart! May the Lord have favor on you and bless you abundantly because of your continued faith in Him! You are in our hearts and prayers every day. Love you!
You, my dear lady, are an absolutely amazing woman of God who continues to inspire me every time I read one of your posts. The fact that you continue to trust in Our Faithful Father time and again and lay aside any fear that I am sure would overwhelm you if you gave it the chance, is truly uplifting to all. My husband and I continue to pray the prayer of Faith for your Happy Family and wait with anticipation to hear the good new of continued health and healing in the Happy Baby. Even though we don’t really “know” you well we love you all w/ Christ’s love.
Praying today for your precious baby and you all! It’s so good to hear he is progressing and praying that he will be home in his crib very soon!
Praying for you and for your family. Thank you for showing us how to walk with Jesus through even the hard times. You are such an encouragement to me! Praise Jesus for the improvement he has had! Looking forward to more progress next week…
thank you for sharing your family with us…. we love you.. and continue to PRAY!!!! xoxox
My prayers are with you and the family!!! Ashley
My prayers are with you and the family! Such a sweet little man!
You have it wrong–your faith has strengthened mine! I am praying for him daily!
Thank you for your faithfulness. May God bless your “Happy family” as you have blessed me with your testimony.
Your words are amazing. Your faith is so strong! You are truly an inspiration. You remind me constantly to be still and listen for the voice of God. I know all of Heaven is smiling down on you and your sweet family right now. I can almost see Jesus jumping up and down saying “YES! This one understands” and pointing right at you. I continue to pray for not only you and your sweet boys, but all the people caring for your little Happy Baby as well. Thank you for the update and sweet pictures, he is one handsome little fella. Kiss those cheeks for all of us too Mama!
Your faith is such an inspiration! The Lord is working on so many THROUGH YOU! prayers coming. knees to floor, eyes to the skies!
Praise to our Lord!! He is so cute! I read your posts on him and I cry. 30yrs ago I was spending time in a NICU with a 5 yr old at home going from grandma to aunt as I sat and prayed, cried, smiled, laughed, hoped and prayed more. Today we celebrate a happy healthy 30 yr old son. It was a long long road with lots of ups and downs but every step of the way the Lord showed us the way as he will you. Our Michael’s has words that follow him that are longer then my arms but it does not make him who he is, he is an amazing child of God. As the days go forward enjoy and be thankful for all those little things. You will never parent the same you will never again see things as most parents do, it just will not matter to you as it use and those everyday things will become things you party over!! Enjoy your special blessing. I heard once only a few are “chosen” by God to mothers these special children. Thank God that you were chosen to be the mother to this little guy!
We are praying for your family. I just want to wrap my arms around you and I know God has His over you. Our God can make the impossible, Possible. That Jet is a fighter – we will continue our prayers for your Happy Family.
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22
Just want you to know that sharing your story is a blessing to all who are raising children. My daughter is expecting her first baby ( a boy!) soon and has so many questions, “fears”, and although she has a neice and nephews, plus lots of friendly, well meaning advice I am going to share your story when he arrives. You have said it all beautifully.
Lots of prayers being sent for Happy baby and his family!
Laura Lee Groves
Oh, Julie. Aren’t second chances truly wonderful? Especially when we learn the lessons He gives us in them. And when, like you, we share them? I have a poem for you today in my post about real life and how He loves us through it. Come on over and read. http://www.outnumberedmom.com/2012/05/real-week.html
Julie, my heart goes out to you and your family. Many prayers your way. I genuinely love reading about his progress and your faith. You are an inspiration during these trials. God is good… always.
Bev and Gil Wilson
What an amazing, faithful lady you are! Gil and I are praying daily (and nightly too) for you, Ryan and your beautiful baby boy. With tears in my eyes, I looked at all the pictures and read your wonderful blog. With God’s powerful love and healing and the strong faith that you and Ryan (and the rest of your family) have, I sincerely pray for God’s mercy and grace on your Happy Baby, and complete healing and a speedy recovery! You have taught all of us who read this just how precious a strong relationship with our Lord is every day in every way. God bless you all!
You inspire and lift me. I am so happy that I found your blog. We have 5 adult children and I was praying for one of them one day and so quietly the thought came to my mind “She was my daughter before she was yours. I still love her and there is still a plan.” Yes, I believe in second chances. May you have a beautiful mother’s day, for sharing your story and building faith in those around you. Many prayers and love coming your way.
Thank you for your update on baby Jet and on all of you. I pray every day for Jet and you, Ryan and Noah and your extended family. Thank you, Julie for your transparency and honesty. I have struggled with fear my whole life and it can be paralyzing, that’s true. Aren’t we blessed beyond measure to have a heavenly Father who never slumbers or sleeps and never leaves us? When you and Ryan are sleeping, our Abba, Father, is watching over baby Jet. Rest easy. Jet is so beautiful and handsome. I can’t wait to meet him :-)h
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me… Love and prayers sent to you all from Oregon. Thank you for your inspiration! xoxo God Bless.
You are an amazing person and mommy! xoxoxo
What a beautiful post! Still praying for your precious little one. Happy Mother’s Day.
How sweet those pictures are of Happy Baby! It is amazing at what the Lord show us through our trials. Having a child who struggles daily with health issues I too take joy in every moment that we have. Praying for your family.
What a beautiful child. You are blessed. Happy Mother’s Day!
A friend of mine is a “foster grandparent” and goes to the county hospital each day for long shifts of rocking-holding-praying over the babies in the NICU whose parents are taking a break for whatever reason.
I tried to not leave this comment here today, but God wouldn’t let me get away with that. You SO BLESS ME with your faith walk and the way you cherish each moment with the Happy Baby,
May the Lord bring about miracles of healing in your baby, your family, and your life. God bless!
Todd and Liz Menard
He is so cute, so sweet. Thinking and praying for your family.
Todd & Liz Menard
Praising God for every word I hear from you and Ryan about the Happy Baby’s progress! And progress it is! God is so awesome and amazing we cannot express our gratitude to Him adequately. But He knows our hearts. We love you all and pray daily for you! Ruth and Jack Hoxie
This brought tears to my eyes. When my sweet twins were born, I was the one who was sick with heart failure. Watching my husband leave the hospital with them while I stayed behind on the cardiology floor was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I agree, suddenly all those things I had fussed over before just didn’t seem to matter anymore.
This post is such a good reminder of who are children are in Christ Jesus. I’ll definitely be sharing it.
You, your family, and especially your Happy Baby are continually in my prayers.
Also, your Happy Baby is amazingly cute.
Happy Baby is beautiful! I just found your blog and read all the posts since Happy Baby was born. I’m praying for him, you, your hubby, and Happy Buddy. God bless you and may He send a total healing for Happy Baby. Hugs to you all!!
He looks so much stronger in your pictures! We thank God for him and for his progress and continue to pray.
This post was beautiful and true. Happy Mother’s Day sweet sister. Thanks for the update. We will continue to pray for your family!
Thinking of you today! You are an inspiration and encouragement in my life as a Mom. I hope your boys spoil you today with lots of love and kisses and good medical reports. Happy Mother’s Day!
Julie, You don’t know me… but your precious Mom has been such a blessing to me and my children at WA. What an amazing example and inspiration you have been to all of us Moms. Please know my family is fervently praying for you, sweet Jethro and the rest of your family daily. Praying for God’s peace, comfort and HEALING. His plan is PERFECT. That we can be sure of! 🙂
My family is praying for you! Your faith is such an inspiration & I am so glad that I know you! Your little man is such a blessing, & a true testament of love, patience and perserverance! He is loved, & he knows itl as you can see it in your photos! You are loved! Happy Mothers Day to you! Both your boys are blessed to have such an amazing mom! Kristen (M.O.M)
Ah, your baby is adorable! As is your wonderful faith and spirit. You help me see where I want to improve in my walk with the Lord. Thank you and I hope your Mother’s Day was beautiful! Continued prayers and well wishes for you and yours.
I stumbled onto your web site a couple days ago and am so blessed that I did! You are an amazing woman of the Lord. Your little man is so precious and so beautiful. I have an overwhelming love for you and your family (not in a wierd way but a sister in Christ way:-). My whole family (hubby and four little ones) will be lifting your family up before the Lord every day. I also am asking my friends to do the same. May you be blessed in EVERY way!
Hi! I don’t know you, but stop by your blog often. I love all the silly things you post, and the happy home ideas, but the posts where you talk about your faith and circumstances always resonate with me. Your words always speak to me specifically about something I am going through in my life and the verses provide peace and guidance. Thank you for being obedient to God and writing what He puts on your heart.
Praying for you and your new blessing.
My youngest was in the NNICU for just a few days, but there’s nothing like it to show us how powerless we truly are. Your son is darling!!!
God’s blessings on you and your whole family!
Love reading and seeing what God is doing in your lives. You are such an encouragement to me. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes, and light to my heart. So encouraging! I am so thankful for your family! Praying for the Happy baby and excited to see God’s sweet fairhfulness unfold as you walk. God bless you guys.
Absolutely beautiful post. Gave me tears and chills. And he is stunningly adorable.
I am soooo sad that he is still in the hospital!!!!! but when there’s a will there’s a way! he is soooo adorsble and looks just like his brother!!! I know that the lord has his plans and will guide you in the right path! I know this is hard for you but stand stong in the lord!!! I hope this message made you feel better :0) – Carissa