July 29.

There is nothing as sweet as finding peace and joy and hope in the gifts God gives daily. Big or small, those gifts mean the world to me as an adult. Because they mean so much to me, I can recognize them quickly…and I can also recognize the devil trying to step in and orchestrate a plan of chaos to disturb the peace and joy I have found.

You guys, chaos is hitting. My soul feels disturbed, interrupted and aches over what I don’t get to experience instead of the remembering what I will get experience and be able to cherish for a lifetime. The peace has been disrupted and the joy is trying to linger on…and its struggling. Hope is making crazy plans to override all the devil wishes to steal. Gosh, I wish I could do something large to move mountains and get that dumb devil out of this world. While that’s not possible, I will continue fighting (no matter how small it might seem) to daily experience that joy and peace that was once given in abundance. I will fight to not be shattered over what I miss but what I get to treasure and enjoy. I will fight to not let him speak through others’ words and foul plans of harm. While I wish this would all just go away, I know it won’t. So I’ll get ready to fight each day.

Is there any bit of chaos raging in what was once peace and joy and hope for you? Looking through scripture, there are many examples of the devil rearing his ugly face to steal and kill and destroy- to disrupt and disturb and take away what God has given or what God has done. I’m here if you need a friend to fight alongside of you- this is no journey for the weary and hurting heart to carry/walk alone. But just remember, even on the evenings where you feel like throwing in the towel would be best, that giving in to the chaos would be an ok settling point, you aren’t alone. When no one stands next to you, remember the one inside you who fills you with the joy and peace to keep on keeping on even when there are those present who wish to interject disruption and chaos into your life, your heart. Keep walking, keep pushing on, keep fighting for the joy and peace that you were once given, no matter how hard. Because God is good, you guys. Pain and heartache are real, but so is the goodness of God.

My favorite children’s book right now is called “The moon is always round”. I invite you to get it and read it, especially if miscarriage or stillbirth has any place in your story. The father reminds his son that the moon is always round, even when it appears to be just a sliver that’s barely there or a half moon or a shriveled up orange-size moon. What does this mean? Why do I share this with you? Reminding his son that the moon is always round, no matter how much of it we can see is an analogy used to remind us that God is always good, even when we don’t understand or when we can’t see the full picture.

The moon is always round, my friends. God is always good. Hold tight to the peace and joy he has given. When you want to give up, reach out instead. Keep fighting. The devil is a horrible being, and we weren’t made to live under his grasp of disruptive chaos. I’ll be praying for you today.

Family Update!

There is finally a new update! Check out what we are currently up to, our prayer requests, and see some photos of our sweet girl! Email address is attached at the bottom of the newsletter should you have any questions. Hugs to you all, friends and family!

somedays.

Somedays are easier than others- which means some are just plain hard. Sometimes nights are the worst for me. And tonight as I miss you, my sweet first boy, I remember having to curl up differently in bed because you were growing. I remember thanking Jesus for so graciously answering our prayers for a little one. And I remember feeling full with you inside. And then one day you left us. God called you home. My heart has wept since that day.

Then your brother came and before we knew it, he left us too. God called him home. Our hearts wept for you both after that, the grief was indescribable.

Then your sister came along. She stayed. God hasn’t called her home yet, and we will celebrate her 14 months of life next week. We celebrated your little brother’s 2nd birthday in December. We will celebrate your 3rd birthday in March. And my heart still weeps.

Your sister is growing so big, so strong, so healthy. We praise God for that. We all love you so. Hug Benjamin for us, and have him hug you for us ok? We love you Ammi Noe. Enjoy your time with Jesus, we will continue pressing on here and await the day we get to see you.

” You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

You make me happy when skies are gray

You’ll never know dear how much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away. “

October 14, 2020

Jesus is good and faithful.

Even when I fail, even when I come so very short, even when my faith in my circumstances is weaker than it should be.

I’m beyond grateful for his grace, his mercy, his unconditional love.

Life the past 7 months of lockdown in Guatemala has been hard. Jane was 3 months when it all began in Guatemala and she’s 10 months now as lockdown is being removed. She is a better sleeper now than she was (other than some rough teething nights). She’s jabbering away, blowing kisses, waving nonstop, dancing in her own quirky way. She is now 20 pounds, and 30 inches tall! We are now in 12 month clothes and trying to work on walking. She’s wearing her brother’s booties and hat 🧡 she has grown out of her brother’s 6-12 month pants and onesies. She loves her brother’s elephant so much- and plays with all of her toys so well. She’s so busy and active and it’s such a fun stage. Exhausting for sure but it’s been such a gift to have her during lockdown.

In two weeks we reach brother’s due date, and we will remember his life with a trip to the park and maybe a picnic too. But we will for sure thank God for his life, no matter how short.

Learning to give praise when it’s difficult or when life hurts isn’t easy. Through miscarriage I’ve learned the reality of his goodness in the midst of loss but also the reality that grief stays for a long time. Don’t give up friend. Keep showing up each day, giving praise in the toughest moments because he will bring you joy again. He will bring you hope once again. Because he who promised is faithful and good.

Jesus, you are so faithful and good. Thank you for never giving up on me.

June 2020.

Well, its been a month since I sat down to write. Once again, time has passed so quickly. Jane is 6 1/2 months old, Gerson has celebrated his first Father’s Day, and we have already made it through two tropical storms during this rainy season so far. Quarantine has been our life for over three months now, half of Jane’s life has been spent in this place we call home. And I’m grateful for these walls of protection from chilly winds, buckets of rain, and a deadly virus.

 

But if I’m honest with you, I’m really scared too. Scared for sweet baby Jane and what life looks like outside these walls once we can leave again. I can’t wrap her up in plastic and keep her safe…and while that might sound silly or ridiculous, that’s what it feels like to raise a miracle baby. I don’t want to lose her; she just got here.

Last night was one of those nights where, after getting Jane to bed, the tears just fell. I couldn’t control them. Their silent presence was enough to engulf me with even more fear than what has been re-growing inside of me. I was doing ok for awhile, my trust in Jesus seemed to be strong. But friends, when those doubts come creeping and the door is slightly cracked allowing them passage, it can get rough. Fear grew strong roots out of those small doubts, and here I am having to come to grips with those fears once again.

Sometimes speaking that fear out loud helps- last night it hurt while it helped. Like I said before, thinking of wrapping my daughter in plastic wrap or putting her in a bubble is one thing but speaking it out loud is so ridiculous it brings tears. That’s definitely not the life I want for her but its what my fear has allowed me to believe is right.

 

Until the purpose for our life has been completed, we will remain here on this earth. My husband reminded me of many things last night, many truths we hold onto and will teach Jane when she is a bit bigger. But the one that rang true last night was the reality that we still have a lot of work to do before we head home. And until God completes His purpose in our life, we are here.

 

I still woke with fear today- there is no freedom from that fear just yet as I’m still working on it. It might be a constant battle for me on this earth. But its a reality that I’m sure affects more lives that just mine. And whatever your fear is, it must be acknowledged before it’s roots could ever be dissolved, leaving you free from its grasp.

 

My name is Crystal, and I live in fear of the coronavirus. Fear that it will take what has become most precious to me on this earth. I think its time to begin to let those roots dissolve and leave that which is most precious to me back in the hands of Jesus. She is safest there.

May 2020.

It’s almost been two months since I last wrote. Jane is almost 5 1/2 months old and growing so much. She’s getting stronger day by day and is almost able to sit up straight all by herself. She is also learning to crawl with Papi, and she absolutely loves trying on her own as well. This sweet little soul amazes me each day- and its a joy to be her Mami. Praise Jesus for this opportunity.

 

Quarantine looks like its gonna be long for us here. I don’t imagine us getting outside anytime soon. We aren’t taking our daily walks either which was the best part of each day before- Jane loves being under the trees, hearing the birds, feeling the breeze. Someday soon again, we hope. Thursday, as our cases skyrocketed from 60-some a day to 176 positive cases, our president put into place some new rules, regulations, limitations, and while I know he’s trying to do his best with what he can, this whole thing is just hard.

As of 5pm Thursday evening (5/14) until 5am Monday morning (5/18), we are on almost complete lockdown. From 8-11am Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, people are allowed to go to their little neighborhood shops (not stores like Walmart or Hyvee or Publix- but little tiendas in their communities) for what they might need food-wise. Paychecks were not written or handed out on the 15th (yesterday) like normal. So for much of Guatemala, this lockdown caught them by surprise- with little food and no paycheck (direct deposit happens only in the city in some zones here- definitely not the way we do things here yet). You aren’t allowed to use your car to get to these small tiendas but just by foot (which is ok as they aren’t too far from your home usually. You can’t use your car at all- so its probably not even necessary to say that traveling between departments is still banned. From 5am Monday (5/18) to 5 pm Thursday (5/21), we are allowed out from 5 am-5pm daily only if you need to be out (which is very few people at this point- businesses are closed and almost all shops other than grocery stores, pharmacies and banks as well). Groceries can only be bought from 9am-4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, our markets are open those same days from 6am-1pm (which is where we get fresh fruits and veggies). Starting Thursday at 5pm (5/21) until Monday at 5am (5/24) we will be on complete lockdown. No one is allowed out, except those who work at pharmacies, the hospitals, and, well, that’s about it. I can’t even imagine what that will be like- although, we are currently living it in some way right now. We will see what new guidelines ares given to follow on the night of the 23rd, in 8 days.

We are pondering when to get some groceries next week- I don’t think its wise to go Monday and yet there are a few essentials we need for Jane. I think we have decided Gerson will go Wednesday and be careful…and we will be creative with what we have at home for now.

 

As I write this all, I am fully aware of the many Guatemalans who have NO food TODAY. They aren’t just waiting it out, eating some random mix of what’s left in their cupboards but simply are hungry. And I can’t explain to you how much I wish we could help. How much I wish our hands weren’t tied. How much I wish we could move and act and do something. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do other than pray- I just feel stuck. And yet I have this joy of caring for my sweet baby girl. Grief and joy co-exist in such real ways- pain and thankfulness too. I haven’t quite figured out how to put what I feel into words because it makes me feel guilty for a roof over my head and a sweet baby to love (along with a wonderful husband who is doing all he can for the both of us… and our families praying for us and helping us how they can. It’s humbling- and yet heartbreaking).

 

Praying for you and your mess of emotions in the middle of COVID-19. Praying you know Jesus is meeting you where you are (even if you can’t feel His very real presence among your circumstances). Praying for you as you may also experience joy but deep sorrow, thankfulness and pain all together- while the everyday moments may humble you and break your heart at the same time. Friends, keep your faith. Hold tight to Jesus. Get in His word each day. Help your neighbor when you are able. Be what you need to be for those around you and rely on Jesus alone to sustain you. Be patient, and when you need a break let your family know. You will never be alone.

(Photos from May 3 💗🌻)

Quarantine hope.

In Guatemala, the quarantine is real. The president just put a curfew out, too, as people aren’t listening. So now, from 4pm-4 am, the remaining places open (emergency rooms, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, and gas stations) will be closed. Shortened hours in hopes that people will stay inside. I’m praying that this will work.

But honestly there is such hope being at home in this season of life. Baby is 3 1/2 months old and I just love spending my days with her (even though I never imagined how tired I could truly be). I have been given such hope spending these days inside with her, and being able to watch her grow. And since Gerson’s work has mostly been stopped as well, he gets to be here too. And I think that’s Gods gift of perfect timing for us both.

Giggles.

Rolling.

Glimpses of wanting to crawl.

Chatting about everything.

Snuggles.

Dirty blow outs.

More giggles.

This quarantine may be hard for you (for whatever reason). Maybe take a step back and see how his timing is perfect for you in whatever season you find yourself in. Because if we look, I’m sure we can all see what he hopes to show us or give us or teach us while slowing down and being inside with those closest to us.

God has been so good.

On December 3, 2019, Gerson and I welcomed our sweet and precious baby girl to this world…who is alive and well and thriving in our arms 💗 Jane Nicole is currently two months old and couldn’t be more loved and treasured.

We want to say thank you for your prayers and constant support in this process- and ask for prayers as we raise this precious life, knowing the journey isn’t complete.

We imagine her brothers in heaven dancing with Jesus for her life, the precious gift that it is. We too dance as her life is such a miracle for us and those around us.

May you ask boldly for the miracle you are waiting to see fulfilled. May Christ sustain you as it unfolds before your eyes- and May he continue to help us all as we continue forward seeking to cherish the miracle in our arms as we grieve what was taken before. His timing truly is perfect and his love sufficient for us each day.

this present moment.

Its been a week.

I’ve been writing, and writing. And researching, taking notes, and continuing to write.

And its been ok. But today, my brain just stopped.

Fried, completely toast. I just couldn’t continue writing anymore.

 

And that’s ok.

 

My husband took the time tonight to pause and listen and pray. And I cried.

I want control over what will happen in the future and that I will be able to use all of this that I am dedicating my life to learn right now.

I want control over where I could do my internship, where I could find a permanent place to listen and help walk people through seasons of grief because I understand.

I want control over justice being acted out, for friends who are like family to be surrounded by good advice and wise counsel. I want them to be able to heal fully, and live well again.

I want control over this thesis being approved, for it all to work out, for graduation to be possible in September.

I want control over my health because I’m tired of being sick, no matter what it is that is bothering my system.

 

I have begun to fully trust and relinquish control in regards to being a mom someday but I really can’t figure out how to give over the rest. I guess i just continue walking, learning a little more each day, doing my best and letting the rest go. Because at the end, whether I pass or fail my final course in July, whether I get to finish line or not for my thesis, whether I complete my internship in the place I hope to isn’t the goal. The goal has always been to learn and to grow, first in my own life and then help others find that growth as well. Because no matter what you are grieving, grief is a hard and ugly thing, and no one should have to walk it alone. Ever.

The conviction present in my husband’s voice was what brought me to tears, what made me fall apart after a really hard day. So, instead of giving up, I will learn to stand strong but leave the control in God’s hands. I won’t figure this out in the quiet hours of the early morning, or in the loud hours in the middle of the afternoon. I’ll figure this out through a lifetime of obedience and surrender.

One day at a time, friends. Don’t give up.