First Day of School

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Lovebug,

We took you to school today. We got you dressed, fed you breakfast, took your picture and whisked you off to a new adventure beyond the reaches of our arms and it seems impossible to believe. In all fairness, you have “been” to school multiple times over the last few months in preparation for this very day. You have walked the halls, played on the playground, and even spent time alone with the teachers in your classroom on several occasions. But today was the day. THE day that you started a journey that will introduce you to a whole new world. You have been in your classroom for an hour now and I am here at home with tears in my eyes, experiencing the full range of first day emotions.

 

If you asked me a year ago how I would feel on your first day of school, I would have likely said that I was devastated. So sad to be missing out on ANY part of your day, regardless of how little, I couldn’t stomach the thought of giving someone else time that I am so covetous of with you. A year ago, I was already dreading this step, knowing that you would be heading out to a place that mama couldn’t go, for the first time ever in your life. I knew that I would have to demonstrate my faith in more ways than ever and the thought of it turned my stomach. But as I sit here today with these “first day” tears in my eyes, I can honestly say that devastation is the last emotion I feel. The tears of today come from a too quiet house that just isn’t the same without my curly-haired sidekick sidled up next to me, but the feeling I have that overrides every other is one of pure excitement.

 

I know you are ready for this.

 

I have watched you grow in confidence over the last few months and become increasingly independent with every step, every task, and every challenge. I have seen the pride overtake your face whenever you do something that you were scared to do or didn’t think you could. I have watched your desire to learn morph into a ravenous hunger that consumes your waking hours. I have noticed that while your nerves said, “I don’t want to go to school” your curiosity for all its secrets made the tears stop the moment you crossed the threshold.

 

So today when I waved goodbye to you, the smile I had plastered on my face, wasn’t just for your benefit. It was the outward expression of an inward peace I have about all that you are undertaking. When I told you that I want to know if Grumpy the fish was really grumpy, if the playground slide was super fast, what the room smelled like, and if you had a student named Marsupial in your class, I meant it. Because I do. I want to know every detail of your days and can hardly wait to hear of your adventures. I know you are going to revel in your new world and I feel privileged to be the listening ears for all that is to come. In the same breath however, I also know that memories and moments are about to unfold that I will never get to hear about because this is YOUR adventure. You are stepping out on your own and that means you get to see, hear, and do things that are yours alone. So while my mama heart cringes a little bit at the initiation of this new chapter, my teacher heart says YES. Go do it, sweet boy. Soak it up. Run fast, try hard, find new friends, create, explore, and make mistakes. Be brave, laugh uncontrollably, feel deeply, and give yourself grace. Grow, flourish, be challenged, and don’t be afraid to fail. Be ALL in, engaged, and truly present in every moment because you have a mama and dada who adore you, believe in you, and know that in every sense you are going to ROCK this.

 

More than anything else, know that you are purely loved…by me, by Dada, and by the God who put you together so perfectly. Know that the successes, failures, challenges, and victories held within the year ahead will never add to or diminish the love we have for you. Be YOU, precious boy, and we will cherish our view as we watch the world be gloriously changed as a result.

 

AML,

Mama

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Meet My Amazing Friend, Martha!

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Hey everyone!  I am beyond blessed to introduce my AMAZING friend Martha to the Kelly’s Korner blog world!!   She is one of the most remarkable women I have ever known, and I’m looking forward to helping the right man hit the jackpot with her!

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The first thing you need to know about Martha is that she is the perfect collision of North and South.  She was raised in Connecticut so she has New England culture, class, and sensibility, yet Martha has lived in Florida for the last 15 years, which has cultivated a deep sense of Southern hospitality, charm, and warmth. The diversity in her background makes her happy in a variety of cultures and climates, which makes her comfortable on both ski slopes and sand dunes. As a result, she loves to travel and has had many adventures around both the country and the world.

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Martha loves to laugh.  She has an incredible sense of humor and even as I type these words, I am smiling thinking back on years of hysterical memories shared with her.  Her intelligence gives her a very quick wit that you might not initially expect, based on her sweet demeanor.  She has a perpetual twinkle in her eye that endears her to everyone, both young and old.  Martha knows how to poke fun at herself, and she is able to make everyone laugh without making jokes at the expense of others.

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If I were to choose the one characteristic that stands out the most about Martha, it’s that she loves others so well.  She has an incredible heart for God, and His love pours out from every fiber of her being.  She lavishes love on her friends and family in ways that will leave you speechless. From unexpectedly picking up a friend’s favorite coffee to crafting stunning photo books of memories to celebrate milestones, there is no act of love too large or small for Martha.  The wheels in her mind are constantly turning with ways to shower the people in her life with love.

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As a teacher and a nanny to dozens of families over the years, she has multiple children she loves as her own. Former students return year after year to share the impact she has had on their lives, and the babies she has cared for view her as a second mama.  She encourages, she empowers, she challenges, she entertains…she brings out the BEST in every child she meets. Personally, I am so thankful that my son will grow up with her—at 10 months he is already enamored with and profoundly blessed by his Aunty M!

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Beyond the people in her immediate sphere of influence, Martha loves her community, and she often reaches out to people that she has never even met.  She has poured her heart into the Ronald McDonald House for years, caring for families who desperately need strength in times of need. I, and many others, can attest that she has made an incredible difference to those families during their most trying times.  Martha has also raised money and awareness for causes dear to her heart by running races and organizing charity outreach projects, often using these events to empower her students to make a positive difference in the world.  Martha has traveled to the Dominican Republic to help villages in extreme poverty, and she continues to support a family who captured her heart while she was serving there.   To say that she goes above and beyond to show love to all of God’s people is an extreme understatement.

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She is beautiful both inside and out, and the truth is, I could go on and on listing all of her phenomenal qualities and still not even come close to capturing them all. She never seeks praise or recognition for who she is or for what she does; she simply does what she does and is who she is because she loves. For her, it’s just that simple, love much, love often.

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In the end, Martha wants to share her life with someone who has a heart for God and is ready to embrace all that this life has to offer.  She longs for laughs, adventures, compassion, and understanding.  The perfect man for Martha would be someone strong, caring, and who prioritizes love of God, then family, then friends.

If you would like to know more about Martha for you or somebody else feel free to leave a comment or email me at jameemiller@me.com.

The Lessons of Heartache.

Lovebug,

You taught me something this week. Actually, to be fair, you and God worked together to teach me something and I’m pretty sure the lesson was harder on me than it was on you.

You and mama are thick as thieves. We spend the majority of every day together and much to my delight, have formed a bond that is rock solid. We know each other…well. You are comfortable to show me every side of who you truly are because you trust that I will love you in all of it…and you’re right.

Well, inevitably there are times when I have to run out and you are left in the hands of someone we love and trust, who adores you. This week I had a haircut and E was set to watch you, when you announced several days prior that you weren’t interested. Your anxiety about me leaving appeared on Monday, when you brought it up, before I had even mentioned the haircut on Friday. Your introspection never ceases to amaze me and you had already been assuming that since it had been awhile since you had been left in the hands of a babysitter, it was probably coming to that time again. When I explained the plan, you erupted into tears. “No thank you Mama leave, no thank you E play with you.” Heart. Broken.

I did what I assumed I should do…reassured you that it would be fun, that you would be fine, and that it wasn’t going to happen for four more days. For the rest of the day, you double checked that it wasn’t today and you continued to make your opinions known on what was to come. This happened again on Tuesday, then on Wednesday, and on Thursday. You were so sad that my heart wanted to cancel that appointment and just stay with you and love on you all day on Friday. Luckily, my head (and your daddy) said, “No.” Sparing you this sadness would only perpetuate your separation anxiety and would not solve the problem. Still, it hurt. There is this part of the mama bear in me that wants to protect you from all hurts, keep you from being sad at all costs, and make every day of your life filled with nothing but joy. And yet, I know if I do that, I will ruin you. I will rob you of every opportunity for you to see God’s faithfulness in our struggles and deceive you into believing that life is perfect. So we pressed on.

I prayed in the days leading up, arriving at a “Please God” crescendo on Thursday night. I wanted you to feel better about it in the morning and not have any anxiety about what was happening. As is often the case, God had other plans. My prayers were answered, but not in the way I requested.

Friday morning brought anxiety and more pleading for me not to go. In your uncertainty, I saw so much of myself. Longing to be in control, fearing the unknown, desperately grasping for security. I realized then that if you turn out anything like me, this will not be the last time you fear and want to avoid an uncomfortable and uncontrollable situation. So I listened to the God voice in my heart that told me to teach you what I have learned when I feel the same way…pray. Go to Him. Take all of your irrational fear, your mess, your anxiety and lay it at God’s feet asking Him to help you through each moment and guide you through each step.

I sat you on the edge of the bed and said, “Oh buddy…I hate that you are so sad and scared about this. Do you know what Mama does when she is scared and sad about something? I talk to God. I tell Him exactly how I am feeling and ask Him to make me feel brave and strong. I ask Him to give me everything I need to make it through what I am dreading. And you know what? God listens and God helps us.” We prayed together with your little two year old legs dangling and tears filling your eyes and we ventured out to greet E. Your tears continued and you clung to me, but I showed you that I trusted God enough to answer our prayer by giving you a big hug, telling you I loved you BIG MUCH, and walking out the door. Ouch.

I prayed for you as I left. In the grand scheme of life, this is such a small, small problem, but I knew it didn’t feel small for you. I know those feelings so well and really wanted to just make them go away for you, but I knew I couldn’t. This was just the beginning of God’s work with you—just has He has shown me, He will use every fear, every anxiety, every bit of trepidation to show that He is faithful in our trials, that He can be trusted, and that even when you feel alone, you are NOT. Not EVER.

My haircut took longer than it was supposed to, but when I walked back into the house I heard the soundtrack of a happy boy. Your feet slapped the floor as you raced around the corner and proudly proclaimed, “Mama!! I was brave and I was STRONG!” showing me your muscles. Triumph. Some might say that the victory was that you were able to be happy with the babysitter while I was away. Sure. But for me, the victory was so much greater. It was one tiny example, set in your brain and rooted in your heart that when we are scared, we go to God. That doesn’t mean that He takes the scary away, but that He is faithful to give us everything we need to walk through it and that we never have to take a step without Him by our side.

As I soaked in the BIG hug you gave me, I asked God to forgive me for almost robbing you of such a HUGE lesson. I asked Him to keep me from getting in the way as He molds you and shapes you into the man He has called you to be, because one thing I know for sure…He has BIG plans for you, little one.

I love you, buddy. BIG much.

Mama

Happy Un-First Day of School

We were supposed to start school today…except we didn’t. The elation that bubbles within my soul as I type those words is almost too much for me to contain…in fact, I couldn’t keep myself from feeling giddy about it all day long. Despite a painfully early wake up time and multiple messes to be cleaned, I remained so joyful at the realization that I had W all to myself today.

I could take you back through the last six months and document all of the steps that led to an enrollment in a 2-year-old program at a local Christian school, but I will spare you. Suffice it to say that without realizing it at the time, I was pursuing a course that I thought I was “supposed to” rather than listening to the whispers within me that suggested otherwise. So after a brief Meet the Teacher that left us feeling unsettled, we sought wise counsel, prayed, and ultimately determined that attending school this year was not the best choice for our little man or for our family.

As a result, all throughout the day, I found myself covered up in even more gratitude than usual, which is saying something. I appreciated every moment I spent with my boy because I was acutely aware of how that time was almost gifted to someone else. I took countless pictures, several videos, and just savored every delicious drop of our day together. I count it as such a divine privilege to get to be mama to this precious one every day. The fact that I am able to witness every mood, every misstep, every dance, every laugh, and every milestone is something that I don’t take lightly and I truly thank God for it every. single. day.

So today we reveled in our perfectly normal existence. We played trucks. We went to My Gym. We ate “angich” with the trains. We snuggled in the white chair and read books. He performed “The Hot Dog Dance.” He recited 5 Little Monkeys and reenacted the story with finger puppets. We played outside. He held my hand. He spilled my coffee all over the table. We made up stories with his Little People. He gave me sticky PB&J kisses. I sang to him. He said, “Mama play with you,” and I did…because I could. What a gift.

It was a beautiful day and one I will hold in my heart for a long, long time. After I tucked him into bed, I spent time smiling over the many pictures posted on social media celebrating kids’ First Days of School. I thought of all that we have to look forward to…backpacks and Valentines, cubbies and new shoes, 100th day celebrations and Curriculum Nights…all of it so dear to me for so many reasons. I thought of all of that and how many babies started their journeys today with teary eyed mamas putting on brave faces as they sent them off to conquer the world. I took it all in, knowing perfectly well that our time is just around the corner. But it’s not today…and for that, I am thankful.

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What does the angel say?

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Lovebug,

Today we had a great conversation and I just had to save it here so you could read about it later. We were having dinner together and you kept wanting to play with mama’s angel. I have a sweet little Willow Tree angel who sits on our table and you just love her. You always want to hold her and play with her, and I have to remind you frequently that you have to be gentle with her—you typically oblige.

Tonight you were sharing your dinner with the angel and letting her sip from your cup. At one point, you were making her “talk” and she was making a “Ribbit!” sound. I chuckled and said, “Buddy, that’s not what an angel says! An angel says…” Pause. I really had to think here. What DOES an angel say? Given the circumstance, there are a wide variety of possibilities…how could I narrow it down to one sound byte? I had to think about what an angel could always say, in any situation, and then it occurred to me. “Buddy, an angel says ‘God loves you!’” You smiled and said, “Angel says…God love ooo!” From there, our conversation went on.

“Yes, buddy! An angel says ‘God loves you,’ because He does! And you know what? No matter how you are feeling or what is going on in your world, God always loves you.” I explained that God loves you, even when you are having a really crummy day and it seems like He is miles away. I told you that He loves you even when things happen in your life that you don’t understand. That He loves you every day, whether you want Him to or not. I explained that even though sometimes your feelings will try to convince you otherwise, His love for you is unchanging and perfect.

This conversation was a great reminder for your mama, too. Your daddy and I have been surrounded by really sad stories lately. Stories of hurting friends, grieving families, and seemingly “hopeless” situations. We have been praying so hard for precious people in our lives, and we aren’t getting the answers we were hoping for. It’s times like these that we have to choose to believe and trust God and His love, even when He feels far away. We have to trust that His plan is BIG and perfect and ends in an eternity with no more tears, pain, or sadness, no matter how tough things get in the short term.

Life can be so hard, sweet boy. There will be times when you are hurting and you will feel like God doesn’t care. When you don’t feel God close to you, choose to believe Him and trust Him at His word:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God” Isaiah 43:2-3

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are [a]crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

He loves you, sweet boy…BIG MUCH. Don’t you ever forget it.

AML,

Mama

Two.

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He is 2 today.

 

He loves to zoom cars, play trains, and go spinny spinnys.

 

He adores animals. He showers our puppers with affection every single day, whether they want it or not, and he calls the goats at the zoo his “friends.” He is gentle. And loving. And kind.

 

His laugh reaches a part of my heart that I never knew existed before he arrived. It consumes me. I am convinced that stripped of all other physical necessities, I could subsist on it alone.

 

My boy can roar like the fiercest of lion cubs. With the same volume, he can also cheer on his beloved Magic, better than any full-grown fan.

 

Much to my delight, he has his father’s sense of humor. He loves surprises. He thrills to make other people laugh. He has an impish gleam in his eye that foretells of many future adventures that are sure to leave me shaking my head in hilarious disbelief.

 

This boy can eat. I’m not sure where it goes, but we are constantly astounded by what he is able to put down in a single meal. He loves to see how much will fit in his mouth at once, much to his mother’s chagrin. 😉

 

Don’t get me started on his curls…they are the stuff that dreams are made of. Like perfect spirals of white chocolate adorning the top of a heavenly cake, they perch atop his head and make me swoon. I’m not sure that many other babies have as many pictures of the backs of their heads as mine does.

 

And oh, his heart. While I may have been prepared for other aspects of him, nothing could have prepared me for the countless ways my heart would near burst in the presence of his sweetness. He delights in his friends and family. He cares when others are hurt. He loves “BIG MUCH.” He can be brazenly independent, but at the end of the day, just wants to be close. He constantly covers me in hugs and kisses and the hugs he requests are “BIG hugs!” He throws his arms around my neck and squeezes tightly with every cell in his little body.

 

He is 2 today and in my eyes, he couldn’t be more delicious if he tried. Years will come and go, but I doubt I will ever be able to sing “Happy Birthday” to him without welling up in tears. I’m just that grateful.

 

Grateful for two years. Grateful for this precious boy. Grateful for all that we have to celebrate today.

 

Thank. You. God.

 

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God.” Philippians 1:3 (MSG)

On the eve of two…

Lovebug,

You turn two tomorrow. I have been saying that to myself all day so that I can wrap my mind around it and prepare myself for the reality that you will cease to be my little one year old babe in just a few short hours. Throughout my life I have been challenged by the ends of chapters/seasons. When change is imminent, I feel myself desperately trying to savor every last moment and cherish what I feel is slipping away. So today we did all of our “usual” activities—all of the things that you love to do. Reading books, playing trucks, and of course, going to visit the ducks and fish at the pond. You had a long, playful bath and once you were in your jammies, we curled up in the chair for bedtime. I gave you extra rocking and snuggling and told you how much I loved you. As I laid you in your crib and crept out of your room, I waited for a pang to enter my stomach as I acknowledged that I had my last day with you as a one year old.

 

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t there.

 

I felt happy…grateful…and totally at peace.

 

As I thought about why this was the case, it fell on me with unbelievable clarity. I wasn’t trying to hang on to this year because I knew without question that I had savored it and enjoyed it completely.

 

Unlike with other seasons, where I felt like I didn’t appreciate them enough or knew that I took them for granted, I could walk away from this year knowing that I had left nothing on the table. By the grace of God, I remained present with you during every day—not wishing a single moment to go faster or to be altered in any way. I loved you with every cell in my body. I gave you all of my energy. I withheld nothing.

 

Even on days that were less than perfect, I never wanted to be anywhere else. I was covered up in gratitude every single day that I could be right here with you and your daddy—I wanted for nothing.

 

I enjoyed the sights, the sounds, the touches. I relished in your new achievements and marveled at your growth. I laughed with you. Held you when you cried. Made messes and cleaned them up. Some moments were glamorous and others were cringe-worthy, but I remain thankful for them all.

 

So while it is in the nature of mamas to always wish for more time, I don’t regret any of the days of this year. I didn’t squander a single one. I haven’t been perfect—I have certainly made mistakes, but taking you for granted wasn’t one of them. What an incredible gift from God. My heart is full knowing that I have loved and savored every day I have been blessed to have with you. My prayer as we walk into 2 tomorrow morning is that this time next year I can say the same thing.

 

I love you BIG MUCH.

mama

SSMT

Dear Beth,

I’m writing today to tell you a little story about my adventure with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team…one that took a truly unexpected turn from the time when I first signed on…

Let me start by saying that I have always been passionate about scripture memory. Having grown up in the church, I’ve always been surrounded by God’s Word. I grew up in Sunday School, then Youth Group, and found my way into Chi Omega sorority in college, which was home to many Christian girls who encouraged me in my walk. During my time at the University of Florida, I was chosen to serve as a Program Coordinator for a mission camp in Western North Carolina. Worried that my knowledge of scripture needed to be strengthened to take on such a task, I started a scripture box. I filled a small grey box with index cards featuring verses on one side and their addresses on the other. I used them as flashcards, taping them up everywhere around my apartment and flipping through them whenever I had the opportunity. I wanted to be able to have the right word for the high school students I would be serving without fumbling around and was determined to have as many as I could committed to memory. Over time, while I found that I was using them to help with my scripture memory, they were also managing to help shape my daily choices and behavior. I would often remove cards from my box, fold them up, and carry them around with me when I felt like I needed a constant reminder of something. I can’t tell you how threadbare “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth” is at this point in my life!!

 

I started participating in your Bible studies shortly after graduate school and grew so much as a result. My involvement in them ultimately led me to Siestaville, where I discovered your precious community of women. You were well into the Scripture Memory Team for that year and I remember being so disappointed that I had missed the boat. I continued to participate in various threads in Siestaville and vowed that I would join the next Scripture Memory Team.

 

Fast forward to December 2012. I learned that you were hosting another SMT and I was excited, but hesitant, for this time I was 7 months pregnant. My husband and I were expecting our first child and life was a little hectic! I knew that life as a first time mom would be a challenging affair and wasn’t sure if I would be able to manage the deadlines of SMT. Regardless, I sent away for one of the adorable spirals and determined to do my best.

 

After a strong beginning in January, I soon found myself slipping with my commitment to SMT in February. With my due date just weeks away and feeling like I couldn’t manage the timeframes in Siestaville, I bowed out of the SMT and opted to continue with scripture memory on my own. I took the adorable spiral and decided to fill it with verses that would be beneficial for me during labor. I used beautifully colored pens and prayed about which verses to include. When I had a solid collection, I tucked my spiral into my hospital bag so that it would be there to help me during an unknown and anxious time.

 

Around midnight on March 3, 2013 my water broke and my husband and I quickly headed to the hospital. Once I was admitted and settled, labor was in full swing and my spiral lay forgotten in the bottom of my bag. After 13 hours of labor followed by 3 hours of pushing, my precious baby boy was delivered into the world. My husband and I were overcome with emotion when he was placed on my chest and flooded with a love we had never before known. Within five minutes of his birth however, I started to feel disconnected and was overtaken by nausea. The doctors and nurses who were tending to me became frantic and it quickly became apparent that something was not right. My boy was fine…placed in the arms of his loving father, while I was whisked quickly into the OR.

 

I was bleeding. I was bleeding uncontrollably and they were unable to discern from where or how to make it stop. The doctors had determined not to put me under general anesthesia, as that could complicate my delicate situation, so I was left to experience this nightmare awake with only my epidural to keep me from feeling what was happening. I was placed on the operating table and watched and listened as 20 to 30 medical professionals battled to save my life. I was transfused with 11 units of blood and watched my vitals struggle to stabilize. I heard the anesthesiologist yell, “We’re losing her!” and thinking of my precious husband and newborn son, I willed my eyes to open. Hours ticked by and the doctors became more and more desperate. Every attempt to stop the bleeding failed and they were running out of solutions. They called multiple specialists on the phone and asked for ideas…nothing worked. The doctor in charge decided to try one last procedure and it was successful. He declared it a miracle from God and later explained to my husband that they were down to about 5 minutes left before I would be lost.

 

Incredibly, during the most traumatic experience I had ever known, I found myself completely at peace. A real life nightmare was playing out around me, and yet I was enveloped by God’s calming presence. As the hours wore on and uncertainty reigned in the operating room, He wrapped His arms around me and carried me through the darkness. I didn’t know how everything was going to turn out, but I knew that God had me. It was the most amazing encounter I had ever had with Him. While laying helpless on the operating table, I could clearly picture a page from my SMT spiral…Isaiah 41:10, written in purple pen. God called it to my mind and it became my focus. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God…” Over and over the words scrolled through my mind, fighting back the fear that threatened to well up within me. I breathed. I let my heart beat. I knew God had me. When the bleeding slowed and I was out of danger, the doctors said that if I hadn’t remained calm, I likely would not have lived. God’s word had literally saved my life.

 

The next day, I had to have a follow-up procedure—one that could put me right back into the peril I had faced not 24 hours prior. When it was time to go I brought my spiral to pre-op and flipped through it as they were preparing me for surgery. Just before they wheeled me back, the nurse explained that I would have to leave the spiral behind. I could tell she felt badly about it, but I was able to smile and assure her that I didn’t need it. I had committed the verses to memory and God had etched them on my heart. All of the years that God had nudged me into Bible study, encouraged me to study His word, and prompted me to commit His truth to memory prepared me for this unexpected and unbelievable time. In the darkest hours of my life, I couldn’t grab a Bible to battle the fear. I couldn’t run to my scripture box to find just the right verse. I couldn’t call a friend to give me a word, but praise be to God… I didn’t need to. He had thoroughly equipped me and planted all of the scriptures I would need in my heart so that when the time came, He could call them to my mind. Wow. Suddenly what I once viewed as a spiritual discipline had taken on a lifesaving quality.

 

 

The story ends here. Thanks be to God, I am completely healed and now the VERY proud mama of a beautiful baby boy. I have recounted this story to countless friends and family members and every time, they express how sorry they are that I had to go through such a horrifying experience. I shock them all when I say with a smile that I most certainly am not. Not only do I have a miracle from God to share with the world, I am moving forward with a more profound appreciation for the study of His Word than I ever would have had without this terrifying ordeal. Leave it to Him to take my brokenness and make it my strength. What a mighty God we serve.

 

Thank you for all of the ways you have held me accountable, encouraged me, and taught me over the last 10 years. I am SO incredibly grateful!!!

 

Warmly,

Jamee Miller

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Gratitude

Gratitude.

It may very well be my most overused word of 2014. Days have passed, time has moved forward, but there remains an overwhelming swell within my soul that cannot make it through a single day without bubbling up and making itself known. Even when there is no one around to hear, the whispers of my heart make their way to my lips and I thank my Father…for the zillionth time for the miracle He has worked in my life.

So it should come as no surprise, I suppose, that on this Thanksgiving Eve especially I am overcome with it. I fail miserably to find a word that fully expresses the depth of my emotion, so inevitably the same word emerges time and time again…gratitude. Plain and simple.

There are so many dimensions to the story that has redefined me, that I frequently balk at the task of capturing it in words on a page. Just as your appreciation for the beauty of a prism deepens with every turn of the wrist, so it is with me. Every time I carefully unpack the memories that have become some of my greatest treasures, God illuminates a new angle of those familiar moments and leaves me speechless.

I’m just so thankful, I don’t know what to do with myself. If you had told me years ago that one day I would nearly die in an operating room, listening to the doctors’ helpless voices as they struggled to invent a procedure to save my life, I would have been terrified. If you went on to say that I would come to value that experience as one of my greatest gifts, I would have thought you were a crazy person. But so it is.

On that cold night in March, God took a faith that I professed and showed me His power first hand. He took the scripture that had been planted in my heart and brought life to those words in a way that I never could have imagined. The promise in His Word that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us leapt off the page and into my life. He carried me. In my darkest, most helpless hours, He focused my eyes on Him and piece by piece put me back together.

I laid on a table watching my vitals slip away and was completely at peace…not because I was ok with dying, but because I knew God had me. There is a song by Mandisa that I can no longer listen to without brimming with tears. I loved it before, but now the words echo the cries of my heart,

“He is with you in the ICU when the doctors don’t know what to do and it scares you to the core, He is with you.”

I sing this song with joyful tears because while I always understood it to be true, I KNOW it to be true now. I was there…that was me…and God showed up.

The nurses couldn’t help but remark on their shock at my calm. Outside of my epidural, there were no drugs. No sedatives. Nothing to alter my mental state in the slightest or numb me from the reality playing out around me. “How was I keeping it together?” They wanted to know. What I was unable to tell them in the moment, I long to tell them now. I wasn’t. God was. Fully awake and fully focused on Him, I was acutely aware that He held the broken bits of my body together and I felt wrapped in His abiding, profound peace.

Three hours of surgery and a single scripture.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

A scripture that reminded me of God’s incredible faithfulness and one that I shared on social media 3 months to the day PRIOR to the night I would need it most.   God didn’t just show up on March 3. He didn’t take a break from heaven to check in and rescue me. He was there all along. Three months prior, He knew what I would be facing and He planted that scripture deep in my heart so that when I needed it, it would already be there. The fact that it’s documented as three months exactly is just icing on the cake. It’s as though He wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the fact that He was there, preparing me far in advance before my greatest trial.

“It’s a miracle from God.” At the end of my surgery, the doctors used those exact words to say what I already knew to be true. They couldn’t explain how I was saved, outside of divine intervention. God showed up. Not just for me, but for everyone who was there to witness it.

Gratitude.

Not just for the fact that I live to see another day, but for the fact that every day is now framed with the understanding that I will never walk alone. That just as He orchestrated events and carried me through this harrowing ordeal, He is even now, preparing me for everything that lies ahead. I don’t have to fear…I don’t have to wonder…for the rest of my life, I walk in tremendous freedom, knowing that I won’t live a single day outside of His will for me, and that He will always see me through.

And for that, I am forever awash in gratitude…plain and simple.

Mama’s child

Oh Lovebug, in the scheme of letters and posts directed to you, this one is a little silly but I can’t help but write about it!!  My child, you LOVE to organize!!!!  As I write those words, I am literally grinning from ear to ear thinking of the countless moments that have led me to make such an assertion.  For months now, you have loved putting items back in their proper places.  The teacher in me beamed at the development of categorization in your brain, but now it has grown into so much more.  You close doors that are left open.  You rearrange items in our cabinets.  You pick up clothes you find around the house and carry them into the laundry room.  It’s enough to make me swoon!!

Last night, I was getting everything ready for bath/bedtime when I came across this scene on your toy shelf.  You had very meticulously arranged Dexter and one of your “guys” beneath the covered deck on Noah’s Ark.  I was so touched by the sweetness of it, I had to snap a picture.

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When I met you in the bathroom and told you that it was time to hop in the tub, you rushed past me.  I realized you had a random car in your hands and knew exactly what you were doing.  You wanted to be sure to put it away before bath time.  I followed you into your room and watched as you returned the car to its proper place.  Before racing back to the bath, you made sure to nestle Dexter back into the driver’s seat of his digger and put your “guy” away as well!!  I was covered up in joy over this little moment.  Your attention to detail and follow through is just exquisite!!

Another mom at My Gym yesterday laughed when her boy threw blocks across the room and you hurried over, scooped them up, and returned them to the block pile.  She said her oldest son was the same way and that he continues to love organizing things today at age 9.  That made me wonder…will you?

I am going to share one final example and then I will end this, as I am sure that you are rolling your eyes at what I find so impossibly endearing.  Last week we spent time in St Simons and had guests staying at the beach house.  One of the gentlemen used the restroom and after returning to the group, you walked into the bathroom and promptly put down the seat he had left up!!  My boy!!!

I know it probably seems so silly that I am this amazed by all of this, but this is one of those times where I can actually see me in you.  You are SO wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly like your Daddy in so many ways.  Your hunger for adventure, your boldness, your ability to make us laugh, your impish grin, you truly are your father’s child and I couldn’t be happier.  I love your Daddy with every cell in my body, so naturally I am over the moon that you are so much like him.  It warms my heart, though, to find a glimmer that you and I share.  I’m not sure if this is a phase or a part of your permanent wiring, but for the moment, I am delighting in it.

You are such a treasure.  Every day that I am blessed to spend with you, I thank God over and over.  I feel forever privileged to have all of this time with you–I love you more than you will ever know!!!!

AML,

Mama