I keep counting // Sigo contando

(To find out what I'm doing, click here.) // (Para enterarte de lo que estoy haciendo, hacé click acá.) 

109. my husband walking funny (he was born with cerebral palsy. we get through airport security really fast.) // que mi marido camina diferente (nació con parálisis cerebral. pasamos por seguridad en el aereopuerto super rápido.)
110. thankful for helpful, sticker-giving TSA employees // agradecida por empleados de seguridad que estan dispuestos a ayudar y entregan stickers.

111. colored light floating up into the cold night air // luz de color flotando en el aire frío de la noche

112. hugs from family // abrazos de mi familia
113. my daughter's imagination // la imaginación de mi hija

114. loving church family--even though we weren't members, we were still family // una familia amorosa en la iglesia--sin ser miembros fuimos igualmente familia
115. family that is waiting for us // familia que nos espera
116. Alex's song about airplanes // la canción sobre aviones de Alex
117. hope of heaven // la esperanza del cielo
118. friends and family who pray // familiares y amigos que oran
119. flowers in the valley // flores en el valle
120. Alex's freckle behind her ear. it's adorable. // la peca detrás de la oreja de Alex. es tierna.
121. Alex's giggle at anything new and exciting // la risita de Alex cuando ve algo nuevo y emocionante

122. the reminder that we don't live for earth, we live for eternity. what I do now really, really matters for eternity. how I treat those around me (husband and daughter especially) is a reflection of my relationship with God first. what I do unto others I'm doing unto Christ first. // recordar que no vivimos para estar tierra, vivimos para la eternidad. lo que hago ahora realmente importa para la eternidad. como trato a los que me rodean (especialmente mi marido e hija) es un reflejo de mi relación con Dios. lo que hago a los demás hago primero a Cristo.
123. hearing "let your glory fill the earth" and seeing ice-glory in the form of snowflakes from heaven fill my vision. // oir "que tu gloria llene la tierra" y ver gloria en forma de copos de nieve caer del cielo y llenar mi vista
124. tearful goodbyes // adioses con lágrimas
125. fields of cornstalks // campos de maíz

126. big skies // cielos grandes
127. friendships // amistades
128. thwarted plans // planes no cumplidos
129. wild rabbits that won't come out to play // conejos que no salen a jugar
130. glorious sunset light streaming through our windows // luz de atardecer entrando por la ventana


I need to write something...anything // Tengo que escribir algo...cualquier cosa

(más abajo en español)

If my son had survived his very early birth (at 24 weeks), today would be a very different day. We would be celebrating a year of struggles, but we would be celebrating a victory over very bad odds. We would be holding a baby, probably small for his age and probably with some kind of health problem, but we would be holding him. We would be spending money on food, party decorations, getting ready for our family and friends to come over.

But he didn't, so we aren't.

Instead we remember with pain and joy. We smile and cry at pictures, gifts and words from those that love us. We honor Max's short life by remembering, by letting the pain surface. It might be easier to let it all get buried somewhere deep within and go on with life as if nothing happened. But Max happened. God gave Max to us to show us how much we're loved, to show us how great and strong He is, to teach us what grace and peace in the storm look like. To teach us that this is not our home. God took Max because He loves Max. God continues to sustain us because He loves us.

Happy first birthday, sweet boy. 
I miss you so much. I miss all the things we didn't get to do, all the new things we didn't get to see you do, all the smiles you'd give us, all the giggles you'd share with your sister. I miss seeing you sit with your daddy and watching soccer games. I miss hearing your daddy teach you Russian. I miss seeing your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins love you. I miss all the hours I would have nursed you, touched your soft skin, kissed you thousands of times. I miss all the photographs I could have gotten of your adorable little self.
Enjoy heaven, Max. Have fun with your great-grandparents and cousins and all the wonderful people God has made whole. Praise our Father in His presence; we'll join you one day.
I love you.

Si mi hijo hubiera sobrevivido su muy temprana llegada (de 24 semanas), hoy sería un día muy diferente. Estaríamos celebrando un año de pruebas, pero estaríamos celebrando una victoria pese a las pocas probabilidades. Estaríamos teniendo en brazos a un bebé, seguramente pequeño por su edad y con algún problema de salúd, pero lo estaríamos teniendo. Estaríamos gastando dinero en comida, decoraciones, y preparándonos para recibir a familiares y amigos.

Pero no pasó así.

En lugar de todo eso, recordamos con dolor y gozo. Sonreíamos y lloramos al ver fotos, regalos y palabras de los que nos aman. Honramos la corta vida de Maxi recordándolo, permitiendo que aflote nuevamente el dolor. Quizá sería más fácil dejar que siga todo enterrado dentro nuestro, y seguir con nuestra vida como que si no hubiera pasado nada. Pero Maxi pasó. Dios nos dio a Maxi para mostrarnos cuanto nos ama, para mostrarnos lo grande y fuerte que Dios es, para enseñarnos lo que es la paz y gracia en el medio de la tormenta. Para enseñarnos que este no es nuestro hogar. Dios se llevó a Maxi porque lo ama. Dios sigue sosteniéndonos porque nos ama.

Feliz primer cumpleaños, mi dulce.

Te extraño tanto. Extraño todas las cosas que no pudimos hacer, todas las cosas nuevas que no te vimos hacer, todas las sonrisas que nos darías, todas las risas que compartirías con tu hermana. Extraño verte con tu papá mirando fútbol. Extraño oir como tu papá te enseña ruso. Extraño ver como tus abuelos, tíos, tías y primos te amarían. Extraño todas las horas que te daría el pecho, que tocaría tu piel tan suave, los miles de besos que te daría. Extraño las fotos hermosas que te hubiera tomado.

Disfrutá del cielo, Maxi. Divertite con tus bis-abuelos y primos y todas las personas que ahora están enteras. Adorá al Padre en su presencia; un día estaremos a tu lado haciendo lo mismo.

Te amo.


Things my sister learned from my son

(The day Max went to be with God, my sister started sharing what Max taught her. This is what she's shared in the past year.)

Things I learned from Max #1: The hope of heaven is sweeter when your heart is breaking.

Things I learned from Max #2: God is God, and I am not. So I bow my head and worship. God knows the tears are not accusations.

Things I Learned from Max #3: Life is short.

Things I learned from Max #4: The value of a life really has NOTHING to do with size or age or accomplishments. Max was infinitely precious simply because he was.

Things I Learned from Max #5: My sister is a strong, beautiful woman.

Thinks I Learned From Max #6: Our family's faith is genuine.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV)

Things I Learned From Max #7: There are no words that could possibly describe what it is like when the body of Christ genuinely weeps with those who are weeping--not just with condolences or expressions of regret, but by crying simply because I am.

Things I Learned from Max #8: Even halfway through gestation, the beauty of the image of God resting in an image-bearer is breathtaking.

Things I Learned from Max #9: I really can't grasp with my mind what it means for Max never to face evil, for his parents never to have to worry that he'll be safe, because I've never lived anywhere or at any time where evil did not reign. We miss him. But he's safe.

Things I Learned from Max #10: God's promises are sure. He's promised to make all things new, and He will. He's backed that promise with his one power for the sake of His own name. I can trust Him.

Things I Learned from Max #11: I really respect Max's daddy. Christopher Lovelace, you've done an excellent job of loving and caring for your wife, daughter and son. I'm thankful for God's grace in you.

Things I Learned from Max #12: Knowing that Max is part of the great cloud of witnesses is truly a motivator to set the weights aside and run the race set before me. My heart can hear his voice: "Run hard, Aunt Meli! Keep your eyes on Jesus! When you get here and see Jesus yourself, every step of the race will be worth it!"
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Things I Learned from Max #13: I never thought about the precious joy of worshiping God in song and realizing that I am only joining the song that is already roaring around God's throne, where Max is singing his heart out with thousands upon thousands of other voices.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:9-14 ESV)

Things I Learned from Max #14: One month is a really long, really short time. Still so thankful for Max's life. Still miss him.

Things I learned from Max #15: A heart is changed not by the amount of time spent with someone but by how deeply he touches you. The shape of my heart changed when Max was born. It changed again. permanently. when he left us to be with Jesus. Having our hearts affected and changed and reshaped is a good thing. But sometimes it hurts. And sometimes it hurts a lot.

Things I Learned from Max #16: God is only and always good

Things I Learned from Max #17: No matter how long or desperate or violent the storm, the grace God gives to praise him in it will never be exhausted.

Things I Learned from Max #18: Little ones are precious to Jesus. Jesus noticed, loved, and cared for Max in ways that exceeded even his parents' ability. Now Max is with Jesus, perfectly loved, perfectly safe, and perfectly joy-filled. Little ones are precious. Jesus said so and lived that way, and I want to be like Jesus.

Things I Learned from Max #19: We walked through the fire and were not consumed. Our God is with us.
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3 ESV)

Things I Learned from Max #20: Tears sprout in unexpected places and unforeseen moments. And that's okay. In fact, it's a good thing.

Things I Learned from Max #21: All I really have is Christ, and Christ is truly all I need.

Things I Learned from Max #22: Living in light of eternity really changes your perspective on a lot of things. I'm amazed and more than a little chastened to realize how often I've been sucked into things that are really. not. going. to. matter. someday when I stand in the presence of Jesus.

Things I Learned from Max #23: God is the one who can hold Max gently in one arm and arrange my world the way he intends it to be with the other. Rest today! :) God is big enough...for anything.

Things I Learned from Max #24: Maxi, you remind me daily that I'm not home yet. This is not where I belong.

Things I Learned from Max #25: You don't have to live long or have many abilities to change lives. But...I HAVE lived long. And God HAS given me abilities. I have so much I am responsible to steward. Thank you, Maxi, for reminding me to be faithful and fruitful.

Things I learned from Max #26: Nothing about grief is easy. And as life unfolds, grief breaks off into jagged, broken edges that catches my breath. But fearing the pain of grief is no reason not to relish the beautiful moments that made up the life a beautiful, strong, amazing little one.

Thinks I Learned from Max #27: Every life matters. That is why we mourn the loss of relationship, whether it's someone we knew for 87 years, for 2 days, or never even met because the pregnancy ended too soon. God creates each person on purpose, for a purpose, from the moment of conception.

Things I Learned from Max #28: I can't put into words how deeply comforting it is to face the loss of babies we've loved, knowing that our loss truly is their gain. Never to have to face evil as our country has known this week. Oh, how I rejoice that the babies in our family that died so soon don't even know what evil is. And they never will. Thankful for heaven tonight.

Things I Learned from Max #29: The just shall live by faith: the bigger picture lends perspective to the present reality. And the big picture is that God is good, that God never acts without a purpose, and that God has planned the day when everything will be right.

Things I Learned from Max #30: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV) This is beyond my comprehension. I know what the sufferings of this present time feel like, and the weight of suffering and mourning is deeper than words can express. But that suffering loses its magnitude in the face of the glory that will be revealed; what must that glory be like that God has in store?! I cannot wrap my understanding around that. But I press into that reality, by faith.


in the kitchen... // en la cocina...

(To find out what I'm doing, click here.) // (Para enterarte de lo que estoy haciendo, hacé click acá.) 

97. the scent of chocolate melting // el olor del chocolate derritiendose
98. the bite of candied ginger // la chispa del gengibre abrillantado
99. cream cheese // queso cream
100. the expectation of chocolate cake // la expectativa de la torta de chocolate
101. pink ice cream for little girls // helado rosa para las nenas
102. the juicy, tangy mess that is a pomegranate // el lio jugoso y ácido de la granada
103. amazing scones // scones alucinantes
104. pesto
105. chai
106. limes // limas
 107. empanadas
 108. homemade bagels // bagels caseros