Sunday, August 7, 2016

Blessed Be His Name

"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)

I've never seen this verse played out in such sharp relief as this last Friday, August 5th, 2016. One year earlier I was exhilarated, over the moon, to be welcoming my second baby into this world. Holding him for the first time was unlike anything I had experienced- his birth was a VBAC, he was a rainbow baby after a miscarriage, and we had needed fertility drugs to get pregnant with him.  We had prayed for him, and God was answering all those prayers.

(A day-old Henry, Aug. 2015)

This year at midnight on his first birthday, I was in the hospital again, but everything was opposite.  I rushed to the ER with pain in my right side and bleeding. I had gotten a positive pregnancy test a week earlier, but because of various things knew something wasn't right. Sure enough after an ultrasound the doctor came in and confirmed my fear - I had an ectopic pregnancy. 

I cried. Brian held me and he cried too. Then: "You have to go to surgery right now. We have to remove your tube." 

I cried harder. The doctors reassured me that I would almost definitely be able to get pregnant again with just one tube but to me it was just another obstacle - we had already had plenty of doctors' appointments and medications just to get pregnant with Henry. 

(Brand-new dad holding first born son - Nov. 2012)

At about 1:30 am, not even two hours after I got to the ER, in the black of night, they wheeled me away from Brian to the OR. All I could think of was the parallel story that was being played out: the last time I was in the OR was three and a half years earlier when my first baby, my feisty little Asher was born, and now I was losing a baby in the same room. Exactly one year earlier I had been in a hospital giving birth to a perfect newborn, and now I was in the hospital losing a baby the very same day just a year later.

(In the OR minutes after Asher was born - Nov. 2012)
We don't know why God does the things He does. We often wish He chose differently, that He was more like us. The next morning while I was recovering in the hospital my little sister sent me this verse: 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

In some infinitely higher way, God knows what is good for me and what is bad for me. And He chose the good for me. On the perfect day, one year after giving me a precious healthy Henry, He took a tiny unseen baby, equally precious in His sight, up into His arms. 

(Worn out Brian with baby Henry - Aug. 2015)
It is impossible not to see Jesus throughout this story. In Theology (which I took close to ten years ago, so forgive any errors with correct terms) we learned about a literary device called an inclusio, in which two parallel images at the beginning and end of a story draw the reader toward one central theme. Last August I came home with a baby; this August I came home empty. Last August 5th God gave; this August 5th God took away. What is there left for me to say?  Blessed be His name. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

I Don't Want to be Human

A few nights ago, my three year old and I had a conversation that went like this:

(He was in the bathtub and I handed him an Oreo, because I am such a good mom. ;) )

Asher: "I would like to steal all the Oreos away from all the people."

Me, cleaning the counter or something: "That's not very nice!"

Asher: "Ok, I'll just steal all the bad guys' Oreos then."

Me, still half distracted: "Well Asher, know what? Actually, you shouldn't even take Oreos from the bad guys, because Jesus says to love our enemies!"

Asher, suddenly upset: "Mom! No! I want to take their Oreos! I don't want to love my enemies!"

Me, taken aback by this outburst, and paying more attention: "Honey, we have to love our enemies, because that's what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins. Since we were sinners we were pretty much Jesus' enemies, but He loved us so much that He died for us and rose again! Isn't that great?"

And then Asher was in tears, and cried, "Well then I don't want to be HUMAN!"

I didn't realize the gravity of what I was telling my little boy. It's so rote now - Love your enemies, yes yes, pray for those who persecute you, yes we KNOW. But he didn't know! Asher hadn't heard this message of love for those who hate you, and to him it was unfathomable.

How, WHY, are we supposed to love the bad guys? Because He did. He bled and died for his enemies, his children. And most importantly, because He told us to. 

Luke 6: 27-28 
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you."

Asher continued to cry and was obviously upset by this bit of news that as a Christian he is commanded to love his enemies. Little kids are so honest! I told him that no one wants to love his enemies, I don't either, Ash, but that we have to anyway because Jesus told us to. Jesus will help us do the hard things, and we can do them because He already did. Then I tried to move on because well, he is three and it was late, and he was definitely ready for sleep. 

Finally he just said, "I just want to be a T-Rex! I don't want to be a little boy forever, I want to be a T-Rex!" 

Yep, it's hard to be human. But then Daddy came in and helped get jammies on and because he is a great dad, pretended to be dinosaurs with our young philosopher, and stealthily pointed out the difficulties in being a dinosaur (you can't talk, for one) and how great it is to be human. And Asher forgot all about our upsetting conversation.

One thing parenting has made me realize is that you don't plan conversations like this. I was just chatting lightheartedly with Asher when suddenly he completely broke down - I wasn't trying to preach a mini sermon to him, and I felt a little bit bad that I had even said anything. I had no idea he would take it so seriously.

But I'm thankful for this chance to see the Gospel from my son's eyes - so real, so new, so paradoxical. You mean He has come not to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him? Yes. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Long Days, Short Years

(This is going to be a long post of pictures and random words because I haven't posted for a while, and I'm kind of thinking haphazardly this afternoon.)

It's crazy to me that I have a three and a half year old and a nine month old. I think waiting an extra long time for a second baby has made our time with him seem to go so quickly. I already miss the tiny little bundle I wore everywhere in my baby wrap.

Life as a family of four came naturally to us, unlike our addition of number one. Asher was so ready for a sibling - Henry is everything to him, and vice versa.

Speaking of Asher, he turned three, a number which I couldn't even fathom when I first became a mother. Three! That's when a kid... is a kid! Not a baby! Not even a toddler. It came fast. 

At the same time, it wasn't fast. I can still recall many evenings staring at the clock, willing it to be five so that Brian could come home and take this Asher-baby, crying and fussing, out of my arms. I haven't forgotten long days of fussiness and tantrums, spilled cereal, coffee all over the couch, boredom, messy houses, nothing for dinner because I haven't gotten around to grocery shopping for a week... in fact, let's be honest, I'm still kinda in the middle of those days.

But adding Henry to our family has given me at least a little bit more perspective on our lives as parents, as a family. Here we have two boys who we will raise, who will be naughty, who will be as sweet as anything, who will sneak cereal behind the chair in the living room, who will catch frogs and worms, who will drain every bit of our energy. Having two has forced me to give up even more free time, say goodbye to naps, and kind of just embrace a little bit of crazy. I'm the kind of person who likes control - so this is a very good thing. 

We have started reading chapter books to Asher, which is something I've looked forward to for years. It's the best. Big(ger) kids are fun to have around. 

Come on! Two handsome boys with smirks?! What more could we ask for? 

Sometimes I hold one of my boys and know that someday I'll just wish I could pick them up again, and of course I get all weepy. But usually that's not how I feel - because the days ARE long. I always look forward to Friday night when Brian is finally home for the weekend and I can get some downtime. And I think that's just how parenthood is, and there's nothing you can really do about it. Except thank God for the grace He pours out daily and for His mercies new EVERY morning.

And THAT is good news.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


One year ago today I was 5 and a half weeks pregnant, incredibly excited, and nervous. After a miscarriage 9 months before, as well as a much longer wait for a second child than we had anticipated, it was hard to trust that I would have a healthy baby sometime the next summer.

But God in His goodness answered our prayers and sent us this perfect bundle, Henry Shepherd, on August 5th, at 8:12 pm, weighing 7 lbs. 15 oz. (Sidenote: Asher was born at 8:07 pm! Guess that's when I have babies.) Henry is the happiest, smiliest baby I have ever had - ok, that's not saying a lot, but seriously. He has been really easy.

So today I'm thankful, so thankful, for not only one but TWO healthy little boys!

This crazy boy just happens to share his birthday with Thanksgiving this year - three years old! It's amazing that we have a three year old - no longer a baby and not even a toddler, but a full-fledged little boy!

Yesterday he said to me, "Mom, 'bye' is how you say 'let's set up my tent' in Spanish." Hmm. He's always full of ideas and funny sayings and loves to make us laugh.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Counting Down to Baby 2

Well, I am 2 and a half weeks away from my due date with Kohl boy #2! Time has really flown fast, even though it's a record hot summer here in Moscow with temps of mid-90's to 100's for the past couple weeks, and well, I've just been really hot and tired.

Before my life gets way more busy than it is now I had to write down some things Asher has said. He is so so funny, I mean, I know he's my son, but he's really just funny. I think out of all the exciting things about having a new baby, I'm most looking forward to seeing Asher with his new baby brother.

Tonight Asher said to me, "Mama, what will you be when you grow up?"
"I want to be your mama!"
"Oh, well what will you be when you're a shark?"
(I said Great White... which is actually pretty accurate to how I feel these days...)

When I was putting him to bed he prayed: "Thank you Asher, thank you Mommy, thank you Daddy, thank you Yankee Doodle, thank you Yankee Doodle Dandy, (he said that twice), thank you um, (looking around his room and saw a bear print on the wall) bears and bears and bears, in Jesus' name, Amen! (Pause) Oops Mommy, I acciwentally said Yankee Doodle when I was praying!" Sure that was an accident.... Haha!

A few weeks ago I was telling him some things about babies to try to prepare him to have a newborn around. I said that babies cry a lot, but it's ok because Mommy and Daddy will go get him when he cries and hold him. He said "I will get out of my big boy bed in the night and go hold him!"

He really is excited. I know there is no way he can grasp what is coming our way (I mean, who really can?) but it is still just really sweet to see his mind processing everything we tell him!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Funny Sayings

Just now I thought I heard Asher crying in his room, so I quietly opened the door to check on him. (He had been asleep.) He popped his head up and looked at me and said "Good night, Mom!"

"Ok, good night!" I said, and started toward the door.

Then he asked, "Mom, why did you come in here??"

"Oh, I just thought I heard you. But I didn't! So goodnight!"

"You thought you heard me, but I was sweeping!"

Ok ok, sorry. Ha! The whole thing just made me think of something a 10 year old would say, not a 2 year old...


Asher loves to put our names into songs - his favorite right now is Davy Crockett:

"Born on a MAMA-top in MAMA-see! (Hahaha!) Greenest state in the land of the MOM! Kiwwed him a bar, when he was onwee MOM! Davy, Davy Tottet, king of the wild MOM-tier!" (Hilarious laughter.)


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Excuses, excuses.

Lately Asher has taken to using some pretty sophisticated excuses for misbehavior:

He was turning the volume up on the computer and I said "Asher, you aren't supposed to touch that, so you're disobeying me." 

He replied, with a very hurt expression, "I just thought it would be FUNNY."

Then today he was playing with my hair dryer (he uses it as a gun and holds it up and says "shoot!" to everything...) and I looked out from my room and he had the guiltiest expression on his face.

"What are you doing?" 
"I'm gonna plug it in." (Standing right by the outlet.)
"No, I don't want you to do that. It's dangerous and you're not allowed to play with plugs."
"I just wanted to make you laugh!" (Again, said with a wounded voice.)

(Picture from back when we were potty-training for about 3 days before I called it off for a while.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Best Boy

Steps for Putting Asher to Bed:
1. "Can I have some milk?"
2. Read 2-3 books (after several are vetoed) while child drinks milk.
3. Brush teeth as hard as I can for as long as little shark teeth will let me. 
4. Turn off lights, "More rotty (rocky) in rotty chair?"
5. Pray (while telling child that praying is not a time for playing the pinchy game...)
6. Sing a few songs while rocking little boy who is not really a baby anymore.
7. Say "Ok, time to go nigh-night now!" "Oh-tay!"

Then the best part:
"I love you, best boy!"
"I love you, best dirl!"

Who would have guessed little boys can be so sweet?

Friday, March 6, 2015

8 Months Later...

Well, after a long hiatus from my blog I decided I miss reading it and remembering all the little things that I wouldn't otherwise write down. So, here are a few (rather old) pictures and a Kohl family update!

First of all, we are thrilled to be expecting baby boy #2! We found out in November after a difficult 9 months since miscarrying, and we almost couldn't believe it. God is good! And then a few days ago we found out our new baby is a boy. We can't wait to meet him and give Asher a brother. 

 (We traveled to the Oregon Coast over Thanksgiving with my family. Asher ADORED the ocean and even to this day tells many a person the story of a "wave knocked me over and I got all muddy but Daddy saved me".)

Asher is growing up so fast. He talks nonstop like people say girls are supposed to do, and he is incredibly and shockingly outgoing (something neither his father or I feel like we passed on to him...) He is stubborn and sweet. 

I was cleaning up some of his toys and he was watching a TV show. He came over to me and said "Oh, what are you doing?" I said I was cleaning up. He sat down next to me and said "I love being with you." Then I was rocking him tonight before bed and he said "You're my best girl." Then he reached his arm around my neck and said "I'm giving you a back rub." Aaah! Sweetest!

Of course, there are stubborn times as well. One time I said to him "You may not speak like that to your mother." He replied, in an angry voice, "You are NOT MY MOTHER." 

And then another day I said "You disobeyed Mom, and when you disobey me you disobey God." He said (in the same angry voice) "Just like ADAM and EVE disobey GOD!" Aaaand he's not even 2 and a half yet. I'm hoping he's just getting all his junior high angst out now?

We love this little person so much and are having the best time watching him grow up and trying our best to lead him in the way he should go - which is easier said than done!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Weeks 24-27: Catching Up & God's Plans

So, haven't posted for a month. Part of being way behind wasn't totally my fault: my computer was so full of files (mostly pictures...) that I literally could not transfer my pictures from my camera to my computer. 

This summer has been so... summerish. I was telling Brian that I feel so privileged to be living this summer like I have been: going to the pool with Asher, hanging out at my mom's house or with friends, grabbing an iced Americano every so often.

Hanging out with Asher all day, every day. Hanging out with Brian in the evenings, reading or (more likely, unfortunately) watching a TV show. 

(We got doughnuts and watched the World Cup one day!)

Now, mind you, this isn't the summer I planned. I really had planned on having another baby by now, or at least being pregnant. I found out to my excitement that I was pregnant in February, but then had an early miscarriage. The realization that my life is not my own (nor do my children's lives belong to me) struck hard. 

(Asher trying to sneakily touch the computer.)

Maybe this isn't the summer I had planned for myself. But it is the exact one God planned for me. 

(Watching a 4th of July parade on Daddy's shoulders.)

So, while I still mourn the loss of a daughter or son, and wish desperately for another child, I can enjoy this summer, and rest in the knowledge that I am right where God has put me.