Some pictures…

March 22, 2012

Psalm 139:14-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

That moment when I met her. I would take all of the pain again and again just to hold her for those two hours. She really was worth it. She really still is worth it.

Ruby loved every second she had with Mary, and she was able to spend time with her before she passed away. She held her, sang her Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, kissed all over her face, hushed her little cries, and told her everything would be okay. I loved seeing them together.

I loved watching Hayden with Mary. It was heart-wrenching, but the Lord just reminded me that if Hayden has such great love for her in his heart, what kind of love must God, the author and definition of perfect love, have for her? And she is with him…

Just soaking up every minute we had with her…

I can’t wait for the day when our family is made whole again! And I am oh so thankful for the healthy babies God has given me. They give me a great reason to get out of bed every morning.

My labor and Mary’s passing were so quick that only mine and Hayden’s parent and my little sister, Kelsey, were able to meet and hold her. Kelsey and Ruby were the only ones who made it before she passed away. 

Here are my mom and dad with Mary.

Hayden’s mom and dad…

Her Aunt Gracie (my little sister, Kelsey)…

While our parents and other siblings didn’t make it in time to see her alive, we were surrounded by the body of Christ as Mary passed into glory. It was such a tremendous blessing, and we truly were surrounded by family. Our Sunday school teachers, most of our small group (Holly, Danna, Marci and Tigger), our photographer and friend (Cassie Ransleben), and her mom and my mentor (Kim), who had all fearlessly and wholeheartedly loved Mary and prepared for her coming, read scripture over her, sang, and prayed over Mary and over us. They held us up through the hardest moments, and left the room only seconds before Mary peacefully drew her last breath.

This is right after Mary went to be with Jesus. I picked her up, put her to my chest, and she went to be with him. It was so peaceful…and Hayden and I had the privilege of holding our daugther until she was held by our heavenly Father.


Mary Amanda Stagg

March 22, 2012

As most of you probably already know, we welcomed our sweet Mary Amanda Stagg into the world last Friday, March 9, at 6:48 pm, and she went to be with her Savior Jesus at 8:50 pm the same night. I have sat down to write about everything several times, but never got very far because I really didn’t know what to write. SO much has happenend over the past 13 days that I can’t even begin to write it all down. We welcomed our baby into this world one day, and we had to bury her sweet, beautiful body only days later. As I’m sure you can imagine, this has been the darkest, most difficult time of our lives thus far.  And even as I sit here, I am overwhelmed by the weight of it all…And I want to be completely honest with you here. (And this is especially for those who have suffered through loss and grief, and for those of you with stories like ours, who are facing the terrible possibility of losing their child). There have been times since Mary was born when truly knowing and believing in a mighty and loving God has not come as a comfort to me. I have felt this way numerous times since March 9, but the first time I recognized feeling that way was the Wednesday evening after we buried Mary. Hayden and I went to visit her grave for the first time. It was AWFUL. Excruciating, really, and probably the most difficult time for me, apart from leaving her at the hospital with the funeral home. Hayden, who even in his own sadness, has been a constant comfort and rock for me, kept commenting on how beautiful her spot was, and how beautiful the sky was that evening, and that Mary was whole, with her heavenly Father (all things that I KNOW and absolutely BELIEVE). And before Mary died, the beauty of nature always served as a reminder to me of the greatness of God and his love for us… But all I could think was, “All I see is a sunset that Mary isn’t experiencing. All I see is an earth without her in it. I know God has used this to help others, but I don’t care. I’d trade it all. I just want my baby. I hate this! And I don’t understand, God.” It’s moments like these, when the grief is so deep and tangible, that I literally feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest, and that I will never smile again, that I might actually die from sadness, or at least I want to. There have been many times like that in the last several days, and I know that there will be times like that again.

BUT, please hear me even clearer now. What I really want you to know more than anything else at this point, is that I am learning, praise the Lord, that the way we feel does not negate the Truth. There is no emotion that God cannot handle. There is no anger, no question, no doubt, no sadness that his grace does not cover. As Paul reminds all believers in 2 Timothy 2, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!…The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” (emphasis added). If you are his child, there is NOTHING that can take you from his hand (Romans 8:38-39). YES, our God is still the same (Hebrews 13:8)…He is still faithful, He is still good, He is still loving and tender, and He is still in control, even when I don’t feel it.  And I know that Jesus, who CHOSE death and the wrath of God on our behalf, sees the depth of our grief and pain and loss, and He not only grieves along side us, but He truly understands. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:15-16. And I am learning that He does not grieve like us, with the same sense of loss, because He wrote the end of the story. He sees what I believe but cannot see about my daughter-that she is whole and in his care. However, his heart breaks because our’s does, because he loves us. And he loves you. And it breaks because of sin and the spiritual and physical disease and death it causes in this world. It’s not supposed to be this way. And it won’t always be…

So, this has been terrible, but this has been so very sweet. God entrusted us with a precious, beautiful baby girl, and we had the privilege of loving and holding her as she passed from this life to the next…to true life. I am so thankful. And as Ruby, my three year old, told me as I held her and cried the Sunday night after Mary’s memorial service, “It’s okay, Mommy. Jesus will take your cry away.” She’s so right, he will. We anxiously await the day when our faith will be made sight, when we will meet our daughter in glory. When “he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, niether shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things will have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, paraphrased).

With love in Christ, and in honor of Mary,
The Stagg’s

God’s Everlasting Love

March 2, 2012

I stole the title of this post from one of the subheadings in my Bible for Romans 8. This chapter, and several other verses throughout Scripture, have become very real and applicable for us recently. I haven’t posted lately because the last ultrasound we had totally rocked my world. I think it marked a turning point for me…in my mind and heart when I really realized for the first time that God truly is the ONLY salvation for Mary. He is the ONLY One who can make a difference in her outcome. I knew this before, but when her due date was farther away, it was easier to stay hopeful and positive that it would end the way I want it to. With her due date only weeks away (due March 29), I am confronted daily with the reality that he may tell me “not this way.” I see Mary healed. Whole. With me. I have never prayed harder for, or longed for anything more, than for her healing and our faith not to fail in all of this. And I have never been so afraid of an emotion…but I am actually afraid of the grief I will feel if we lose her. I know how I feel now. Since her last ultrasound there have been nights when I thought I would die from sadness…if I feel like this now, how will I survive when I have to tell her goodbye?

But God has been so gracious to encourage and strengthen us through the experiences of other women and families that have endured a trial like this before, that his grace really IS sufficient. It is when I feel I am dying of sadness now, and it will be when I meet Mary for the first time. No matter what happens.

But most days are hard right now. I would ask you all to pray even more fervently for us now, as we enter these last few weeks before Mary’s due date. The intensity of emotions we feel will only get stronger, and I am so thankful that as I wax and wane, our Father remains ever steadfast in his love and protection over us. And we stand upon Romans 8 (I’ll be jumping around, starting in verse 18)…”For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…for in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but have him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

His love will sustain us. He is with us now. He will be with us then. Thank you for praying. Please continue. And please pray for our precious children, but especially Ruby, as she eagerly awaits the day her litte sister, “Married”, will come (that’s what she calls her half of the time :)). Pray for her tender heart to be protected, and that God would use this in her life and in all our lives to make us more like him. Thank you!

With all our love,
The Stagg’s