I don’t have the emotional energy to blog much tonight, but I did want to tell you all thank you for praying. We are so very grateful. And I wanted to update you on the ultrasound. It was hard… We were so happy to see our girl, and we got some precious pictures of her face. She’s beautiful. But we also saw that she is very behind in her head development (12 weeks behind…so it basically hasn’t grown since our last ultrasound) and weight (about 5 weeks). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t discouraged and grieved to the core.  We, and so so many people, are continuing to beg God for her healing; and as her arrival draws closer, it gets more and more crucial that I trust him with his answer. But not only crucial that I trust and accept it, but that I truly believe that what he chooses is good and perfect and better than any plan I could have for myself or Mary. And it gets harder…at least for me. I love the Lord. I love him more than life. I love him because he gave his very own life up as a ransom for me…and no matter what the cost, I have to trust him…With my heart, with Mary’s, and with my family’s heart. Trust him with me. And please don’t stop praying. We need you. 

With all of our love,
The Stagg’s

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Quick Update

February 15, 2012

I would like to post more later about how we’re doing, but for now, I just wanted to ask for prayer tomorrow at 1. We have our last ultrasound with the Maternal Fetal Medicine doc, and would love to see our baby healed. We would also love to share the love and hope of Christ with our physician and those taking care of us tomorrow, regardless of the findings. Pray that the Lord would “give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Ephesians1:17-19a, personalized :)). (while you’re at it, pray that for yourself! may all of his children know fully the hope he has called us to! :)) 

I can’t thank you enough for all of the ongoing love and support you’ve given us. God has ministered to us through the Church in a way and depth we’ve never experienced before. We are so very grateful. 

Parting Scripture that a sweet sister shared with me a couple of weeks ago that has been a huge enouragement to me…and I hope it is to you all, too, since we ALL experience trials of various kinds and degrees (James 1).

Isaiah 43:1-3a, 4a, 5a

“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 the 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…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…Fear not, for I am with you.'”

What greater promise could he give us? …be comforted by his love for you…and may you worship and serve him in spirit and in truth for it (John 4:23-24). Amen!

With all our love,
The Stagg’s

Mary Amanda

January 25, 2012

We finally picked a middle name for Mary. Hayden suggested Amanda several weeks ago, and it took a few weeks for the Lord to really set it in my heart. I love it, not just because it’s an honor for Mary to have my name, but because of what Amanda means. It means “worthy of love.”  What better name for our precious baby? She is worthy of every single ounce of love we can possibly give her because she is made in the image of God, and she is his gift to us. He fashioned her and formed her with care and intention. Psalm 139:13-16 says, “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.” 

God is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes. He didn’t make a mistake when he formed Mary…he knew and knows exactly what he is doing, and he finds delight and pleasure in her life, just as he does in anyone else’s. Christ gave his life for Mary, just like he gave his life for me and you. If my Creator and Lord would unabashedly give himself up for her, why wouldn’t I? And more importantly, if he laid down his life for her, for us, how could we not give him our lives right back? He is worth it…so she’s worth it.

All our love,

the Staggs

That Our Joy May be Full…

January 12, 2012

Hello, all. Thanks to each of you for reading our blog and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We have been blessed tremendously by all of the support! Thank also for your comments-I read and cherish each one of them, but will probably not ever have enough time to respond to them. So just know I love getting them!

I wanted to share a bit of what the Lord has been teaching Hayden and me recently (and, not coincidentally, I’m sure, it seems like everyone else in my family, as well). I’m going to quote an excerpt from John Piper’s “What Jesus Demands from the World”, the book we’ve been studying in our small group Bible study, about the joy Christ gives us…

Demand #10, Rejoice and Leap for Joy, p86-87

“What astonishes us most immediately when Jesus says ‘Rejoice…and leap for joy’ is that he is saying it precisely in the context of pain. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy’ (Luke 6:22-23). When Jesus demands that we rejoice, he has not forgotten the kind of world we live in. It is filled with suffering. And he promises that some of that suffering will fall on us as his disciples. ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons…and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake’ (Luke 21:12, 16-17)…’If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you’ (John 15:20).

Jesus had not forgotten that. In fact, he demands that we follow him in that painful path of love. Therefore, the joy he demands now is not chipper. It is not joy-lite. It is not superficial or marked with levity. This is the mistake of too many people and too many churches. They think that Jesus’ demand for joy is a demand to tell jokes or weave slapstick into Christian corporate life. I don’t smell the Jerusalem-bound Jesus in that atmosphere. Something has gone wrong.

What’s wrong is that the aroma of suffering is missing. For Jesus the demand for joy is a way to live with suffering and to outlast suffering. Therefore, this joy is serious. It’s the kind you fight for by cutting of your hand (Matt. 5:30) and selling your possessions (Matt. 13:44) and carrying your cross with Jesus to Calvary (Matt. 10:38-39). It has scars. It sings happy songs with tears. It remembers the dark hours and knows that more are coming. The road to heaven is a hard road, but it is not joyless.”

It is incredible that Christ died-gave his life-to give us his joy…the very same joy that drove him to endure the cross for our sin. “…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). I love how Piper describes this type of joy as “sing[ing] happy songs with tears.” It’s so relevant to me, because I have actually sung happy songs with tears. It is this type of joy that gives me the love, energy, and affection to care for my children even when my heart is heavy. It’s this type of joy that allows me to break it down to the Wiggles, even when I’ve just been crying out to God for mary’s healing. I know without doubt that it is only Jesus who provides me (and Hayden) with this life-giving joy.

I wouldn’t have this without the sacrifice he made for me (the same sacrifice he also made for you). He gave his life for me, for my eternal joy and hope–not just for the future, but for today, regardless of my circumstances.  This is so much different than our happiness. I’m not happy about mary’s condition; I don’t understand why it’s my baby, or why God chose me to be her mom (but I am glad that he did)…But I can trust in the one who loves me and loves her, and who gave himself up for our sake. I can trust him with my heart…

We continue to ask God daily to heal Mary completely. We know he hears us and loves us, and we’ll trust him no matter what his answer is! I have my last ultrasound January 31, and would love for all of you to be praying with us for a miracle! Thank you so much!

With all of our love,

the Stagg’s

A picture of our girl

December 15, 2011

 

This is a picture of a picture, so it's not great, but she's still beautiful.

 

His Love

December 15, 2011

Hey everyone. I just wanted to give you all a quick update on our appointment yesterday. It was good to see Mary, but as always, it was also really difficult. I was hoping for some small sign of improvement, but instead we found she has more fluid on her brain than before. As expected, her head was about three weeks behind the average head size for her gestational age. The rest of her sweet body is growing great, though. The doctor said there was really no need to do any more ultrasounds, especially since the visits can be pretty emotional. But, I asked him if we could do just one more before she’s born-just so I can see her again, and maybe see positive changes (I know that this would be a total miracle, but that’s what we’re going to keep asking for until there’s no need to ask anymore).

It was a really sad visit for Hayden and me. I am just so afraid of losing her, but I also know that God is big enough to handle my fears and doubts. I would love to share two songs that have recently been very relevant to us. The first is by Shane and Shane, called “Your Love”.  It just talks about how his love is big enough to carry us through anything, and even to bring good out of anything. The second is by Matt Hammitt. I’d heard the song probably 50 times but hadn’t ever really listened to the words. It’s a song he wrote when he thought he and his wife might lose their newborn son to heart problems. It describes perfectly our feelings for Mary, and also the struggle to completely open our hearts to her, especially with the possiblity of losing her. The links are below.

Shane & Shane, Your Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJcaaU0opJA

Matt Hammitt, All of Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50ygAc2qP5A

One of my most favorite ladies, Kim Ransleben, tells me over and over again that when I get fearful or worried or dissatisfied (or impatient, or angry, or any other sinful emotion I deal with daily), that I’ve lost sight of my Heavenly Father; that if I can just place my gaze back on him, and see who he is, and who I am in him, all of the other things will grow dim, and really won’t seem like “things” at all anymore. And in truth, when we see Him for who he really is we become more and more like him-2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” So that is our prayer. That sweet Mary will help us to see him better, will cause us to press in to him, and not turn away. And that others will come to know him through her life, as well.

With all our love,

The Staggs

Well, I didn’t think I would EVER blog. And this may be the beginning of the end, we’ll see, but I really want to give it a try. I haven’t really decided yet what this blog will ultimately be about, but the main purpose of starting it now is to share with you our journey with our newest baby, Mary. Many of you know about Mary’s condition, but don’t really know specifics about it, or even what Hayden, the kids and I are feeling about it all (and I’ll warn you, this first post is going to be a bit long to catch you all up). In all of this, we want Christ to be magnified and honored, and I hope that this blog will show him off to you all a bit. God has always been faithful to us and He is now. And I want you all to know how he has already shown himself good and faithful in this trial. And my greatest prayer is that if you don’t know him personally, that you will begin to see him a little more clearly through our lives.

This pregnancy started off like all of ours have (with the exception of Ruby)…with surprise! I don’t know why we are still surprised when we discover we’re pregnant, but we are :). As always, the shock and disbelief quickly turned into excitement over another addition to our family. I had to take three pregnancy tests to convince everyone, including myself, that it was true.

With three kids three and under, time seems to pass extremely fast and slow all at the same time, but before we knew it, it was time to find out the sex of the baby! I knew even during the ultrasound that something was off, but I wasn’t really concerned about it. When the radiologist came in and told us we were having a girl, but that she had some major concerns about her health, Hayden and I both were shocked, but immediately started praying for ourselves and Mary (Hayden, as usual, named her right away, even before we knew she had problems). 

Thanks to our wonderful doctors, I was able to go the next day to visit a maternal fetal medicine doctor (basically, an OBGYN specialist), and have another more detailed ultrasound done. After a long two hours and, suprisingly, a good bit of laughing, we found out what we had feared. Mary had major neurological problems-the front part of her brain was missing and the back portion wasn’t formed correctly. Because of this, her facial features were also incorrectly formed, especially her eyes and nose. There were also other things about her body that pointed towards a genetic anomaly, most likely Trisomy 18 or 13. The doctor told us that regardless of whether or not she had one of these conditions, the brain issue itself would ultimately be fatal to Mary, and that barring a miracle, she wouldn’t survive after birth. We decided that we would do genetic testing to hopefully find out for sure what she had, and within a few weeks, we found out that she did indeed have Trisomy 13.

It’s hard to describe the way I felt when we first received that news. Truly, I can tell you that I didn’t and still haven’t felt any anger towards God about it. All I really felt in that moment was tremendous sadness. Praise God, up to this point, I’ve never really experienced tragedy in my life. I’ve heard about others’ sadness and even cried with them through it, but I was always an onlooker. For the first time, I truly felt the weight of grief, and I am so thankful for a Savior who knows my grief and carries it for me (please see Isaiah 53:3-5). And while I was overwhelmed with sadness, God lovingly put hope in my heart. Here is just a short piece of what I wrote in my journal shortly after that first specialized ultrasound. “We know that God is always faithful and completely good, that His love towards us has not and will never change. We also know that Mary has hope and a future. While she may not live her days here on earth, we know with absolute certainty that she will spend a tearless, disease-free, joyful and perfect eternity with her Creator and Savior–and we will see her again–Halleleuiah!”

Many people ask us, “What next?” I know some even wonder why we would carry Mary to term, when we know she won’t survive. But I can tell you that Mary IS alive now. She has been since God began forming her at conception in my womb. She kicks and moves, and she even smiles (we saw that on ultrasound more than once). She is our precious baby, our Mary. And more than that, we believe in a God of miracles. He is the same God that spoke this universe into existence. The same God who created you. And me. And Mary. We ask him daily to heal her body and I want to wait until he answers us “yes” or “no”. And I am realizing more and more every day that EVERY single baby that is conceived is a miracle, and Mary is no exception. We want to spend every minute I can with her.

We do have another ultrasound this coming Wednesday. I’ll update the blog soon after to let you all know if anything has changed. Thank you so much to all of you who are praying. We have never felt so loved and cared about as we have the past several weeks. I want to share more about that, and how we’ve seen the body of Christ in glorious action, but it will have to wait for a later post.

With all of our love,

the Staggs