Friday, December 21, 2012

Anastasha Funeral Slide Show

Anastasha's funeral was one year ago today.   Here is a brief slide show to commemorate that time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Anastasha Slideshow

For those of you who haven't seen it, this is the full length slide show that was shown at her memorial service. I pray it is a blessing to you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is Life?

I had the honor of preaching at our church in honor of National Sanctity of Life Sunday this year.  Among other things I shared publicly for the first time about our journey with Anastasha.  It was difficult and very emotional.  If you are interested in watching, the link to the sermon is here.

Twin Pictures update

I haven't posted anything in a while.  I suppose the twins have knocked us off our game a bit more than I anticipated.  They are both 4 months old, so I have some catching up to do.  I'll post the pictures chronologically.

Bella aka "Bellini" aka "Bellerina" aka "Sugar Bear" aka "Bella Bella Stinkerella"

Caleb aka "K-love" aka "Chunk"

The Dynamic Duo

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anastasha - One Year Later

We celebrated Anastasha's 1st/Tonya's 37th birthday this week.  As you might expect, it was a bittersweet day.  We looked back with fondness on the gift of Anastasha's life.  But there was also a heaviness in realizing that she has been gone from us for an entire year.  The memory of her life is still very vivid, as is the memory of her loss.

The day began with the kids making Tonya breakfast (which is a tradition we've done for years). This time, instead of bringing it to her in bed, we brought it to the nursery, which is where Mommy has spent most of her free time these days...nursing the twins.

We gave Tonya her presents, which included a pendant that I bought her that has an engraving of a Anastasha's actual footprints.

From 12:39 PM till 1:29PM (the 50 minutes that she was alive), we all sat in the living room together as a family.  We prayed together, thanking God for the gift He gave us in Anastasha.  The kids then read cards and poems that they wrote for her.  After this time was over, we went outside and planted two Magnolia trees in Anastasha's honor.

Later that evening, we went to the cemetery to visit Anastasha's grave.  The girls made her a birthday cake, which we brought with us and ate there.  We sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Finally, we brought and released some paper lanterns (like from the movie "Tangled").  The kids enjoyed this better than balloons.  We couldn't believe that it actually worked!  You can watch a short video of it below.

Overall the day was a blessing...filled with smiles and laughs and plenty of tears.  We are so thankful to our Father for our sweet little princess.  We can't believe she has been gone for a year already.  But we are so glad that she has spent every moment of that time in the Presence of the King.

Letters to Anastasha on Her Birthday

My Sweet Anastasha...

I can’t believe it has been a whole year already since you were with us.  This year has brought about many changes in my life, but my love for you has not been one of the things that has changed.  It has remained constant and strong.

I think of you so often, my little love.  Every morning when I wake up, I see your beautiful face in a picture above your mother on her side of the bed.  I think of you when I see one of my several patients who are your same age.  And most recently, I think of you when I hold your baby sister, Anabella, in my arms.  Oh how I love you and miss you so.

There are sounds of new life in our house again these days.  Anabella and Caleb are a sweet fragrance to us, a gift from our Good Father.  And while they are a great double blessing, they do not replace you in our hearts.  There is still a spot reserved for you there.  Your absence is still felt in daily ways at our house.

Your mother and brothers and sisters love you so much even though they never really knew you.  You are still talked about like a living, breathing member of our family.  I bless you each night as I bless the other children.  If I ever slip up and say we only have ten children, I am quickly corrected (usually by 3 or 4 kids at once) that we in fact have 11.

I think what has made your loss most bearable to me is knowing where you are and Who you are with.  I know you are with a Daddy Who loves you much more and can love you much better than I ever could.  For that I am so grateful.

Your life has mattered here...a lot.  I still meet people who tell me how you impacted them.  There is even a young man who may be in the Kingdom someday because of you.  And your life has mattered to me.  I have known greater fellowship with Daddy because of you.  I love Jesus more because of you.  And I long for Heaven in ways that I never have before.

So on this first “birthday”, my precious Anastasha, please know that you are loved immeasurably here.  I wish I could hold your little body in my arms again.  I wish I could smell you and kiss your cheeks.  I wish I could watch your little legs carrying you, stumbling across the floor.  I wish I could hear your sweet giggle.  But I know that someday we will embrace again, this time with perfect bodies.  And we will walk together in His Kingdom that has no end, singing of His Goodness forever.  You may have beat me there, but I’ll be there soon. 

I love you my precious one. 

Your Daddy

A Poem from Amalyah:

A Poem from Ariana:

A Note from Charis:

A Card from Corban:

A Picture from Caelan:

A Note from Niyah:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Introducing the Twins!!!!

Anabella Tonya and Caleb Martin DeLisi!!!!

We are very excited to introduce our new son and daughter, born on 9-10-11 (the day Tonya was hoping for – since we went from 9 kids, to 10 and 11).  The birth was a both a great blessing and the most difficult that we have ever had.  It was the easiest labor that Tonya has ever had, and it was a joy to see the twins born.  Anabella came out relatively easy, despite being "sunny side up".  When she came out, Caleb flipped from transverse (sideways) to breech (feet first) and was delivered vaginally.  If you have never seen a vaginal breech deliver, consider yourself fortunate.  Our OB was very skilled and did a great job, but that was absolutely the roughest looking delivery I have ever seen.  There is a reason that breech babies aren't delivered that way routinely. :)

Anabella Tonya was born at 10:35 AM and weighed 4# 12oz.  "Anabella" means "God has favored me".  "Tonya", of course, is after my lovely bride and her precious Mommy, who I am so glad we are finally able to honor with a birth name.  The "Ana" in "Anabella" was chosen because we wanted to honor her big sister in Heaven, Anastasha.  We will likely call her "Bella", which is the Italian word for "beautiful".  And she is…absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.  Even by this Daddy's objective standards. :) 

Caleb Martin was born at 10:41 AM and weighed 5# 12oz.  "Caleb" was chosen because of who he was in the Old Testament.  More than once in Scripture when his name is mentioned, it is followed by the phrase, "who served the Lord wholeheartedly".  We pray that will be the same for our little fella as he grows into a boy and someday a man.  "Martin" is a family name – my middle name, my uncle's and great grandfather's first name.

Despite being the bigger "little brother" to Anabella, Caleb (in premie white boy fashion) had respiratory issues that began shortly after he was born.  It culminated in him being intubated and flown by helicopter to Dallas, where he spent 7 days in the neonatal ICU.  Once his breathing calmed down, we were grateful that he breast fed vigorously.  That resulted in us coming home a couple of days earlier than we expected – praise God!  There are many details and specific answered prayers – getting to 35 weeks gestation, having them spontaneously on 9-10-11, and many others -  but I am usually WAY too wordy with my emails, so I'll keep it short.

We are enjoying the twins and rejoicing in God's faithfulness to us.  We are really in awe and feel completely undeserving to be entrusted with these little lives.  We know there will be some unique adjustments to life with twins.  Tandem nursing is going well.  But having 3 kids in diapers again isn't much fun.  We'll be on "germ lock down" mode for the next few months since they are premies, and Caleb in particular is more vulnerable to infection because of his respiratory distress.  So we'll be keeping life simple, and hopefully slower paced than usual. 

Thank you for praying for us on this journey.  We are tired, but so, so thankful. 

May our Great and Loving Father bless and keep each of you!

Craig, Tonya, Ariana, Charis, Adoniyah, Amalyah, Corban, Caelan, Cale, Caius, Anastasha, Anabella and Caleb (isn't that craaaazzzzzyyyyyy????!!!!!) 

Monday, September 5, 2011

34 Weeks and Counting...

Tonya was 34 weeks gestation this past Friday.  We are so thankful that both she and the twins are doing well.  Here is an updated picture.  We're just wondering how big her tummy can actually get.   You'll notice this week that she is so big now that her stretch marks actually disappeared!  :)

The quote of the week in our house was from Corban (age 6).  The dialogue went something like this:

Corban - Mommy, if the babies came out right now would they be able to breathe.
Mommy - We don't know yet, but we think so.
Corban - They've been holding their breath for a LONG time!

I have to include a close second by Caelan (age 5):

Caelan - Mom, when I get to Heaven will I get a gun?
Mommy - No son, why would you need that?
Caelan - Because I'll need a gun to shoot all the demons that are there.

Hmmm, I'm thinking that we need to do a little more teaching on who is/isn't in Heaven.

Thanks for praying for us!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Anastasha - 10 Months Later and Twin Update

Tonya at 33 weeks - at least 2 to go!

The last couple of weeks have been challenging but blessed.  Friday marked the 10 month anniversary of Anastasha's birth and death.  Tonya and I watched her birth video for the first time together since that day.  It was difficult to watch and relive both the joy and pain.  We were both struck by how brief her life was.  It just seemed like a moment that she was here and then gone.  Our memories are brief, as well, because of that.

We watched her funeral with all the kids.  That was also difficult but precious.  We've gone through some of her things, including her receiving blanket.  It still smells like our baby girl.

It is a very strange emotion to be in the middle of anticipating new life again.  Anastasha's death still feels fresh to us.  That is one reason we watched her videos.  We wanted to embrace her life as we look forward to life that is coming.

Tonya is still on bed rest.  As of Saturday, my parents are now here, which is a great blessing.  Life is hectic, but Tonya is still here (and not in a hospital room in Dallas) and  the babies are still in her tummy (and not in a NICU in Dallas).  So we are NOT complaining.  We both feel VERY blessed that both of the above are true.

The twins measured 4 pounds and 4.5 pounds one week and a half ago.  Tonya is still having contractions, but the medication she is taking seems to be holding them at bay somewhat.  She got some steroid shots last week because the fetal fibronectin test (anticipates whether or not you are likely to go into labor in the next two weeks) was POSITIVE this time.  It doesn't mean with certainty that she will.  It just means that we can't reliably assume that she won't.  Make sense?

Tonya had a baby shower on Saturday, given by her dear friend Joy Griffin.  It was a blessing to see many friends who love her.  And it was her first time out of the house (other than for her OB appts) in 2 weeks.  Can you say "stir crazy"?

We are hoping to get to at least 35 weeks gestation with the pregnancy.  That will be sometime around 9-10-11.  That will allow us to (hopefully) avoid Dallas.  jAnytime BEFORE that will likely land us and/or the babies in Dallas.  Anything AFTER that is icing on the cake, so to speak.  Please pray with us for God's mercy during this time.  And that His perfect love will cast out fear.  Thanks for praying for us.  We'll keep you updated.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I had the opportunity to preach at church last week.  This time it was on the topic of authority and our submission to it as believers.  You can watch here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Ring and Twin Update

It has been a while since I've posted anything.  Sorry, I'm a bad blogger...:)

On Father's Day this year, Tonya had a ring made for me.  It is a signet ring that has a picture in relief of Anastasha's hand from the ultrasound that we took (picture is on the blog page).  The ring was my father's when he was a teenager.  It had his (and my) initial's - CD.  I've worn it for years, but my Dad said that he would be honored for us to convert to a ring in honor of Anastasha.  We melted down gold from one of Tonya's old charms, a charm from my grandfather, and a cross from the woman who raised my mother (Sangootz, we called her).  It is very precious to me.

Tonya is currently 31 weeks pregnant with the twins.  Things have been remarkably smooth up until this past week. On Tuesday at a routine OB appt, Tonya's cervix was noted to be 2 cm dilated.  The OB wasn't alarmed, but that has never happened to Tonya in the past.  Tonya has only dilated in the past when it was time for delivery!  So we were a bit concerned.  Wed night she and I spent overnight at the hospital because of contractions every 5 minutes.  They were able to successfully stop them and sent her home on a medication that she takes every 6 hours.  She is also now on modified bedrest, which means that she can't be on her feet for an extended period of time - no cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.  And due to the relative lack of mobility, she is on heparin (blood thinner) shots twice daily to prevent blood clots.

So life here has been....well...interesting.  Ariana has handled breakfast for everyone.  I come home for lunch and make lunch for the kids, and then dinner when I get home.  Tonya has been homeschooling from the couch.  I've basically been in charge of running the home, something my very competent wife does MUCH BETTER than I ever could.  Tonya talked me into going to Walmart yesterday.  It was a 3 1/2 hour trip, complete with a 45 minute "price matching" check-out (I'm not exaggerating).  I told Tonya that trip was just a step short of hell for me.

So please pray for us and these two little blessings.  We are hoping to keep them in until AT LEAST 35 weeks (approx 9-10-11) - one month from now.  That will allow us to deliver locally instead of in Dallas.  Every day counts as far as morbidity and mortality is concerned.  Here is a picture of Tonya's belly over a week ago.  Can you imagine how big she will be if she carries them for another month or more?!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Mother's Day ten years ago was the hardest one that Tonya (and I) has ever walked through.  That was the day that we found out that our first born, Ariana Ann, had leukemia.  She was 22 months old and I was an intern in residency in Tulsa, OK.  I found out about it while finishing call at the hospital.  I came home, climbed into bed with Tonya and Ariana who were still asleep.  And I told her that we had to take Ariana to the hospital.  Our lives were radically changed on that day.

Every Mother's Day since has been filled with blessing and joy. Mother's Day last year, Anastasha was growing in Tonya's womb.  Unbeknownst to us on that day, she was developing without most of her brain.  We were excited about our new child that was coming.  And we waited for her arrival with joy.

One year later, we spent the day in usual fashion.  It began with breakfast in bed for Mommy, prepared lovingly by many messy hands.  Then we went to church as a family, followed by a piano recital for the four oldest children.

But this year, the same little body of the little girl who one year ago was active and growing inside Tonya's womb was instead buried beneath the ground.  And as we visited her grave today as a family, it was with sadness moreso than joy.  Tears were shed by both of us, wishing she was here with us...even moreso today.  And walking away from her grave as all of her siblings (including the two in the womb) climbed into the van to leave,  In every way.

A special happy Mother's Day to all of you mommies today.  And may God's peace and special blessing be upon those of you who walked the incredibly difficult road of watching one or more of your precious children pass on into eternity ahead of you.

Craig and Tonya