Easter and Expectation

I’m taking a small break in my Legacy study to share something a little more personal this week.

EasterandExpectation.jpg

One year ago on Good Friday, the Friday right before Easter, I found out I was pregnant. I won’t lie.  I was kinda hoping for another positive test this Good Friday as well, but that didn’t happen.

Last Sunday, I went to my old church and heard a sermon about the Saturday in between the death of Jesus and the resurrection.  All those miracles, and promises, just to have him die on the cross.  They didn’t know Sunday was coming.  I can’t imagine what those men and women who had followed Jesus throughout his ministry felt.

Then again, maybe I do.

No one had the plan of God figured out.  They thought he was a prophet.  They thought he would restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory.  Death wasn’t supposed to be a part of it.  Peter argued this point with Jesus and Jesus rebuked him.  The plan of God was impossible for them to see.

Last year, when I found out I was pregnant, I also did the math to know when I was due. It was going to be the day before Thanksgiving, the same day of the week that my first daughter was stillborn.  When I found out I was having another girl, I thought that all of the parts of the story were lining up so neatly into this beautiful testimony.  And then just five months after that positive test, my daughter passed away.

It didn’t make sense.  But just like the people in Jesus’s time, I’m not seeing the bigger picture.  And the truth is, I will never see the bigger picture in this life.  The only reason we can read the death of Jesus without faltering in our faith is because just a chapter or two later, he has risen.  And then we have the rest of the New Testament and the history of the world to see that story continue to the far reaches of the earth.  The people hiding behind locked doors, fearing for their lives after their teacher died, would have no way to see all of that.

The control freak in me wants to see that big picture, wants to be able to step back and see everything.  See why my daughters had to die.  See why I am having to wait now.  I know I get a few glimpses.  I see in small and big ways how God has used me during these past four years.  The rest of the story will have to be built on faith.  Faith that God will see this through, that he will reveal to me my next step when it’s time to take it.

That is the hope of Easter.  That one day everything will be revealed in the glory of God.  It is a reminder to continue living in expectation.  To keep living based in faith, learning from the ones hiding in those rooms.  Learning from the women who prepared the burial incense and got up early to honor their Lord, having no idea what they would find there.  I must continue to walk in faith, doing what God calls me to do.  Frankly, Saturday sucks.  But Sunday is coming.

Advertisements

Grateful Encouragement

The month after my daughter died, I focused on physically healing.  I took the steps I knew I needed to take in order to get healthy or at least put myself on the path to becoming stronger and healthier.  You all were there for me, with encouraging words and kindness, and it held me up in the dark spaces, more than you will ever know.

The next month, I started to look at my life, trying to figure out what my next move would be.  Here were a few of the realities.

  1. Michael and I agreed that we wanted to try again, and we would after we took some time to heal physically and emotionally.  Based on doctor recommendations, we decided 4-6 months would be a good time frame for that healing, which put us trying again at the beginning of next year, 2017.
  2. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to stay at home right now and through my next pregnancy.  Since I will have an enormous amount of doctor visits and tests when I do get pregnant, getting another job anytime soon would not be ideal. Therefore, it is not the path I choose to take at this time.
  3. Since a lot of my support has come from the online community here, I wanted to find a way to connect more, go deeper, share my life with you so that if and when I do get pregnant again, I can have you walk with me on that journey, just as you have done these past few months.

I know that having a supportive community like you guys is not always a common thing on the internet.  The internet is full of trolls and anonymous comments who spread hate.  But I’ve been lucky and I know I’m lucky to have this community that spreads love and encouragement.  For that I am grateful.

But the whole reason I continued blogging after my first miscarriage, the whole reason I shared the deaths of my first and second daughters were to encourage others who felt alone.  Isolated.  Living without the community that I so deeply cherish.  I know how lucky I am to have you because I’ve read and heard story after story of people who don’t have this kind of support.

And I feel protective of these people.  No one should have to feel alone and isolated.  I know that I can’t fix the world’s problems.  I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do on this earth.  I’m called to love.  Love God.  Love Others.  And the number one way I know I can love others is to encourage.  Encourage others who are walking through the pain.  And help others to be beacons of encouragement.

So, in an effort to connect deeper and to encourage others, I started a Facebook page.  On the page, I share my YouTube videos and my blog posts.  And I will admit I was afraid of how I would be received.  Of what people would think about me.  I should know by now that I would get loved in return.  I’m blown away by all of the people who have already liked my page.  Thank you so much for supporting me.

Right now, I’m doing something a little fun on my page.  Every Friday until Christmas, I’m doing a giveaway to promote encouraging others.  The winner of the giveaway receives two $5 Starbucks gift cards.  One for them, and one for someone in their life who needs encouragement.  All you have to do is comment on the post on my Facebook page in order to be eligible.  So, if you want to participate, you are more than welcome to.

wp-1479351678370.png

The reason I’m doing all of this is to bring you on the journey of adding to our family, but also to help you encourage others in your own life story.  I don’t know where this journey will take us.  But I know that no matter what, God will be walking with us, and I will do my darndest to try to point him out along the way.

A Walk To Remember

This past Saturday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Michael and I decided to do something different this year, and we participated in a walk hosted by Hope Mommies of Dallas, a pregnancy and infant loss support organization.

There were so many people there, honoring their little ones.  We saw friends from church who had experienced stories similar to ours.  I realized that this walk held so much symbolism.  We all have walked this journey, and are continuing to walk this journey, but we walk it together.20161015_091241

After the walk, they had a balloon release, which was absolutely beautiful.  I was very emotional as I watched the balloons float away.

I couldn’t help but think, as the balloons bobbed and danced and floated away, that all of these children were together, dancing in the presence of Jesus, being held in his arms until the day we will all be reunited again.

20161015_093420

 

Feeling Alone

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance day is October 15th, this Saturday.  In fact, the whole month of October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  But on this Saturday, many parents will come together with their communities to remember the children that they have lost.  Some will attend events hosted by support groups, while others might spend the day lighting a candle.

While I am so beyond blessed to have the online and in-person community that I have supporting me, there are times when I feel alone.  Pregnancy loss is different for so many families.  Outcomes and situations are different.  And my particular situation, within my community, is different from anyone else I know.  I am trying to branch out a little, especially among support groups, to people who are more in my situation, but it’s hard.

Most of the people in my life have kids.  They may have had miscarriages or experienced the loss of a child, but they still have kids that they were able to raise on this earth.  Even though I have two daughters, society still puts me in the pre-kids phase, and in suburbia Texas, it makes me stick out like a sore thumb.

I get church advertisements in the mail touting great kids programs, free babysitting, and mom’s night out events.  There is a host of events that happen for kids or kid groups.  So much of this community has been tailored to the nuclear family.  I have three or four elementary schools within a mile of my house, not to mention the daycares, middle and high schools.  Wherever I drive, I’m reminded of what I do not have.  Whenever I turn on the TV, check the mail, go out to eat, go to the movies, it’s always there.  A reminder of what I desperately want but cannot have yet.

But life is not hard.  I have amazing friends who surround me with love, willing to talk trashy TV with me.  I have completely supportive family members who have never pressured me about when we are going to have kids even before we lost our daughters.  I have an amazing husband who loves me, takes care of me, and supports everything I do.  We make our decisions together and I trust him so much.  And ultimately, I have a God who has made his presence known in my life through people, his creation, and other ways.  I don’t have the words to completely explain how lucky and blessed I am in this life.

But I know what it means to feel alone, and it breaks my heart that there are women who have to go through their losses, their dashed hopes, and their own desperate longings on their own.  That’s why spreading this awareness is so important to me.  I want to ask each of you to show your support on October 15th.  Last year, I asked people to share the pictures below on their social media.  I want to ask the same this year.  Or, you can light a candle at 7pm in any time zone, take a picture and share.

To use the images below, right click and “save picture as” to your desktop.  Then you can upload it to your own social media.  The We Remember are for those who are supporting, and the I Remember is for those who have experienced pregnancy loss.

Thank you, my wonderful community, for walking with me through each of my losses.  You help me through my moments of feeling alone.  And ultimately, I’m not alone.  Thank you for being with me on my journey.

A Typical Day

My friends are amazing.  They are so supportive and aware of my struggle with starting a family.  I know I’m pretty open about it because I feel like God has put it on my heart to share.  I’m so happy that other, more public figures, are sharing these things as well.  It happens so much more often than even I realize.  Keeping that conversation going is therapeutic for me, and it helps others to be even more aware of how to support those of us living through it.

So in today’s post, I’m going to share a typical day of dealing with my struggle.  This is a compilation day, so not everything in this day happens all at once but some or most of it does.  So, here we go.

I wake up in the morning and get my period, confirmation that I am, yet again, not pregnant.  I turn on the TV for weather and traffic and they have a news segment about parenthood or new moms or how to get your kids motivated.  Then, I get in the car and on the radio, one of the DJs of the morning talk show is expecting their first kid any day now.

I check my social media at lunch and there is usually at least one or two announcements or pregnancy updates or baby pictures on Instagram or Facebook.  But most of the feed (especially on Instagram) consists of dogs and planners, so it’s not too much of a bombardment.

On the ride home from work, the radio plays some trigger songs, songs that are about being a parent or songs that connect me to those memories of losing my daughter.

And because two years ago I signed up on a baby website when I was pregnant, I get a box of free formula in the mail or advertisements from local photographers about my baby’s first year pictures, and it hits me that next month my baby would have been one.

And I turn on my favorite TV show, and one of the characters is now pregnant and I change the channel to find a safer rerun of another show.

Then, I go out with friends that evening and they are all talking about their day and their kids and their frustrations with their kids, and “how adorable is my new baby/niece/nephew/grandchild” and they show their pictures to the group.  And I smile, but I’m tired, and I’m trying so hard not to make this awkward that I zone out on my phone.  But they are just so excited, and I should be excited too, and why can’t I be excited too.

It’s the culture I am in.  I fully recognize that I am the outlier in these situations.  And there are others like me, but it feels like we are all ticking time bombs that will soon become pregnant and leave the rest of us behind (secretly hoping that I’m the next one to go, but still holding on to guilt that I will leave others behind).

I can’t talk for others going through this because it hits all of us different, but I ask that you be patient with me.  And that you pray for me.  And thank you for letting me grieve when I need to, even if it’s just a random Tuesday and not an anniversary of anything.

The greatest thing that has come from this is learning to live in the moment with God, to allow his peace and grace to wash over me.  And to know that none of this is what gives me worth, only that I am His daughter, a child of the Most High.  And that truth is what bonds us all together, what makes us all a family.  I feel like even though we don’t have any children yet, our family continues to grow.  You all have become a part of my village and I thank you so much for walking this journey with me.

photo-1446475157725-e6dada23994e

Grief, Loss, and Thanksgiving (Part 4)

I’ve been sitting, looking at the blinking cursor in front of me for a little while.  I have so many words to say, and yet, none at all.  A year ago tomorrow will be exactly one year since I found out I was no longer pregnant.  November 26th, Thanksgiving Day this year, is the day I went into the hospital and gave birth to my stillborn baby girl.

I’m only working one day this week.  And I have plans with family for Thanksgiving.  So I have things to do but I have no idea how I will be when I am doing them.  I know to give myself a lot of space and grace.  I’m taking it one day at a time.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the blessings I’ve experienced this month leading up to this week.  I’m thankful for a husband who does his amazing best to be there for me in the sad moments.  I’m thankful for random, loving texts from friends and family.  I’m thankful for a church community and a workplace that surround me with love.  I’m thankful for the SPCA who allow me to use their dogs for my own brand of therapy.  I’m thankful for my own dogs who shower me with kisses and snuggles just when I need it.

I have no idea how the rest of this week will go, but right now that doesn’t matter.  What matters is taking the next step, breathing the next breath, and living the next moment.  I don’t think I’m going to write again this week.  I want to give myself some time to just focus on the present.  I’ll be back next Monday.  So, Happy Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for all of you.

Something To Remember For The Holidays

I’m writing this week more for myself than for anyone else.  But every now and then you need a reminder of this reality, but I think it’s especially hard to remember going into the holidays at the end of the year.

It’s okay to not be okay.

I think about those people who have lost loved ones this year.  I lost my grandfather this summer, and the first year anniversary of losing my daughter is this month.  So I’m pretty sensitively aware of the sadness that quietly accompanies this time of year.  There is a lot of talk of family, memories, traditions, all good things.  All things I cherish.  But it also makes it very obvious what is missing or what we are hoping for that isn’t here.

But I don’t think those are the only “sufferers” in this season.

There are the ones that have lost their jobs, or are struggling to support their families.  The ones who are estranged from their families for a multitude of reasons.  The ones who aren’t in the place of life they thought the would be at the beginning of the year.  Plans fell through.  Disappointments happened.  And they look up and realize that another year is almost over, celebration is all around them, and there are times in the next couple of months that they just don’t feel like celebrating.

And then there are the people who look around the internet and see the perfect place settings, the pretty packages, the decorations and plans and organization, and they just struggle to “keep up.”  This time of year, while it is merry and bright, while they have all of their family and friends and a great job, still deal with the comparison and depression beasts in their life.  And they feel guilty because their lives could be much worse, and yet they still struggle.

I’m not trying to come down hard on the holidays.  And maybe it’s just my present perspective, but I know I’m not alone.  And I know that this time of year is almost magical at points.  I’m looking forward to hugging my mom and dad at Thanksgiving, to opening presents with my in laws at Christmas, to laughing and playing with friends and family at the Christmas parties, to humming Christmas music in the shower, smiling at the Christmas lights, drinking from red Starbucks cups, and kissing my husband under the mistletoe and at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But I want to recognize and give permission to the dark moments in the next two months.  It’s okay to be frustrated.  It’s okay to be sad.  It’s okay to miss people and to talk about missing people.  You don’t need to be perfectly happy and coiffed and decorated this holiday season.  Jesus was born into this world to save the suffering, to reach out to the mourning, to heal the heartbroken.  And acknowledging that brokenness with open honesty I think is a great part in celebrating.

So, I give you permission.  Smile, laugh, cry, or scream.  Whatever you need to do this year, it’s completely and utterly okay.