Sustaining: Thankful for the Story

We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.

Psalm 78:4

I don’t think it’s a secret that there is some contentious stuff going on in the Christian community, especially here in America.  To be fair, a lot of my resources come from Twitter and social media in general, which tends to be pretty divisive on a normal day.  But I also hear the heartbreak and frustration coming out of the mouths of friends and family, longing for a redemption for the brokenhearted and oppressed.  Feeling betrayed that the Church is silent or speaks out in half-truths.  Longing for truth, justice, and peace to prevail.

And I wonder how the next generation will view the church when they grow up, view Christianity as a whole, as they watch us from the sidelines today.  Will they see a place of rage or redemption?  Will they see peacemakers or persecutors?  Will it be a place that includes the lost, broken, and hurting, or will it be a place that excludes those who don’t understand the codes, rules, and expectations?

It’s important for me to remember that though the Church is made up of a flawed humanity, it was created by a flawless God.  We won’t get it perfect, but we can trust in the perfection of God’s plan.  When I was in my darkest moments, I looked with desperation to find God’s presence.  And He revealed himself in small and big ways.  That is what I want to pass on to my son, to the next generation.  

You will see a lot of heartbreak if you live for any length of time on this earth.  You will get frustrated, lonely, broken, hurt, and sad.  But there is a God that is willing to walk you through it.  And as heavy as the bad feelings are, there will be moments of joy, wisdom, laughter, healing, and happiness coming.  I have hope in the next generation because God will work through their lives, revealing himself in special ways to them, just as he has done in my own generation.  And that’s a story I can pass on.

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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.

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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 Little Update

I completed a milestone in my pregnancy.  I am out of that blasted first trimester.  The landing into the second one has been a bit rocky.  My stomach is still unsure and I feel like I’m tightrope walking between nausea and dry heaving at night right before bed, but I got a new medication that really does help with all of that.

But now, at 13 weeks, I’m entering the land of maternity clothes and ultrasounds, baby registering and gender reveals.  And this is also the stage in my pregnancy where my daughter passed away.  Things are different this time, but there are still some things that remain the same.

I’m having more ultrasounds done this time around.  I’m being watched carefully, having more tests done.  I find myself holding my breath every time they begin a test for the heartbeat or an ultrasound.  I think it will be better when I feel the sure kicks from the baby, but until then, I just keep taking each day as it comes.

Weirdly enough, although not that weird at all, I find myself mourning my daughter more this month.  With Mother’s Day, and entering into a new, yet familiar, phase of my pregnancy, my thoughts go back to my daughter all the time.  Hope and anxiety blend and overlap every day.

I know a lot of you are praying for me, waiting in expectation for the arrival of this new little one.  I’m so beyond grateful for all of you, walking this journey with me whether in person or from far away.  I do feel your prayers.  I appreciate the emails, texts, and comments.  But I am even more grateful for the One who walks with me and goes before me.  He knows what will happen and what I need and will need.  While I am hesitant to fathom the end of the pregnancy with a healthy baby, I do believe that no matter what happens, God will never leave my side.

And I rest in that.  I take courage in that.  Even in the midst of my anxiety, that is a constant reminder.  He loves me.  He calls me worthy.  And He will never forsake me.

Prayers for Paris

If you have been on Facebook, or the internet in general this weekend, you have probably read about the tragedy in Paris.  Hundreds of people were attacked in restaurants and a concert, as well as outside a soccer game.  I’ve seen the videos, heard the stories, and my heart breaks for that city.

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In 2012, Michael and I had the opportunity to go to Paris for our fifth anniversary.  When we were planning to go, a lot of people warned me that the people in Paris were rude.  However, I never met a single rude person in Paris, or anywhere in France.  In fact, the people I met were helpful, funny, kind, sarcastic, inspiring, and incredible.

We enjoyed the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but it’s the humanity of Paris that attracted me to the city.  The night that the terrorists attacked, Parisians opened their homes to those who couldn’t get back to their own.  It exemplified the heart I met 3 years ago.

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These kinds of attacks can happen anywhere, and they have happened.  In cities, towns, and schools, unspeakable acts of anger and hatred that devoured someone to the point of taking the lives of the innocent.  But I find that in each of those stories of sadness, there are sparks of hope.  People come together to mourn with those who have lost loved ones.  They come to heal together, remember together, and rebuild together.

Hope is not lost.  Love continues to stand against the darkness of this world.  I pray for Paris as it heals from this tragedy.  May God give you comfort and peace in the moments you need it the most.

Another Step in the Journey of a Miscarriage

I haven’t really talked lately about what has been going on in my journey to become a parent.  Waiting on God’s timing can be a very frustrating experience, as I’m sure all of you know.  That biological clock is no joke.

Losing my daughter is always in the back of my head.  I wonder in the quiet moments of my day what she would look like, what our life would be like, if she had been born alive, full term.  Some days are worse than others.  When my emotions are running high, it’s difficult to see past my pain.  But most of the time, life runs pretty smoothly.  Pretty awesomely, actually.

See, I have these incredible moments in my life that keep my head above the waves.  Sunrises that stretch across the sky in beautiful pink and yellow hues.  Laughter with my husband that makes my sides and cheeks hurt.  Conversations with friends that remind me I’m not alone.  Quiet moments with God that fill me with an unexplainable peace.

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These moments help me get through the more painful ones.  The negative pregnancy tests.  When people ask if we have children.  When the conversation ends awkwardly after our reply that we don’t.  Moments of quiet grief, wondering if we will ever have a yes to that question.

But those are simply moments.  Overall, I’m doing okay.   I still wake up with hope and joy.  My days are still filled with new adventures and experiences.  My life is still filled with love and purpose.

And one day, I will shout from the rooftops that our family is growing.  One day I will hold my child in my arms.  One day, I will experience all the frustrations and pain and joy and excitement of watching my own child grow up.

And I will use my present experiences to extend compassion to those who are waiting for their one day.  Remind them that no day is worthless.  That hope is worth holding on to.  And that God is walking with them through their journey, just as He has continued walking with me.

Today

Today is my due date.  Was my due date.  Today was supposed to be met with excitement, nervousness and anticipation, but instead it’s met with reminders of my grief, loss and empty womb.  Though I thought my world was going to stop today, the sun still came up, people are still on the roads going to work, time still moves on.

I have learned a lot of lessons in these last four months since I lost my daughter.  I learned that I have an amazing protector and caretaker of my heart that is my husband.  We have learned new facets of our marriage relationship when it comes to crisis.  He has given me space and support when I need it.

I learned that I am truly blessed with the friends and family surrounding me.  Sunday night, my small group surrounded us in prayer as we faced this day.  I still receive cards in the mail from family members who are praying for us.  I have friends who still check in, still want to know how I am doing and what they can do to help.  I have the support of my online community who continually encourage me with every post that I write.  I know not all women who go through things like this have such an amazing support system, which is why I continuously acknowledge them and show my gratitude.

But there are other lessons I have learned that have been a lot harder to swallow.

I learned to let go in my grief.  One of my first reactions when I lost my daughter was to hold on to everything else around me very tightly. I was so scared of losing anything else.  It’s because I was faced with the fact that everything on this earth is temporary, and we aren’t guaranteed any of it, even motherhood.  But I realized that holding on tightly to temporal things was like trying to hold sand in my hands, eventually it will fall through my fingers.  Instead of trying to hold on to everything in my life like a hoarder, I needed to be okay with letting it all go and being grateful for what is given to me in the moment.

I learned to become more grateful for the moments in my life.  When I had my first miscarriage in 2013, I promised myself that if I got pregnant again, I would appreciate every moment of that pregnancy because I may wake up one day and not be pregnant anymore.  Little did I know that it would come true.  However, I appreciated every day that I was pregnant, every moment of morning sickness, every little kick, every feeling of uncomfortable growth.  When I had to give her back to God, I still grieved my loss, but I appreciated all those moments, and so my grief is interwoven with hope and peace.

I also learned that though this pregnancy came to an end, my purpose did not.  Though I desire motherhood, I desire to glorify God more.  I believe my ultimate purpose on this earth is to glorify God in my high points and especially my low points.  I may not understand all the whys that life will bring me, but what I do understand is that this world has been hurting long before I did, and understanding that pain on such a personal level has given me a compassion and a longing to reach out to those who don’t know this peace, so that one day they may feel the comfort for themselves.  I have discovered that I don’t need to go across oceans or to locations of extreme poverty to carry out this purpose (although I know some are called to do so, and I support their calling as well).  God has called me to speak his truth into the hearts of the people around me, in my own backyard.  I believe God put me in this place, with these specific experiences, so that I may reach out with compassion, kindness, understanding and truth.  Jesus lived in the moment, ever present in his relationship with God and others, and I hope to do the same in my own life.

Through all of this, God has never forsaken me.  My life didn’t stop on November 26th, and it doesn’t stop today.  It continues and grows stronger with new hope.  Someday, I hope to become a mother.  I long for the day I cradle my own child in my arms.  But my life is not on hold until then.  I still have work to do every day, a life purpose to carry out.  No matter what happens in my life, that purpose will not change.  One day, I will meet my sweet little girl in heaven, but until then, I am going to let go in my grief and hold on to my gratitude in the moment, sharing that truth of God’s comfort and peace to those around me every day.

Scars

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When I was three, I was in a car accident.  My dad, mom, baby brother and I were headed either to or from home during the holidays.  My parents told me that a semi truck knocked our car off the road, and it slid down an embankment, turned upside down and spun to a stop.  I still remember waking up to see the seat belts hanging from the ceiling, and a few moments between then and the hospital.  I had been cut over my left eye and received stitches.  I was the only one hurt in the accident, and they could only figure that it was caused by a plastic tape dispenser.

Over the years, people have asked me about that scar.  I have never minded telling the story because it’s such a cool story. God protected us that night.  I never really asked why I was the one with the scar because I’ve always felt lucky to have received it.  This scar means I get to tell the story.

I think we all deal with the question why bad things happen, especially within the Christian faith.  We think that if we live the right way, come from the right family, pray the right prayers, go to the right church, and be involved with the right things, that nothing bad will happen to us.  It’s not something we think consciously, but when something difficult does come our way, we start to search for answers as to what we may have done that caused this awful thing to happen or what we may do to prevent it happening again in the future.

But perhaps one reason we are given our struggles is so that we can tell our story.

In both of my miscarriages, I prayed that God would produce a miracle, that the sonograms would be wrong and the baby might live.  Surely, that kind of miracle could be used to glorify God.  But if we don’t go through the grief, how can we understand those that do?  After my first miscarriage, I understood a whole new world of women who have been silently grieving for decades.  Being open about my grief and loss allowed others to do the same which strengthened me with hope.  Why aren’t we sharing those stories more often?  Why do we think that having it all together is going to reach those who are falling apart?

We need to fall apart.  We need to have lives that aren’t all together.  We have been editing our lives for so long, and it’s pretty scary to live life unedited.  But see, when we edit our life, we are editing God as well.  God isn’t some pretty cross hanging on the wall of an immaculate home.  He’s a lot bigger and more unpredictable than that.  Sometimes I think we forget that our job here on earth is to point to God.  Not in some put together, simple wave in His direction, but in a desperate clinging to His side.

And you will be judged.  By other Christians, by people of the world.  Remember that Christ was judged with how he handled the Sabbath or who he hung out with.  But if we tell our story, share our struggle, really live in the communities God has given us, then I truly believe that God will take care of the rest.   God is going to use your words to reach that person who forgot that they still have value and worth, no matter what they have done or what they are going through.  Because no matter what society says about how we look or what we accomplish, that doesn’t dictate our worth.  Only God does, and He has given us great value.

That’s why I share my story.  This life is hard.  There are so many things on this earth that can wound us, physically and spiritually.  But God’s love can heal those wounds.  And the scars that remain are a reminder that we lived through it and overcame it.  It’s a reminder to share that story with others whose wounds are open, others searching for the healing balm to their pain.  Share the beautiful mess, the imperfect path, and the healing strength of a God that walks with us.