The Waves

Life seems to have a steady tide of overwhelming loss at times.

Grief comes to us in waves of different intensity and different climates.

Sometimes we can ride the wave and feel the peace of rocking in the movement. Other times the waves crash over us leaving us feeling at the bottom, crushed, broken on the shore.

There may be days, weeks, years of peace and sure-footed walks on the beach, looking out on the ocean of grief from afar and able to reflect on all we learned from those days in the waves.

But then a large, often unexpected powerful storm comes through and the tide pulls us under again, swirling forces, right back where we were, being tossed back and forth between the rise of fine and fall of torn. Out of our control.

The rain pelts down on us when we reach the surface, for moments being covered in healing water, but still amidst the waves. The sun may shine for a while and the shore line of healing seem within grasp, but still just beyond our reach.

Days, weeks go by. And then the ground finally feels firm under our feet again.

But you wonder if you should just sit on the shore and wait for the next storm, or walk away, limping but finally able to stand and move on and forward.

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So now we wait…

 

The week before Will’s first birthday, we found out we were pregnant. We had been looking at houses that day, talking about our future and then the best curve ball of all fell in our lap: our family was growing! Something we had planned on, dreamed on. I went to the doctor for the blood draws a couple of days after the positive tests to check on the progress, received great news that all was well and with Will’s first birthday party in just a few days and so many family members coming, we planned to share the news with them.

So much apprehension went into that decision-we knew better than to assume it would all turn out how we planned; that a pregnancy announcement didn’t necessarily equal baby showers and adding a nursery in a few months. We knew because we have been there before. Yet we moved forward as if all were going well, because it was. As far as we knew, my body was changing, my mood swings and aversions and middle of the night potty breaks had returned. All the wonderful, uncomfortable signs of a normal pregnancy.

The ultrasound room is always a terrifying place for me. Every time. Even with my healthy pregnancy with Will, I dreaded that room; it is like the door of death, where bad news was discovered. As we waited in the waiting room for my 8 week appointment on Tuesday, (without Will thankfully due to a great friend keeping him during the appointment) we dreamed forward about the house we had put an offer on down the street from his parents, about our growing brood, Will meeting his baby brother or sister and how wonderful he is and will be with them. We dreamed forward, hoping for the best.

I wept as soon as the ultrasound began. Before the bad news had even been discovered. Before we even were told that our baby’s heartbeat was too low, they were measuring too small. I wept before I was told a couple of days later that my hormones were dropping. And then I wept harder. We tried a supplement, which seemed hopeful, but the second blood test showed that the all important hcg hormone came back lower than 2 days before. We got the news this morning; confirmation that we were losing our baby. Confirmation that our plans and days and family and life are not our own to control.

Naively, I thought this part of our story might be over. The prospect of losing a pregnancy, a baby, after Will wrecked me when I thought about it. I didn’t think I could do it again. Will is my treasure, my joy and the greatest gift in my life here on earth, apart from being married to David. And with this news of losing this baby, I look at him with even more love and adoration, and especially gratitude.

I am grieving slowly, I think still in shock. It hits me in waves. I am feeling the cramps of loss, that remind me of my impending loss; remind me that I am out of control of my body, my life. We are so fragile yet we think we are strong. We are so dependent, though we pride ourselves on being in control.

 

So now we wait…

For my body to manifest and bear the pain and loss that my heart and mind have already begun to process.

For my body to return to normal after carrying and delivering the youngest signs of a human life that we will never know.

For the chance to hopefully try again.

For this to begin again.

For my heart to grow, break, grow, break, grow…

We wait, hopefully and expectantly, but broken and more wise in the ways of loss.

Another Mother’s Day

It is incredible what each year of perspective brings to the celebration of Mother’s Day. When I was growing up, it was all about getting flowers and gift for my own mother, making sure she felt celebrated and appreciated. I never could have fully understood the many, many things that my mom went through, worked hard on and for and did and the commitment she had made to each of me and my 3 siblings.  The pain of pregnancies, child birth and exhaustion of child rearing. The heart ache of watching your children try and fail or make intentional poor decisions and be helpless in helping them in their pain. The sadness, and also hopeful joy, as each child grows into an adult and moves on with their lives and wondering what role you will have in their life from now on. No, this appreciation and understanding isn’t something that comes until later.

I always longed to be a mother, but it didn’t become a feasible dream to plan for until I got married and I knew this was the “logical” next step, the expected progression. As many of you know, we lost 4 pregnancies before our son Will. So, I know what it is like on Mother’s Day to only be holding “what ifs?” and “whys?”. I know what it is like to dread going to church on Mother’s day because of the moment when they ask mother’s to stand to be honored, and know that your womb once held a baby that you never got to meet; to feel like a mother, but not have a child to show for it. To wait and hope and cry and scream and pray…I have walked with dozens of others through this painful journey. I know how painful Mother’s Day can be.

Last year on Mother’s Day I was straddling the line of “motherhood”. I went into the hospital to give birth to my son and had him the next evening. I had my mom and mother-in-law waiting in the waiting room for over a day as I took my first joyful, unsure but grateful steps into mothering my beautiful baby boy. I remember writing just a couple of weeks before about how terrifying and hopeful my pregnancy was with Will. Never feeling safe, secure or confident that I would reach the end and get to meet this baby that had grown inside of me. Always feeling like around the corner could be extreme joy or unbearable heartache. I am grateful every single day for my son’s life and the joy to see him grow. But I am never going to be able to forget how fragile life is, how uncertain.

In the days since giving birth and learning how to be a mother to my son, I have wept more days and nights than I can count from a grateful heart. I have cried so many tears as I look at my son, still in disbelief that he is mine, that I am his. When I look at him sleeping or hear his loud talking voice, when he reaches out for me and knows my voice as a place of comfort, I am overwhelmed with the incredible gift of motherhood. When I have fast connections with other moms over our kids, I am grateful. When I go to sleep tired from loving on my son all day, I am grateful. When he rests his little head on my shoulder when he is going to sleep and is completely at peace on me, I am grateful. He will never understand how incredibly grateful I am for his life. He will probably never fully understand why I tell him over and over and over again how much I love him and smother him with kisses and why sometimes these things come through tears streaming down my face. When it happens now, he looks at me a little concerned and sometimes comes over and lays on me and makes me so proud of his compassionate heart. He just can’t understand the depth of my love and that’s okay. Maybe he will understand a little more someday.

This Mother’s Day, I reflect on my motherhood journey thus far, from the first time I saw a positive pregnancy test almost 3 years ago to eating lunch with my son this afternoon, and I am grateful. I wish that loss had not been part of my story because it is some of the worst pain I have been through in my life, but I have had the gift of sharing the load with so many other women who have walked the same path and am grateful for this camaraderie and understanding and the compassion that the Lord taught me through these experiences. I reflect on the friendships I have gained since becoming a mother, because of motherhood, and am grateful. I think about how I understand my sister and momma better now and how we are bonded in a new way, and I am grateful.

This year, I am just so grateful.

 

For you, whoever you are:

A young woman honoring your mother;

A newly married woman hoping for motherhood;

A woman scarred from the battle of infertility or loss;

A woman with a full house of beautiful babies;

A woman who is a grandmother now-

I pray that each of you this Mother’s Day have the gift of new perspective and that you can reflect with gratitude on the beauty and sacrifice of motherhood. I pray for peace, understanding and joy unspeakable even in hard times. I pray for endurance and hope as you press on into the next steps of your journey. I pray that you feel God’s presence and can trust His goodness to sustain you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Stoning

 

 

One by one, a stone is chosen and hurled at my most vulnerable spots…

 

You never should have said that.

You never should have done that.

You aren’t as nice as _____ and everyone knows it.

You are a burden to everyone.

Everyone hates talking to you.

You just take and take and take.

You never seek people out.

You never help people.

People don’t want to hear what you have to say.

People wish you wouldn’t talk.

You are worse than everyone at everything.

Everyone else seeks out people and are always kind.

Everyone else is always patient.

Everyone else is always on time.

Everyone else is a good listener.

Everyone else never talks about their husband poorly.

Everyone else is grateful.

Everyone else is more diligent and intentional with their time.

Everyone else puts people first all the time.

You should just never leave your house.

You shouldn’t go to that group.

Everyone groans inside when they see your name on the roster.

Everyone tunes out when you speak.

You talk too much.

You complain too much.

You are more selfish than anyone else.

You are so self-absorbed.

People do not want to spend time with you.

People intentionally do not invite you because you bring the mood down.

……

 

…Until I am broken, bleeding, limping, the stones are hurled over and over until I am buried and suffocating under the weight of them. Wanting to run, curl up and hide from view, hide from light, hide from everyone else who is fine, content, perfect.

But I am the one holding the stone. I am the one pouring down the darkness on myself. I am the devil on my own shoulder telling me I should not be around people; that I am better off alone where I can’t hurt or offend.

And then He steps in, my Great Rescuer. He sends a friend to listen, who breaks open the walls of stones I have heaped on myself, lending me a crack of light to lead the way out into the sun again. He reminds me that the ruler of this world is a lion, crouching and waiting for someone to devour, and he almost does devour me, if not for my rescuer who saves me in the 11th hour; my Rescuer who has won all battles, so I will never be completely defeated or destroyed. My Great Rescuer reminds me that he knows I am broken; that he wants to use my cracks and fractures for his glory, to fill them with his perfect power, strength, truth and character where, and when, I fail.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Sinking in the New Year

At the beginning of this fresh, new year, you feel the rush and exhilaration of planning to be better. Better at relationships, exercise and eating well, time management…whatever it is, we all want to be better than we were last year. January first comes and feels like you are opening a huge gifted coupon of 365 “new mercies” to work with and towards and rest in this new slate. It truly is a beautiful thing, this recurring newness we receive every year, every day. However, somewhere during the year it becomes mundane and used again and we are already looking forward to the next year, often quicker than we anticipate.

I will give you a little insider’s view to me: I am an extroverted-introvert, pessimist. There I said it.

Give me something positive, and I can spew out 3 negative things about it or possibilities that could occur regarding the topic, situation or person.

…And I absolutely hate this about myself; it is the worst. I feel the words coming out, coated in nastiness and the antithesis of positivity and light, and it just feels so wrong. So dark and heavy.

These moments of negativity in my speech and attitude seem to add up and I feel like I am sinking sometimes and just want to hide. Hide from the shame of my attitude, from the patience and grace that I feel others extending me, trying to veer the conversation back into the light. It hurts and stings to know that I am not the friend that can be counted on to encourage.

But, praise God, this is not the end of my story. All hope is not lost.

I started this year wanting to be more positive, more faithful and diligent. Twelve days in, and I can tell you that my batting average is less than stellar. I started today totally skeptical that God could change my dark attitude, my exasperation and exhaustion and general huffiness. I use my baby and tiredness as an excuse, for missing out on past days, weeks, months of time with Lord and forget that He really is good, His word is truly alive and active and that He is always pursuing me.

Today he gently, patiently reminded me that he is able, more than able to accomplish in me what he needs me to be and accomplish through me something beyond my frailty, poorness in Spirit and neediness in affirmation and renewal. He can veer and change my heart and mind back into the light like no one else.

1 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. (though it feels more like He waited patiently for me and still inclined to me and heard my cry..)

2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

Out of the miry bog, (miry bog- a slimy mud that entangles…yup, sounds just like it. Thank you for your deliverance Lord!)

And set my feet upon a rock,

Making my steps secure.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,

A song of praise to our God. (A new song, a song of praise! A song of light, truth and grace! Yes!)

Many will see and fear,

And put their trust in the Lord…

5…You have multiplied, O Lord my God,

Your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

None can compare with you!

I will proclaim and tell of them,

Yet they are more than can be told…

11…As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me;

Your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number;

My iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; (sometimes evils and iniquities can be self-inflicted, and just as painful as those from others, and the lies and downward spiral, even more detrimental)

They are more than the hairs of my head;

My heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!

O Lord, make haste to help me!…

16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

May those who love your salvation say continually,

‘Great is the Lord!’ (Amen!!)

17 As for me, I am poor and needy,

But the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

Do not delay, O my God!”

-Psalm 40, various verses (thoughts added by me)

 

Even if we have to start over again the next hour, tomorrow, or next month, I know I am safe in His care and that I am never too big of a mess for him to dust off, start over and be used for His glory. I am so thankful that His grace is not just new once every 365 days, but that we have the opportunity to experience His grace daily, moment by moment, and hopefully at the end of these next days, I can look back and say with confidence that He sustained me, He used for His purposes and that I am changed!

 

Thank you Lord for your mercy and forgiveness and for giving me a new song! Amen!

 

 

 

Also, PS, my baby who has been fighting naps for days and been super clingy has been napping for over an hour while I write this. This is a bigger gift than you know! Thank you Lord!!

Today you are my baby 

IMG_2554Today I’m soaking in that your 3/6 Month sleeper is still baggy

That you still love sleeping on me

That your head is still a little wobbly

That you cry and talk like an infant

Knowing and praying that this will change

That you will want bigger clothes that you want to choose yourself someday

Your sleeping on me and in a crib will transform in to independence and a toddler bed then a twin bed someday
That you will hold your head high someday
And want to cry and talk with me as a child, teen and adult someday
But not today
Today you are my baby. And I want to drink up every second of this sweet day.

Remember the Pledge of Allegiance?

It’s no secret that my days are filled with my baby boy. I can’t get enough of him. But today I find it hard to simply post a sweet picture of him and act like I’m not reading and aware of the sadness taking place around our country and even in my own city last night. There are probably even more situations happening every day that weren’t brought to national attention that exemplify how sad, broken and disjointed we are as a country right now.

Our pledge of allegiance is probably sounding quite ironic to some, or some may have even forgotten it’s words.
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We used to say this in school every day and I would recite without really knowing what I was saying, what it meant. But in light of the last couple of years, in varying degrees, this pledge seems to have lost its significance for many.
United. Under God. Indivisible. Liberty. Justice. For ALL.
I am at a loss for words for what to say to my black friends and family who I know experience this world totally different than me or my family. Who have to have really hard, different conversations about safety with their children that I can’t fathom. That calling 9-1-1 in an emergency may not seem like the best option…who can they trust to come to their defense, rescue and aid if they keep seeing stories like these? I can only imagine that it feels like a target is placed on them early on and constantly.
And now in Dallas. This distrust of police officers who have been stigmatized by the acts of a group of them who made some impulsive and tragic decisions has now placed a target on the whole of them as well.
It seems like today, for one reason or another, we all have targets and are all armed to destroy each other in some way. With our words, our actions or the lack thereof. Some of it is ignorance, some disbelief, some fear, some hate, some love.

I feel like my greatest contribution right now is to aim to parent my child(ren) in such a way that he sees each person he encounters as a soul worth loving, respecting and being kind to; a soul that Christ died to save and his goal is to share that love. That he sees each person as someone who deserves his eye contact, his time, his service and his love. It’s my responsibility, as his mother, to model this kind of love and respect for others for him to emulate. I have failed at this many times, I’m sad to say. But these events make me want to be better. They make me want my son to love others and love justice and hope that when he says that pledge of allegiance he understands what he is saying. Thinking about the future he will grow up in is scary, but thinking and hoping that he might be part of a revival that shares love, Christ’s love and respect with others and that other parents might take this same challenge and raise children who will do the same means that they can be the change we want to see. And we can be the change we want to see as we focus our energies on raising them in this way.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35