Tag Archives: faith

The Thing That Broke My Heart And The Thing That Saved It

Some of my people know this story… my family, close friends, prayer warrior friends of mine. I hope that by telling it, someone will be encouraged, someone will feel less alone, someone will be justified in their anguish. This story isn’t cute or sweet, and it doesn’t leave anything out. It’s just heartache and details and sadness and redemption.

Hubby and I tried for seven months to get pregnant with EK. I am well aware that seven months isn’t very long to try to get pregnant. It seemed long going through it, but as the cliché goes, God’s timing is always perfect. Hubby and I have always liked the idea of having our children fairly close together, so when she was born, we decided to “not not try”. Pardon the double negative, but that was our short way of saying we weren’t actively “trying” to get pregnant right away, but we weren’t actively preventing getting pregnant either.

When EK was ten months old, I got pregnant. I knew early on, told Hubby, and we somehow kept the joy and excitement of a sibling for EK to ourselves for two weeks. We finally told my parents (who were visiting at the time) when I estimated myself to be about 6 weeks along. With utterly cruel timing, the following week I started having terrible cramps. Not “implantation cramping” or “stretch cramping” or whatever other excuse they give you to tell you “it’s totally normal”. I was having honest-to-goodness, menstruation-like cramps. I tried to keep calm. I tried to monitor my body. I tried to wish and hope and pray them away. And when the spotting started, I called my OB’s office, heard the nurses say it was normal, read on various medical websites that it was normal. But I knew. Somehow, deep down I already knew what was happening.

I went in for an ultrasound, because my OB wanted to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. He was able to rule that out but said it was too early to tell much else. I went home. Cried a little lot. Rested. Tried to pretend everything was fine. Hubby was preparing for a ski trip with his brothers and some buddies, so I tried my best to put on a happy face and not share my darkest concern with him. But two days later, I knew for sure. My worst fears were all but confirmed. My cramping was a lot worse, and so was the bleeding. Even though my head kept wanting to hope, my heart was resigned to the loss.

I had gotten up at 4:00am that morning when Hubby got up to leave for his trip. He had offered to stay, but what good would it have done? Whether he stayed or went wouldn’t change anything. As I sat in the bathroom, weeping, I could even tell the moment that was the peak. It was done. Over. There would be residual damage, of course, but the event was finished. When I was hugging Hubby and sending him on his trip, I told him it was over. He held me for a long time, and left. I knew asking him to stay, like I really wanted to, would be ridiculous. I had already seen that he felt helpless, and was miserable for me much more than for the situation.

Later we would talk at length about this, about how he was excited at the idea of the baby, but it was just that – an idea. For the partner, it’s just an idea until they start to see the belly grow, feel the kicks, see the movements. For the woman who is pregnant though, the motherhood starts the moment you know that baby is there, just a microscopic little bean. Your feelings in that moment, combined inevitably with your hormones, overwhelm you. You start thinking and planning, praying and seeking wisdom from those other mothers in your life. You love that little thing… that little nameless, shapeless thing, because that’s what the Lord created you to do. You begin to neglect other things in your life as you start to wonder what the baby will look like, how far along you (actually, officially) are, whether it’s a boy or girl, whether you’ll even find out until the birth. It’s incredible how quickly you love that little thing, and every possibility it has.

But to have that little thing taken, snatched from you without reason or ceremony, that will break your heart. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” The answer is probably nothing. The poor little thing never had a chance. And neither did your heart.

In the next few weeks that seemed to drag, I held onto my first baby, my sweet Ella Kate, so tightly. I thanked the Lord for her, tried to believe that it was still possible for me to have a second such miracle. But if there wasn’t, EK was perfect, and I would do my best to be happy with only her. But I wanted her to have a sibling! I wanted her to experience that bond. I know many only children who wish they had shared their childhood with another. I didn’t want to keep that experience from her. I couldn’t help but wonder, no matter how hard I tried not to, if I had lost the only chance at another little miracle.

After the miscarriage, my doctor told me it could be 4-12 weeks before my cycle would start again. You guessed it – all that stuff about every woman’s body being different and all. He also said we should wait till the cycle started back to try to get pregnant again. And oh, did we ever want to try. I didn’t know there was a gaping, second-child-shaped hole in my life until I glimpsed it and lost it. But we waited to “try”. We took it slow, went about our busy lives. Then one day, chatting with two of my girlfriends, I started to count. I counted the days and weeks since my sadness had begun. There were so many… thirteen weeks, to be exact. How long had my doctor told me to wait? 4-12? Well heck, there ought to be something wrong with me if I haven’t started at this point. What could be the hold up? This girl needs to get pregnant!

When I got home, I found out what the hold up was. I was pregnant, there in that very moment. In the midst of my anguish and waiting and wallowing and praying, I got pregnant. Without trying, without stressing over dates and temperatures and wives’ tales. I couldn’t believe it – women don’t get pregnant like that, right? Our bodies need time and healing and rest, right? I guess sometimes not. And when I called my doctor’s office, the nurse I spoke to estimated (based on my miscarriage date) that I got pregnant about eight weeks after the miscarriage, and made me an appointment for when I should have been abut eight weeks along. At the appointment, the ultrasound tech (the same sweet Kayla who had walked with me through both my pregnancy with EK and my shorter, sadder one) burst out laughing and said, “You’re 10.5 weeks pregnant! Due before the end of the calendar year!” What an incredible surprise, to be that near the baby’s arrival! I was almost out of my first trimester, and I hadn’t even known I was expecting.

EK's big announcement!
EK’s big announcement!

Part of the beauty of my story is the way Joseph obliterated my raw sadness. His appearance showed me that my body wasn’t broken. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. A few short months later, he arrived the day before his due date, round and pink and perfect. He’s the symbol of redemption in the story. The proof that something blessed and sweet was on my horizon.

The night before J was born, EK still in her mismatched Christmas pajamas, snuggling her brother-to-be.
The night before J was born, EK still in her mismatched Christmas pajamas, snuggling her brother-to-be.

In my story, I just have one. Just one little being I lost and will one day meet in heaven. But I know there are countless women who have lost more, much more, more than even those little babies that should have been. I count myself lucky to have two healthy children, and just one comparatively brief time of sadness. I don’t sit here thinking I’ve had it the worst you can have. But every miscarriage hurts. It still hurts. It is such a deep sadness, in your bones. But look for the redemption. I won’t tell you the redemption will look like mine. It might not be a child at all. But it will be there. Every situation can and will be redeemed. Let yourself believe it.

We All Need Some Grace

This article (here) just blew my mind.

10 Promises for Parents. Gospel promises. Gospel promises to mend your aching heart and give you hope. Hope that you aren’t totally screwing it up. Hope that you can keep on moving forward.

On the heels of a particularly horrific afternoon/evening (which coincidentally followed a truly lovely morning) these Scriptures brought tears to my eyes, conviction to my heart and healing  to my soul. There is grace for the anger. There is grace for the tiredness. There is grace for the sadness. There is grace for the mistakes. There is grace for every possible situation in which you find yourself.

Specifically, this verse spoke to me: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

How much did I need to hear that?! I have a headstrong toddler. I don’t mean just a toddler. I mean a headstrong, outspoken, defiant, my-way-or-the-highway toddler. She comes by it honest (I’m from a family of just such people) so I can’t hold it against her. But I am butting heads with her over so many things I can barely keep up. Choose my battles, you say? I’m choosing, but she isn’t. I have to keep her safe, clean, fed, watered, and rested. Often, I keep feeling like I have to choose between those because she refuses to give in.

So I needed this reminder of grace. I needed to be reminded that my messy evenings of torturous bedtime routines that drag out for hours can be redeemed. I needed a reminder to speak softly, because my harsh words are thrown back at me from the mouth of my babe. She can be pushy because I can be pushy. She’s loud because I’m loud. Sometimes it’s funny – imagine a rousing rendition of “Let It Go” – but sometimes it’s awful. I needed a reminder that this little one just needs love. She needs patience and grace and love. I realize I’m human and I’m short on all of those things, but there is a fountain of them, flowing out onto me and through me. It’s my job as a mommy (not to mention as a wife!) to channel the flow of patience and grace and love onto my inexplicably wailing, exhausted (and exhausting) two-year-old. Even when I don’t know what to do, there is Someone for me to call on. And God, I’m calling on you. I need that grace, that patience, and that love. I need it desperately, for myself, and for my family. And praise the Lord, it’s coming.

His Best For Us

CS LEWIS 1

How often do you pray for what you want? A friendship to mend. A job opportunity to work out. A boyfriend to pop the question.

I bet those things don’t work out like we plan as often as we wish. We lose touch with the friend. We don’t get the job. The boyfriend says things “aren’t working out”. And we are left hurting.

It sucks down there in the pit… the pit in which we feel we’re stuck after every situation that ends a different way than we plan. How will you ever forgive that friend? What will you do since you couldn’t get your dream job? Will you find a love as good as the one you had?

Friends, these are valid questions. I won’t tell you they’ve never crossed my mind, or that they shouldn’t cross yours. It’s the human experience, wondering these things. But listen to this: That isn’t what God has for you.

There are incredible plans for you. He knows what you need. Isn’t that comforting? What a relief! Even when you’ve had the wrong idea all this time, He’s had the right one. God has fashioned a perfect journey, and you’re already on it. It might not be easy. It might not be safe in our personal bubble. But it is GOOD. His highest for you is so much more wishing and wondering. He has a perfect place for you to be. He has the perfect way and time for you to get there. He will lead you to the perfect brothers and sisters in His name.

There are so many clichés that non-empathetic people love to use… mostly ones that we don’t want to hear. God’s timing is perfect. Hindsight is 20/20. When God closes a door, He opens a window. Blah blah blah. Of course they’re true. They wouldn’t be clichés if they weren’t true. But who wants to hear that?! I want someone to say, “Yeah, that’s an awful feeling. I’ve been there.” and then pray for me. I know that God has a plan. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt. I know an amazing future is ahead – but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally impatient waiting on it!

Take heart, right now. His best is on its way. I promise. He promises. Pick your head up, trudge up from the pit, and shout to Him, “I’m ready! I want to trust You and move on!” He will pick you up and help you onward. And if you need a sister to pray with you and for you and hold your hand, I’m your gal. Or connect with a church. Or find a fellowship. Reach out. I can’t do it for you (believe me I would if I could). If you can’t muster up the faith that He has your best, call on someone to believe it for you. He has it. His best. For you. Always.

Your Best Is Good Enough

You know who is an expert? Not me. Oh LORD, it ain’t me. Not for one minute on any subject at any time. You know who else is an expert? Not you. Not her. Not them. No one. There isn’t a single person who knows all the ins and outs of every situation. Not a friend, not a family member, not a parent, not even a spouse knows how you feel, how you think, or exactly how you tick. When I have a question about how to handle my toddler, or how to soothe my teething infant, or how to finally let go of some frustration I’ve been clinging to for a few days, want to know who I ask?  My mom. My best friend. My hubby. All of the above and more. I ask every mom, every wife, everyone I trust. They all have a different answer to my question. I ask them to pray for me, to pray with me. And beyond that, I let my “Mama Bear” instinct (yeah, you know what I’m talking about) take over and hope for the best. All I can do is my best. There isn’t any more. My best is good enough; it MUST be good enough. And then I praise the Lord – because He fills in the gap where my best falls short.

When I think of that post going around Facebook right now about the woman who left her son in the car while she went in the store to buy headphones, my heart hurts. Not because I agree or disagree with her choice.  Not because I would or would not have done the same thing. My heart hurts because I know she did her best. Her best was clearly different than the videotaping bystander’s best. But you know whose best that kid needed? His own mom’s. The woman whose best has been given to him, I’d bet all my money, since day one.

I really get teary when I think of the “I Support You” movement that is happening among moms. You know, the breastfeeding-till-age-5 moms holding handwritten signs that say, “Formula feeding mom: I support you!” and vice versa. Finally, we all get it. Your best is the healthiest thing! Your best will nourish your baby!  I truly think that movement has been a long time coming, and much needed among the often dramatic and pushy collective of mothers.

So, to all of you – moms, wives, sisters, daughters, colleagues, strangers, and friends – be encouraged. Do your best, because your best isn’t shameful. Your best isn’t lacking. Your best is awesome. Your best is beautiful in the eyes of your Maker.

Image
Here is my best. Ella Kate and Joseph are the best I have ever done, or could ever do.

Oceans

I have been a fan of Hillsong United ever since I started attending a “contemporary” worship service (more on why I used quotes there later).  They never fail to make really great sounding, high quality music at the same time as provoking thought and entering into worship.  A lot of “Christian radio” these days is missing out on worship AND on great sounds.  My husband and I often joke about the choices some of the contemporary Christian artists make.  Why use those corny lyrics?  Why use that machine-like drum sound?  Is the song encouraging anyone?  Is it pointing people to Jesus?   Okay – off my soapbox (for now) and back to the main idea of this post.

First things first: Watch this video.  Really, truly watch it.  Stop whatever else you’re doing and focus on it.  Let it seep in.

Now.  How do you feel?  Did those lyrics speak to you like they spoke to me?

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

You know what I’m talking about.  The conviction.  The pull inside you, reaching to your very bones.  Every time I add this song to my set list for a Sunday morning, I know it will reach someone.  Every time, after the service, a different soul tells me how the song touched them.  And in this particular video, it’s just that; a lovely moment of worship is being held by everyone involved.  Did you have a moment of worship?  I hope so.