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Friday, October 25, 2013

I See You

A friend & former NICU parent posted an article today on Facebook that really hit home with me in our current circumstances and got me thinking.  The article was by a NICU nurse who commends NICU parents for their day in and day out sacrifices.  She encourages the parents by saying that she sees them.  Her article repeats over and over again, "I see you."

Invisibility is a characteristic I have come to know intimately over the years.  I'm not saying that I feel alone and trying to elicit sympathy.  Not at all.  I think at some point in their lives, everyone feels invisible.  Even if what we are going through (divorce, loss of a family member, a move, etc.) is very public, it doesn't take long for everyone else to move on with their own lives while your own life is stuck on PAUSE.  God ordains these seasons so that we can draw near to Him.  He is ultimately supposed to be ENOUGH for us.  Sometimes He may have to distance us from the people or things that we stuff into our lives to make us feel full for us to realize that they are just a substitute for Him and His sufficiency.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)
The lesson that I guess that I take away from the article is not to wallow in those seasons in which I feel invisible, but to recognize the invisible.  People need to know that they are seen.  God uses the church, not the physical structure, but the body of believers to make Himself known.  There are numerous examples of where Jesus went out of His way (sometimes literally...John 4-the Samaritan woman at the well)  to SEE people and minister to them. John 4, 5, 9, 11 are just some examples.

God tells us in 2 Cor. 1:3-4 that one of the reasons He comforts us is so that we can comfort others in their troubles with the same comfort we have received.  Let's stop hoarding the comfort we have received and give it away.  Start seeing people.  Sometimes that may mean getting out of our Christian comfort zone, seeing past the sin, and choosing instead to look at them through the compassion of our Savior.  It's easy to see people when a devastation has just occurred.  The harder thing is to sustain that vision of them throughout a long trial or throughout their long season of grieving.

Trust me, I am in NO way writing this to condemn.  I'm really thinking out loud and mainly preaching to myself.  I am just as guilty as the next person of becoming too involved in my own life that I stop seeing people.  God has allowed very difficult things in my life (infertility, NICU, miscarriages) though that have given me new eyes for these precious people walking through those circumstances.  We have obediently answered the call to minister to NICU families and I can't tell you the immense blessing that it has been.

My mind has dwelt a lot on some words that John Piper preached in a song that I posted recently.  The song (Though You Slay Me by Shane & Shane) itself is beautiful.  He said, "Not only is all your affliction light...but all of it is totally meaningful (emphasis mine).  Every millisecond of your's not meaningless."

The worst thing that I could ever do to make my babies' death in vain is to selfishly hoard the comfort I have received.  Let's start making our suffering meaningful and purposeful by seeing people.  Yes, it might take some sacrifice on our behalf to drop an activity or two, but I think it's worth it when we consider the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on our behalf to see us in our sinfulness and die to save us from our sin.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fixing My Eyes on the Unseen

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."     ~2 Cor. 4:17-18

At this very moment, my heart is bursting with the comfort of Jesus through this verse.  I have to admit though that I am conflicted with the first part of this verse.  How is losing a baby (much less 2) considered light and momentary?  Really?  Because having your heart broken into a thousand pieces and your hopes dashed in an instant, doesn't really feel light and momentary.

Here's the key though.  If all I am is focused on the present, then yeah, those things feel like the weight of the entire world rests on my chest.  But if I can train my mind to focus on the eternal plan of God Almighty, then it is light and momentary.  That doesn't mean that I don't feel the pain from the top of my head to the very tips of toes.  It means that I know that God is doing something in my future that I can't see yet.  I may not ever see it until Heaven.  But if the hurt is so great here, it has to mean that the glory is infinitely times better there.

And I can't see the ripple effect that my baby's death had on everyone around me.  I've had a couple of opportunities to share the gospel with precious women who are grieving the same thing I am.  I've "seen" the way that God has used my pain to comfort other women who have or are going through the same thing.  But God is doing so much more eternal work that isn't seen.

So I have to hold onto the deep truth of this verse because otherwise my grief will outweigh the glory.

Lord, fix my eyes on the unseen.  Fix my eyes on you.  Don't let me get caught up in placing my confidence in my present circumstances.  Give me eyes to see your glory and give me the eternal perspective to consider my suffering light and momentary.  I love you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love & The Outcome - He Is With Us

A lot of the songs I've posted recently make me sing a song of surrender in tears, but this one makes me want to sing a song of surrender through dancing & shouting!  I love this song!  Hope you do, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To My Fully Restored & Perfected Babies,

Today might be the official day to remember you, but know that your mommy thinks about you everyday.  While some of the wounds of losing you have healed, it feels like many of them were so recently ripped open.  I miss you like crazy, but I know that you are whole in the Lord's presence.  While I have to be honest and admit that there are completely selfish parts of me that just wanted you to stay here with us, I can find peace in knowing that you are with my Savior and your Creator.  You do not share my hurt and my pain because there is no pain where you are.  You know the full joy of Jesus and I am jealous.  I wish that losing you didn't tear me to pieces like it did.  Jesus has a reason for my pain though.  Maybe you already know why.  Maybe God has given you a glimpse of what He's doing to reveal His glory through your short life.  I never even imagined that I would have my some of my babies in heaven to greet me.  It's not something that any mommy wants to happen.

The greatest blessing I have as your mommy is knowing that God used you.  God has used you to draw me near to Him and know Him as a sovereign God who is intimately involved in my life.  He used you to prepare me for the difficulty of having twins and their struggle in the early months of their life.  He has used you to soften my heart towards countless women and families as they also walk journeys of losing their babies.  He used you to produce hope in my heart and to share it with other women.  While you are already conformed to the image of Christ, He still has a lot of work to do on mommy.

Some people may think that your short life was a waste of time and that my tears for you are silly because I never got to meet you or know you.  However, because of you, I know my God in ways that other people don't.  You were perfect gifts from God at the perfect time in the perfect way.  Your death was not a punishment to you or me or your father, but a sign that God still loves us because those He loves, He disciplines and refines.  I can't say that I very much like the process, but I do love Him and I trust Him.

So go run, leap, dance before the throne of Jesus.  I love you.

Your Mommy

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I've had a lot of people mention to me that they fall into one of two categories:

1) You either have suffered a miscarriage(s) and like most who do, find yourself trying to navigate the grief feeling alone.  You may have either chosen to share about your little one, or you may have kept it to your immediate family & friends, or you may have told no one at all.  So while most of us aren't actually alone in our suffering, we feel that way because most people find it extremely hard to grieve a baby that they have no bond with.  However, some do choose to keep it a secret from everyone, and that's their choice.  I personally would find that very hard to do as it would make me have to do one of two things: either put on this mask of "I've got it all together" or avoid people like the plague to not allow people so see my real hurt.  That's simply not how God wired me.

It's a personal choice for each woman.  However, I would encourage you to share it with at least close friends and family.  You need to have people praying for you.  When you are grieving and hurting is when Satan will attempt to convince you the most that God is not for you and that He doesn't mean to use your suffering for His glory.  You need people who will speak and pray the truth into your life.  I think that you will also find it hard to fully heal because you always walk around with this little secret and you are pretending.  People need to see the depth of hurt in us so they can see the depth of Jesus's unfailing compassion and mercy.

2) The other category would be that you are family members or friends or know someone who has suffered a miscarriage(s).  A lot of people struggle with how to help and encourage those who are grieving because they don't know how to.  I always appreciate someone's attempt, even if it's way off, than someone who never tries at all.  My advice to people who fall into the second category is to ask.  Most people will ask in the week that follows, but soon people move on and there never comes another, "How are you doing?"  I had a friend ask even today if there was anything I needed.  I feel like life has returned to our new normal and I'm okay with that so I told her no.

Don't be afraid to ask though.  I have no problem talking about my baby.  It's the only chance that I ever get to.  I don't have any baby pictures to show off, but I guess the story I have to tell of God's faithfulness is just as important.  While I don't have a beautiful birth story, my baby does have a beautiful story.  It's His story of His faithfulness and glory.  So if you feel hesitant to ask because you're afraid that I won't want to talk about it, that may be a risk you have to take.  Just know that most women are willing to talk. We just don't want to be the ones who start the conversation because we don't want you to feel like that's all we ever talk about.  Maybe you take that risk though and the person puts up a wall.  I guarantee that at least that woman will walk away knowing that even if she has no desire to discuss her suffering, she will at least know that you cared enough to ask.  It's better to risk asking because you care than to risk ignoring the situation and making her feel like she is just another face in a sea of people.  

I guess my main encouragement in writing this today is to people who aren't the ones suffering directly, but are watching a loved one walk through that grieving process.  I would say that the most important thing to communicate in whatever approach you use is to make it your end goal to leave that person feeling like they have support and they (most importantly, their baby) are not forgotten.

I hope all of that makes sense!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's Not Meaningless

Not much to say today, but just wanted to share another song with you.  Yes, I wept through it.  For a couple of reasons:

1) God is still worthy of my worship, praise, and adoration even when His plans are not my plans.  Sometimes that worship comes through the simple tears of surrender.

2) I love when John Piper says that every millisecond of my pain is meaningful, especially when it comes out of an obedient heart.  It would be so easy to walk away out of anger & jealousy because it is a fight to keep believing out of obedience.  Do I always feel like trusting God?  No.  There are some days I do it simply because I make a choice to.  When I hear that someone else is pregnant with a healthy, growing I let myself be overcome with jealousy & anger?  I could, but I fight not to.  God has been so gracious to me to write scripture upon my heart that has guarded me from getting entangled in those sins.   I love that He will honor my obedience even when it's done through tears of pain, a willing heart, and not just when I feel like it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Don't Stop Believin'

I believe it was the very first week that I began the Bible study on Joseph that Aprile mentioned that God performed no miracles (acts that defy the laws of nature and are unexplainable) in Joseph's story.  However, He chose to work through everyday, ordinary circumstances.  I have been holding so tightly to that truth because I can CLEARLY see how God has had His hand in the everyday details of my life.  From seeing the right doctor to already being in a Bible study that would bring exactly the right truths to soothe my grief.  As I sit here and write this, I am overwhelmed with God's goodness.  Yes, I hurt and my pain is still very real, especially as I think about a precious sister in Christ who is facing her own uncertainty about her baby.  But I know that deep within the pit of my hurt, God is deeper still (Thank you, Aprile).

Yesterday, in our Bible fellowship class, we discussed the story of a Roman royal official who was seeking Jesus's healing of his sick son.  The story is found in John 4:43-54.  The verse that stuck out to me the most was Jesus's reply in 4:48,
"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe." 
I have always just taken that verse to mean that Jesus was chastising the Jewish officials because they refused to believe without miracles & wonders.  That's partly right, but having been through and still walking through this trial, I see more to it.  I see Jesus also encouraging us to see His faithfulness and Hand in my everydays.

God chose not to sustain our baby's life.  And as I told Hannah and Kate last night when they repeatedly asked me why Jesus didn't keep our baby alive, I don't know have an answer as to why.  I may never know the grand scope of His plan, but I see bits & pieces of it.  I see it through my own refinement process and through the blessing of encouraging other women going through the same pain.  If God had given us that miracle and saved our baby, I would have not seen the BEAUTY (and if His faithfulness is that beautiful here, imagine what it will be like when we come face to face with it) of His intimate involvement in my daily walk with Him.

So, I'm not sure the true, genuine, lasting belief comes through the big miraculous signs and wonders.  It comes through the choice to daily look for God's faithfulness in the small things.  Things we take for granted.  Things that I could easily have written off as coincidence.  David wrote in Psalm 139 how God has ordained all of my days and He has written them in his book.  He knows my going out and my lying down.  Do I have enough faith to believe that God is just as involved in the big stuff as He is in the quiet gentleness of getting me excited about a Bible study that He knows will help to heal my aching hurt or knowing exactly when the right timing was for my body to begin to recognize the baby needed to come out?

One of our friends from bible fellowship class pointed out yesterday that Hannah and Kate are also perfect examples of this.  God could have chosen to heal Hannah in my womb so that they would be born full-term, but He didn't.  He used everyday, normal medical technology to save their lives.  We wouldn't have started our NICU support group and been able to share His work in our daughters' lives had He chosen to provide one miraculous healing.  I know that is really hard to see when you are in the midst of a trial, but I'll take you back to Lamentations 3:22-23,

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness."

Here is a beautiful song that reminds me daily that God is for me.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What if My Healing Comes Through Tears?

It's unusual for me to have the radio completely off, but I had 4 children in the car yesterday and for reasons I'm sure that I don't need to explain, I turned it off.  I turned it back on on the way home from the gym this morning and the song that was playing was just what I needed to hear after being reminded for an entire hour of what was missing right now.  I had only returned to the gym this week so the last time I was there I was still pregnant.  It might seem silly, but I often have the thought, "Oh, the last time I was here, my baby was with  me."  Simple thought, but reality.  I'm sure it's a common thought of anyone who has recently lost a loved one.  When you walk into a room though and suddenly there are 3 pregnant women, 2 of which the last time I had seen them they weren't showing, it was a reminder that I would've been getting the "pregnant pudge" soon.  It's one of those few times at the gym that it's okay to be fat & you don't have to worry about sucking in your gut!  :)  I fought the whole time to keep my emotions neutral and tried to take my hurt/anger and put it into more energy for working out.

We have lived the truth of this song on more than one occasion and it's just another reminder that God is working in our family.  A verse that I have grown particularly fond of over the past couple of weeks is Genesis 41:52.  "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Lord, may every tear that falls be watering the seeds of your glory that you are planting in not only our lives, but for everyone you will touch with our baby's life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


"Hawk-ward" is how my Hannah says it, but awkward is a good word to describe how people feel sometimes when they get an answer they weren't expecting.  It might also be a good word to describe how I feel answering them.  I guess it might help if you knew the question.

"How many kids do you have?" OR the one I got asked tonight, "So you guys having any more kids?"

Let me be VERY clear when I say that I in no way hold it against anyone who asks the second question.  No one really knows what is going on.  I think I feel more sorry for them when they feel so bad for asking the question.  In that instant that it takes before I answer, I have a small internal struggle.  Do I give them the truth?  Do I lie and say I only have 3 kids so I don't have to explain?  Is it fair to deny my precious two children already in heaven?

My answer generally depends on who is asking and where I'm at at the time.  For instance, the lady giving me a pedicure the other day probably did not need to hear personal details about my life.  I came in to relax, not relive fresh grief.  However, tonight at church, I was involved in a conversation about my children and she asked if we were having more.  I struggled to answer for a second and then decided to just tell the truth.  I explained that we had just lost a baby a couple of weeks ago.  She, of course, apologized and said she felt so bad for asking.  I told her it was fine (and really it was my choice to answer the way I did) and that the Bible study we had all just come out of was God's way of working through my pain.

Still, I think that A LOT of women struggle with how to answer that question.  If I were completely honest with people, I have 5 children.  I have 3 living children and 2 in heaven.  Never quite imagined that our family would ever contain that many children and we don't have plans to stop there.  I won't tell you the right way or the wrong way.  It's each person's choice as to how they answer that question.  And you are not denying those babies in heaven if you choose to give the easy answer.

Although, answering those questions honestly gives me the opportunity to tell others of God's faithfulness.  If you find yourself on the opposite side and you are the one doing the asking, you don't have to apologize for asking the question.  Your intentions were pure.  You can always simply reply with, "I'm sorry for your loss.  How can I pray for you?"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Harder Than I Thought

I have been very encouraged by the many people who have said that they appreciate my honesty and transparency while going through this situation.  Therefore, I will keep sharing until I have nothing left to share.

Today, I had my post-op follow-up appointment with my OB.  I felt really strong and great going into it.  You know what that means, right?  The higher you feel, the farther you fall and the harder you smack the ground.  I was good until I walked in the office and I felt myself breaking piece by piece.  I looked over and saw a couple sitting (have no idea why they were there) in the exact same spot that George and I sat both times that we waited to see the doctor right before we were told of our miscarriage.  That's what started my emotional downward spiral.  I held it together while paying my doctor bill from the actual surgery.  Not that I blame the doctors at all, but it just kind of hurts to actually have to pay for them to remove my unborn baby.  At least it was merely a $15 co-pay.  Then I hid myself in some chairs that are behind a wall (for those of you who go to my doctor's office, you know exactly the ones I am talking about) and tried not to totally lose it.  I grabbed my Bible, which I thought would be a good read because I wasn't really sure what to expect.  I flipped through the Psalms and found some amazing words of comfort.  It was just kind of hard to feel the comfort at that point.

The sweet nurse tried to converse with me as little as possible because I think she knew something was wrong.  Not her fault, but when she asked me if I came alone, all I could do was cry.  She gave me some tissues and took me to the exam room and then gave me a big hug.  Kinda weird hugging a stranger, but when you are hurting that badly, you appreciate any hug you get.  I thought I'd have some time to collect myself, but they happened to put me next to someone who was listening to their baby's heartbeat.  And since the walls are thin, I heard everything.  I know it wasn't done to intentionally hurt me, but once again, it was the last thing that I needed at that moment.  Dr. walks in and I can't even talk.  Cue hug from my favorite doctor in the world.

My body has healed just fine.  I was very thankful that he gave me the option to do bloodwork.  That was just one more thing that I didn't want to have to endure in order to remind me of my loss.  He told me that he could see the baby just at my cervix when he was doing the surgery and he absolutely knows that he get the baby out.  It was comforting to hear that he knows without a doubt that there was a baby in my belly, but also hard to hear.  He told me to call him the minute I get pregnant next time so that he could start me on some preventative measures in case (and this is a big IF) it was my body that wasn't able to support the pregnancy.  We ultimately have no idea why we have miscarried twice.  It could be a chromosomal deformity, in which case there is nothing to prevent those types of miscarriages.  It could also be that I have insufficient hormone levels.  None of us know either way, but it is nice to have a doctor who personally understands the heartbreak of miscarriage and is willing to do anything he can to put our mind at ease the next time around.

Ultimately, I know that it is God's plan that has already prevailed and will prevail in our future.  Thank you so much for the prayers.  Today was a million times harder than I thought it would be and I remembered it being the first time around.