Saturday, December 28, 2013

six years

To my wonderful husband -

This last year has been a giant ball of tragedy, pain, love, hope, tears, joy and uncertainty.  I know we didn't choose this road we are walking right now - but I'm so grateful that we chose each other.  You have been steadfast as we rejoiced over pregnancies, grieved over loss, clung desperately to hope and wondered how to move forward.  Even as you have dealt with your own grief, you have been there for me as waves of pain would creep up, through sleepless nights of tears, and times when I worried I would never feel okay again.

You have sought The Lord on behalf of our family and you have carried me to the Father when there were just no words to speak.  You have remained full of hope, positive and confident throughout all of the uncertainty.  Your resilience and ability to find joy is admirable and speaks volumes about the kindness of your heart.  It means so much to me to know that no matter how I'm feeling - I can tell you the truth and you can handle it.  I am blessed by your tenderness that comforts, by your grace that accepts, and by your strength that supports me and Haydn.

I know some days yours has been a heavy burden to bare, and I'm grateful for the ways you take care of yourself so that you can take care of us.  Your servanthood continually reminds me of Jesus and the ways he recognized and responded to the needs of others.  I could not imagine a greater partner, friend, or advocate.

These last six years have not been easy, but your love has been an anchor to keep me steady and a comfort that has blanketed the deepest of wounds.  I love you so much - much more than I can articulate by speech or pen.  There are many things I once felt sure of  that now are unclear - but,my love for you has changed only in its depth and understanding.

Happy Anniversary my love - you continue to stir in my soul the desire to truly live, a longing for the heights and a willingness to embrace the beautiful, whether it is through joy or tears.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Beauty will Rise

I have spent a lot of time lately reading works from people who have endured great suffering and listening to music that was born out of experiences of deep pain.  It might seem counter intuitive to find comfort in those places... and yet, it has been very comforting to let others speak the words my heart feels and just to know others have walked this road of suffering and it has born beauty in their lives. 

It feels very isolating sometimes - this grief.  It feels like no one around me has any idea what is really going on in my heart and like I am existing in some world where I am in so many pieces and most people will only see a couple of them.  I have been reading "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman which is a wonderful book, I actually haven't read the beginning - I skipped straight to the part where their daughter died and have only read about their grief and processing the days afterwards.  I downloaded the album Stephen Curtis Chapman wrote "Beauty will Rise", in the months following their daughter's death.  Some of the song lyrics just speak so beautifully what I have felt so deeply and it ministers to me to feel that I am walking a road others have traveled and survived.

I think the song that has spoken to my heart the most is this one, "Our God is in Control"

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control

This is not how it will be
When we finally will see
We'll see with our own eyes
He was always in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

This is not where we planned to be
When we started this journey
But this is where we are
And our God is in control

Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

We're waiting for that day
We'll keep on waiting for that day
And we will rise
Our God is in control

Honestly,  Christmas has been hard for me.  In part because of what is missing  and in part because I can't help remembering last Christmas when I was pregnant and the terrible days afterwards when the first miscarriage happened.  I have felt so deeply this sense of how 'not right' things are and the bitterness of all that is missing.  I have found myself in tears many times this week, and God has been there to remind me of his love and goodness, but it still hurts so much sometimes.  Some other lyrics from the "Beauty will Rise" album that have put words to these feelings are below:

"Jesus will meet you there"

When you think you've hit the bottom
and the bottom gives way
and you fall into a darkness
no words can explain
and you don't know how you make it out alive
Jesus will meet you there.
When you realize the dreams you've had
for your child won't come true
when the phone rings in the middle
of the night with tragic news...
Whatever valley you must walk through,
Jesus will meet you there.

Who are You God
For You are turning out to be
So much different than I imagined

And where are you God
Cuz I am finding life to be
So much harder than I had planned

Know that I am afraid
To ask these questions
But You know they are there

And if you know my heart
The way that I believe you do
You know that I believe in You

Still I have these questions
Like How could you God
How could You be so good and strong
And make a world that can be so painful

And where were you God
I know you had to be right there
I know you never turn your head

You know that Im confused
By all this mystery
You know I get afraid
But if you know my heart
As completely as I trust you do
Oh you know that I trust in you

Is it true
that fore every tear I cry
You cry a thousand more
Cuz you weep for those that weep

And are you, just holding yourself back
From crushing all the pain and evil in this world
For reasons we just cant understand for now
But isnt there a day of redemption coming
Redemption is coming

Quickly Lord, come quickly
Lord, come quickly

So who am I God
That you would raise me from the dust
To breathe your life and your love in me
You know that I believe

Aside from Jeff and Jesus, I don't speak these things out loud to many people.  It helps me though, to open a window to the grief instead of keeping it closed up inside.  I think that is why people who have been through difficult things write books, music, or find other ways to express their pain.  I find that people who have been though impossible things, like the Chapmans, C.S. Lewis, Richard Wurmbrand, and others - even when they aren't talking directly about their grief or pain there is a depth to their writing about the human experience - a more complete understanding of faith, trust, and belief.  I think it is because they are people who have suffered and been transformed by their experience of suffering.  I am grateful for the works produced by these individuals that have inspired hope and courage for me.  I guess I hope that by not shying away from the pain or suffering, God will use my experience to minister to others walking through their own valleys.

Monday, December 23, 2013


 Someone shared a poem with me that has been deeply touching in light of what feels like failure.  To all those who have failed....

A Call to Failure
I had a call to a mission,
Signed in my heart and sealed,
And I felt my success was certain,
And the end seemed already revealed;
The sea was without a murmur,
Unwrinkled its even flow,
And I heard the master commanding,
And I was constrained to go.
But, out from the peaceful haven,
There woke a terrible storm,
And the waves around were in chaos,
And the land appeared without form
And I stretched my hands to the Father
And cried in a chilling fear—
“Didst not Thou pledge Thy presence!
And naught but failure is here!”
Then in the midst of the thunder
There rose a still, small voice,
Clear through the roar of the waters,
Deep through their deafening noise:
“Have I no calls to failure!
Have I no blessing for loss!
Must not the way to thy mission
Lie through the path of thy cross!”
It came as a revelation—
It was worth the price of the gale
To know that the souls that conquer
Must at first be the souls that fail—
To know that where strength is baffled
I have reached the common ground
Where the highest meet with the lowly
Where the heart of man is found.
O door of the heart’s communion
My Father gave me the key
When he called me out to the ocean,
And summoned the storm to me;
For the wings of the storm that smote me
Were the wings of humanity’s breast
As it moved on the face of the waters
And sighed for an ark of rest.
Years have gone by since that sadness
And many an hour has come
When the storm in the ships of others
Has signaled me out from home;
Yet I never can see that signal
But I feel how much I owe
To the day that, when called to failure,
My steps were constrained to go.
~George Matheson

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I have been going to therapy (with a Christian Therapist) for the last 6 weeks as a way to help take care of myself and my own mental health.  It also helps immensely to talk to someone not invested in your situation that can offer some perspective.  From my own experience as a Therapist, one of the things I found ironic about the whole process what that when I was actively trying to “fix” clients or their problems, we would hit a wall where there was either a regression or withdraw from the therapeutic process.  My wise Supervisor helped me to see the ways I was attempting to provide solutions or make people better.  I mean, that is the goal – why people seek therapy – to feel better.  However, in my experience, that does not happen through others giving you answers, offering quick fixes, or making unrealistic promises (“I know you will be okay.  This _____ won’t happen to you again.  God will give you the desires of your heart”, etc.). 

Suffering sucks… no one wants to see loved ones hurt or go through trials.  We want to make the pain go away and we want everything to be okay.  But here’s the truth… when you endure a great loss, when you go through something earth shattering, you will pick up the pieces and by the grace of God you will put them back together – but you will never be the same.  I will never be the same.  I will never again become pregnant and feel immediately happy.  I may never hear about a friend’s pregnancy and immediately feel joy.  I will never have my dream of family fulfilled the way I wanted it to be or thought it would be.  It will not be the same.  After my second pregnancy and miscarriage, moving on for me was putting hope in having a healthy baby, hoping that this would never happen again, hoping there would be a happy ending.

By now, I am so over happy endings.  Even if I got pregnant tomorrow and had a baby 9 months from now, it wouldn’t undo this last year.  The place I am moving to is a place of experiencing that God is enough.  Honestly, as much as I desired to live for Jesus I don’t know that you can come to this place of open hands and acceptance of whatever God gives until you HAVE to.  I don’t think I could will this, a true "I surrender all” kind of heart attitude unless all my options were stripped away and every other alternative was terrible.  I’m not saying I trust God because I “have” to.  I make that choice daily, but I am saying that maybe we don’t come to a place of truly opening our hands and loosening our grip on our own desires until we have to.

I don’t believe that God has promised me any more children.  I don’t believe that if I tried hard enough to believe that God would then give me what I want.  I don’t believe that getting pregnant again means that everything will be okay.  But I do believe that no matter what happens, no matter how many times we endure tragedy or loss, no matter how deep the pain or the hurt – God will be enough.  It won’t make it go away or make me “feel better” all the time, but he will be enough.  How else do you TRULY know that God will be enough until everything else is taken from you and yet He remains?  I asked a trusted friend recently about whether it was enough for me to feel like trust in God at this point, is to believe that no matter what terrible thing happens, I won’t be broken forever and God’s grace will be enough.  She wisely said that for right now, it is enough – the trust in God that feels like confidence, the belief that his will is perfect -  it will come, but right now it is enough just to know that I won’t break.

I feel a lot of pressure, some I’m sure is self-imposed, to feel better, to be normal, to move on.  And I am getting better, I am slowly venturing out into ‘normal’ territory that isn’t work related, I am moving through the grief process of accepting my loss and letting go of trying to control something I have no control over.  But, I feel this sense that many things will never be the same for me, there is a depth to my soul that didn’t exist before this pain ripped that space open.  Many people have reached out to me in so many kind ways and have tried to be so understanding.  I truly am grateful and really can appreciate how you don’t really know what it is like to walk this road until you have to.  I think one of the best things people have done for me is to let me be where I am without trying to fix it or make it better.  Those who have also lost children in the womb have been so gracious to recognize my baby – a boy – and the tremendous pain that comes from knowing you will never get to rock him to sleep, fix his dinner, or watch him play with his brother.  I miss him so much.

Despite the pain, the heartbreak, the uncertainty…. I am certain that God will be enough.  Enough to help me find joy throughout Christmas, enough as friends and family bring their own babies into the world, enough as we move forward waiting on God to show us the next step.  This journey is messy and I know some days and events will be harder than others, but He loves me so much.  God loves my family so much – and my circumstances do not change that.  It is enough right now to know that He loves me, that He is good, and that His vision is perfect – even when I can’t see it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finding Strength

As I have been confronting my grief and processing the pain I have felt an intentionality in the process - I don't want to waste this opportunity.  I recently had a conversation with a friend where she essentially said that she couldn't believe that I was being honest about my situation and my feelings in such an open way and that it must make it hard for me to know that others are aware of my suffering.  It seemed like a strange observation to me, that it would be better for me if my pain were less obvious. 

Early in my walk with the Lord, He impressed upon my heart a theology of suffering that essentially boils down to the heart of suffering existing for the glory of God.  When I sat in my dorm room reading Desiring God by: John Piper, it resonated with me so deeply - even though I had no idea what it would mean to truly suffer.  I hesitate to even attempt to summarize Piper's theological interpretation of suffering, but I will select a few passages from the 'suffering' chapter of that book that sum up his viewpoint:

" All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: they all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience.  Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perserverence in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and preciousness of Christ - whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin or sabotage.. Not only that, the suffering of sickness and the suffering of persecution have this in common: they are both intended by Satan for the destruction of our faith, and governed by God for the purifying of our faith."

"The point is that Christ sovereignly accomplishes his loving, purifying purpose, by overruling Satan's destructive attempts, Satan is always aiming to destroy our faith; but Christ magnifies his power in weakness."

" The pearl of greatest price is the glory of Christ.  Thus Paul stresses that in our sufferings the glory of Christ's all-sufficient grace is magnified. If we rely on him in our calamity, and he sustains our 'rejoicing in hope,' then he is shown to be the all-satisfying God of grace and strength that he is.  If we hold fast to him 'when all around our soul gives way,' then we show that he is more to be desired than all we have lost... so suffering clearly is designed by God not only as a way to wean Christians off of self and onto grace, but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine.  That is precisely what faith does; it magnifies Christ's future grace.  The deep things of life in God are discovered in suffering."

There is so much more that could be quoted or summarized, but really, just go buy the book - it is worth it!   I believe that nothing is wasted and as terrible as this year has been, it would be wasteful to not share what God has done and is doing through this process of grief and suffering.  I think another important piece of this puzzle for me has been to be where I am and quit trying to profess that which I do not possess.  It has been so healing for me to be able to be honest with God and bring him my pain and disappointment and experience Him in that moment without trying to rush to promises of peace and comfort that I just don't feel right then.  Somehow in my honest weakness, his strength is most evident.

I know for everyone who walks this terrible journey of infertility, stillbirth or multiple miscarriages - it is extremely personal and different for each person, so in no way do I think everyone needs to or should respond in the way that I am choosing to.  But for me, over the last few weeks, I have felt a need to just let it all die and grieve the loss of my dreams.  I dream of a family with 3-5 children (some adopted) and all of them close knit.  I dream of a loud house full of yelling children, big dinners with children all around the table, babies to rock, hands to hold, beautiful chaos. This dream may never come true.  Even as pathology reports return with no answers and no indication of any problems, I don't know that God will ever choose to give us a healthy baby.  And if He doesn' certainly won't change who He is, but it changes my experience of him.  Can I trust Him and love Him and follow Him and believe Him just as much as if my dreams were fulfilled the way I wanted them?  I don't have an answer to that right now - at least not an honest one.  But, I find my heart experiencing peace I can't explain, hope that is not rooted in getting what I want, and grace that is enough - even when I  see others get exactly what I want without having to walk a road that is full of pain.  This leads me to believe that walking this road will only solidify my experience of Christ and not just my belief in Him.

I have wrestled with the heart of God and what God truly desires for me.  Just as Luke11:11 says "Which of you is a father whose son will ask him for bread and would hand him a stone, and if he asks him for a fish will, instead of a fish, hand him a snake,”?  This feels like asking for a fish and getting a snake.  I have struggled with feeling like it is not enough to go through all of this just to learn a lesson or grow spiritually.  I have been reminded about the ways that God and Satan can take the same situation and what Satan intends for evil, God can use for good.  I have been asking the Redeemer to come and redeem this...I don't see it now, but I do believe that is who HE is and what he does.  

Choosing to believe that God's plans are better than my own is really hard and definitely a choice that is being made every day, some days every moment.  But I know I am not alone and just as God carries my children with Him, He carries my heart and my dreams and my brokenness... it doesn't make it all okay, but it makes my burden much lighter.  I want my suffering to magnify the future grace of Christ, spotlight His sufficiency in weakness, and testify to His power over death and destruction.  I can't do it... I have tried and failed over and over again to humanly make this right.  So, I will continue to 'boast' about my weakness and put my suffering on display, not because I want sympathy or pity (especially not pity), but because when I am weak - HE is strong.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Impossible Questions

It is strange that "How are you?" suddenly feels like an impossible question.  Most of the time I give some kind of dismissive answer, but lately even when people I know I can tell the truth to ask me I can't seem to formulate an answer.  Being someone who is typically overly self-aware, it feels strange to feel so disconnected from myself.  Even if I had answers to this question, it still feels impossible to find one that fits.  Mostly because I have moments of time where life feels 'normal' and I don't feel immense pain and then out of the blue the loss surfaces and suddenly I am in tears or choking back raw pain and hurt.  I have spent 6 months of the last year pregnant.... and yet there is no baby.  I can't help but remember Christmas last year - I was pregnant, and thinking about the four month old baby we would have to celebrate Christmas with this year - I remember what it felt like packing up the Christmas decorations shortly after that miscarriage.  Unpacking them this year shortly after another miscarriage felt like a terrible tradition.  I have times where I feel the joy I used to about the Christmas season, but right under the surface is a wave of pain that we are not picking out presents for the boy or girl we would have found out about by now.

I have all sorts of impossible questions for God about 'where is the good?' and 'what about satisfying the desires of my heart?'.  But, the truth is that I know the TRUTH, I know who God is - I don't know what He's doing, but I know who He is.... and that doesn't always make it feel better. 

I think I rushed myself last time to find a  somewhat superficial place of trusting God and belief in his goodness. I didn't want to feel terrible anymore, so I recited the verses that made me feel better and moved forward.  That's not enough for me anymore.  I am allowing myself to struggle with God, believing that no matter what I ask him, no matter how dark my heart feels - He can handle it and He will not withdraw his hand.  It is not enough for me to 'fake it till you make it', to recite glib truths about God working all things together for good, or pretend like believing hard enough will change my circumstances. 

I don't mean to sound cynical or like I don't ultimately trust God - but I think for me, I need the struggle, to wrestle with Him over these things instead of pretending to be somewhere that I am not.  I know many of these questions will remain unanswered... but I really believe this time of wrestling and pain is going to produce a faith that can withstand dead children, suffering, and hope that truly doesn't disappoint - even if I don't get what I want.  When I look at the life of Jesus, I am reminded that He was in the business of meeting people in impossible places and doing impossible things, right?  In many ways that gives me encouragement to keep asking impossible questions, keep pressing on in this impossible situation, and keep telling Him the truth.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

On suffering

I will post more about this when I have more time to fully dive into a theology of suffering, but for the moment I read something from The Message Bible that I wanted to share.  In the introduction. To the book of Job the author was describing the way that Job gives voice to his sufferings and the response he encounters from men and from God.

" In our compassion, we don't like to see people suffer.  And so our instincts are aimed at preventing and alleviating suffering.  No doubt that is a good impulse.  But, if we really want to reach out to others who are suffering we should be careful not to be like Job's friends, not to do our 'helping' with the presumption that we can fix things, get rid if them, or make them 'better'. We may look at our suffering friends and imagine how they could have better marriages, better-behaved children, better mental and emotional health.  But when we rush in to fix suffering, we need to keep in mind several things.
First, no matter how insightful we may be, we don't really understand the full nature of our friends' problems.  Second, our friends may not want our advice.  Third, the ironic fact of the matter is that more often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more.  When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed. Deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.
So, instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering - which we simply won't be very successful at anyway- perhaps we should begin entering the suffering, participating insofar as we are able - entering the mystery and looking around for God.  In other words, we need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and - if they will let us- join them in protest and prayer.  Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.  As we look at Job's suffering and praying and worshiping, we see that he has already blazed a trail of courage and integrity for us to follow."

Reading the story of Job right now has been healing for me to gather strength and courage from the ways Job cries out to The Lord and protests loudly through his pain....yet he does not forsake God.  If you haven't read The Message version of Job, I highly recommend it.  I don't pretend to be Job, to be holy, but I am one who suffers...."Where's the strength to keep my hopes up?  What future do I have to keep me going?  Do you think I have nerves of steel?  Do you think I am made of iron?  Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps?  Why, I don't even have any boots!"