Sunday, October 30, 2016

Something out of me

This song came on the other day and captured where my heart is at this moment.  These are the lyrics:

"Something Out Of Me" by: Nichole Nordeman

Just You and me on a hillside 
And 4,999 
If You could see on the inside 
What I brought, what I need, how I’m caught in between

You lifted bread to the blue sky 
They said they watched it just multiply 
But in the back of a long line 
Oh, I want to believe there’s enough left for me

Cause by now it really shoulda been long gone
And somehow it keeps going on and on 
On and on an on ‘cause

You take all kinds of nothing 
Turn it right in to something 
I see impossible, but You see a basket full of 
A little bit of this sounds crazy 
A little bit of just maybe 
You take every doubt and 
You make something out of me

It’s not the story that moves me 
It’s not that I don’t believe You could 
It’s just my heart is so hungry
Is there enough to fill me up 
Or will You run out of love

You take all kinds of nothing 
Turn it right in to something 
I see impossible, but You see a basket full of 
A little bit of this sounds crazy 
A little bit of just maybe 
You take every doubt and 
You make something out of me
Something out of me

By now Your love could have been long gone 
But somehow it keeps going on and on 

You take all kinds of nothing 
Turn it right in to something 
I see impossible, but You see a basket full of 
A little bit of this sounds crazy 
A little bit of just maybe 
You take every doubt and 
You make something out of me
Something out of me

I have struggled with feeling like there is not enough, or that maybe there is just enough, but not any more than that.  Like God's blessing may have run out in my life and now there will be crumbs or morsels here and there, but the abundance is over.  I love this story in song about when Jesus fed 5,000 on the hillside.   I can imagine what it must have felt like to be there - you are hungry and thirsty and eager to get your share.  Sure, this Jesus guy seems legit - but can he give me what I need right now, will there be enough for me?  I bet there were some on that hillside that felt a similar desperation to what I feel now - the grasping, the striving, the feeling that time is running out and you aren't going to get your share.  Not only did everyone get what they needed, but there were LEFT OVERS!  Jesus didn't just give enough- he could have done that. Produced exactly what would be consumed, but He didn't; He gave more and gave abundantly.  I think our culture especially, perpetuates this lie of scarcity.  That there will not be enough, so you must get there first and get the most.  It isn't that way with Jesus - He doesn't run out and the well never runs dry.  There will be enough, it may not always feel like abundance or provide the feeling of fullness that I expected, but it will be enough.... And then the next day there will be more and it will be enough.  

I am learning to take a deep breath, shake off the lies of the enemy about scarcity and really look at what is in front of me.  When I can really look, and see with eyes that are ready to see - I see the goodness of God all around me and my family.  I would argue that it could be better - but, I am not God and I cannot see what He sees.  All I can do is choose to see goodness in what is in front of me and some days that will be easier than others.  I am also learning that in those moments of truly seeing, I am able to experience some measure of joy.  I have felt joy and happiness again and been grateful for those moments.  Someone wise told me recently - that those moments of joy, those are the most that we get.  We need to be able to see, experience and appreciate that moment of joy because it will end, but there will be another one nearby.  I think we put so much emphasis on happiness and even in Christian circles, this experience of joy that we assume everyone is walking around feeling joyful or happy most of the time.  I know I have felt this pressure to manufacture some of kind of joy because the Bible is always talking about rejoicing and so walking with Jesus must mean that I should feel like that.  But, the truth is, if you really look at the people who followed Jesus in the Bible - they suffered - a lot - and called it suffering.  Maybe that is why they were always talking about joy because when life is hard and circumstances bleak, we need to be intentional not about creating joy, but recognizing the things around us that still produce joy in our hearts.  I have learned that when your heart is full of sorrow, there is still room for joy - and you actually recognize it and feel it in a way that you can't when your heart is not broken.  I don't have any more answers this week than I did last week, but I am believing, like with true belief, that God is making something out of me that wasn't there before the life of Levi.  I want to be a woman who pours out abundance to others because of the abundance I have received.  I want to believe that I don't have to cling so tightly to what is 'mine' because I know that there is more than enough for everyone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Unanswerable Questions

As the shock dissipates and the reality comes rolling in like a giant wave of destruction that one could never outrun - I am overcome.  By pain, by disappointment, by a cacophony of questions that seem to pour out of my heart and are received only as an echo in the darkness.  There is no answer that comes, no response, just their echo that seems to go on forever.

The spiritual struggle that is at war within me right now is more intense than any struggle I have faced with the Lord before.  I think in the past it felt like I was a disappointed child.  I wanted something and my Father said 'no' and I wailed and wrestled against him and it was a real struggle.  But ultimately, I trusted my Father, I trusted His care for me, the goodness of His heart and I submitted.  I finally relaxed into him and quit fighting and I felt better, I was able to accept whatever it was that He would give me, even if it wasn't what I wanted.  Now, this place is deeper and darker.  It feels like the distrust and betrayal of a child who has had her Father promise he will come and then he continues to not show up when he said he would.  The sadness, rejection, betrayl and hurt are real barriers to being able to trust that father again.  I don't mean to imply that this is a crisis of faith for me in the sense that I may choose distrust and walk away from my Father because I did not get what I wanted.  I just mean that this crisis of struggling with, who is the Good Father when things unfold in a way that does not feel like it could possibly be the most good, the most kind or the most loving - it is real.  I will not pretend like I understand this or like the answers don't matter.  I believe that walking through this valley with honesty and earnestness is part of the spiritual journey.

The truth is that in the depths of my despair, I am not experiencing this supernatural protection  or comfort from Jesus that makes it feel better.  In some ways, God feels far off and I don't think that is an accident.  When I look at the scriptures, it seems that there are definite times when God hangs back and does not rush in with the answers to make everything better right away. "Truly you are a God who hides himself." Isaiah 45:15, "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. " Ecclesiastes 11:5.  The Psalms are full of David crying out to the Lord asking "How long will you forget me?" And "Will you reject me forever?"  Even Jesus uttered similar words as he hung on the cross.  I think the place I am in is not unique - I think it is exactly the place where God builds faith - the place where it looks like a wasteland and hope is nowhere to be seen, not even on the horizon.

I am learning that it is not the suffering, the loss or the pain that threatens to destroy my heart.  People have a remarkable capacity to endure hardship and suffering when it makes sense.  Men and women choose to die for the sake of their country, to protect their children, to be martyred for their faith.  It is the confusion, the circumstances that cannot be explained that threaten to crush the spirit most acutely.  I can understand suffering as a result of my own sin or even the sin of someone else that impacts me... But when you did nothing and you had nothing to do with or no control over what happened; those are the situations that shake our foundations so deeply we cannot simply get back up and move on.  As I have been reading the book of Job, I have been struck by what appears to be the source of Job's most intense frustration.  It is not the suffering that God has allowed to be inflicted upon him, it is his inability to find God in the midst of it.  Job says, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!  I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments... When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.  But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:3-4, 9-10.  Over and over Job laments that God feels far off and talks of how he longs to be able to communicate with God about this disaster.  I feel this way right now.  I want God to rush in and make this better, help me understand what He is doing, affirm that He sees and cares.  It isn't that I don't believe the things that I know to be true about God.  It is this seemingly incompatible place of my knowledge and beliefs about him and my actual reality.  I have to believe that it is in this place of incompatibility,  this place of impossible questions that real, enduring faith is born.  As Dr. Dobson puts it in his book, When God Doesn't Make Sense, "What is faith?  It is 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen' (Hebrews 11:1).  This determination to believe when the proof is not provided and when the questions are not answered is central to our relationship with the Lord."

I know my questions are mostly unanswerable, but that doesn't stop them from pouring out of my broken heart.  And that's okay - it is okay to struggle and not be able to accept a simple - God is good all the time.  It doesn't mean it isn't true, but my heart needs to get there and for me that takes time and learning what it means to trust God when your dreams fall apart.  I would rather have that kind of faith - the kind that can withstand unanswered questions  and dead children- than the kind that says the right words but doesn't believe them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

If I am honest

I write not just because it helps me process my pain, but because it makes me feel braver and less alone.  I am learning to be honest with myself, to not rush towards the silver lining, to tell the truth - even when it is hard.  I guess that is one side effect of suffering.  You quit caring about all of the crap that doesn't matter, you only have room for what is important.  When you are broken, when you are shattered into a million pieces, when the fire burns the fiercest and threatens to consume everything… this is where love is born.  I don't want to be here, no one chooses the furnace, but when it chooses you - you will either be consumed or you will fight like one who overcomes hell and somehow light will pour out of all those broken pieces and create a radiance that is not your own.  

I am not there yet, not to the place of the broken pieces coming together to form anything from which light can pour forth… but I have hope that the radiance exists, that there is still joy, still hope, still healing.  I'm still in the midst of the disaster, the one that strikes and you know that sometimes good people get screwed for no reason.  Sometimes you get something so awful that you never deserved.  You cannot 'win' your way out of it by working harder or being better - sometimes life is really unfair.  Having suffered similar losses before, I know what it is like to cling to Jesus like the life jacket He is and somehow find dry land again and after careful examination realize that you are 'okay.'  You are not the same, you will never be the same, but you faced your greatest fear and survived.  It was easier for me to see good, to see the ways that those experiences made me richer, deeper, more compassionate and present.  It was easier to look back and see that God had made something good out of my pain.

Now…if I am honest - which I will be… I don't care.  I don't care about all of the fruit that grows out of suffering.  This coming from a person with a well developed theology of suffering.  I'm just over it.  I don't want to grow, it isn't enough to lose another child just to learn a lesson of some kind.  I have to believe there is more, that God's redemptive purposes are greater than that.  I am learning to be gentle with myself, to quit running away and striving so hard, to just accept that this is my heart right now.  To acknowledge that while I know all of the true things about God, it is a million miles from my head to my heart at this moment… and that's okay.  Hope will come, but it is a door that each person must open on their own - no one gets to do it for you.  

I was praying today and just telling my Father about my deep hurt and disappointment.  I had this vision of myself with my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces and I carefully gathered them and put them in this hard, protective shell and I cradled it carefully in my hands.  Jesus put his hands around mine, He didn't say anything but I could feel him beckoning me to look at Him, to open my hands… but I couldn't, even when I tried, I couldn't see His face, I couldn't meet His eyes, I couldn't unwrap my hands.  I was desperately holding onto what is left of my heart and feeling so fiercely protective of my hopes, my pain, my dreams… how can I open my hands and truly let go when I know that even if He holds it all, it doesn't mean that I will receive what I want?  

That is where I am, this is the truth.  I know that God won't leave me in this place, that He won't give stones when I ask for bread, but He can handle it.  He can handle my heartbreak, my unbelief, my pain … whatever I bring Him - He can take it.  I may not be ready to hand it over yet, but I know He's there, hands gently cupped around mine, waiting for me to be ready to let go.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


When I was in labor, I made a playlist that I don't like to look at now.  I have been listening to a lot of music these days, mostly songs of truth that I need to wash over my soul.  I have been revisiting this playlist recently - because it is made up of songs that give me courage, that remind me to be brave, to choose love.  Here is some of that playlist, simply titled 'Hurt'. 

Lord, I need You by: Matt Maher

Our God is in Control by: Stephen Curtis Chapman

Trust in You by: Lauren Daigle

Even Unto Death by: Audrey Assad

Monday, October 17, 2016


Somewhere along the way, approximately four years ago when the journey to grow our family began, this blog quit being a place where I would post family pictures, stories and updates and began serving as a window into the pain that was ripping apart my soul.  I still rarely post about all the good things that are happening and tend to come here mostly to unload the burden of my heart.  I have learned in my suffering, that even if no one else hears it, my pain needs a voice – it needs to flow forth from my heart onto a page. 

This time around I can’t seem to find my voice, and even when I do find it, I can’t authentically speak the truth that my heart knows.  I am grateful for the prayer warriors that I know continue to speak truth over my life right now – sometimes we all need a voice when we cannot trust our own.  Having walked this road before, I expected that I would have the road map; I would know where we are going and have the tools to get there.  I don’t.  It is strange to go back and read my words about grief and what it felt like at that time.  Many of the same feelings are there and it does bring me some comfort to remember that I can do hard things and that God will ALWAYS meet me there, no matter how dark or how painful, darkness and light are the same to Him (Psalm 139:12).  This loss was startling in so many ways.  I will never understand how a strong heartbeat turns into no heartbeat in a matter of hours.  Even as initial pathology reports return indicating nothing abnormal - there is nothing normal about losing three babies in less than four years.  I want so badly to be able to point to something and say "It is this, this is what went wrong."  Because if I can say that then maybe there is a way to fix this, some measure of preventative strategy to be taken.  Even though there are more tests to be done, more doctors to see - I don't expect that we will find any medical explanation for why we are facing this reality.

I am realizing again that part of me has believed the lie that is so prominent in our culture.  We can do anything, be anything, achieve anything.  If we work hard enough, give enough, sacrifice enough, desire it enough, if we are good enough - we will earn it, we can do it.  The truth doesn't look like that however; the truth is that we can do all the right things, make the right choices, work our hardest, and we can still fail to achieve the outcome we so deeply desire.  As a 'fixer' by nature, that is maybe one of the hardest things for me to surrender - I cannot earn my way out of this or work hard enough to prevent this kind of pain from happening.  It seems that at this juncture, I am left with few choices.  I can't control the future of my family, but I sense that these next steps that I am taking are on holy ground and will shape the future of my family.  I can choose to surrender to the bitterness of my soul, to let the injustice and agony define who I will become.  I can choose to put on a brave face and stuff the pain away while I recite scripture about how God is good to us all the time.  But neither of those responses honor the life or death of my Levi.  That means the only choice I am left with is to choose to face the pain as it comes, to not run away, but feel its full intensity and stay present - to choose love.  The song that keeps resounding in my heart in these moments is the hymn, 'O love that will not let me go.'

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

This is the love that can heal and can fill the giant emptiness that I feel inside my soul.  Somehow there is always enough, enough grace, enough strength, enough love, enough comfort.  Levi deserves the best of me, all of my earthly and heavenly babies do.  So I will keep showing up, I will keep bringing my pain and emptiness, and uttering the only words I can say right now, "Jesus, help."  I don't want this story and everything in me wants to run away from here, but that is not love.  Love holds on, it wrestles, it turns black and blue and breaks apart sometimes.   But love always wins, it always beats the darkness, always overcomes the enemy, always fulfills its purpose - love never fails.  I can choose today, as many times as needed, to believe there is hope and to love greater than my fear.   To say like Job, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him."  Job 13:15

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Processing Pain

I have always been an external processor.  I need things to come out of my heart and my mind in order to think and feel deeply about them.  This past week has been the absolute worst of my life.  It seems impossible and like I must be watching these events unfold in someone else's life - this can't possibly be my story.  But it is.  We will lay our sweet Levi to rest today and to think about it fills me with anguish that is indescribable.  I have so many questions, ones that I know will likely remain unanswered until I am united with my babies and our Creator - I have a feeling that the answers won't matter so much at that point.

I have been spending a lot of time in the Psalms and in Job because God's word promises that it will not return void but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it and I need something to be successful right now (Isaiah 55:11).  Psalm 56 says "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me? (vs 3-4).  It goes on to say "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.  Are they not in Your book...This I know, that God is for me." (Psalm 56: 8-9).  When I think about that, I think that my bottle must be overflowing, there can't possibly be room for more tears.  I want it to be such that when your bottle has collected all the tears it can hold, you are safe - you can no longer experience great tragedy.  But, I look at the world - at the suffering of those in Haiti, the refugee crisis, and the loss of those close to me and I know that this isn't the case.  Learning to live with sorrow and with loss is part of our human experience because we are fallen and this is not Heaven.

I still feel somewhat frozen in this place.  I am aware that there is a long road ahead that leads to healing; it is full of valleys, some deep, dark caves, impossible hills, and when I look at this road it seems like a journey that I could never survive.  I can't stay here though, I know I must start walking and it will hurt like hell... there are no shortcuts to healing.  As I read the book of Job, a man well acquainted with suffering I am struck by his responses.  He is thought of as a holy man who did not sin and refused to curse God, even when God allowed Satan to afflict him.  "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?  In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.  Job 2:10"  When Job's friends came to visit him after his children had been killed and after he was stricken with illness, they did not recognize him.  I wonder even without the physical ailments if he would be recognizable.  I feel so unlike myself right now, a little hard to recognize, because that is what great pain does to you.  Job did not sin and did not curse God, yet he carried tremendous pain that altered him to his core.  I don't know what it looks like to worship in the midst of great pain.  I feel like it should look like some kind of peaceful surrender and acceptance, but that is certainly not the state of my heart.  Maybe my act of worship is just to show up, and keep showing up, being present with God in the midst of pain, questions, anger, confusion. 

Job certainly wasn't afraid to express his pain.  "For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.  I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes. Job 3:25-26"  "Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.  Job 7:11"  I have learned through my journey of suffering that people will do just about anything to avoid suffering and to watch someone else suffer is painful.  We want it to end, we want to make it better, we want everything to be okay.  But, the truth is - it isn't okay and it will never be okay.  If we are going to experience healing, we have to stop trying to escape pain and we have to be present by being true to the moment and experiencing our feelings as they come and not trying to escape.  For me, that means a battle to stay present, to be wounded, but to stay present with the pain and trust that Jesus will meet me there.  He is well acquainted with suffering and grief.  Our Father knows what it is like to lose a child.  So, I will be brave today and I am so grateful for those friends and family members who are choosing to be brave with me - to sit in the darkness with me, to be present in the pain and not try to make it better.  Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of love for our family, we have felt Jesus carry us and it means so much that Levi's life and his death - they carry an eternal significance.