Bumping around

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  I turned 39 a week ago and feel so far from where I thought I’d be.  Today was a hard day.  The sort of day when the darkness feels like a thick sludge I’m wading through.  I feel like I bump off the walls of the day in a half awareness that I am actually here.  Is this real? Am I awake or am I dreaming.

I go out to the garden and cover myself in the dirt of the earth.  The flowers are so pretty but I don’t feel it, I don’t see them……I’m checking off my list today.

The chemist sees me and softly says hello.  He is covered in leaves from digging out the window wells for spring.  I love him.  I grumble something about Mothers day and try to go back to my work.  I want to wallow in my sadness and gloom.  I deserve to feel sad right?  His arm bumps mine and I turn into his chest……the strong, familiar chest that embraces me every day.  I can’t see him sometimes.  I don’t deserve his quiet, gentle presence in my life.  His sweaty, dirty arms embrace me and we stay there for a minute……..we are the only ones in the whole world who know, who understand the pain, the years, the shattered dreams.  There are no words needed, he just knows.  So many months and years of the same old place in life………waiting for what we think will bring us happiness and maybe missing the joy of each other, right here and right now.

I go up and down all day……always returning to the voice of tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the day I love on everyone else’s kids.  I put hours into making a special craft for Mothers day with them and playing a special song in church…………..I pour myself out for them and I know it’s the best way to deal with the sadness………serve someone else, brighten their day, make a kid smile and giggle and get the little joy out of it, knowing these kids are like my own for now.  I will love them the best I know how and point them to the one who’s love never fails.

But sometimes, there’s still days like this.  I want to be alone in a dark room by myself all day, numbing my mind with trashy TV and a bag of potato chips…….NO JOKE THAT’S WHAT I WANT.  I want it with all of me and I push everyone else away with my crankiness.  I’m fighting, I’m trying so hard to keep from falling in the dark pit but it draws me in.  I’m tired……so tired of not knowing what I’m suppose to want from this life.  I know I have to lay down my Isaac, my dream and the thing that seems entitled to every woman.  I know I have to want what God wants for me.  So I try to pull myself together.  I put on a pretty dress and get ready to go watch my chemist sing.  I’m still in my own tunnel.  He doesn’t know what’s wrong but I’m a constant mystery to him.  He is standing in front of me in an amazing tuxedo.  “you need money for the ticket?” he asks.  He opens his wallet and lays a 20 in front of me.  He’s always looking out for me.  I look up at him……and there he is, a crooked smile on his face…”you look cute” he says and the concrete on my lips begin to crack with a corner smile…….how did I get this guy?  How can I be so self focused that I miss that we have each other and so much more than many in this world?

So tomorrow we will go to church, hand in hand.  We will love on other people’s kids like we do every week and we will try to do it for what God has done for us and not for what we get out of this whole messed up life of ours.  We will try to pull some redeeming meaning out of the day…….a child’s hug, a picture they made for us, a flower………and we will try to remember that when we loved the least of these we also told our God, “I love you too”.

Adoption Journey begins

So many people have asked how it’s going.  So I’m just going to jump into this with you all.  We first went to Bethany Christian services for a 2 hour overview meeting.  Then we came home and filled out a short prelim. applications and were approved.  Then came the ginormous, “report everything about yourself” application called the “formal  application”.  I even learned stuff about my husband from this one.  We were approved for that about a week ago and today we jumped all in by paying our first payment of $750 to continue to move forward in the process.  I have no idea how God is going to do all this and it is super scary but it feels quite a bit like going on a mission trip and placing blind faith in a God who has never let us down.

I came home to another giant written application that I will now begin working on.  That’s going to take some time.  We both have to get 15 hours of training too so we go to our first class in Holland next Tuesday night.

Thanks for all your prayers and support.  I will try to keep this updated and I pray it can be an inspiration to all who have struggled with infertility or who are open to domestic adoption someday.

Not Yet!

Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and found yourself wishing your life looked more like theirs?  I know I have.  It’s so easy to look at things like other people’s marriage and wish your husband was more like him.  It’s common to observe someone’s children and wish your kids were more behaved like theirs.  The list could go on to include houses, cars, families, in laws, jobs, fashion and on and on.

We each have deep brokenness in our lives.  To be honest, the closer I get to what I thought I wanted out of this life, the further away I often feel.  The longer I walk as a believer in Christ, it seems that the more brokenness and hurt I incur.  Why is that?  Why do I receive these awesome blessings from God and continue to live in want for the not yet?  Why does my heart continue to long for deep things that others seems to have but God has not allowed in my own life?

Just recently I was talking to a friend that I love deeply but who I sometimes compare my life to.  On the outside, it seems like she is the quintessential Christian lady.  Kids, home, husband, life……..it all seems to look so desirable.  But on the inside, I know she still struggles.  She has her own journey, her own aches and pains just like I do.  And I found myself having this lightbulb sort of moment.

I could have all things I’ve wanted all these years and still be right where I am.  God could grant me all the big things in life but I could still be wading through deep waters.  It was like I realized in that moment that I need to stay focused on gratitude while I’m waiting.  I WILL BE WAITING FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE………for something.  It’s just the way God wired our hearts.  He created us to be walking through this life, partially empty so that we will run to him to complete the God shaped hole in our heart.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet in no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecc.3:11

God’s plan does not make sense to us on most occasions.  But he is making all things “beautiful” in his time.  I will admit that I have begged and pleaded for God to make it beautiful in my time but that is not what this promise is about.  It’s about His Time and not ours.  God has also set eternity in our hearts so that we will long for it always.  This means that we will always live in a state of “not yet”.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like hearing those words.  It’s like a Mom telling their kid, “you can have a cookie, but not yet?”.  It just doesn’t seem fair sometime but that’s because that Mom knows what’s best for her child just like God knows what’s best for us.

So what about you?  Is God saying, “not yet” to you?  Are you living with longing, heartache or confusion on exactly what God wants from you?  Well, one thing is for sure.  We will spend the rest of our lives waiting on something, we can count on that.  The question is….what are we doing while we are waiting?  Are we complaining?  Are we whining to others and to the Lord?  Or are we worshipping while we are waiting.  I, for one, want to be loving those God has in front of me.  I want to be grateful for all the blessing he does provide and keep myself from comparing my life to others.  Someone once said, “Comparison always breeds discontent”.  You are the only you God has made or will ever make again.  Live the life in front of you for the Lord and do it with all your heart and soul and strength.  (Dt.6:5)

The baby with bigger hands

I awoke to my alarm clock this morning, playing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and I began thinking about how, for many people it’s not.  For some of us, it’s the hardest time of the year.  For many, they are struggling, hurting, aching or in chaos.  I attended a funeral this week of a dear lady who suffered from cancer for fourteen years.  I was thinking about how hard Christmas will be for so many who have lost loved ones, who are sick or who are afflicted by a silent depression.

Advent literally means, “expectation”.  It is the arrival or coming of something greater than what we have now.  In one sense, Christ lives in us and in another we are always waiting, for something greater to arrive.  This is not our home, we are here, on mission to live our life for the King of Kings, but our rest does not fully come untill God takes us home and “our faith is sight”.

To me, Advent is the reminder that I have a deposit in Christ and I will be cashing it in sometime in the future.

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.  (Eph.1:14).

The coming of Christ this Christmas is supposed to lead me to worship and remember that I believe that this little baby came to earth and died for all my brokenness and mistakes.  By putting my faith in him and making that little baby my own I have a ticket guaranteeing my inheritance for the day I will redeem that ticket in heaven.   Because of that baby, I am God’s possession.  I am fully, and completely paid for and bought by him through the cross.  This news should lead me to live through the pain of this life.  It should cause me to realize that the struggles of this life have meaning.

So it may not be the most wonderful time of the year but the message of Christmas is the most wonderful message of the year and of our lives.

So what about you?  Are you waiting, in your life for something that you do not have?  Do you often feel ache or pain when you think about where you wish your life had landed?  I know I do.  Maybe it’s time that we lay that at the feet of Jesus…bring it to the manger this Christmas and leave it in the hands of that little baby, who has much bigger hands than we do.

Dear Lord, I surrender all my longings to you again today.  You know my heart.  You know all the redundant prayers I have prayed and pleaded with you.  If your way is different than my expectation, I ask that you would change my heart.  Help me to focus on all that you have done for me.  Keep me from being ungrateful for the life I am in the middle of and help my heart to always be indebted to the baby in that manger.

 

The crib is empty but the manger isn’t

When you go through a loss many people ask if they can do anything.  When people ask this I often am thinking in my head, “If only you can bring back my baby”.  There just is nothing to actually do to make it better.  The greatest gift is always the people who just “show up”.  They remember you a week later and text you a special verse.  They sit with you and ask questions about your loss or how you are doing.  They reach deep into the bottom of their purse to find you a Kleenex and you realize there are tears in their eyes too.  One of my favorite cards over these last weeks was from a dear friend here.  One of the things she said was, “I don’t know what to say…the whole thing sucks beyond belief”.  Yep, that about sums it up.  A pastor even told me he was a little ticked about it all.  It gave me permission to go through those feelings too and to move past them.  You can’t fight a rip current…you have to swim through it…let it take you down stream before it releases you.  Grief is like a rip current.  It grabs you when you least expect it and takes all control away.

One thing people say when you go through loss is “God is in control” or “At least you know your baby is with the Lord”.  I know all these things are true and I know people are just grasping for ways to soothe my soul.  But frankly, they don’t help when you’re in the middle of the rip current.  The best of things to do is to just be present…jump in and float down stream with me.  All the truth’s from the God’s word are received much better after you have sat with me on the floor and grieved a little.

Bill and I have grown a lot in our ability to love each other through these times.  We just know what the other needs.  Bill has learned that I need to verbalize my frustrations about the Lord but that after a bit, he can remind me of the things I already know.  It was a powerful thought to think about Christ on that cross…..or in the manger for that matter.  God gave up HIS ONLY SON.  He sent him away from the glory of heaven to be born of a woman.  After being pregnant, you just feel for poor Mary riding on that donkey as she Is about to give birth.

Jesus, GODS ONLY SON, spent his first night in a feeding trough.   God, the Father knew he was sending HIS ONLY SON TO DIE and still he did it.

God knows grief.

A million moments, come running through my head in a fresh way thinking about Jesus growing up on this earth so far from his Father.  And then there’s his death.  God knows what it’s like to lose a child…but he offered him willingly.

For the redemption of mankind, God watched his ONLY SON be accused, betrayed, rejected, beaten and die on a cross.

God knows loss.

He didn’t stop it…he watched as the sin of the world lay on Christ’s shoulders and God the Father turned his back ON HIS ONE AND ONLY.

God knows what it’s like to lose a child.

We don’t know if he was separated from Christ for a moment or for the full three days but we do know it had to be agony.

God knows grief, sadness, loss and his only Son knows it too.

This same God lives within me.  He sees the empty crib in the special room in our home.  He sees the empty void in our hearts and yet he “shows up” and reminds me…the crib is empty but the manger isn’t.

On Miscarriage

Miscarriage is a sort of silent pain.  Many women go through it and never speak of it.  But it is the loss of a child.  That sort of loss just stays with you forever.  It needs to be talked about in order to find healing.  But when I went through my loss I often felt like it was a subject that there was little information about.  I would search to find other women’s stories only to be left empty and wondering how mine compared.  This is not for the squeamish but this is my story.

My first loss was pretty devastating.  We didn’t want to admit it was happening but in the end the reality hit us like a brick.  I had a complete miscarriage in our home and it was graphic, emotional and one of the hardest things my husband and I have ever been through.

I thought the pain was over at 11 pm and I took a sleeping aid and went to bed.  At 2 am I woke to the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.  I didn’t know at the time that I was in a sort of labor.  I recently talked with a lady who had nine miscarriages (I know, right?).  She said the ones at twelve weeks were always physically the hardest.

I was twelve weeks pregnant when I delivered our child in our bathroom on June 8th, 2013.    My husband ran to get a jar and we cringed as we put our baby in it.  We couldn’t look but we saw enough.  Through the tears we took the shell of our child to the ER to confirm that I didn’t need a D&C.  As I lay there, exhausted, I asked Bill to put a towel over the jar so we didn’t have to keep looking at it.

The doctor came in and confirmed it was a healthy fetus but for some reason my body could not carry it.  There were no answers, no reasons, and no explanations.  I wanted to know why and there was just nothing to explain it.

For years I had put my identity in the hopeful role of being a wife and mother.  We dreamed of home schooling and raising children in the Lord.  We kept waiting for life to turn out the way we had hoped.

But the grief set in hard as we went home.  I’ve never experienced grief like that.  I couldn’t function.  I felt alone in a community I was relatively new to.  We didn’t really have a church group we felt close with or friends our age.  Everything sent me into tears.  Worst of all was the sight of pregnant mothers or tiny babies.  I remember watching the water go down the sink while doing the dishes and just being stuck there, like I was losing time.  The water reminded me of the toilet that dreadful night.  I don’t know how long I stood there but I had many moments like that.  Death is always graphic.  If you are there when someone passes, you know the intensity and loss of any grief.  They are memories etched in our minds forever.

We experienced the loss of a child but also the loss of the future ideal we had in our hearts for a family.  This was not the happy ending I was searching for.  For the rest of my life when people speak of the grief over losing a loved one I will always be near tears thinking of my unborn children alive in the arms of Christ but far away from my own.

We wanted a child and the life of a family so badly.  I felt hopeless.  I couldn’t speak of it without tears.  But the Lord would use my pain to bring me to a place of new identity in him.  My role was to be a daughter of the King and to know his love for me in much deeper ways.

Returning to Neverland

I work as a lifeguard at a local children’s water park in the summer.  Usually about once a week I end up having to jump into the water to pull out a struggling child.  It happens in just a second.  A parent looks away and their toddler goes face down and is thrashing around trying to get up.  I jump in and grab any piece of them I can in order to bring their face to the surface.  I ask them if they are okay and they often can’t respond.  They are in shock, filled with fear.  There is nothing like the expression on a kids face the moment they are saved from the frightening water.  They can’t believe what just happened and are still processing it.  They often don’t even start to cry till their parent shows up and gives them a hug.

Life is kind of like learning to swim sometimes.  We have seasons of being under water.  We feel far from who God made us to be but we are not sure how to pull our face out of the water and sometimes we struggle to even breathe.  My journey has been stuck in this place for awhile now.

I was thirty-two when I met my husband and got married.  It all happened so quickly but I have no doubt that God was leading me out of the ministry he had me in to bring me into a new season.  I knew he could open new doors wherever I was.  The biggest desire of my heart was to be a wife and a mom through my entire life.  The Lord kept me single for a long time and I always figured I’d just keep serving him till he brought that special man into my life.  When that finally happened I just figured life would start to pan out the way I wanted.  My main ministry would become through my local church and to my family.

I have spent many days feeling depressed, watching my weight go up and down and not knowing what to do with myself.  I have a bachelors degree in Biblical Theology with ministry experience, and I’m working as a lifeguard and substitute teacher.  I try to find the simple joys in them but it’s been rough.  I have felt like God has taken me from the highest mountain to the lowest valley.  In similar ways to Job I have felt like God has allowed the enemy to take away my children, my family, my work, my sense of purpose, my support, my health…..and then waited to see if I would betray the Lord.

But after our last miscarriage I told the Lord I just couldn’t stay in this same place of life any longer.  I pleaded with the him to change something.  Little did I know he was planning to change me….

I am returning. I am coming back into the old person who lived fearlessly, boldly and for an audience of one.  I can feel it in my bones like I am waking up from a long sleep.  The Lord has grabbed a part of me and pulled my face out of the water and held me close.  I hear him saying, “Don’t be afraid,  you are going to be okay”.  As he wraps his arms around me feel him reminding me of his love.  “I’m here, I won’t let you drown”, he says.  Of course there are tears of brokenness in his arms but they are hopeful tears because I know he holds tomorrow.

As I come out of this fog I feel I’ve been in for years now I see things anew.  I am different than before but stronger for it.  The fear is greater which means it will take more courage to walk in faith.  But his miracles are everywhere like the times I first started walking with the Lord.  He is moving all around me, as always, but now I’m seeing it, feeling the “wow” of it all.  I really can’t explain the hope I feel.  There is not a whole lot of reason for us to be hopeful about our dreams or future right now but I do and it must be the Lord.  He has given me back my smile and is reminding me of the magical kingdom this life can be when we walk with him.  I am returning to Neverland.

I have to thank a friend (you know who you are) for inspiring this post.