The Due Date- Round 2

EverythingwillbeokIt’s a strange thought to me that today I should have a 1 year old… but I don’t and that’s okay. I have had a lot of time to process through the pain, to grieve, to yell, to be incredibly angry with God, and today I’m okay.

Immediately after the miscarriage I was confused. I had friends and close family that had gone through the experience but I was still faced with a dilemma: How should I feel? Everyone around me was trying to encourage me with words that only made me feel more in the depths of despair. “I’m sorry for your loss; this kind of thing is so common.” In all honesty, I know these words were meant for encouragement but they only left me feeling angry.

As I struggled through the thoughts only the devil could put into my mind, I was attending a weekly community group. This was not your average bible study. It was made up of mostly 20 something individuals who were broken and yearning for Christ just as much as I was. One night we were “bible storying” and my husband was teaching on John 9. If you ever needed a bible story to remind you of the questions “Why do bad things happen?” This is where you should focus your energies. In John 9 Jesus heals the blind man, and then He answers my “Why?” question:

“9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:1-5 (NIV)”

And there it was… the answer to my question that I had been struggling with for so long. Why do bad things happen? So that the work of God can be displayed for all to see. But actually living this out was a different story.

Months went by as I continued to ask this question. I’m a very rational person and I needed that justification in order to move on with my life. It was at this point that it seemed everyone around me was pregnant, or having babies. Yet, my uterus remained unoccupied. As always, God had a plan. Once I finally learned to set my pride aside and let him take control His plan began to reveal itself to me.

There were so many times when I cried out to God and asked Him to take away the emotional agony that I felt each and every day. I needed Him and only Him through those dark days to take away every emotion I was feeling. I was angry, hurt, confused, grief stricken, and sad. “Why God? Where is the meaning in this? I know your glory will shine through this situation, but I’m just not seeing it!”

My biggest rationalization came from my husband. His youngest brother has special needs. This means that doctor visits and hospitals became a part of his life at a very young age. And every time that his brother was sent back to the emergency room I could see the hurt on his face. He would confide in me that he wished he could take these struggles away from his brother and take them on himself. It wasn’t fair that his precious little brother had to go through all of the pain and my husband was healthy and able to lead a “normal” life; something that his little brother would never get the chance to do.

That realization got me thinking, I’ve seen firsthand parents with children who are ill or suffering some sort of pain or struggle. All of those parents, if given the option, would gladly take the pain away from their child and put it on themselves. The main medical explanation for miscarriage is that something just wasn’t right. The child wasn’t forming the way a healthy child will form in the mother’s womb and so the pregnancy terminates itself.  I began to ask God if that’s the answer to my “Why?” question. “God, did you just ask me to take the pain upon myself instead of allowing my child to live in pain? If so, I’ll do it all over again.” As the those words left my lips, I finally felt like a mother. I finally understood what it meant for Jesus to take the pain for me on the cross. Through this whole experience my faith has grown by leaps and bounds and I know my journey is still not over….

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A Blanket Distraction…Confronted

I made this blanket in 10 days. That’s pretty significant. If you’re a crafter and you know how long it can potentially take. I made this blanket in 10 days which means every moment of free time I had was spent on this blanket. My Christmas gifts were complete and so I decided to make something for myself. Unfortunately, this was also my way of ignoring God’s prompting to stop and talk to him. I was mad at Him, and when I’m mad I will ignore you. True, crafting can be very therapeutic but usually I sit and zone out on the TV while my hands anxiously move reflecting my true state of mind: anxious, angry, envious, and jealous.

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I was confronted. He wasn’t going to let me ignore Him anymore. As my husband and I were serving as overnight hosts at the severe weather shelter in the basement of our church, God found me. I never sleep well at the severe weather shelter because there are always people walking around as lay on a mat on the cement floor. But that is where He found me: half asleep, restless, and trying to find peace within myself.

I lay down on my mat around 9:30 pm. People were still up talking and making noise around me. I put my headphones on and my favorite worship songs were playing on repeat, and then my brain went to a glorious place. I was sitting alone in an all white room, still feeling angry and bitter towards God. We haven’t been on speaking terms for about a week now. I hadn’t wanted to talk to Him, but that doesn’t mean that He didn’t hear my heart’s cry: I long to feel peace and hope again. Then He was there, sitting next to me.

Looking straight ahead, I felt His shoulder touch mine. “I’m mad at you.” I told Him. “I know,” He replied. “And I don’t want to talk to you or be around you.” “That’s ok.” He gently stated back. “I just want my pain to go away but I’m too angry. I want to find hope and peace.” Without a word He pulled me onto His lap and just held me there and let me bury my face in His chest. I could faintly hear Jesus Culture worship music coming through my ear buds,

“You won’t relent until you… have it all… my heart is yours.”

God then stood up and walked out the door in the far side of the room. A few seconds later He returned with a 10 month old little boy in His arms. And I knew who the little boy was… I miscarried at 9 weeks so there was no way to know the gender of the child, but something inside of me has always thought he was a boy. As God handed him to me I could see he had his daddy’s blue eyes and bright smile. When my husband smiles his whole face lights up, every time my heart melts away, and my heart melted at the sight of the child’s smile. Just then the child threw his whole little body into me and hugged me like he’s always known me as his momma. Then God sat down and put His arms around us both, and Heather Williams’ voice came…

“…But don’t give up on me now I’m so close to you now, I’m in need of your strength today. Wipe the dirt off my face; hold me in your embrace, your love always saves the day… HALLELUJAH!”

And then I felt someone step near my mat and I opened my eyes. I could feel peace again. (And a little anger towards the person that woke me up) I had hope and knew that I could trust God with my future. He knows best. I needed reassurance that it’s all going to be okay. The kind of reassurance only God can give. I needed my Heavenly Father to bring me hope. I had lost sight of the fact that ‘He’s got this…’ I can say all the right things to those around me, I can act like I’m fine but that won’t make the pain go away. It’s only when I submit to Him and open the door to my heart that He comes in and repairs the shattered pieces.

 

This is how you changed my life…

womensretreatbeach2011I’ve always felt called to write about how God has changed my life by surrounding me with a wonderful community of 20-somethings. I can’t imagine my life without them. I’ve prayed long and hard about this topic. How do I write about community and the vitally important role it’s played in my life? And then I heard God whisper, “Start at the beginning”. Today, I want to share the story that allowed me to feel welcome and able to share my joys and struggles with others. And this single handedly changed my perception of myself and in so changed my life completely…

A few years ago, I was sitting in a room full of women I now call my closest friends. However, back then they were all strangers to me, but the Lord brought them into my life for a reason. It was “girls night” and along with eating junk food and consuming way too much sugar we took an opportunity to truly get to know each other. The task was to map out your life on a timeline with the high’s on the top and the lows on the bottom. The top of my timeline was full and the bottom was pretty empty. As I looked around the room at the beautiful pictures others were drawing I noticed that my “bottom” was so empty in comparison. I began to feel very insecure, which is so silly now that I look back. Why should I be insecure instead of grateful that the top of my timeline was over flowing and the bottom was close to empty?

The time came when we had to share with the group. All of the women spoke for around 5-10 minutes then it was almost my turn. I was incredibly nervous to share my timeline. Thoughts of insecurity ran through my brain, “would they think I was a phony? Did I miss something? Do I even belong here?” Then the young woman sitting next to me began to speak about her life and what growing up was for her. She told a story that was nothing short of a shocking to me. Her life had so many twists and turns that not even a Hollywood movie could depict a life like hers. She spoke for 20-30 minutes and we were all captivated and sitting on the edge of our seats.

When she was finished, she looked over at me and with a smile and said “Your turn!” Panic washed over me and I could barely breathe as I tried to find the words to lead into my “Happy Cheerleader Life”. So I did the only thing I could do, I was honest. I explained to her and the group that I felt ashamed and selfish for telling my story after hers. I wanted to tear up my time line and just hug the woman next to me. I wanted to be the one to take away all of her pain. “I would rather not share my story.” I told her. I waited for her condemnation. I waited for her to tell me that I was right and that I had no business sitting next to her or even sitting in the same room with her. But to my surprise, she smiled and said “I would love to hear your story, because it’s yours and no one else’s.” I took a deep breath and I told my story, I felt ashamed and embarrassed the whole time. I sped through as fast as I could and it lasted all of 2 minutes because I just wanted to be done. When I finished, I shared that I felt angry with God. Why did he allow me to have such a wonderful life when there are others out there that clearly deserve it more than I do? Believe it or not her response to me on that day is the reason I write. She said, “Don’t ever be angry with God for giving you the life you’ve lived. Be thankful. I loved hearing your story because it gives me hope that my kids won’t grow up with the life that I had. I’ve never known that a life like yours could exist before this moment. Thank you for giving me hope.”

And then WHAM! Jesus slapped some sense into me and showed me that He needs me to share my story… and so I will write it. Jesus spoke to me through her simple words and gave me the confidence I needed to further His kingdom. Mind Blown. Life Changed.

To this day, the young woman is one of my closest friends. She knows me inside and out. She allows me to lean on her when I need too. Truth is, I have many women in my life that will carry me through as I carry my burdens to the ultimate healer. I’m the one on the stretcher as others carry me to meet Jesus for healing. And if I can, I will carry your stretcher too.

The Old Brown Recliner- Happy Birthday Dad!

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. :)

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. 🙂

When I’m feeling sad, I find myself snuggled up to my “Daddy” in the old brown recliner. This is where I feel safe. I know my mother is cringing right now because I don’t think there was ever a piece of furniture she hated more than the old brown recliner. When I was young, I remember sitting on my dad’s lap in the old brown recliner. I was safe there and there was nothing that could touch me. No brothers would pull my hair or try to wrestle me to the ground. In the old brown recliner in my dad’s lap, I was safe from any chaos in my life. This is where I go when I don’t feel safe in my adult life. I go right back to sitting on my “Daddy’s” lap in the old brown recliner. I say “Daddy” in quotes because I don’t want my readers to think that I go and snuggle up on Gordy’s lap in a recliner at 30 years of age. No, I sit on God’s lap in the old brown recliner. It is my safe place to fall when chaos shows it’s ugly face.

There are so many things that I am eternally grateful for in my life: one of them is my Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever given him the true props that he deserves so I’ll do my best here. I’ve always considered myself to have a really good grasp on who God truly is: His Grace, His Hope, His Love, etc. He has always been someone I can count on and who will never abandon me. I know I can trust Him. Through my interactions I’ve learned that not every young woman has the same outlook on God as I do, and I know why.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

When I was growing up, I was never told that I was ugly or worthless by my dad. At least once a day I was hugged and told that I was beautiful and could do anything I set my mind too. Even when my math homework wasn’t sinking into my brain, my dad met me with patience rather than anger. When I couldn’t remember my memory verse late Saturday night that I needed to remember for Sunday morning church, my dad sat in the old brown recliner into the night and helped me break it down to learn it. Of course, I had to do the dishes for a week because I SHOULD have memorized my verse months ago, but the punishment fit the crime and I learned self discipline. The only time my dad ever yelled at me (to my knowledge) was the day I spooked the cows and they went running the opposite direction from where he was trying to put them and then through the fence. Again, the punishment fit the crime and I had to run the furthest to get them rounded back up and help fix the fence. That day, I learned to respect others. My point being, I didn’t grow up with a push over dad that let me walk all over him. When I did something naughty or disobeyed, the punishment fit the crime. I wasn’t torn down and told that I was worthless or stupid. At the end of the day, I could always feel safe in my dad’s arms. And for this, I am eternally grateful. I was blessed to have such an amazing dad. He’s not perfect because he’s not God, he’s a man. A man who’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong and whom I respect more and more each day because of his imperfections. I learned from him to be self disciplined and have a high sense of self worth, I also have an amazing vision of who my Savior really is. I know God is always there for me. I can lean on Him and He will never abandon me. He loves me in spite of my flaws and inability to keep cows in a pen or calculate simple math problems in my head. He loves me for me. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but nothing will ever change that I am loved beyond my comprehension. Should I ever need a safe place to fall I can always find comfort in knowing that the old brown recliner lives on in my imagination. (Since I’m pretty sure mom burned the actual one.)

Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the whole WORLD!!! I am VERY fortunate to be your daughter!

P.S. I could have told Dad’s favorite story for his birthday but I already posted that here.

My wedding day...

My wedding day…

The Christmas Blues…

prayerblogAll of December I have felt less than “myself”. As Elvis would say, “I had a Blue Christmas”. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. Did I miss my family? Do I want to go home? Am I not busy enough? Am I too busy? And then last week as I was sitting at work on Friday it hit me. I’m not supposed to be here. I should not still be working right now. I should not be HERE. I should be at home baking cookies in anticipation for my husband to arrive home from work to start some amazing Christmas traditions that I’ve dreamed about for a long time. My house should be warm and filled with lights and decorations. Not bare due to lack of time in my schedule to dedicate to decorating. I should hear small coo’s and cries in between my Christmas music that’s blaring on my Ipod. I shouldn’t be stuck at work. I should be home preparing for babies first Christmas… And ever since that thought entered my mind I knew why my Christmas was blue.

All December I have had a hard time getting out of bed. I had no PMS so there really wasn’t any other reason other than the weather. And I don’t like to blame a month long of bad attitude on the weather (but it may have been a factor). I find myself just wanting to shut the door to my bedroom and stay in there, because “I should not be here”. I didn’t send a Christmas card because I feel a card of me smiling would be a misrepresentation of how I feel this holiday season. I went home on Friday and was doing a pretty good job of keeping it all together until I started opening the Christmas cards that came in the mail. I love Christmas cards. I love seeing how creative my family and friends get. I love seeing my nieces and nephews dressed in their best posing for some sort of ridiculous riddle their parents create. But this year was different. My joy was gone. And only bitterness and frustration was left. UGH!!!! I needed a break and time to grieve once again. I screamed and took the longest hottest shower I could stand. I told my understanding husband that I needed some time and to leave me be as I wailed on the tub floor. Life isn’t fair and it sucks. And I’m angry, frustrated, sad, hurt etc. (the list goes on)

Just when I decided I was going to stay in the shower forever because I couldn’t move from paralyzing grief I heard a little “meow” and the shower curtain started moving. Louie needed food and he refuses to let Lynn feed him. And then the water went cold. So I stood up, dried off, and fed him and realized that life will go on. I went down to find my husband making beer with his giant burly arms open and ready for me. I am blessed and that is a fact. But I’m not exactly happy about it right now. And that’s OK. Right now, I can surround myself with the family and friends that God has placed in my life. I’m so thankful for the encouragement and love that I receive from them every day. This is my advice if you are also suffering from “The Christmas Blue’s”: feel what you’re feeling and scream and wail all you want. Surround yourself with those that love you. It’s OK to not be OK. God hears and He cares. And He’s right beside you every step of the way. So today I will celebrate that my future is out of my hands and I will find my smile again in the little things. A new year is about to start and I thank God for that!!!