Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hear, Oh Lord, Our Heavy Hearts...

"You are for us, you are not against us... champion of heaven, you have made for all to enter in."
"You make me BRAVE, you call me out beyond the shore into the waves"

Check out this amazing song while you read... "You Make Me Brave" by Bethel music...


First let me say… This post is not to gain pity, it is not to say we have endured the greatest loss of all time, and it is not to try and self-proclaim about how insightful or wise we are… because those things are definitely not true. The true purpose of this post is simply to share our brokenness… from our perspective and through writing… simply because (for me) it is incredibly therapeutic.

This past week we lost our second child at 11 weeks gestation, our due date was September 9th. After spotting for a couple of days, we went to the doctor and found out that our baby's heart was not beating, and that he/she had stopped growing at 8 weeks. We were able to see our baby one last time, and I have to say it was so beautiful and moving. Our doctor was incredibly kind and compassionate and then the process of "do we miscarry naturally or have a d&c performed" began, which was new territory for us and therefore very frightening. We decided to take a few days and see how my blood work looked, but only four hours after leaving the doctors office, my body began miscarrying the baby naturally. It was frightening, physically and emotionally and we ended up in the ER, where we were discharged three hours later because my vitals were stable. I passed the baby while we were at the hospital and then later, at home, delivered the placenta.

My baby was only 8 weeks old, but my body was definitely 11 weeks pregnant. I had started showing and we had just started to get really excited and ready to "tell the world" after my 12 week appointment and ultrasound, which were less than a week away. So after cancelling all the upcoming appointments, going to other appointments, and having numerous blood tests run, let's fast forward to today, where I finally realized that the "medical side" to this is over. It's a very strange feeling to have such an abrupt change in plans and I think now that the shock and horror are beginning to wear off, we kind of feel empty and not sure what to do next.

We have been hugging our baby girl Violet (18 months) extra tight and praying over her and praising God for her life and health. Our perspective has been changed, but I do not feel jaded, only saddened. My heart aches for my baby, whom we have decided to call Sidney, and I think about him/her all the time and the kind of personality he/she would have had and who Sid could've grown up to become. But the most powerful person in the world, God Almighty in Heaven, is the one who holds my heart… and He also now holds my child... Wow… For non-believers that is probably cheesy, hokey and downright silly. But friends let me tell you, there is nothing silly about the Creator of the universe. He LOVES us so much. His plan for my Sidney, has always been that he/she would reside in heaven from a very young age, and that through the grace of Jesus and our faith in Him, we would get to meet our sweet child again one day. That gives my aching heart more hope than anything else could ever satisfy.

My relationship with Christ, as well as my marriage have both been very challenged during this time. Justin and I have decided to adapt the Casting Crowns song "Broken Together" as our mantra right now. Definitely check it out, it will encourage your heart more than you could imagine. As for my relationship with Jesus… it is a very hard thing for our human minds to understand or cope with something like a miscarriage. I have cried out to Jesus begging for answers as to why my child had to die. The real answer, that no one likes to hear--especially this mama--, is because it was the will of God…  and the rest is far too complex for me to understand and I pray will be revealed to me once I am home in heaven with my savior. For the past couple of days I haven't spent a ton of time in prayer, as I am still not quite sure what to say or ask for beyond that my physical health would return for the sake of my daughter and husband. But I have spent a lot of time in praise, blaring Rend Collective, Kari Jobe, and Bethel Music, throughout the house and weeping while doing chores. I have felt anger with God, but have tried to be honest with Him about that, and so I have found that through music, He is giving me peace and slowly healing my heart and I am beginning to feel more brave and strong because of HIM.

 My heart hurts and I cry at really random times in really random places, my face and lips are pale and gross, but are slowly starting to return to normal, I have intense social anxiety right now, so please be patient with me, and I am, ultimately, hopeful when thinking about the future. God is still good, He is still on the throne. His plans are a bit different than I had hoped for, but He knows what is best for my family. Please don't say silly things… and be careful with your words, because that is our baby Sidney that you're referring to and he/she is so precious in God's sight… and in ours, and our hearts will continue to ache for a long, long time. But we have hope… and we are clinging to it for dear life.

 1 in 4 women lose a child during pregnancy. I am now a minority member of that statistic, and am very humbled by our loss. Let's pray for our friends who are in the child-bearing stage of life, let's be kind and sensitive to those around us, as we may not know what silent battles people are fighting. Let us show the love of God to each other through word, actions and prayer. I am speaking up about our loss because I want to encourage someone else who reads this that you are not alone, it is okay to be angry and upset (for a season), and that you will always have hope in Christ Jesus.  And I have to be honest and confess that I have seen God's hand throughout this entire process… it isn't easy to admit that when you are frustrated with Him, but I cannot deny His presence and workings. His timing, how He is reuniting people in our families, and how He is bringing real conversations to the table and real connections between all different kinds of people in our lives has been… incredible.

 I don't really know how to end this post because there are so many things that I could say… But I will end with this: we are appreciative and grateful for our family and friends that have been there for us and who have loved on us through this entire pregnancy and process. God has blessed us with a lot of people who love and care for us and I am just very humbled and grateful.

Thanks for letting me share my heart…



Here is some scripture that I found to be comforting. May we not neglect the power of God's word:
"The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." --Job 1:21

"Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" --From Job 2:10

"I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word." --Psalm 119:28

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted." --Psalm 34:18

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." --Matthew 5:4

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." --Romans 5:1-5

 P.S. --Here is the Casting Crowns song "Broken Together"... super powerful about the struggles that we face in marriage... but if we approach the throne of God as two broken believers who want to be broken together, He can do a wonderful work in our lives and give us long and fruitful marriages!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In-between Seasons

For us "emotional melancholy" types, sometimes the only way to get out what we're feeling is by writing it down. Whether it be in a song, journal, blog, book... you get the idea. Today I am feeling a bit windy inside and I do believe it has to do with the changing seasons. So that is what I am choosing to write on in this post.

Indian Summer is what they call this lingering heat that we are experiencing here in Georgia. And as a child, I loved every second of it. I could come home from school and swim at my Papa's, or on the weekends we could play with the waterhose and pretend it was still summer break. I didn't mind the 30-plus bug bites that I ended up with on each leg and the heat certainly didn't bother me! I loved getting to wear t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops--my hot weather uniform, if you will, and getting to see my cousins all day was always the best. 

However, now that I am (ahem) a few pounds heavier and a bit older, I find that I don't enjoy the heat staying around as much as I did in my younger days. Part of me wonders if I'm just washed up and officially "old." But I think in my heart I know and realize, that I have a deeper appreciation for the season ahead. As a kid, summer and warm weather ending meant school was starting... then beyond that: tests, homework, activities, etc. The carefree days of being a kid on summer break were officially over and things like swimming and matinee movies were packed away neatly for the school year until next summer. 

As I have grown older I have actually come to appreciate all four seasons for each thing they bring. As a young girl I really did not like winter. Don't get me wrong, it's still hard for me sometimes to appreciate the cold. But I am learning to see the beauty in it all, especially if we are lucky enough to get snow. It is lovely, awe inspiring, and can stop a southern city right in its tracks. Spring was always a lovely tease of summer. But in "Dixie Alley" it often brings dangerous weather which always makes me nervous. But, there is nothing like that first warm day (you know what I'm talking about) where you walk outside, after having dressed in your awkward layered winter-spring outfit, and realize that you don't need your sweater, the sun is warm when shining on your face and you feel energized! My mother-in-law calls the sun "healing" and I couldn't agree more. 

And here we are back to summer and fall. Summer flies a banner of freedom and fun, concerts, baseball, fireworks, vacations, and barbeques. But then you feel that first fall breeze. And you are so done with summer. At least that's how it works for me! But it requires patience, because the heat doesn't go away without a fight here in the south. In fact, today it is in the 80's and that sun is HOT. So no matter how badly I want fall to arrive, it will only do it in its own time and I am caught in-between seasons, feeling windy and in limbo, pining for football, cool nights, firepits, candy corn, and soup for dinner.

But now for the cool part... Life is just like that! Ecclesiastes 3:1 literally says "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." And I think most of us know that this is how God guides us (in seasons.) But sometimes we forget, because we are silly, distracted humans who plan and try to make our own way. But when we (and I'm preaching to my own heart here) do remember that there are seasons to things, it is so refreshing. And often, like my current summer-fall limbo, we are caught in between seasons and feel frustrated and eager. But the One who formed us knows all about seasons and knows exactly what each one of us needs. Are you eager for a new season today friend? Or are you relishing the season you're in? Perhaps, like me, you are in-between seasons and waiting for what's next. Praise God for where you are and ask Him to open the doors to where you want to go. We may not end up where we intended to go, but we'll end up where He intends us to be and Lord willing, we'll be better because of it!  

Pictures from our last visit to Little Sand Mountain. My husband's grandfather grew up on this farm. It was a beautiful hot day with cool breezes! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

One Year After Birth Confessional

I have a confession to make…

A year ago I…
    Had an induced labor,               
    Gave birth in a hospital,           
    Had an epidural,           
    Had an episiotomy           
    Only breastfed for 6 weeks,           
    And suffered from postpartum depression. 

Honestly… these things didn’t bother me until… I got on the internet seeking support. Do you know what I found instead? Hate… Shame… Ridicule... Judgment… Pride... to name a few. These bloggers (who are mamas, just like you and me) had me questioning if my birth was in any way God-honoring or brave. They had me feeling about as worthless as a piece of garbage and questioning my purpose and ability as a mother.

But can I say something here… Violet (my daughter) and I went through all those “medical/ hospital/ unnatural” experiences together… and one year later? We are doing really well! And you know what else? We chose to vaccinate too. The truth is, I am thankful to God for the medical profession and hospitals. I know they are only human, but we had a scare with Vi’s heart rate in the hospital right after birth (and a week later that resulted in an overnight PICU stay) and without those nurses, doctors, and pediatric cardiologists we wouldn’t have learned about her bradycardia (that, praise God, she grew out of!)

So… there it is… I put it out there. Go ahead… judge me. Because let me tell you… you can’t possibly shame or judge me any worse than I have been shaming and judging myself. It has been a year since this all happened yet everyday IG, blogs, FB, etc. have reminded me of what a “failure” I was and have been. The good news, however, is that I don’t serve the standards of this world. And I have to believe that the Lord guided our steps and knew exactly how He was leading us. I’m tired of feeling depressed and regretful. Aren’t you? “THIS is the day that the Lord has made. We will REJOICE and be GLAD in it!” (Psalm 118:24)

And to make sure that I am properly understood… I think however God led you to birth or feed your baby is WONDERFUL. I really do! My purpose is to support, in addition to sharing my raw heart.Can I say one more thing? Mama, sister, grandma, aunt, god mama… You ARE doing a good job.  Look at the fruit of your labor! In my heart I feel that if you are following the Lord’s guidance and your babies are happy and healthy, then you are doing a pretty terrific job. 

Proverbs 3:5-6…
“Trust  in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

Violet and I when she was 3 months old.