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Outstretched for our Glory Baby

How do you share on a blog that you just lost a baby? How do you write anything else without sharing that you just lost a baby? There’s not much I feel like I can write yet, but the day after I wrote my last post, we discovered that we were blessed with our third baby. A few weeks later, we were told, we would not be raising that baby, that it was already gone. It has been a long and difficult month and a half, but we’re still here, recovering from emotional and physical heartache, but thankful for this week and the Christmas upcoming.

 

We are celebrating God with us. And our baby with Him. There lies the tie that binds.

 

And sometimes, music says it better….

 

(I have no ties to this fundraising effort – just thought hearing the song would be better than simply posting lyrics. The statistics are stunning, however)

Glory Baby

by WaterMark

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…


The Trembling Thanks

Posted on

So Mondays are a little crazy this month and I’m a day late. No one’s counting, right? 🙂 This was a week of exuberant thanks, and a bit of lip-trembling thanks too.

This past Saturday, my little brother, the fifth of us out of eight, graduated from high school. And while we were all so proud and a bit gushy over him, I could sense the bittersweet heartache that everyone in the family was battling. Yes, over his proud achievement and that he’s nearly ready to stretch his wings. But these happy times also bring our broken family all together. Our divorced parents sitting on opposite ends of the bleachers with their new spouses. Times like these are full of the bitter-sweetness of a wedding or a graduation, or some other happy event. And while you try to process all that goes along with those sort of beautiful familial milestones, the being proud, the immense love, and the letting go – the brokenness of the family is also made glaringly obvious. You’re rather forced to accept the new look of the family on some heart level. At one point on Saturday, I couldn’t hold back the tears of pain, but neither could I hold back the exuberant laughs of a graduation day. It all came out in one, strange-sounding, tear-ridden, soppy, happy mess.

“Mama, why are you laughing and crying at the same time?” Firefly asked.

How do you explain that sort of thing to a three-year old? Little children only seem to feel one thing at a time. Side-splitting laughter. Gut-wrenching sobs. Maybe that’s part of the growing up. The feeling more than one thing at one time. Mourning and rejoicing all rolled into one. Sometimes, it is overwhelming, isn’t it?

But isn’t that the beauty of this believing life? That He comforts us in all of life’s reality, and fills us with the hope of all His glorious, exquisite, redemptive work? He is enough for our heartache. He is enough for our joy. He is more than enough to take all the beauty and pain that this life brings and transform them into something beautifully creative. Something that only He knows. Only He could form. The mysterious beauty of joy made more complete, more perfected – through pain, redeemed.

So I try to process while still trying to go on with life. All I know to do is pray. Write. Give thanks.

#533 little sister, Sarah, back in town, bringing her crazy sense of humor

#534 that she is happy where she is

#534 uncle arriving, always, for every boring graduation ceremony 🙂

#535 friends who care so much

#536 sibling pictures, the littlest brother outstretched in all our arms

#537 my “little” 6 foot, 3 inch brother

#538 that somehow, I feel him stretching and growing and suddenly this always-the-oldest sister feels like she has the big brother she’s always wanted

#539 Firefly, skipping down the hall, through the store, skipping, skipping everywhere

#540 Her hair, swaying back and forth with every skip

#541 Dove and her jumps off the ground and her dimple-framed smile

#542 my sweet husband and how he humbles me with his love

#543 sitting down, writing out love for my little brother

#544 homemade cinnamon rolls

#545 Him helping me organize my thoughts

#546 two new mamas-to-be

#547 excitement

#548 longing

#549 prayer for the waiting

#550 coming home

#551  how hard it is to say good-bye

#552 spray n’ wash and borax and their miraculous stain-lifting properties 🙂

#553 that there was only ONE crayon in the dryer

#554 that his love drives me to learn to love

#555 a bathtub full of My Little Ponies

#556 Dad-grilled hamburgers

#557 that He knows every heart

#558 that His grace is enough for them all

#559 red caps, flying

#560 that He holds our hope

#561 that He is our Redeemer, our Restorer . . . that He is making all things new

Joining the gift-thankers

The Hard Thanks

Joining others in the hard thanks

 

It happened again last night. A group of people getting to know one another and the typical “couples” questions came up.

 

“Tell about yourself. Let’s get to know one another. How did all of you husbands and wives meet?”

 

We, my husband and I, don’t like telling our story. It’s gritty. It’s ugly, really. And our hearts still feel raw at times. I skim just the top off the story, and I’m still reeling a few hours later. It’s not that we mind the question. It’s hard to answer, but in order for anyone to truly know us as a couple, or even as individuals, the chapter must be told.

 

It’s not the question we mind.

 

It’s our story itself.

 

It started out all well and good. I was seventeen and I had all the butterflies and hopes and dreams over a certain brown-eyed, brown-haired, brilliant young man. We were best friends. And then . . .

 

we fell in love.

 

We planned on marrying from the start.

 

It felt like a fairy tale. Our families loved each other. Our families spent lots of time together.

 

And then.

 

It all fell apart. Our parents’ marriages disintegrated right before our eyes. Within two weeks of one another, both sets of parents were separated. Accusations flew. So did denials. But, relationships between parents became too close. It can no longer be denied.

 

We surveyed the devastation and thought it was all our fault. If it hadn’t been for the two of us, falling in love, our families would still be intact, we thought. We broke up. Again and again. Wondering how we could ever navigate a marriage in the midst of two families that were now feuding.

 

But we loved each other.

 

We couldn’t stay away.

 

God sent us counsel.

 

And in September, after Hurricane Ivan left our hometown flooded and our honeymoon destination shutdown, we woke up to a beautiful, blue-sky kind of wedding day. The kind of wedding day every girl dreams about. Ivan means, “God is Gracious.”

 

Yes.

 

We stood on the rocks of a Mountain church and pledged our vows to one another. Looking back, I realize we kept the vows before we ever even said them. I hope to live them for the rest of my life, by God’s grace and only His.

 

 

When the seemingly normal questions come, my hearts shrinks back in the wanting to hide. In the wanting for the simple beauty of just a regular love story. In simple family ties.

 

But God gave us something different. And I’m learning to accept that a little grit, a little lightning, make the most beautiful vessel-like glass.

 

Ah, yes. I must find the eucharisteo of the past  . . .

 

that I might live it in the present.

 

#327 the necklace with nine and twelve . . . my comfort in the not understanding

#328 that we had two years before each blow

#329 Jonathan’s roommate’s encouragement, when we thought we were crazy

#330 that we can understand each other’s wounds

#331 that our siblings have never blamed us

#332 for truth-speakers when we didn’t know what to believe

#333 that He helped us to hold onto one another through it all

#334 that we actually went through with it, we said the vows

#335 that we can be honest about the wishing our story was different

#336 that we recognize that it made us stronger

#337 that our story is not finished

#338 that God builds on chapters

#339 that I love him more than ever

#340 two beautiful baby girls

#341 that if I knew this would still be the result, I’d marry him all over again

Looking

When I was a teenager, I was often called a Pollyanna of sorts by my family members. The words stung. They weren’t meant as a slight, but they sure weren’t meant as a compliment. But they were true. I did have an irritating way of looking on the bright side of things – of glossing over things and putting my own bright, sunshine-yellow brushstroke over life.

 

I had an optimism that came from a lack of suffering. An optimism that didn’t understand pain, or heartache, or nitty-gritty ugliness. I hadn’t experienced it. I don’t think I believed that it truly existed.

 

I grew up a little more and pain entered.  It hurt and it stung and I wrestled. I still haven’t experienced pain and true suffering like so many in this world have. But for a long time, I looked at my life’s gaping holes  . . . wondering where Jesus fit into this seeming new, raw, unbrushstroked life He’d placed in my lap.

 

I grew up even a little more and learned that not only does life take things out of your hands . . . sometimes, it simply doesn’t give you what you want. Some call it the “death of a vision.” What do you do when you feel like the life you expected got lost somewhere along the way?

 

 

Let me tell you, it’s easy to trade in some good, old, trusting Pollyanna sunshine for a stone-cold, bitter, E. Scrooge sort of cynicism. And I think in some aspects of my life, that’s exactly what I did. Because after you’ve been hurt in sensitive areas, it’s hard to trust people . . . yourself  . . . God.

 

But He’s awakening me and I can’t dwell anymore on the things He-never-promised-but-I’d-come-to-expect, my assumed empty-handedness. He’s not left me to pine and simmer in bitterness. Thank God He’s been scooping me up, teaching me, teaching me, teaching me not to dwell on the seeming gaping holes of my life, but holding me close to His chest, pointing His finger, turning my face to see . . . Him. His hands. Toward this story He’s writing in my life.  So many times I’ve wanted to throw away certain chapters, or change the course, or scratch in Audra-chosen details, but all the while, He whispers, “Peace, peace, child. Let Me write. I am the Author. The Perfecter.”

 

I am learning to let go of the pen.

 

I am learning to trace the etchings of His filigree.

 

 

Cynicism looks in the wrong direction. It looks for the cracks in Christianity instead of looking for the presence of Jesus. It is an orientation of the heart. The . . . cure for cynicism, then, is this: develop an eye for Jesus.

~ Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

 

 

 

My eye catches on something fallen to the hardwood.

Good Reason

Isn’t it true that some days it seems that every which way you turn, bad news awaits? Sometimes, the ripple effects of the Garden’s sin-splash enter our life’s spheres from every side . . . and the undertow seems enough to almost pull you under.

 

Yesterday was one of those days. Our little household is floating along life’s currents just fine for the moment, but it seems like just about everyone we know and love is struggling to keep their heads above water. Our hearts ache. You know that ache? The one where you pray hard, and throw out what little lifelines you can, but really, your hands are tied and only God can move and do the rescuing?

 

And even though it feels different and you feel helpless, nothing’s really changed from the good times to the bad. God is the same. We’re powerless in any sense of control all the time, not just when it feels like it. I think it just hurts more when you’re stuck on the shoreline, watching others struggle for footing and lung-filling breath between life’s waves.

 

How do we come alongside others in their suffering? Do we shake our fists at God in His seeming unfairness? Do we ignore their pain so that we are not brought down low as well?

 

I think on words, spoken by others who have struggled for that air and found it:

 

I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks . . . [for] all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks.

~~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 

 

Maybe when others are struggling for air, we breathe deep, and look for the joy – the beauty – that a good God is sure to bring. Look for the Rescuer. Pray for the Rescuer. Maybe thenwe motion hope from the shoreline.

 

And I think on words from our Pastor and I can’t quote, but the idea has been a healing balm . . .

 

As Christians in this world, we are never fully content because we were not made for this world. We were not made for the heartache, the death, the disease, the waiting. We were made for another world.

But, neither our we ever completely without joy because we have hope in a God who is making all things right. We have hope in what is to come. We are never fully content, but neither are we ever completely without hope and joy.

~~Joe Novenson, paraphrase (and probably a bad one)

 

 

The in-between. The here and now.

 

Today I am singing a song that, I think, captured this idea.

 

 

we were pressed on every side
full of fear and troubled thoughts
for good reason we carried heavy hearts

it is good to come together
in our friendship to remember
all the reasons hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

now with patience in our suffering
perseverance in our prayers
with good reason this hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

oh we saw the face of Angels
many good things well secured
for good reason this joy is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

for good reason joy is in our hearts

~~ Sara Groves, from Fireflies and Songs

 

So, we are pressed. But there is good reason.

 

Joy.

Hope.

Christ.

 

Taut

I’d be a hypocrite to write of anything else today. How can you read this over at (in)courage and utter any other word? All I’ve been feeling and wrestling and trying to embrace, all right there, in one fell, convicting, terrifying swoop.

All

Snapshots of their lives fill the blue and white page. Snippets of friends, new and old, near and far, and the emotional stimulation is too much.

 

I scroll.

 

I see a husband returning from war and my heart soars. He arrives home to his beautiful wife, swollen with their creation of love, and he is home to celebrate holidays and in time to welcome his daughter into this world. Thank you, Jesus.


I see sisters who spent the last nine months anticipating their little ones’ arrivals. Due at the same time, they celebrate and plan and share pictures of their ever-increasing bellies. One sister delivers her beautiful boy and we celebrate his safe and joyous arrival!  Then three days later, the other sister delivers her firstborn, but the beautiful baby girl slipped away to Jesus. Two cousins born within days . . . one to its earthly family and one to its heavenly one and the Glory Baby’s parents come home with empty arms to a full nursery.

 

Why? Why?

 

Jesus????

 

And I was busy all weekend, cooking food and cleaning house, and celebrating our first year with our own daughter. My little Love-Dove with her brave heart of grace. All went beautifully, and she loved the cake, and loved the gifts, and loved my attempt to create a snowland for her who arrived with snow. I was afraid it looked tacky, but she graced me with excitement over my meager, indoor-winter attempts. In baby exuberance, she pointed  her small index finger toward all the dangling snowflakes and tulle, saying, “Mama. Mama.”  My heart tightens. She knew I did it for her? How could I ask for a better, yet unnecessary, thanks?

 

Then today, I speak with a friend and she talks of Haiti and voodoo and babies left in trash heaps, and her heart aches as she wrestles in the night, asking Jesus to help.


And our hearts soar and plummet and soar and plummet depending on the hour or the news and how do we handle the emotional turbulence of virtual proximity and the everyday timeline of plain, old life?


Life is . . .  and it is full of  joy and pain and we try to sift through it or we try to bury it, but either way, it’s too much. Why, Jesus, why? The blessings and cursings make no sense to me. And I toss and turn in the night because my heart is full of life on this earth and His ways are higher than mine, but I don’t understand them. And I think of Jesus and how his soul ached for Mary, Martha and Lazarus and death itself. He knew. He knew like no other the power of death and the power of life and it made Him, He who is all power . . . it made him weep.

 

He knows.

 

He knows.

 

And what can we do but take it all? Take it all to Jesus?

So, I come.

#27 a fleeting glimpse of a baby face I thought long-gone

#28 laying it all out on the table

#29 a newborn baby boy

#30 a broken mother, having the faith and bravery to say her baby girl is dancing at the feet of Jesus

#31 giving us hearts that hurt for others

#32 His not allowing us to be content with babies living in dog-kennel-like orphanages

#33 a husband’s help cleaning the bathrooms

#34 a beautiful first year!

#35 a newly introduced teddy bear being smothered in birthday girl kisses

#36 a houseful of family

#37 snow flurries

#38 hot showers

#39 a second birthday party . . . to-go!

#40 husbands safe, home from war

#41 death, for it has no sting

#42 For  life-giving words like this:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:3-5

#43 family lingering

#44  long hugs

#45 for One that is making all things new

#46 that He knows

#47 That he’s come . . . and he is coming. Our Emmanuel.