Jordan

Our son Jordan got his name from the river Jordan in the Bible. I gave him that name because he was born at a time in my life when God asked us to step out in faith into something new. And in the midst of us obeying what He asked, for me to stay home with our young son Sam even though we had little money, He gave us a new  unexpected blessing of Jordan. God knew when Jordan would arrive before we did. He knew He was going to bless us with another child, even though we weren’t planning for it. So, He asked me to quit my job and stay home with Sam knowing that’s what I would need to do anyway after Jordan was born since we couldn’t afford childcare for two kids. We stepped out in faith that God was going to provide and then He blessed us. Obedience always precedes the blessings. 

If you look at the children of Israel when they crossed the Jordan river to get into the promised land you can see a picture of obedience and disobedience. The people of Israel could have been in the promised land when Moses was leading them 40 years before they did, but they disobeyed God and didn’t have faith that God would provide for them and so God didn’t bless them with the promised land but chose to wait until the next generation to allow them to enter. So, in Joshua 3 we find them crossing the river Jordan with Joshua as their leader, after Moses died. Joshua was an interesting choice for a leader. Back years before Moses had sent twelve spies to scout out ahead of the people to see what was coming and what people they would face in this new promised land. 10 spies came back saying it couldn’t be done because the people were too many and too large. They thought the people should turn back and not obey what God said. 2 men didn’t agree and said that they could take over the land, Joshua and Caleb. At this point Joshua was already set up by the Lord to succeed Moses but God was going to allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land but chose not to because Moses and the people believed the report of the 10 spies that this was too hard for them to do.

So, Moses dies and then we see the Israelites finally ready to cross the Jordan into the promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive and leading the people to cross the Jordan. An entire generation had died wandering in the desert because of believing they couldn’t do what God had instructed. Are you believing what the Lord has said you could do, or the opinions of those around you who say it cannot be done?

Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan. This is the harvest time which means the Jordan was over a mile wide and very deep. God commanded the priests to take the Ark of the Covenant (which represented God’s presence) and step into the river and then the waters would part. These are not the same people who saw the crossing of the Red Sea. They had heard about it from their parents but didn’t see it for themselves. Not that it had helped their parents faith that much since they were the same people who believed God couldn’t help them defeat all the giants in the promised land, but anyway.  So, stepping foot into this river had to be terrifying, but they believed what God had said He would do, so they continued forward. The priests took the Ark walked into the water and then the waters parted. The waters dried up for 20 miles wide in order for the people to cross. What I hadn’t thought of was how muddy it must have been and how steep to walk down to the riverbed and back up to the other side. It was a mile long walk in the mud or rocks. They had all their possessions and livestock and children. The priests had to stand there in the middle of the river holding the Ark until everyone had crossed. Can you imagine how scary it must of been to just stand there knowing how much water was being stopped up and could come crashing down at any moment. They had to trust God wholeheartedly. I find it interesting that God made them stand there for most likely a few hours while all the people crossed. Do you ever feel as though you are standing in the mud of life for what seems like an eternity? God has promised you something and you have obeyed but along the way you get stuck in the mud? Man I have. You are thinking it will be all unicorns and roses following God but instead you end up stuck in mud and just standing there waiting for forever. Finally the people crossed, and then God tells twelve men to go back into the river and get one boulder each and carry it. That was a huge task, we are not talking about about little rocks here and it was a mile just to cross the river and then they had to carry these stones to their campsite for the night and build a memorial. God wanted to remind them of what He had done. He knew that in the days ahead of having to march around Jericho and defeat many armies they would need to be reminded with something tangible of what He had brought them through and that He could be trusted. Sometimes we need to make a memorial for ourselves of what God has done. Something tangible to remind our selves of His faithfulness as we continue on in our journey.

God’s promises are not without difficulties in the journey. It’s never easy, but always worth it. Are you trusting God for something He has promised? Are you doubting He can do it? Or are you remembering what He has done in the past and continuing to walk forward in faith to claim your promised land?

Advertisements

MRI

Tomorrow evening I am going to have an MRI of my brain. I am not looking forward to it, I am not in love with small spaces, but I also don’t do well with sedatives so I just have to deal with it and get through it. So, why am I having an MRI? Well, about this time last year I started having odd symptoms, mostly gynecological in nature. I had just lost Andrew, who was stillborn at 21 weeks, so the doctor’s didn’t really thing much of it when things were a little off. As time went on and I was in more pain they decided I had PCOS. They ran lots of blood tests and discovered my hormones were low, so they sent me to an endocrinologist, basically a hormone doctor. She ran more tests and found out that my adrenal glands, which are responsible for making most of your hormones were not working right. There is a disease called Adrenal Insufficiency where your adrenal glands pretty much don’t work at all, which can be really serious and life threatening because those adrenal glands produce hormones that control blood pressure and insulin. So if they don’t work right it can put you into an adrenal crisis where your blood sugar and blood pressure fall dramatically and you can go into a coma. The only way to treat that condition is lifelong steroids, and hormone replacements. Fortunately, I am not in adrenal insufficiency yet. I am close though. So, they are doing this MRI to check and see if maybe my pituitary gland is damaged. The Pituitary tells your adrenal glands to work, so you can see why that would be important. If it is damaged there isn’t anything they can do except put you on steroids, but at least then we would know why my adrenals aren’t working. There is only a slim chance that this is the case. The most likely cause for my adrenals not working as they should is stress. Like long term stress. Your adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol during stressful situations. It gives you the extra boost of energy you need to deal with stress. If you are stressed for too long, your body overproduces cortisol and then if you are stressed long enough it just stops producing cortisol at all. My body is not producing enough cortisol, which would suggest it has been under stress for a while and is just giving up.

That sounds bad huh? Well, it’s not wonderful news, but I am thankful we have caught it before it got really bad and I ended up collapsing or something. So now I just have to figure out how to reverse this and take care of myself. Not sure yet how I’m going to do that, but after the first of the year I’m going to go to another doctor who will hopefully be able to give me some steps to take. I am needed by so many, I have to take the steps to take care of myself. I cannot keep putting myself on the back burner and keep on going. I know none of the moms and wives out there can relate. hahaha. At any rate, prayers are much appreciated as I go through this MRI tomorrow and in the weeks ahead as I figure out the next steps to take to take better care of myself.

Grocery bags

On Wednesday night Glenn and I were talking about the future and money. Never an easy topic for anyone, but our conversation went much like it does in most people’s houses. We were concerned about how we were going to make ends meet in the future. Will there be enough? How can we make sure there is enough? What are our priorities? How should we move forward? Will God really supply all our needs? It’s not a finance thing, it’s a faith thing. It’s not whether there are enough dollars in our bank account but is there enough faith in our souls to believe we can move forward in the way God has called us and believe he has it covered, even if it doesn’t seem possible. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. It’s right there in black and white, we just have to believe it. Anyway, at that time we were finding it hard to believe. We were making plans about how we could fix the situation ourselves rather than just trusting and resting in his provision. It’s a dangerous place to be when we try to run ahead of God, just ask Abraham.

The next morning I was running out of the house to get groceries quickly before I continued with the million other things I needed to accomplish that day. I got to Aldi and realized I had forgotten my grocery bags. (If you’ve never been to Aldi, you need to take your own grocery bags, as they don’t give them to you there) So I decided I didn’t have a choice but to just get the groceries I needed, which was enough for all 9 of us for a week, and just put them into the car loose. I knew it wasn’t ideal but it’s all I could do. So, I got my groceries and rolled my cart out to the car. At that point I was thinking how nice it would be to not have a minivan but to have a trunk where I could put these groceries and they wouldn’t roll everywhere by the time I got home. But life must go on so I began to put groceries one by one into the van. Just then my sister in law walked up. She asked me where my bags were, and I told her. She said, “you know, I was driving here wondering why I brought all my bags when I only need a couple things”. She brought me her bags and I was rescued from lost avocados rolling all over my van that I would find only weeks later because of the smell.

I realized in that moment that God doesn’t just care about the big things, but the small things as well. In the grand scheme of life those grocery bags weren’t that big of a deal. It wasn’t a life and death situation, well maybe for the avocados. I could have dealt with the situation and it wouldn’t have been that big of a thing. I wouldn’t have remembered it a year later. But God. God saw my situation and sent my sister with bags. He cares not only about the cancer diagnosis or the lost job but he cares about the forgotten grocery bags. It was a situation I had gotten myself into after all, it was me who had forgotten the bags. But he saw me in my sad situation and probably felt pity. He knows I’m running around like a crazy person because my life is crazy with a husband, six kids two of which have special needs, a mom to care for and a crazy puppy. He knows I’m just barely making it some days. I don’t have to tell Him, He sees it. I didn’t even pray about the grocery bags. I didn’t think it was something that required prayer. I probably should have but I was trying to clean up my own mess, my way. It is my default after all, to try to clean up my own situations. I am far too independent and self sufficient, at least in my own mind. But He knows that, He made me like that. He sees me trying to figure out how to make ends meet and gently tells me, through grocery bags, that He’s got this. He’s got even the grocery bags. I didn’t NEED those bags, but they sure made life easier. He even cares about those things in our lives that would make our lives easier, not just our clothing and food.

Are you trying to run ahead of God and figure out how to make ends meet in a situation? Just rest in the fact that God sees it. He has a plan, even for the smallest details. He cares about it all. He will reveal his plan at the exact moment you need it. When you are loading the groceries into the car, He will supply the bags, but you have to step forward in what He has called you to. You have to step out and buy the groceries even if you don’t have the bags to put them in yet. Faith requires action first. Take the step He has told you to take and He will be there to supply what you have need of.

What’s your “thing”?

I am reading a book on spiritual warfare. It’s called Spiritual Warfare for your Family by Leighanne McCoy. “Why are you reading about spiritual warfare?” you ask. Well, to be honest. I am desperate for answers in my life. Desperate for peace in my house. We are really really struggling with our son Josh. He has Intellectual Disability and a host of other issues and he is destroying the peace in my house. He throws monster fits and rages and it’s an every day multiple times a day thing. You never know what will set him off, we all walk around on eggshells. I hate to have people over because you never know when it will happen. He steals, lies and just wreaks havoc on my house and I’m tired. Like bone tired. It’s been like this for about two and a half years now and I’ve tried everything. We have done counseling, therapy and medications. We have prayed and prayed and nothing is working. So, in my desperation to find answers I turned to books about spiritual warfare. Don’t get me wrong here, I do not think there is a devil behind every corner and all that, but I do think that Satan is alive on the earth and does do his best to destroy lives and cause problems. Satan wants us to think either two lies, one is he isn’t up to anything in the earth or he is behind everything. It’s neither one. But I do recognize I don’t know enough about the subject having grown up Baptist we sat mostly in the camp of don’t talk about Satan and he won’t have any control in your life.

I had a feeling that while Joshua’s issues are biological in nature Satan is using that to his advantage and causing strife in my house. It’s leaking into all of us around Joshua because we are all angry at him and tired of his chaos. I don’t want this for my family. Josh has always had issues but they just got much much worse when my husband Glenn started preaching at church, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s one of the ways we know we are heading the right direction in our lives, because Satan is mad. At any rate, I need answers. So, I started reading this book and I really like it. One thing I just read that just really had a lightbulb moment. The author was talking about making idols in our lives, things we hold higher than God. I had always thought of idols as things I love more than God like my husband or something I want, but she was talking about how she was consumed with worry for her daughter over the poor choices she was making. She spent more time worrying and praying and crying over her daughter and lost her focus on God. Her heartache became her idol. Once she confessed that and started praying for her forgiveness it changed her view of the situation and she realized that God had it under control and her burden was lifted. Lightbulb! My heartache and worry over my son and his behavior have become an idol in my life. I spend way more time worrying and praying about him than anything else and that has got to change. I cannot change my son, oh how I wish. That is God’s job, but I am spending time worrying about it like I can change him. I’m trying to do what is impossible and loosing my focus on what is important, God. If I spend more time focusing on God and less time focusing on my son’s issues I will not become so angry because I won’t care so much. That sounds bad initially but it’s what needs to happen. I am worrying about my son’s future and how hurtful he can be and not focusing on God. I have to change my focus. It won’t change my son’s behavior but it will change me, which may in turn change Josh’s behavior. Spiritual warfare battles are waged in my mind. I have control over what I allow in and what I believe. Satan is feeding me lies about my hopeless situation when I serve the God of hope and I am choosing to believe them. Satan says it will always be this way and my son will grow up to be a felon if he even makes it to adulthood. And I believe that. Not anymore. I will not focus on my issues but the one who can solve them. 

So, what’s your thing? What is the thing that consumes more of your attention than God? What lies are you believing?

Going home

As I sit here tonight my heart is sad. My Aunt Edna is going to be with Jesus very soon, they said it would likely be tonight. It’s an odd thing to know really, that someone will be leaving this earth. I know it happens every second but it’s not someone I know every second. I am not sad for her at all. She will be with Jesus. That is a really mind blowing thought. Any moment now Jesus will call her home and she will see him for the first time. What must that be like? I can’t imagine. I can’t even describe the feelings I have about it right now, it’s just odd. To know that such a monumental thing in her life will happen at any moment is interesting. It’s like I have a portal open to heaven and this person who I have known my whole life will soon see Jesus. It’s like a part of me is there experiencing that with her. And I think about the day that will come all too soon when I will be where she is, at the doorstep of heaven. Waiting to cross over into real life. This we have on earth is just shadows of things to come in heaven. She is going to see real life while I will continue to live in the shadowlands. She is about to experience that moment where Jesus welcomes her in and she will live forever. She will trade her cancer ridden body for a beautiful and perfect vessel. She will see her mother and father and brother who have gone before her. I can’t imagine what that will be like. They haven’t all been together since she was 16. That seems like an eternity here on earth, but to them in heaven it was but a blink of an eye. It is a miraculous thing to be present at the beginning and end of someone’s life. As an adult I have experienced it a few times now, births and deaths of loved ones. You never realize the gravity of it until you experience it. It’s like heaven touches earth briefly.

Tonight I will sit and eat dinner and put the kids to bed and distract myself with TV and in the morning when I wake up my Aunt may not be a resident of earth any longer. It’s just such a big thing. She has lived a long and good life. I am thrilled for her that she gets this rest. I long for the day when I will join her, but it just seems so unreal at times until you get close to it like this. We live our lives in the monotony of ordinary and don’t think enough about what lies just beyond the vale of heaven, where real life is. It just brings so much perspective to this life’s trivialities. It just doesn’t matter, none of it. What matters is heaven and souls and eternal life. What matters is eternity.

Prayers and Cookies

I like to bake, so I make cookies at least once a week. My kids know the sound of the Kitchenaid turning on and they immediately yell, “I call the spinner!” and whoever yells first gets to lick the spinner attachment when I’m done. It’s a bit Lord of the Flies around here sometimes. Never fear though, I do give everyone else a spoonful of batter to eat, but they are all so focused on the prize of the “spinner” they can’t understand that they really get more cookie dough if the get a spoon. Today my 6 year old won the “spinner” and my almost 3 year old was mad! He cried and cried, even after I gave him a spoon of dough. He’s holding this spoonful of dough and crying because he wants that “spinner” which he perceives as better. I had to laugh at the irony of it. He’s so focused on what he doesn’t have that he cannot enjoy what’s right in his hand.

We are like that sometimes. We got focused on something we want and we see those around us who have it and feel jealous. We think if only we had that thing then we could be happy or do something great. We loose sight of all the good things we have in our hands right now. I was asked to be on the prayer team at church. It’s a group of people who stand at the front of the church during prayer time and people come down and ask you to pray for them about this thing or that. My husband Glenn is on this team so they asked me to join him. Some people would think that was no big deal, but to me it’s a big deal. It’s WAY outside my comfort zone. The very first week I thought I would just tag along with Glenn and observe and figure out how this whole prayer thing works. Not that I don’t know how to pray, but praying for other people out loud is not something I am used to and it scared me a lot! That first week I ended up getting pushed into praying for someone by myself and it’s been that way every week since. Talk about jumping into the pool head first. I used to think, and still do sometimes, if I could just be like this person or that person then God could use me. There are so many people at church who pray better than me. I know it’s not a competition, but still, some people just know what to say and how to really move heaven. I feel so incompetent. I’ve never really prayed for other people before and I feel like they expect more than I can give. The first time I prayed I just did my best and as I stood there searching for the right words, God gave them to me. I allowed myself to be used and he did just that. I think admitting I had no idea what I was doing and He was going to have to help was the key. I have been praying for people for about a month now and I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing but at least I feel a little more comfortable. It gets easier if you just keep doing it.

Yesterday I was praying for a woman I look up to. Honestly I was surprised she asked me to pray for her. I felt unworthy to do that, but I did. I told her how much I admired her and she said something back to me that surprised me. She told me she admired me too and learned from me. I was thinking, “yeah, I can’t imagine that”, but she was sincere. What that taught me was two things. First, don’t assume that God can’t use you to do big things just because you feel unable or unqualified. Just step forward in what you feel He is calling you to do and he will give you the ability to do it as you need it. Second, don’t assume that people can’t learn from you just because you feel like a rookie. God uses all his children for his purposes not just those who seem to be the most mature.

I’m trying to learn to step forward and be bold in what God calls me to. That is not easy, most of the time. God doesn’t call you to comfortable stuff and he doesn’t call you at comfortable times. If you just look at our life right now it’s a mess. My mom just moved in with us after being in the hospital, we are trying to clean our her house and sell it. Glenn is super busy at work, Joshua and Kaki are struggling and we just had a miscarriage at the end of this summer. Not great timing for stepping forward into new things, but God calls when He sees fit not when we do. God has his hand on all these things. They aren’t a surprise to him and He had all this planned from the beginning so I will trust that He knows what he’s doing and as I step forward into challenging things for Him, He will provide the time and resources to do those things. Not my will, but His.

Today we remember

One year ago yesterday I sat in a doctor’s office and found out the worst news I could imagine at the time. I was 21 weeks pregnant and my baby had no heartbeat. Just three weeks earlier we had seen him on ultrasound and he was doing great, and now he was gone.

IMG_4108

I checked into the hospital later that night to do the hardest thing I could thing of, give birth to a baby who wasn’t going to cry or smile or breathe. Birth is supposed to be the happiest moment but this would prove to be the toughest. As I listened to the women in the room next to me give birth to her baby and hear him cry for the first time it became more real what was about to happen. By the way, it’s just cruel that you have to give birth on the maternity floor with all the other happy women, but that’s how it is. We had the kindest, most understanding nurses and doctors attending us through Andrew’s birth and we were thankful. It made an unbearable situation better.

IMG_4109

(This is his certificate of birth and those are his actual footprints. I have a plaque that the hospital made for us with those footprints and his name, I love it and will cherish it always)

One year ago today, during the afternoon, after laboring all night and morning I gave birth to Andrew Wallace Byrum. Today we remember that day. It changed us forever. It has softened our hearts and yet proved to us we are stronger than we ever thought we could be. It has reoriented our priorities and changed our life’s course. I wouldn’t change what happened because it has made us who we are. We thought at the time we wouldn’t make it through that we would just die with him, but we didn’t.

IMG_4110

(This is a little gown made for Andrew by a ministry called Caleb ministry. It was given to us at the hospital so we could have his picture taken in it.)

Friends and family gathered around us and we took one step at a time and survived. We grew closer to each other and to God. Today we are better than we were before. We have since experienced another miscarriage this summer, and that is hard, but we know that we do not grieve in vain, someday we will see these babies we have lost again and we cling to that truth in the hardest moments.

IMG_4111

(Handmade hat and booties made by the same ministry. They actually fit him, that is how small he was)

It took nearly a year but we finally ordered a headstone for Andrew’s grave. It was just too hard to face for so long, but we found this great family run business online and ordered a beautiful stone that we will place at this grave today in memory of him.

 

IMG_4107

“3 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”                       I Thessalonians 4:13

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

 

Only beauty helps

I was reading The Journey of Desire by John Eldridge. It’s a great book,  I just love all his stuff. Anyway, he wrote that book just months after his dear friend died in a climbing accident. He wrote it from a place of real grief. He said in the book that we don’t grieve enough, or allow ourselves to grieve properly. We plaster on fake smiles, hide our feelings and get on with our lives because in our society grief equals weakness. And even in Christian circles we don’t know how to deal with someone who is grieving, we say dumb stuff that does help because we are uncomfortable with grief. We should get more comfortable because this world is full of grief and loss. We need to learn to deal with it properly or we will have underlying emotional and physical problems from not dealing with our feelings. He said in his book that in his darkest moments of grief only beauty helps. That really resonated with me. When I am going through a difficult time I just want to be in nature. I am drawn to it. After our most recent miscarriage last month we found ourselves drawn to get away from it all. We scheduled a beach trip for Labor day. We hadn’t gone anywhere this summer and we decided it was time, we needed a break. It was also monumental because we decided to not take our two special needs kids with us. It has been a long summer with them home all the time. They don’t like being at home, they prefer the routine of school, and by the end of summer they are having behavioral issues as a result. Then my husband, a school administrator, has to work most of August. Not just work, but work like 70 hours a week. It’s nights and weekends on top of the normal hours just to get school back in session. It is the longest month of my whole year. I was so done by the time the kids started school that this little beach vacation was just what was needed. Glenn said it was the most restful vacation we have had in 10 years. He was right. We didn’t do a whole lot other than just be together on the sand, but it was just what we needed. It was not an easy decision to leave our special kids here but it was the right one. If you are a caregiver for someone, whether they are an adult or a child, you need a break every now and then. It is vital. Thank goodness we have parents who understand because they are caregivers for an elderly grandmother. We provide a break for them by caring for her and they took care of our special kids for us this weekend. We needed to just be a normal family for a few days. It can be so exhausting, the mental and emotional toll of caring for special needs kids. It’s also draining to be a special family who is always looked at and held up to such a high standard all the time. It was nice to blend in for once.

It hasn’t been an easy season with our son Joshua. Really for the past two years since we moved from our old house he has been very challenging behaviorally. He is severely destructive and I mean will tear up anything and everything, clothes, toys, bedding, flooring, walls, whatever he can get access to. It’s exhausting and frustrating. We have tried rewards and punishments but nothing works. We are changing some medication right now to see if that will help. He has been throwing severe tantrums and started getting to where he is throwing furniture and hurting other people during these tantrums. The tiring part is he does not do this at school. I am thankful for that but also frustrated that it means he can on some level control this, but chooses not to. As you can imagine it’s just tiring to be in the house with him all the time when he chooses to act like that. So this break from all that chaos was just what we needed. I tell special needs parents all the time that they need a break. They have to find a way to get some respite from the chaos that is special needs parenting.

I found the beach so healing. We are coming up on the anniversary of Andrew’s birth/death and I won’t lie and say it’s easy. We finally bought a headstone for his grave. It took us a year to do it but we finally did it. We will place it there on the anniversary, September 29th. It’s been a few years of grief. The obvious grief of loosing Andrew and this latest miscarriage, but also the grief of dealing with Joshua’s challenges and grieving our ideas of what he could be versus what is. But in the end, only beauty helps. A sunset, a flower, the beach, the mountains. God calls to us through his creation and brings healing through beauty.

Collateral Beauty

I watched this movie last night called Collateral Beauty. I really liked it, although I will say there are some things I don’t agree with in the movie, as any movie that comes out of Hollywood. Anyway, the story is that this man looses his young daughter and he is trying to deal with it. What I liked about it was that they allow the character to be real about his feelings when people offered platitudes. They allowed him to deal with all the feelings that you have when dealing with loss. The name of the movie comes from a line that is said to the little girl’s mother as she is dying. An older woman is there sitting next to the mother, she is a stranger, but she tells the women to watch for the collateral beauty. It’s the idea that because this mother has lost a child she will now see the world differently. She will now see what she had and how precious it was. She will now see real beauty because she has seen real loss. It’s true. I have been through real loss and it helps you see things differently.

We had our first two kids without any trouble. We were blissfully ignorant to the trauma and loss that can come with pregnancy until we got pregnant a third time. Then out of the blue at 15 weeks we lost the baby. Then we lost the next baby at 9 weeks. At that point I couldn’t face loss anymore and we decided to take another route and adopt. However, adoption as great as it is, didn’t fix the pain and hurt we had from our losses. I thought it would. I thought if I just had a baby in my arms it wouldn’t hurt anymore. That’s not true. We got pregnant shortly after adopting and I was terrified. I lived in fear every second of that pregnancy and even after Elijah was born. I didn’t really face my fear until he was three months old. I realized I hadn’t even allowed myself to connect with him because I was afraid of loosing him. It was horrible when I realized it and I felt terrible about it. I knew it was then that I had to let go of my fear and love him. Whether it was for a day or a lifetime, I had to love him.  Love means risk, it means pain sometimes, most of the time. But that’s the deal. You cannot know what love really means until it costs you something to give it. Love isn’t easy. But I wouldn’t have known how much I could love until my losses. I wouldn’t have known how precious and blessed I was to have this baby if I hadn’t known loss. I loved him and Luke, the baby that came after him, with a more authentic and real love than I had prior to loss.

Having now lost three more babies since Luke was born, I can still say, even more so, that loss changes you. The most traumatic of our losses came just a year ago in losing our son Andrew at 21 weeks. It was more traumatic because we went through a delivery and then funeral for him. All these babies were losses but that one was much more difficult for us. There is nothing like having to bury a child. After that I didn’t think I would even see things the same way again. I wasn’t sure we would survive. But we did. And since that time I see things differently. I see the beauty in small things. The trivial stuff in life doesn’t matter anymore. At first I would get really irritated with people around me and their concerns about the smallest stuff or what I considered small, I’m sure to them it was large. I just realized what really mattered and that list was pretty short. I also found comfort in just sitting still and being in nature. Clarity comes in pain. You realize what is important and unimportant, and you are emboldened to do things you never thought you could because you have a bit of you that just doesn’t care anymore. I figured I had faced the worst and survived, so I could do bugger things than I thought possible. I also stopped caring so much what people thought. I have become someone who can have a hard conversation with someone if that is what is needed in the relationship. I used to be very afraid of confrontation but in these past few months I’ve become more comfortable with it. Not in a bad way, but in a healthy way. Rude is never good.

Loss is not something anyone wants to face, but it’s inevitable in this life. The older you get the more it seems to come. When it comes, be sure to watch for the collateral beauty, because it will come too.

Pressed but not crushed

I’ve been silent for a while now. There are reasons for that. We’ve been through a storm in our lives that we didn’t expect. I guess you never really expect storms but some you can see coming on the horizon and others sneak up on you. Last year at this time we were pregnant, due in February and in just a short month from now on September 29, 2016 we lost our sweet Andrew. He was stillborn. It was the most difficult thing we have ever been through. We thought we might not survive, but we did. Day by day. Finally early this year we decided we were ready to try again. Six months went by and no pregnancy. We went to the doctor and never expected what they would tell us. They said we had a 2% chance of ever getting pregnant again. We were shocked and sad. We didn’t expect that news. A couple months went by and we began to accept that news and be comfortable with this closed door in our lives and move forward with the six kids we have here on earth. Then in June I was late. I figured it was just stress or something, or getting older. But as the days went by I figured I should at least rule out pregnancy so I took a test and was completely shocked when it was positive. I called the doctor right away and they had us come in for a blood test because I really didn’t believe it. It was at that appointment the next day we learned that the numbers weren’t as high as they would like and things weren’t looking great. We didn’t tell anyone we were pregnant, we wanted to wait until we got some good news to be able to tell people. No one wants to say, “hey, we are pregnant, but….” So days turned into weeks and the news was up and down. Finally when I was 8 weeks pregnant we found out for sure the pregnancy wasn’t going to turn out as we had hoped. We told our family what was going on and  waited to miscarry. After two weeks of waiting and nothing happening, the doctor decided it was time to take some medication to help the process along. And now it’s been two more weeks since then and it’s finally over. We were pregnant for 11 weeks total. It has been a very difficult up and down journey of hope and disappointment. We never told anyone but our immediate family. It was just too hard. To be honest I felt like I had to keep up appearances. I felt like I had to act like a good christian and not fall apart through all this and I wasn’t sure I could if people were constantly asking me how I was doing. It was self imposed pressure, but it’s how I felt. So many people were watching us walk through loosing Andrew and so complementary about how we handled it, but it’s hard to walk through difficult times in front of a crowd. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it alone. Not really how God intends us to live life, I realize. I would do it differently if I could do it over again.

At first I felt jerked around and a little angry about all this. Why would God allow us to get pregnant, when the doctor had said it wouldn’t happen, only then have us go through a miscarriage again? What was the point? Just more heartache. But what I have learned is that God does have a purpose and even though this pregnancy didn’t work out as I wanted it to, it was no less a miracle. We only had a 2% chance of getting pregnant but we did. Then at 6 weeks we found out it was twins. I don’t have a percentage on the likelihood that I would get pregnant with twins but it’s very small. All that is a miracle and it has taught me that it does not matter what the doctor’s tell you, God has the final say. He wanted us to go through this for a reason. I think that reason is to show us He alone is in control and there is always Hope. Even when the doctor says there is no hope, there is. Even when those around you say there is not hope, there is. There is always hope. It is your choice whether you walk in it or not.

We are healing physically and emotionally. It doesn’t mean it’s not hard especially as we come up on the first anniversary of the loss of our son Andrew, but we are ok. We are putting on foot in front of the other and we just keep walking. That’s really the only choice you have if you want to survive. The verse above is 2 Corinthians 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ” I have read this verse so many times and thought it was a promise that God would not give you something that was so hard it was destroy you but I don’t think that is what it means. I think it’s Paul trying to encourage himself. It’s a declaration in hard times. That I will be hard pressed on every side but not crushed! I will be perplexed but not despair! I will be persecuted but I am never abandoned! I will be struck down but not destroyed! It’s a choice. I must declare it and walk in it. Hard stuff is going to come but it’s my choice how I respond. There is no promise that God will not give me more than I can handle, that is a verse people took out of context. I can tell you He will give you more that you can handle, because if it didn’t you would never realize your need for Him.