Daughter, Wife, Mother... this is what I do

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Lot Like Mary...

John 11:20 "So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house..."

Mary's brother, Lazarus, had just died. King Jesus rolled into town 2 days too late. Mary and Martha knew that Jesus had the power to heal the sick, they had heard story after story if not experienced it first hand. They loved Him, they trusted Him. They both thought, "If only Jesus had been here..." Martha ran out to meet Jesus. She had a few choice words for Him. But Mary? She stayed inside when her Savior, her Creator came walking up to the house.

I'm totally reading into the story here. God never says anything about Mary's heart in staying inside, so I can only imagine. But here's how the story could have gone. Especially if it were me. 

Mary was hurt. Hurt that Jesus didn't heal her brother. She felt betrayed by her dear friend. She was bitter. She was a little angry. She knew that He chose not to heal Lazarus. So she stayed inside. She was done asking Jesus for things. Because He hadn't given her what she really wanted, what she thought she really needed. So she stayed inside.

Then Jesus sends for her. And who of His sheep can resist it when He calls their name? Not one. She goes to Him. And she finds a Man that weeps with her. He shares the sorrow of the loss of her brother with her. Not just because He loved Lazarus, but because He loves her. Then she takes Him to her brother's tomb and Jesus does what He does best and redeems crappy, horrible situations for His glory and the good of those who love Him. 

I read this story this morning. It moves me because I am Mary. (Or at least who I perceive Mary to be in the story.) A few weeks ago, we lost our 3rd baby. It was really early in the pregnancy, so the individual loss was easier to handle. But the overarching theme of lost babies crumbled me. After our 1st miscarriage I kept thinking and praying, "I don't want this to be our story. I don't want lost babies to be what God uses in my life." 

After our latest miscarriage, I threw up my hands. I've had it. I'm done asking God for things. I don't doubt His power, His ability. But this. is. harsh. And I'm done. 

In the last few weeks, God's given just enough faith for me to toss up small, feeble prayers. 

"God, help my heart. I want to love you. I want to trust you. I want to know that you love me."

But I didn't know those things. I didn't believe those things. I saw Him not allowing us to meet those 3 babies as a harsh act done by a strict, mean Father. 

But in Mary's story, Jesus shows me that that's not the Father's parenting style at all. Jesus waited 2 days to come to them. He knew Lazarus was going to die and he waited. He knew there would be pain, heartache, bitterness, anger, struggle. He knew it. But He ALSO knew the ending. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew that in delaying, in not doing exactly what Mary had wanted Him to do, He was going to get to show them more of Himself. He would get to weep with Mary, to give her very tangible evidence of His tender compassion and fierce love. He know that in doing so, He was granting them greater joy than in just having their brother back. 

God knows our kids. He has known all of them since the dawn of creation. He knows their names, their personalities, the date they will born. Whether they are biologically mine or not. He isn't a strict Father reacting to my wicked heart. He is a kind, loving, patient, all-knowing Daddy who wants me to have the MOST joy as we grow our family by showing me that He is my treasure. 

So He called me out of the house to show me that He was weeping with me. He shares my sorrow. But He knows that there is much more joy ahead. So I can trust Him as He leads our family to more joy, to deeper faith, to a clearer view of who He is. 

I'm sure I will run back into the house a time or two. Or seventeen. But I can be certain that if I am His, He will always come get me. 

A few of my favorite...

Elle has been talking up a storm recently. Sometimes saying 2 or 3 word sentences or phrases. This blows my mind. I can't believe my itty bitty is now a little girl! 2 years (ok, 21 months...) has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I spend so much time trying to teach my sweet girl how to become more independent, how to do more, how to say more, how to grow up.

And I just want to pause for a moment. Like I do sometimes in our day and kiss her curly head and try to commit moments or scenes to memory.

Here are a few things I don't want to forget that she says when one day the lisp is gone and all the verbs and nouns are in their right place.

"Da-du, wecome mama." [Translated "Thank you, welcome, mama!"] This started after I tried to teach her to say "You're welcome" after someone says "thank you."

"He thaaaad. He chyin'" [Translated "He sad. He crying."] And actually she doesn't say "chyin' " anymore. :( Makes mama "thaaad."

"Whedigo? I on't thee it!" [Translated "Where'd it go? I don't see it!"]

"Hairpane!" [Translated "Airplane!"]

"FIIIIING!" [Translated "SWIIING!"] Because we are always SUPER excited to swing. :)

"Efant" [Translated "Elephant"]

"Fu-fax" [Translated "Fruit Snacks"] Because some days when getting dressed is a battle, I can distract her with some of those gummy, sugar-packed morsels and all is right with the world for a minute or two. :)

"Chap-chip" [Translated "Chapstick"] Her snack of choice. :/

"Cha MILK!" [Translated "Chocolate Milk!"] Her intonation goes up on the "milk" part. :) Cutie.

"oh-milK" [Translated "Oatmeal"] I totally perpetuate this. I love that she calls it "oatmilk." I hope that never changes.

Just the best, I tell you. :)

[Post Script- This was written 2 months ago. I never posted it. She's now singing whole songs and having whole conversations. But that's for another post. :)]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our great hope.

I'm writing this post because I need to. Because I want to. Because I want to talk about what I often would rather not say because it's painful for me and awkward for you. Because I know that my story is the story of many, many other women. And I know that we are entrusted with suffering to offer comfort to others.

*As an aside here- in the midst of this suffering for us, I was comforted and prayed for and loved by a sweet friend who has lost much, but who I've seen remain faithful and filled with hope. What a joy to be able to continue her family's legacy. You can read her story here.

But God is writing this story for us, so I want to physically write it as a way of documentation and declaration. 

He is what is great. He is our treasure. And that's what He's been teaching our family through loss.

In the past 6 months, we've lost 2 sweet babies. Life doesn't stop and as time goes on, a baby that was once so real and a part of our family seems only a distant fleeting thought. But writing that sentence, "...we've lost 2 sweet babies" brings the reality back like a flood. Those were our babies that God entrusted to us, if only for a short time, for our good and His glory. So I want to press into that and tell you the story.

Our first positive pregnancy test (late July) was quite a shock. It was only a few weeks earlier that we decided we were ready to add another little David to our family. But we were excited, regardless of the timing and started dreaming of what Elle would be like as a big sister and how our lives would change. But only two days after we had begun celebrating, we found out that God had another plan and that we would not get to meet that sweet baby. We had our first miscarriage. It was hard. But it was deemed a  "chemical pregnancy." We did, in fact, conceive, but the baby never had time to attach to the uterine wall. It made it seem so anatomical and that helped in dealing with the loss. 

After talking to nurses and being reassured that miscarriage was normal, there was no reason for them to think that there was anything wrong with my body and in all likelihood, our next pregnancy would be healthy, I was ready. I was confident. I knew that next time would be different.

Our second positive pregnancy test was at the end of October. I had been feeling a little weird and decided I would take a test, just to be sure. Mostly because I had been drinking caffeine like there was no tomorrow and I knew that I wanted to tone it down a bit if God were to let us get pregnant again :) 
The test was positive and I cut myself down to one cup a day. (Instead of 3! Yikes!) We were excited! I  had regular bloodwork done, since my progesterone levels are always low. I had 2 sonograms (our dr. just wanted to check in often, since my levels are weird) and we even got to see an itty bitty heartbeat. Oh, how sweet that was. 

As I walked into the lab after that positive pregnancy test, I told God, "I will be so so sad if you take this sweet baby from us. Please, please don't." Immediately after I prayed that, I was reminded that Jesus suffered. That He talked to His Father just like I was doing and said, "Please, please don't" when He was facing death on a cross. But, He also trusted that His Father's plans were best. That there was more joy for Him in walking to death on a cross than what seemed more comfortable in that moment. I also remembered the promise that He would be with me. How sweet a promise it is to know that your Savior and King, who suffered unimaginably more than the loss of a baby, was going to walk with me no matter what the circumstance. There was such hope and comfort in that and it was such a grace to me to have that truth solidified in my heart in the weeks that followed.

The whole month that I was pregnant, I kept WANTING to feel tired. Trust me, I totally wanted to be able to justify taking a nap every day. But I never felt THAT tired. I never felt THAT awful. And in the back of my mind I kept wondering if everything was ok. I knew the reality. I knew that we were not promised a healthy baby at the end of 9 months. But still, I was excited and hopeful that we would get to meet and hold our sweet baby at the end of it all. Because according to the statistics, this was supposed to be the normal pregnancy, right? 1/3 end in miscarriage. I already had the one! So this should be the other side. Statistics failed me.

We went to our 8 week ObGYN exam. We were really excited. We even brought Elle so she could see her baby brother or sister! (In hindsight- WHAT were we thinking? It was a horrible decision. Lesson learned.) And then our sweet doctor began to explain that he was not seeing a heartbeat. That the baby was measuring only 6 1/2 weeks instead of the 8 that it should be measuring. My heart was pounding. He started explaining things like chromosomal mismatches and duplication and drawing charts that I couldn't see through the tears. He was so sweet and so kind but left us to mourn the loss of a baby we never got to meet. I cried a lot.  And then Tyler and I went home and just sat on the couch and looked at each other. Neither of us knew what to say or do. A good friend reminded us that that's the proof that we weren't created to experience grief like that. Because in those moments, no one knows just what to do. We felt the pain of death and sin that we were never created to feel. And the awkwardness that comes with that. 

We talked about how this would probably not be the last time we cried tears like this together. This loss had sobered us and reminded us that suffering is guaranteed in a world that is broken. Unless Jesus comes back soon and makes everything right, our lives will continue to be riddled with moments like this. And oh, how it made us long for our mighty King to return in victory. To fix what is broken in our world. To banish death for forever. To show us the purpose He had for us in losing another sweet baby. 

So, we learned that day (even more profoundly than from our first miscarriage) that Jesus is our hope. Not statistics. Not a healthy baby. Not an easy life. Not a huge family with wonderful children. We learned and are learning still the truth that Jesus carries us, sustains us, gives gifts of joy and allows suffering that we might know more of His heart, to show us that He is enough. Even in the pain. Even on the nights when I think about what that baby would have been like and get sad and miss what I had only for a short time. Even when I'm reminded that I'm missing out when I see the bulging bellies and Facebook posts of pregnant friends, that I won't ever feel that baby kick. Even when I look at my sweet daughter and think about what a great big sister she would have been to that little one. He is enough. Although I won't ever know that baby in this life, I am still accepted as His daughter. I will still get to spend an eternity with my King singing about how great He is. Even though I struggle with discontentment, with jealousy, with materialism, with laziness, because of the price Jesus paid- I get to know Him. And there is so much joy to be had in Him.

There are many gifts that God gave us through the loss of our little 8-week-old, itty-bitty, jelly-bean baby. Tyler will say that God granted him sobriety and diligence and enabled him to work hard because he was shown that life was short and uncertain and Jesus is all that is promised to us.

 We've grown as companions in all of this. Our bond has been strengthened and sweetened. I am so, so thankful for a husband like him. What a sweet, undeserved gift he is to me. 

After a loss like that, I will say that I know what it is to hope in Jesus more than ever before. Not hoping that Jesus would give me this or that thing, but that I have hope that this is not the end. That because Jesus has conquered death, the death of my sweet child is not the end of his story. Not the end of my life. And I can hope that at the end of my life here He will allow my heart to say- You were the best thing I knew in my life on earth. Oh goodness, how I feel the pull to want anything other than Him on a daily basis. I think I'm seeing (through miscarriage) that children are a glaring idol in my life and there is a temptation (and more often than not it is fleshed out) to find ALL of my joy in them. But, my hope is that by His good grace, He will equip me to fight that sin and that I would only ever view Him as the source of my joy and that any other sweet gift He gives me would enable me to enjoy Him even more because of His goodness and kindness to me.

On the flip side of that, I have learned what a sweet, miraculous gift my daughter is. We have been given 20 wonderful months, each day sweeter than the last, with Elle, but we are not promised a second more. Every moment, every "first" is a gift and I want to love Jesus more for granting us with a gift that we are nowhere close to being worthy of. 

Going forward, we are nervous. We are nervous to get pregnant again. In fact, my initial thought during  the height of all that pain was, "Nope. Not doing that again. We'll just adopt." Funny how this was the same sentiment I had during labor. It's evidence of my tendency to just eject during painful circumstances. To refuse to trust God for the joy set before me because of Jesus. In response to this, faith for us means continuing to try to have babies. We want to adopt one day, and I really believe that we will. But we don't want to do that out of fear and out of a mistrust of a God who even through pain has been nothing but kind and good to us. So we will walk forward, lean on the Holy Spirit to help us trust Him when it's hard and fight to hope in Jesus for all of our joy and our contentment no matter if I ever get to carry a baby again or not.

That's our story. That's my heart. That's my hope.