Category Archives: Redeeming Loss

To Our Child I Never Knew, Thank You…

Precious One,

Today, April 1st, is the 2nd anniversary of the day we lost you, the day that changed me from the inside out. As much as I struggle with facing this day each year, there is a strange sense of joy that comes, too, with this date creeping up on me. Though I think of you several times throughout each week, it is on this day that I feel complete freedom to bask in the tremendous beauty, and even the sorrow, that comes from being your mom.

I love you, Precious One. Had you stayed with us, you would have been around 16 months old, only 5 months younger than your cousin. You would have been walking by now and full of personality, I’m sure. You would have been so loved and cherished by so many people, Precious One. You still are by the two people who created you, your dad and mom.

The Lord and I often have conversations about why, in His sovereignty, He allowed you to leave this earth so quickly, before I even really allowed myself to fully acknowledge your presence, before we ever even got to see you through an ultrasound. The only moments you and I truly had “together” were when I was awoken from my sleep in a cold sweat and in piercing pain, yet you had not left me yet; it was only then, when I was sitting alone in tears that still stain my Bible, that I allowed myself to believe what I think the Lord had been trying to tell me for several days – I was indeed with child, that you weren’t a figment of my imagination but instead fully alive inside of me. It wasn’t 45 minutes later that you began to pass, and with you, a part of me died, too.

Over the past 2 years, I have often felt so incredibly vulnerable from, and lost in, my grief. As one who always easily expresses herself and is known as a very upbeat, positive person, it has been a very odd, humble journey for me to walk. There have been days that I wasn’t sure if I was going to get out of bed, let alone function like a normal human being. Part of that was from my already-taxed body’s reaction to your sudden disappearance, which left me in several months of hormonal havoc and most likely undiagnosed postpartum depression. Even when my body eventually healed, my spirit was often, and sometimes still is, slow to do the same. With each new pregnancy announcement my friends delivered, each new baby shower I participated in, each new opportunity to rejoice with our friends for how their family was growing, there was a very real, stinging pain that came (and still often comes) for your dad and me as we thought about you, your siblings, and the fact that we weren’t – and still aren’t – privy to having any of you in our lives. Who knows? Maybe we never will be parents. Only the Lord knows that. If there’s anything life has taught me, it’s that, as Christ-followers, we aren’t guaranteed anything but His presence, no matter our circumstances.

It shouldn’t surprise you that this isn’t the road I, or your dad, expected to take. In fact, this isn’t the road that we would have picked for our worst enemies. It is, however, the road that God has chosen for us for our good and, most importantly, His glory. Though the path has been long and steep, full of unexplainable hurt and so many detours I’ve lost count, I wouldn’t change, for even a moment, the fact that you exist. I wouldnt’ change the fact that, though we weren’t meaning to create you, in secret your dad and I glorified the Lord through the creation of you, Precious One. I can only pray that one day, when we are all glorified and together with the Lord, that you have somewhat of an understanding of just how much you have meant to both of us.

You will always be my child, and I will always be your mom. I will always love you. I will never forget you or forsake your existence. Besides your dad, you are who the Lord has used the most in my life to bring me closer to Him. Thank you for allowing Him to use you so powerfully in such a short amount of time.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was pregnant with, and then miscarried you, around the Easter season. Thank you for allowing Him to show me that ultimately God cares far less about me being an earthly mother than He does about my sanctification, than He does about changing me into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ. That is a fact that I admittedly don’t daily want to grasp, but in His goodness and through His grace, I am clinging to that Truth more and more.

Because of the work the Lord has done in my heart in light of your death, I am finding peace and freedom in the fact that my value and worth as a wife, and ultimately as a woman, is not found in whether or not I can successfully deliver children into this world. Again, I don’t believe that every day, but I’m getting better at looking at myself the way our Heavenly Father does, the way I would have wanted you to look at yourself, i.e. as whole and valuable not because of anything you have done but because of His finished work on the Cross, as enough.

Thank you for allowing Him to use you to soften my heart toward the thousands of fathers and mothers who, too, have lost precious children and/or are in the season of barrenness, a season that often is accompanied with such despair; this despair paralyzes so many and inhibits them to do Kingdom work because of the lies from Satan they, and often I, have believed. Though your life was but a vapor, you have left a Kingdom-impact, and for that, I am extremely proud.

So, until we meet again, I will continue to rejoice in the fact you are mine and safe with our Heavenly Father. I love you, much more than I even could ever say. Thank you.

Your Momma

 

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Filed under 2015, Adoption, Baby, Marriage, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

Seeing Red

Some dates are etched in your memory forever.

Birthdays. Anniversaries. Days our loved ones pass away. Major life events. We all can list at least a few dates that automatically stick out in our minds, whether for welcomed reasons or not.

December 4, 2013 will always be one of those days for me. That was my estimated due date for the child I miscarried on April 1st at 5 weeks gestation. That was the day our child, as microscopic as he/she was, went to be with the Lord. That was the day part of me went to be with Him, too.

To say I was heartbroken after we miscarried is a gross understatement. If you recall, there was a lot already going on in our lives in early Spring. It was so much that the most grounded people would feel like they were losing their grip on their sanity prior to what transpired on April 1st. As we all know, the roller coaster wasn’t over, though.

Once the bleeding stopped, I was emotionally as empty as my formally impregnated uterus; in a matter of a few hours, the life had been sucked out of me, literally and figuratively. Like millions of women each year, I was left to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart and move on.

For me, though, “moving on” was going to be a long, long journey.
It was going to be a much longer, harder, more private pilgrimage through grief than with what I (and, in some ways, others) was comfortable.
It was my journey, though, nonetheless.

The first few weeks, I would come home from work some days and just sit on the floor in our empty nursery. I would begin to replay over in my mind the trauma that had been the few weeks leading up to me unexpectedly getting pregnant, as well as the subsequent drama which led to finally having a confirmation that I had indeed miscarried and wasn’t losing my mind...or was I? 

When I was alone, the previous few months played out like a dramatic Nicholas Sparks’ movie in my head. Scene after scene, I saw the characters, i.e. me and my husband, develop and the plot thicken and thicken some more. The plot became so thick, I felt as if I were traveling through a dense fog in my head, a fog which would last for months. Some days the fog was so thick, I couldn’t tell if I was indeed the protagonist or the antagonist of my own story; some days I felt like both, sometimes simultaneously. As I dealt with post-miscarriage health complications for months on end on top of my grief, there seemed to be no climax of events (let alone a resolution) in sight, in my real life or in my imagination.  I wanted out of the madness. Honestly, some days I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up. I wanted peace and rest, and those things seemed hard to come by at the time.

After all, it was hard to feel at peace when you feel you have failed as a woman, and more importantly, as a wife. For a myriad of reasons, that’s the way I felt for a long, long time. Thankfully, though, after months of spending time with the Lord, countless hours of conversation with my husband and a few close friends, and being forced to deal with the root of my feelings, I (for the most part) don’t feel that way anymore.

Thank God, I don’t usually feel that way anymore.
One day, I hope to say I don’t ever feel that way anymore.
One step at a time, though.

I don’t really feel it necessary (at least now) to take you through the play-by-play of the highs and lows of my journey of grief. I guess after the realization I came to during my mid-life crisis, I don’t feel anymore like I “owe” you, the reader, an “all-access” pass into the most personal caveats of my life. I guess I’m still learning to have boundaries in my relationships, online and off. I have to say, after a year of a lot of hurt and heartache, it feels good to not (usually) feel guilty for protecting myself emotionally.

Just know that the last 8 months of my life have been filled with extremely personal, heart-wrenching moments. It hasn’t always been pretty. In fact, many times it’s been rather ugly, but it’s always been one thing – real and raw. After all, love it or hate it, I know no other way to be. If there’s one thing I’ve re-learned during the craziness that has been my 2013, it’s that I can’t control a lot in my life. God, in His sovereignty and goodness, numbers my steps, oftentimes much differently than I would. On the flip side, though, I’m learning there are some things I can control, namely having healthy boundaries with people and owning and being proud of, instead of shaming, my own journey.

And oh the journey it has been.

I’m thankful, though, I’m finally far enough down the path that I can say I’m thankful for the past 8 months. I may not ever understand why John and I had to lose a child, or why it had to affect me so deeply, but I do know good has come of it.

do know that what Satan meant for evil, my gracious Lord meant for good. Yes, He meant it for my good and, more importantly, His glory. Those nights I lay crumbled up on the floor in my empty nursery, when I wasn’t sure if I was the protagonist or antagonist of my own story, I had forgotten to ask the Author and Finisher of my story who I am. Instead of trusting Him, I listened to my doubt. Instead of believing I am who He says I am (beloved and loved, far from a failure), I believe the father of lies who is always out to steal my (and your) joy and vision. Thankfully, I don’t forget anymore.

In the Old Testament, when God’s people had an unforgettable encounter with the LORD, they often built a memorial out of stone in commemoration of the event. They (and sometimes the LORD Himself) wanted a tangible reminder of what the LORD had done. I, too, wanted a tangible reminder of how the Lord had restored and healed my heart, so I completely changed my appearance (at least for now).

For almost 28 years, I was a blonde. Now, I’m a red head. 🙂

2013-12-05_16-12-01_263When I look in the mirror, I am constantly reminded of the fact I not only look like a completely different person, I am a completely different person because of God’s gracious work in my life! I’m pretty sure I will eventually go back to my roots (or closer to them than I am now 😉 ), but for now, I needed an external expression of a very powerful, inward change. The dye is temporary, but the branding on my heart is forever.


I finally see He is bringing much beauty from the ashes of my once shattered heart.
He is mending and strengthening. He is healing and restoring.
He is being what He always is – good. So, so good.

I’ll leave you with a song that has meant so very much to me over the past several months.

 

Father, thank you for loving me so.

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Joy Through Infertility – Another Perspective

Sorry it’s been a while.
I really wasn’t planning on being gone so long.
Then life – lots of it – happened.
One day here soon, we’ll get to (most) of that. Promise. 🙂
If you need to catch up on our journey, now is the time.
Things will move faster from here, Lord-willing.

For the time being while I sort out this new season of life, I wanted to share with you a powerful piece I read today by one of my favorite writers, Holley Gerth. Even though I’ve never met her (or honestly talked to her), I absolutely adore her transparency and was extremely blessed when I read this today.

Thank you for your heart, Holley. It is astonishingly beautiful.

I’ll be back soon to update you on where we are in our ever-changing journey to parenthood; exciting things are happening! God is faithful. 🙂

When God Changes Your Plans {An Infertility Update}

Nurture Bracelet by Lisa Leonard

Nurture Bracelet by Lisa Leonard

Friends, this post has been a long time coming. And I’m going to ask for your grace in advance. Because it makes me knocking-knees nervous to write it. Infertility is such a personal subject for many different reasons besides the obvious. But enough of you have asked and I’ve done enough praying that I just want to give you an update.

Before I start I want to include this disclaimer: If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey it’s that everyone’s story is different. What I’m sharing applies to my hubby and I alone.

When Mark and I married in 2000 we thought starting a family would be easy for us. Doesn’t everyone? When we officially began the process to become parents about five years later, we soon realized that wouldn’t be the case for us. Long story short, we went through years of grief, loss, doctor’s appointments and some serious wrestling with God. Out of that process came my first devotional book, Rain on Me {recently released in a new edition as Under God’s Umbrella}.

During that time, over seven people on separate occasions prayed over me that “God would bring new life through my words.” I tucked each of those statements away in my heart, not sure what they meant. God provided many other instances where he used people, even women I didn’t know, to speak into my life that I was not barren. And one day I looked at the Scripture passage about Eve who was called “the mother of all living” and I knew in my heart that every woman is a mama. Yep, every single one of us brings life into the world in some way.

And mine was not going to be through physical kiddos.

It took me years to even dare to whisper that to the closest people in my life. Our culture is so focused on physical family that it felt scandalous–and possibly unchristian–even to speak those words out loud. When I began to, the response was usually, “Have you ever thought about adoption?” The answer: Yes, of course we had. We had thought, prayed, wrestled with it. And yet we never felt like God was directing us that way. That was also an extremely difficult decision in a generation that is passionate about adoption {and rightly so!}.

From time to time I would ask God again, “Are you sure we’re on the path you want us on?” And inevitably within twenty-four hours someone would send me a note saying, “I’m not sure why I’m sending you this but I think God wants me to tell you you’re already a mother.” Truly. I wrote every single time that happened in my journal.

So I’m here, friends, almost ten years from the time we started this journey. And I want to tell you this: my heart is healed, my life is full, and I’m a word mama to the hearts of thousands of women around the world. I’m truly, deeply blessed.

We could have gone out and found a way to get a baby. We live in a culture where we can make that happen. And it would have done away with a lot of the hard questions we’ve had to answer the last few years. But if we had, it would not have been God’s best for us. I would have been like Sarah and whatever option I chose would have been my Hagar.

So I’m officially announcing that our infertility journey is done. We are in a new season–one of so much life, growth, and joy. One I wouldn’t have chosen but now wouldn’t trade because as David said in the Psalms “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” In other words, I want to stay in the center of God’s will. I trust him to continue filling the mama-longing in my heart {Ps. 84:11}. I trust him to take care of me when I’m old {Is. 46:4}. I trust him to have a plan that is greater than mine {Rom. 8:28}.

And in that I can rest.

Even more than rest, I can rejoice.

It is well with my soul.

I am a mother. And it is good.

XOXO

Holley

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: Life Is Messy – Part 14

I have a confession. I have been keeping a secret.
A pretty big secret, in fact.
I know. I know. I’m no fun.

Before I reveal the rest of what has been going on the past few months, for those of you who may be new, or didn’t catch it all in “real” time….

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
*For more on the decision I made to go seek a second doctor’s opinion on what had (or hadn’t) happened, please see Part 12.
*For more on how we found out we had actually miscarried our baby, please see Part 13.
*For more of how the miscarriage affected me emotionally,  please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

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All caught up now? 🙂 OK, good.
Now we can move on.
So, again, I’ve been keeping a secret for quite a while.

Before I can divulge all of those details, though, it’s important I share with you something else.

I’ve learned a lot during the past 3 months about the unpredictability of life — more specifically, my life. If you’ve been following along with my previous posts, you have, too. When I think back through everything John and I went through in a very short amount of time, I am sometimes shocked that neither one of us was medicated for clinical depression or gained 50 lbs. from emotional eating, though I gained (and am still in the process of losing) about 8lb. from too many nights with my face in an ice cream or chip container – haha.

No, it is only by God’s grace that our individual relationships with the Lord, as well as our marriage, our stronger than ever. By looking at it through human eyes, our circumstances certainly wouldn’t seem like the kind that would draw one closer to a God that, for reasons outside of your control, allowed your child to pass away.

Thankfully, though, we understand the concepts of God’s sovereignty and goodness, even amidst human suffering. That understanding is the only thing that pulled me off the nursery floor during the days right after the miscarriage when I was too weak physically and emotionally to work, sometimes to even move.  That understanding is the only thing that got me through during the days following that I didn’t want to go to work but instead wanted to once again sit in the empty nursery with junk food and just cry. That understanding is the only thing that allowed us to once again feel comfortable putting ourselves back into a position where there is always a chance – no matter how much protection we use – that we could wind back up in the same position as before. That understanding, coupled with our firm belief in the sanctity of life, is the crux behind why we call who was lost a baby and not just a clump of cells and why we believe we will see that child again.

Notice I said “we” believe all of those things. It can’t be said enough how I can’t imagine going through the past 3 months without my husband, whom I love more now than I ever knew was possible 3 1/2 years ago when we pledged our vows to each other in front of 300 people. Jesus is my everything, but John is my earthly rock. I honestly adore that man, no matter how many times he drives me nuts, no matter how many times we don’t see eye-to-eye, no matter how many times he steals the last bite of ice cream. The proof is in the pudding. Time and time again, no matter how many times life beats us down, we always get back up, and we always do it together, stronger and closer than ever. Interestingly, not only have I become closer to my husband during this time but also to the Lord, the Redeemer of all things, as well.

In my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series, I walked you through some of the emotional toll of the miscarriage. Those posts, though, could never sum up every emotion I have felt since I became a mother to a child I will never see this side of Heaven. Though I am rather verbose by nature, I don’t think it’s even possible for me  (crazy, huh?) to articulate every feeling that has coursed through my body during the past few months.

Nevertheless, I certainly tried. Why did I? Because I wanted to give you, the reader, a rare glimpse into the heart of a grieving woman in her most vulnerable of states. In doing so, it was my hope that you wouldn’t feel sorry for me (though I’ve appreciated the concern and care) but instead that you would see the incredible beauty that comes from allowing oneself to be completely transparent, that comes from taking off your mask and showing your bare skin marred with the messiness of life.

And boy was life messy during that time – much more than you even knew. That is, until now.

Part 15 to come!

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Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 3 – Embracing Emotion

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 1 – 53 days

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling
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It’s been a little over 2 months.
It’s been a little over 2 months since I became a mother to a child I’ll never mother here on Earth. It’s been a little over 2 months since part of my heart went to be with Jesus. Some days that 2 months feels like it’s been 2 years, other days like it’s been 2 minutes.

That being said, it would be an understatement to say the emotions surrounding the miscarriage are still raw. Honestly, I think they always will be, at least in a way. No, I don’t cry every day anymore, but that doesn’t mean all is forgotten. Call me crazy (I’m used to it), but I am so very thankful for that fact. I am so very thankful the Lord hasn’t forgotten about our child and I don’t have to, either.

Though I try not to dwell, I still find myself thinking about our baby quite frequently throughout my day. Some days I think about how I would have already been in my second trimester.  I wonder how much weight I would have gained at this point, if I would have been carrying high or low, and if I would have actually looked pregnant at this point or instead been in that awkward-in-between stage when people are hesitant to ask if you are with child. I think about how beautiful John would have found me pregnant and the special time we would have had together waiting for, and experiencing firsthand, our child’s birth. I daydream about the time we would have spent corporately feeling the baby kick, going hand-in-hand to ultrasound appointments, and making memories I will never get to experience. I wonder if the baby would have had to be taken early and/or if they would have had a rough start to life. I think about our first Christmas photo (with the baby only a few weeks old) and how proud I would have been to introduce our blessing to the world through a card similar to ones we’ve received from other friends and family who have had recent additions.

Other days I think about our child, whether they are a boy or a girl (we both think boy), what their personality would have been like (outgoing and visionary like me or reserved and task-oriented like John), who they would have looked like (our body types are polar opposites), what their calling in life would have been, etc. I think about all the precious little people already in our circle of friends, and how our child would have had such great playmates. I think about how awesome of a dad John would have been, and how much I long to see him in that privileged role.

Most importantly, I think about how much I long to mother my child and help them grow in all senses of the word. I think about rocking them to sleep in their room in the middle of the night, praying over them and dedicating them to the Lord in front of hundreds of witnesses. I think about the love I feel for my child already and how consuming it would have been had I ever gotten the chance to meet them. I contemplate the awesome privilege and responsibility of motherhood, the lessons I would have learned from parenting my son or daughter and how the Lord would have used them in my life to make me more like Him.

Each time I let my mind wander, I am quickly brought back to my current reality:


Having our child here with us on Earth just wasn’t meant to be. God in His sovereignty and goodness allowed it, and I am called to accept it. No matter how much I wish they could, they aren’t coming back.
Life has moved on and so must I.

I don’t have to forget, but I do have to live in the present and not the past. I do a better job of embracing my circumstances some times more so than others. Thankfully, as time passes, most of the time it is getting easier to accept what has happened.

Some days, though, the emotions I have felt since the miscarriage still overwhelm me. There are still occasional times I will sit in our empty nursery and cry. There are still times I struggle with seeing on Facebook another pregnancy announcement via ultrasound picture with the child’s due date right around – or even on – my estimated one. There are times I struggle with not being jealous as I see our friends’ families expanding and have no idea when, or how, our time as parents will even begin. There are times, like earlier this week after being at a cook-out with several incredible women who are either already mothers, pregnant or hoping to be pregnant soon, I still snuggle up next to my husband and cry silent tears as I pray myself to sleep. There are still times I repeatedly ask the Lord, “Why?” and swear I cannot bear more heartache in this life.

In those moments of weakness, though, when I struggle with my humanity and long to remain stoic and unaffected by my loss, it is then I remember something – His power is perfected in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10). In this time that I feel the most weak, He is doing a great work in – and through – me for His glory. I can forsake that calling, or I can embrace it and all the emotions that come with it.  For me, there is no other choice but to embrace my humanity; after all, in doing so, I am reminded of just how desperately I need Him.

I am so thankful I don’t have to be ashamed of the sadness I still sometimes feel. I don’t have to hide behind a facade that says my miscarriage didn’t deeply impact me and didn’t leave a lasting impact on the very core of my soul. I don’t have to have man’s understanding when it comes to how I view myself as a mother, because the way I feel isn’t going to change with or without it. I don’t have to act as if losing our baby wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever endured, just because some may find that statement melodramatic in light of everything else that has gone in my 27 years of life. I don’t have to downplay the grief I feel, just because I was only around 5 weeks pregnant when I lost our baby.

I don’t have to justify the intense loss I feel to anyone. Neither do you, if you are in my shoes. Never forget that.

As for me, as with every other life-altering event in my life, I just have to embrace the hurt, allow Him to heal it and use it, and allow Him to leave the scars as a constant reminder of His grace in my life.

Thank you, Lord, for the scars.

 

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Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling

56 days ago, while being examined to see if I had indeed miscarried…

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago when we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point.

The suspense novel that was being played out over the past several weeks, aka my ever-twisting, unpredictable life, incredibly wasn’t over. No, an hour later, just as I had suspected, my biggest fear was confirmed. I had indeed been pregnant but sadly wasn’t anymore. The symptoms I felt, the intuitive thoughts, and most importantly, the promptings from the Holy Spirit, all of it was true.  I wasn’t crazy, after all, though I now so desperately wanted to be declared as such.

In that moment, the moment that I became a mother, yet knew I would not be given the opportunity to mother my child this side of Heaven, after everything else that had transpired before this ultimate blow, even I felt like my life was stranger the fiction. As I stood there in the hospital entryway with my husband’s arms tightly squeezed around me, with neither of us uttering a word, I longed to just be one who was just an innocent bystander to the madness, one who just read without consequence the train wreck that was my life. I wanted to be anyone instead of the one who was not just living this “hell” on earth but who was also called to share its events with others.

Yes, I said intentionally said “called.” I chose that word on purpose. I can’t say I always understand the calling to share my weaknesses with others in such an intimate way that the Lord has placed upon my life. I can’t say that in my flesh I always enjoy it, either, because I don’t – hardly so. I can say, however, that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am following His will for my life when I allow Him to speak through me in a very public way in my most vulnerable of states. He’s used me before, and by His grace, He’s choosing to use me again. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (or should I say “usually not”) what I would choose for a way in which to glorify Him, but it’s the avenue through which He tends to give me.

So, that leaves me with a choice: Allow Him to use me as He sees fit, or forsake my calling and be a ‘normal’ person, one who processes their life in a much less public way. The most redeeming, most healing, and most obedient answer for me, at least usually, is the former. I don’t pretend to think that everyone is called to such a life, because I know that’s far from true. I also know with marriage comes a responsibility to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings, and the way in which they are most comfortable with processing, which is why (believe it or not) everything that we go through doesn’t end up on this blog. Even I have a filter through which I pass through what ends up in the public’s eyes; my filter just happens to be named John. 😉

I am thankful that my husband sees the beauty in my desire to be vividly transparent with others, that he allows me to be extremely transparent about our life together as one. Unlike when I was single and dying and bearing my soul to the world, now bearing my soul has to do with two people’s lives, not just mine. Though his personality and usual way of processing is very different from mine, and typing out a blog post would be about the last thing he’s wanted to do after the traumatic events of our lives the past few months, he allows me to because he sees the value in my (and therefore, at least in a way, our) calling, in allowing Christ to be glorified through our weaknesses.

For some silly reason, I thought (at least sometimes) that after we wrote the 2nd book, that my life of transparency about my life may be over, at least for the most part. I thought maybe that ultra-open chapter of my life was once again ending, as it had so abruptly when I first got married 3 1/2 years ago, and a new, much-less-public, but far more rewarding, one was beginning, i.e. motherhood.

I simply had no idea that my journey to motherhood, though, would be but just another avenue by which the Lord would call me to a life of not only openness but also one of allowing Him to make beauty for ashes, too.

I had no idea that this journey would be 10x harder than 8 years ago when I almost losing my life, when I was grasping for every breath and going to sleep every time not knowing if I’d live to see another day. I had no idea that my journey to motherhood would test me and my trust in Him to the core. I had no idea that my love for my husband, and therefore my desire to keep him from experiencing all the pain I know too well, would cause me so much grief when I could no longer shield him from the inevitable.

I was far from versed in what was ahead for us down a road to parenthood so many had sojourned before us. I knew the journey would most likely be much more difficult than for most, but even I was unprepared for the trials we’ve come upon along our path. I didn’t know that “I surrender all” for me would mean the Lord allowing us to conceive and then, in His sovereignty, taking that baby to be with Him in glory. I had no idea so many opportunities to cry, to doubt, to fear, but more importantly, to smile, to trust, and to praise, were in store. I’m sure many more of both are waiting for us. Thankfully, though, my precious Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, knew what was before and knows what lies ahead. He is all we need for this journey, no matter what is ahead. After all, this world is not our home; we’re just passing through.

As I pass through, though, I have decided to follow Jesus. For me, following Jesus means sharing my scars, my failures, my fears, and my shortcomings with all of you. It means making myself walk (in this case, type) back through every emotion I have experienced and bringing you along for the ride, so that He can impress upon your heart the same lessons He has taught me. I know from plenty of experience that these are lessons that are only learned in their fullness when you have experienced the highest highs and the deepest lows surrounding the crucible of the situation at hand.

Please think something through with me: Imagine I had gone ahead in Part 7 and told you I, unbeknownst to us, actually was pregnant myself during Part 1-6 of the last series. If that wasn’t a shock enough, in the 3 days since I had last written a post, I had actually found out I wasn’t just unknowingly pregnant but had already lost the baby. Wouldn’t that had been a lot to digest in one sitting? What if I had taken you all the way through not only that news but the surrogacy process (at least as we know it right now) in one post, too? Not only would those 2 posts had been ridiculously long, they would have been horribly emotionally overwhelming – for you and for me. Honestly, besides the obvious reasons why that method wouldn’t have been a good idea, I think dealing with what has transpired in such a way would have been irresponsible, horribly destructive, and far from wise.

Instead of being careless, I walked – and will continue to walk – you through this journey painstakingly slow on purpose. Why? Because I always live posts ahead of you. I know what is coming next and therefore know you need time to digest what has happened thus far; too much at one time, and I’ll lose you. No, I – because I honestly feel it is how God has asked me to do it – choose to walk you through my life bit by bit, always with complete emotional vulnerability, so you’re not overwhelmed by too much at one time but also feel a “part” of the “story,” at least in a way. It’s true. I wanted you to believe I was pregnant, and then that I just crazy, and then once again that I was pregnant, and then crazy again. Why? Because that’s exactly how I felt when I experienced this “story”  I call my life you log on (thanks, btw!) to read.  I wanted you to be heartbroken when, after being so thrilled for us about how surrogacy seemed to be just falling into place, you found out that the complicated process was going to cost us far more than we first thought. That is exactly how we felt, after all.

Why, though? Why get your emotions involved, too? It’s not your life, anyway; you’re just trying to read a blog post. Well, because  If I don’t get you emotionally vested, you won’t read. It’s simple as that. There are billions of other pages clamoring for your attention every time you get on the Internet. If I just lay out the facts all cut and dry, short and sweet, not only will I not be processing my life in a way that is unnatural to me, I’ll lose your attention.

If I lose your attention, I will lose the opportunity to allow Him to impress upon your hearts the message of the drum I will beat until the day I die – that God is sovereign and good – no matter what happens in your life. He’s just as sovereign and good now – 56 days after my miscarriage – as He was a few months ago when I had no idea what all was in store. He’s just as sovereign and good as He was before we were given the estimated bill for surrogacy as He was when I received that Facebook message that started it all. In fact, He’ll be just as good if, after years of heartache and trial, I die and am never able to be an earthly mother. If you get nothing out of my blog, I long for you to get that concept. Yes, bringing everything back to His greatness, my friends, is the method behind my madness.

So, if me giving you a front row seat to my life leads you to Jesus, then I’m game. If it means not shying away from my grief and my hurt, but embracing it and allowing Him to use it for His glory, I’m all about it. If it means continually going through things that I don’t ask for, that I don’t want, that I don’t understand but things that make me more like Christ, more sensitive to His people and more aware of our desperate need for Him, I couldn’t ask for more. After all, I always ask Him to please redeem whatever difficulty I go through in His time, preferably while I can see it, in His way, for His glory and my good.

It’s my daily prayer that my openness gives others  – including you – permission to grieve, to share, to stop pretending everything’s OK, to admit life’s overwhelming and far from clean and cookie-cutter….or is that just my life? 😉

As you’ll learn more and more, my life is far from easy…but as I’m learning again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part 3 to come!

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 1 – 53 Days

53 days ago, after much speculation, we found out we were pregnant. 53 days ago, we found out just that – we were pregnant – but sadly weren’t anymore. 53 days ago, we found out our baby was no longer with us but instead with the Father of Lights, the One who knew their days before the beginning of time. 53 days ago, our lives drastically changed and have never been – and will never be – the same.

Why?

Because 53 days ago, I became a mother.

You may very well disagree with that statement. I know that for a fact, because a brave few, even one on Mother’s Day, have let me know that they don’t view me as a mother yet; they don’t think it’s healthy for me to, either. We’re all entitled to our opinions, I guess. Thankfully, we’re also allowed to vehemently disagree with each other sometimes and still be walking in holiness and love.

I’m glad, because despite what the enemy, and even well-intentioned humans, say, I am a mother.

As I said on my Facebook on Mother’s Day:
: Today I cry tears of sadness because of our child who is no longer with us. Today I cry tears of hope, because that child is safe with the Lord & we’ll see them again. Today I cry tears of grief because I long to have the opportunity to mother my children, all of them. Today I cry tears of joy when I think about all the ways in which God has already, and will continue to, use my precious kids. Today I cry tears of thankfulness, because, like Hannah, the Lord heard my cry & answered my prayer. As a result, no matter what others may think, this Mother’s Day I AM a mother & no one will ever take that away from me.

That post so succinctly sums up all the emotions I have had over the past 53 days.

Please understand, I haven’t been intentionally keeping those emotions from the public. I have sat down to blog probably a dozen of times. There were times the words just wouldn’t come; it’s hard, even for me, to always put into words the plethora of feelings I’ve experienced the past 7 weeks. Other times, the words were there, but the tears that accompanied them made it too hard to sit and write, to immerse myself in the sorrow and try to walk away unscathed and ready for a day’s work

That being said, it would be an understatement to say the emotions surrounding the miscarriage are still raw. Honestly, I think they always will be, at least in a way. No, I don’t cry every day anymore, but that doesn’t mean all is forgotten. Call me crazy (I’m used to it), but I am so very thankful for that fact. I am so very thankful the Lord hasn’t forgotten about our child and I don’t have to, either. Moreover, I am so very thankful that God never gives us more than we can handle and always blesses us in exceedingly abundant ways, if we only choose to look at our earthly life as a vessel for His glory, a vapor in time. Our child’s life inside the womb only lasted a few days, but the impact they have left on our hearts while we still walk this earth – and their time with us in Glory – will last forever.  While we are apart, I refuse to forsake my child and act as if they never existed, even if their conception was far from planned. Instead, I choose to allow Him to use their microscopic life for His glory and daily thank Him for answering my prayer.

How, you ask, did He answer my prayer?
My child, whom I will never meet here on Earth, is dead, after all.

The answer to that question wasn’t always so clear to me, either. About a week after the miscarriage, though, the Lord made the answer very clear while driving home from work one night.  I will never forget that night as long as I live. It was around dusk, and I was driving down a busy road that leads to the entrance to our subdivision, having a conversation out loud with the Lord, which is quite common for me. It was my first day back to work after the miscarriage, and had been an abnormally very long day due to a work-related function after office hours. I was exhausted – physically and emotionally –  and just wanted to go to bed.

While driving down the familiar road, I said very angrily to the Lord, “Why? Why did I have to get pregnant, just so You could take our baby? Couldn’t You just have let us adopt and left us alone? First we can’t afford surrogacy, and then our biological child dies?! Nothing good is coming out of any of this! Why aren’t you answering our prayers and giving us a family? Why are you torturing us instead? I  want our children to be used mightily by You, Lord. Haven’t I prayed that for years?! Please just let them be born, so they can be used by You.” As tears rolled down my cheeks, the Spirit of the Lord began to patiently and quietly speak to me, just as it had so many times before.
“I did answer your prayer, Amber. I am using your child mightily for my glory.”

His answers stopped me dead in my tracks, and I have never been the same since. There was no point in arguing, in saying, “but that’s not what I meant.” It was, after all, far from what I meant all those times the past several years I had petitioned the Lord to use my children. God in His sovereignty and goodness, though, still chose to answer my prayer (at least with this child), albeit in a different, harder-to-understand way. Though my flesh didn’t (and still doesn’t) want to, the only thing left to say in that surprisingly peaceful moment was ‘thank you.’ Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Several weeks after that encounter with the Lord, I am still saying ‘thank you.’

I don’t know how to explain it, but because of His grace, my womb may be empty, but my heart is full.

Though there is still sorrow that comes with their loss, I am still standing in awe of how the Lord is choosing to use our first child for His glory and our good. I am still saying thank ‘thank you’ for how the Lord is choosing to use this blog to reach thousands of people I don’t even know. I am daily blown away with how He’s encouraging so many through my willingness to be so open about our truly miraculous journey. As I’ve told you before, I couldn’t make the past 2 1/2 months of our lives up if I tried.

If you haven’t been following along, please go back and catch up, so your faith can be strengthened as ours has. God isn’t done with the story. I can assure you of that. As the days go on, more will be shared that has happened. Through sharing, we are simply trying to be His vessels, to point all the glory and honor back to Him. We didn’t ask for any of this, but I am certainly not going to waste it. To be able to praise Him through this storm, I have to allow the Lord to redeem it, to use it — for me, though John often wishes otherwise, that comes with bearing my soul to all of you. Thanks for listening, for the private messages and emails, the cards, and more importantly, the prayers. We are truly, truly blessed. 🙂

More to come!

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Filed under Baby, grace, Life, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification