Friday, May 29, 2009

Beautiful Hope

Samuel Rutherford is one of my husband's favorite theologians. I must say, after reading some bits and pieces of his writings, he is one of my favorites too. Samuel outlived (on this earth) all of his nine children, save one, his ten year old daughter.

These are excerpts of letters Samuel wrote to men and women who had also lost children; from The Loveliness of Christ:


Go on and faint not, something of yours is in heaven, beside the flesh of your exalted Saviour, and ye go on after your own.


He is not lost to you who is found to Christ.



She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of your sight, doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere: ye see her not, yet she doth shine in another country.


Beautiful, beautiful HOPE...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is important.

I Will Carry You

I don't always know blogging protocol, but I just needed to share this tonight. I assume, though, that most of you have heard this song. Angie and Todd Smith wrote it after their little girl died the day she was born.

This...this is how I feel.
Some days, I just play it over and over again. Soaking in the words, letting them flow over me. Yes, yes Lord, Owen is safe in Heaven. Who could love him like this?


But if I could do it all over again to hold him for a minute more, I would...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"When I wake up in the morning...

sometimes the first thing I think about is Owen."


No, in this instance, it wasn't me who said this. It wasn't my husband either.


This incredible comment was made by a friend of my husband's and now, she's a life long friend of mine too. Thank you, T.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.


I could relay all the negative/insensitive/rude comments I've received in the past (almost) 19 months. In particular one that was made about 3 weeks ago really affected me deeply.

I have been looking for a part time job the past month and heard about a woman from my church who needs some help this summer at her small business. I walked in one day to inquire in person about a job and we just chatted a little bit about what we both had been up to. You see, I know this woman. Not well, mind you, but well enough. We've been members at the same church for 4 years. She and her husband sent us a card when Owen died.

She asked me what kind of work experience I have, so I told her about the job I held for almost two years (the one I had while I was pregnant with Owen). I told her that I left right after I had Owen and haven't worked since.

Then comes the bomb...."Well", she replied, "Who's going to look after Owen while you work?"

I don't think I've ever been as shocked as I was at that moment. I just stuttered and stammered for a minute. My eyes were probably as big as saucers when I opened my mouth to say, "Well, he's...um..."

Then it hit her.

She waved her arms in front of her as if to stuff the words back in her mouth. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I just...I don't know...I thought you...I don't know what I was thinking."

Then, the tears came; and it was not pretty. I ugly cried right there in front of her and the rest of the store. I know she felt awful. I understand Owen is not always on her mind. I (reluctantly) get that most people have forgotten him....


but then there's T, who didn't even know Chris when Owen was alive or when he died. She's heard stories about Owen and looked at his pictures on Chris' desk every day. She told Chris that she often thinks of Owen and what we all are missing out on because he lives in Heaven; and how I should be coming into work with Owen toddling in front of me to pick Chris up for lunch.


Amidst all the people who have forgotten, the people who don't understand 'what the big deal is', the people who try to disregard Owen's life and devalue him as a person, there are those who value his life and who miss him.


My mother's heart soars...


There are people who will always remember Owen, and as much as they can, they really get it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A wedding, the beach and a whole lotta pictures

This past weekend, Chris and I traveled down to St. Petersburg, FL for a friend's wedding. His good friend/former roommate asked him to provide the music for the wedding, so how could we resist?
The wedding was beautiful and the reception was full of lively dancing and crazy antics. Chris' friend, M, and his (new) wife live in NYC, but decided to have a destination wedding at the beach. M is an aspiring film maker/screen writer, whose films have been nominated in several film festivals here in Georgia and California (Chris has written the music for some of his films too).

I don't know about you, but I get kind of nervous before big trips. I guess I am a little bit, okay, I am a grandma of sorts. I don't know if it's one big thing or just a bunch of little things that get me all nervous about leaving town and traveling long distances to a place we've never been.
Once we got there, however, I had a good time. The beach was beautiful and St. Pete's was really nice.

I was so hopeful that a vacation and some time away from the routine of home would be good for us, but as I should have known, grief doesn't take vacations.

We weren't really familiar with most of the people who were in the wedding (all of the bride's side, I guess), so I knew that I would get overwhelmed pretty easily during the rehearsal dinner. It doesn't take much to make me feel overstimulated and overwhelmed nowadays, add to that a room full of people I didn't know.
Chris is such an outgoing person and sometimes doesn't understand why I can't be as social as he is. We had some miscommunication that made us both feel pretty grumpy, and then it was time for the slideshow of the bride and groom....
you know, the one with all the baby pictures and sappy music....

I couldn't help it. My eyes wandered over to the groom's mom- and the look on her face. It was just...indescribable. I almost lost it, but knew that the room full of people would not understand my sobs or mad dash to the hallway, so I held it in for the sake of the bride and groom. This was their night, after all.

Chris and I left right after the slideshow and walked back to the hotel.
It's not like I've never thought about this aspect of Owen's life that I was missing...but maybe a part of me just didn't let it in until I saw M's baby pictures flash across the screen and the look on his mom's face as she watched her little boy's life roll by year after year. All those memories. All those years they spent together. And now he's married. Her little boy.


I had a good cry Saturday night and when Sunday morning rolled around, it was time to make some sweet memories with my husband.

Joy alongside sorrow...sometimes I just don't understand how it's possible.

I've already forgotton what beach this is- but it was really pretty. Expect for the stingrays- they were pretty scary. The guy in the water next to us got stung by one on the top of his foot. Ouch.


The reception was beautiful. I must say, the bride had excellent taste.

This was right outside the reception, on the terrace over looking the bay. All those lights are huge, gorgeous yachts.

These are some good friends from Chris' high school days, and college too. We carpooled down to FL with the couple (the ones I'm standing between) and had such a good time.

Don't you love his pink tie? Yep, me too!

We got up the day after the wedding and explored some more of St Pete's before taking off for GA.


Chris wanted me to take a picture of all the pelicans on the tiers, but you can't really see them; but trust me, they were there.

You can't tell in this picture, but Chris did not remember to put sunscreen on his feet the day before. Needless to say, he didn't have that much fun walking around.


I wish you could see them better, but this is a flock, um, a gaggle, no....a gang (?) of stingrays. They were beautiful, flying together on the top of the water.


This tree was amazing! I think it was okay that we climbed it...


Another gorgeous tree.




And yes, my husband may very well not speak to me tonight when he sees that I uploaded this video without his permission...but it was just too funny to resist and it highlights his crazy/weird/adorable personality that I love so much. I also zoomed in on the bride and groom dancing the night away. They really are as cute as they seem.

video

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quiet, Comfort and Peace

Thank you all so much for praying for us this week. I'm not lying or exaggerating when I say that I felt your prayers all morning (even when I was in and out of sleep) and that we are experiencing the comfort of God in new ways.

By 'new ways', I mean being startled awake before the sun has risen and having all the same emotions of the previous night envelope me as I cry out (scream) to the Lord for help. I just can't describe the awesome flowing of the Holy Spirit- as He calmed and quieted my soul- the extreme comfort I felt in His presence.

I wish I didn't have to be so cryptic, but really, it's for the best. Some things aren't meant to be shared in such a public arena, and some things are made to be shared to bring glory to God.

Suffice it to say that your prayers were felt and much appreciated. Thank you.


Thank you so, so much.


p.s. (eta) I promise to tell you when I'm pregnant> I promise I won't lead you on with cryptic references or make you crazy with curiosity. I promise this wasn't such a post.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beggar begging

Please, please pray for us.

If you think of it, please pray.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unaffected?

I often wonder if the people in my 'real life', you know, the people who sit next to you in church, the people you know from college or high school, think about Owen and what it must be like to live in our shoes. Do they miss him? Does he even cross their minds as they go about their day; holding their children, complaining about poopy diapers and lack of sleep. Does he enter their thoughts when they take a pregnancy test or go into labor?

Owen...

Do they remember him when tears stream down my face during all the songs at church? Is he all but forgotten?

What is it like to live in a world where this type of thing only happens to 'other people'? I can't remember...yes, one day, 18 months and some days ago, I was just like them.

Do they think of him at all? Does he matter to anyone but me and my husband?
Are they unaffected?


Is this self centered?

Probably. I am, after all, the center of attention in my own head.


I mention this because I have gotten a couple emails lately. Emails from 'real life' friends who make me a little more willing to venture out into public; to face the crowds of pregnant women and babies; to brave the forgetful and unsympathetic faces of my everyday life...

My heart grows bigger each time I read those words...'I miss Owen too.'

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is simple always easy?

It's easy to trust the Lord when things are pleasant and nothing is complicated. It's easy to say that you trust in our good God when your bills are paid, your kids are healthy, your bank account is no where near empty and the only worry you have is what your neighbor really meant when she said, 'oh, well, um...I like your new haircut.'

This is where I lived for many years. Not the healthy kids part, but all the rest, for sure.
I just didn't know what hard was. I made up drama when I was bored (you know, 'why did Suzy look at me like that in church' and other such nonsense). I read my Bible when I thought people were looking or to get scripture that might come in handy in Bible study or conversations so I could look like a good Christian. I talked the good talk with all the 'good' Christian lingo, because I thought that's what being a Christian was all about. I just didn't know what it meant to believe God's word and trust in Him.

When things were hard, like losing my job and being unemployed for 8 months, I turned away from God because I was bitter and angry with Him for allowing such a hardship. I had no idea how to trust Him (not that I'm an expert now).
I lived in worry and anxiety, turning away from Him in petulance because I just didn't understand. I worried about money and finding another job. I was anxious about what we were supposed to do with our adult lives. No one told me being an adult was so hard!
I believed that worrying was a way to control the situation we were in. I thought I could worry my way out of it.

It's difficult to give up any sense of control you might (mistakenly) feel you have and lean on the Lord, and trust His sovereignty and goodness.


I am struggling pretty fiercely today. This comes as no surprise. I've been struggling with the same things for the past 18 months...it has become commonplace, a very normal part of my life.

Recently, though, I have to admit that God has been revealing the sin in my struggling; and it isn't pretty.
It's hard to imagine struggling differently than I have been, but I think that's exactly what He desires in showing me my sin.

It started after reading Horatius Bonar and his book God's Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious. I felt like I had stumbled upon something no one had ever told me before! Where had this truth been all my worried filled life??

Now are you sure that the truth which, you say you know, is the very gospel of the grace of God? Or is it only something like it? And may not the reason of your getting no peace from that which you believe, just be, because it contains none? You have got hold of many of the good things, but you have missed, perhaps, the one thing which made it a joyful sound? You believe perhaps the whole gospel, save the one thing which makes it good news to a sinner? You see the cross as bringing salvation very near; but not so absolutely close as to be in actual contact with you as you are; not so entirely close but that there is a little space, just a hand breadth or a hairbreath, to be made up by your own prayers, or efforts, or feelings? Everything, you say, is complete; but then, that want of feeling in myself! Ah, there it is! There is the little unfinished bit of Christ's work which you are trying to finish, or to persuade him by your prayers, to finish for you! That want of feeling is the little inch of distance which you have to get removed before the completeness of Christ's work is available for you!


It seems like Bonar is speaking directly to me. I have been trying and trying, struggling to get that peace, striving toward being someone and doing something that will make peace available to me, when it is already mine! Christ has finished it all and I have only to rest in His completed work. Rest in my salvation and believe.

You must begin at the beginning once more; and go back to the simplest elemsents of heavenly truth, which are wrapped up in the great facts that Jesus died and rose again; facts too little understood, nay, undervalued by many; facts to which the apostles attached such vast importance, and on which they laid so much stress; facts out of which the primitive believers, without the delay of weeks or months, extracted their peace and joy.


Faith is not something I can work at or get better at, but trusting is something I need to practice. And practice it, I have! Thus the post about sore muscles.
I don't want to misled anyone by saying that there are no longer bad days; because there are. The bad days are still bad, but they are filled with crying out to my Father; getting angry and repenting, feeling afraid and praying, relying on His promises, even if I can't see any proof of a promise.
No matter how 'strong in the faith' I become, I will always be weak, incapable, and in need of a Savior. But that is good news!

The consciousness of insensibility, like the sense of guilt, ought to be one of your reasons for trusting him the more, whereas you make it a reason for not trusting him at all. Would a child treat a father or mother thus? Would it make its bodily weakness a reason for distrusting parental love? Would it not feel that the weakness was thoroughly know to the parent, and was just the very thing that was drawing out more love and skill? A stronger child would need less care and tenderness. But the poor helpless palsied one would be of all the likeliest to be pitied and watched over. Deal thus with Christ; and make the hardness of heart an additional reason for trusting him, and for prizing his finished work.


The Gospel is not good news to those who want for nothing and believe themselves to be 'good' people. It is simply okay news.

The Gospel is life giving, wonderful news to those who know they simply cannot function without a Savior; and know that without His work on their behalf, they have nothing to offer our Heavenly Father.

This is where I am living now-
I simply cannot function without Him and I have absolutely nothing to offer Him. There is nothing I can do or think or feel that will bring me closer to God.
That's a pretty vulnerable place to be, isn't it? I am bought near to God through Christ's work; even my faith is a gift!
Ephesians 2: 8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Even if trusting Him hurts (and life is hard, complicated and messy), I want to trust Him.

I want to trust Him in our messy lives, in the things that don't look like they'll ever get better or change. I want to trust Him, no matter the outcome, believing that He loves me; giving God all the glory.

The peace of God is already mine. It is just that simple...that's what makes it so hard.
Giving up our sense of power over our lives and letting go of the control we think we have is not an easy task; but it is so wonderful.

Ephesians 2: 1-10

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sometimes it is just that simple

My muscles are tired. Exhausted is a better word.

I have a muscle so exhausted that it hurts to use it. Honestly before a few months ago, I didn't even know that I had this muscle, but it is the most important muscle in my body. The one I use the least and the one I need the most.

Faith.

Recently, I've found that I just don't trust God. I mean, I believe what it says in the Bible about Him being good and just and faithful, but did/do I trust Him? Um, what does that mean exactly?
What does it look like to trust Him?

For me it means praying that the Spirit intercede for me and ask the Father for what I need, because I have NO idea. I am at the end of myself. I just don't know what to do or where to go or who to listen to.

The voices of worry are so enticing...it is comforting to feel like I am doing something to help myself. If I worry, then x won't happen. If I worry, then I can find a way around y. If I worry, then z won't be so bad anymore.

The voices of the devil are even more enticing. He speaks to me in whispers in the quiet of the night. What if...what if...
Will I get pregnant again? Will this baby die too? What if...what if the worst happens again...
Is God trustworthy? Does He care? Where is He?

Trusting my Father means playing the ABC game of God's character while I'm trying to go to sleep so I won't let my mind wander to places it's hard to come back from. The path worry takes you down is not impossible to come back from, but it's a hard road full of flat tires and detours. It just sucks.

For me, trusting my Father means praying instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong; praying instead of letting anxiety get a firm grip.


By His Spirit, I turn to my Father, who loves me. I turn my face to what I know is true.
He loves me.

If nothing good ever happens to me...if all else is shit...I will still know that He loves me.
The joy of my salvation speaks volumes to my broken and contrite heart. I have Jesus.

I turn away from the nonsense of worry, the deceit of the devil and the cares of the world. By His Spirit, I turn my face to Him and trust.

I trust that His goodness is not measured by the world's standards; His goodness and mercy is displayed in the sacrifice on the cross, the forgiveness of sins, and in the reconciliation with our Father.

His Spirit within me, I trust my Father.

For a girl that has lived a life of worry, absentmindedly listening to the devil's lies, letting all the shit fall down around me and trusting in something I can't see or touch or hear is hard.

Did I say hard? I meant excruciating.
And wonderful.

Ever read in the Bible about having faith like a child? Well, I think I get it now.

A child doesn't question her Father's goodness. A child trusts. A child loves and follows. She knows her Father has her hand, no matter what else is going on around her. The world may crumble around her, but she trusts her Father's guidance and goodness.


I trust Him. He loves me. And sometimes it is just that simple.

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 Things...

...from my week:
(*edited to add pictures*)

1. Reeling in a 2lb catfish is not as easy as it sounds. Talk to my forearms if you want some proof.

2. Cherry Coke and a cool afternoon on my parent's back porch will soften this girl's heart, if nothing else will.
3. Just because you sit under a dock does not mean the sun can't get to you.

4. Two days without your favorite person is a long time.

5. Having thyroid disease sucks.

6. SPF 50 works a lot better than sitting under a dock, supposedly in the shade.

7. God's mercies are new every morning.

______________________________________________________________

I've been away (with the exception of Owen's 18 month birthday and Mother's Day) for 2 weeks. Wow. I know what you're thinking...2 weeks- that's like forever!
Yep. I know....

Insert cute little smiley face emoticon here.

I don't know where this whole blogging thing is going...things are changing and a lot has been happening in my heart lately...I wish I had words to describe...

I am back, but I don't know what it will look like.


I really, really appreciate your kind words, sweet comments and especially your prayers. If it wasn't for what God has done through the world wide web and making connections online- that turned into real life friendships, I just don't know where I would be. I'm glad I won't have to find out.

I love you all and I just wanted to let you know (I know the world doesn't stop for me, but after all, I am the center of attention in my own head...) that I am here. I am okay. And God is awesomely faithful and worthy of praise.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Everyone Else Forgets...

You hold him in Your arms while the angels sing lullabies of praise and glory, jealous of His love and sacrifice for such a tiny baby; for all His precious ones.

Owen is important, valued, and special. Saying it doesn't make it true. Saying it brings Him glory.

God, gracious and perfect, sacrificed His Son, who was a part of Himself- they had never been separated- to bring His children into a reconciled relationship with Him...to live fully in Heaven with Him after this life on Earth is over.

Owen didn't do anything to make me love him. I loved him because he was mine; my son.
In the same way, Owen (for all that I love and adore him) didn't do anything to cause God to love him. He didn't perform any great works to bring God honor and praise. But God loves him; and that makes him important, valued and special. God loves him.


Today is Mother's Day. Did anyone need a reminder?

A day to celebrate mothers...what does that even look like now?


For me, it looks like:
looking past the cards that didn't come, the phone calls I didn't receive, the forgetfulness of others, the social awkwardness that it is attached to stillbirth and thus my son, the inability of others to walk alongside the grieving;

and focusing on the work of a Son who reconciled me to my Father, loving my own mom and mom-in-law with an imperfect and sometimes selfish love (I know you understand why we disappeared today), celebrating the lives my little ones had here with me and the full lives they live in Heaven, remembering my babies with a mother's love.

By His Spirit, I choose to celebrate their lives. Owen's life. Sweet chipmunk and sunshine too. By His Spirit, I choose to rejoice over the full lives my children have because of Jesus.
And in the midst of my rejoicing, I choose to weep for our great losses and for the separation from our children. I miss them.


Happy Mother's Day, sweet mommies of children in Heaven. Today, they sit in His lap instead of ours...and one day, we'll sit in His lap too.

Friday, May 8, 2009

18 months

18 months ago, I held my little boy in my arms for the first time.

I had held him for 36 weeks and 1 day, cherished his kicks and hiccups, loved and endured his feet in my ribs, felt my body grow and change to accommodate my ever growing baby boy, imagined our life with him, prepared and planned for his birth;
but today, today 18 months ago at 11:08am, I held him in my arms, and wept with the aching sorrow of a mother's heart. A mother.

I had already been a mother for 36 weeks and 1 day. I had felt the overwhelming responsibility of caring for another, a child. I heard his heartbeat and saw his movements on an ultrasound machine, saw my body growing along with his, felt his kicks, rolls, hiccups and punches; and today I saw his body with my eyes and my hands. His mother.

18 months later, I hold him in my heart, and rejoice for him and the life he is living with his Heavenly Father.

My son...



"Think of your child; then, not as dead, but as living; not as a flower that has withered, but as one that is transplanted, and touched by a divine hand, is blooming in richer colors and sweeter shades than those on earth." ~ Richard Hooker

Friday, May 1, 2009

During my 'breaking'

Yes, I know. I am supposed to be on a blogging break. I am still 'breaking', but I wanted to begin my break with this 'good word' from a man named Horatius Bonar and his book God's Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious:


If you understand the gospel, the consciousness of your total helplessness would just be the discovery that you are the very sinner to whom the great salvation is sent; that your inability was all foreseen and provided for, and that you are in the very position which needs, which calls for, and shall receive, the aid of the Almighty Spirit.

Till you free yourself in this extremity of weakness, you are not in a condition (if I may say so) to receive the heavenly help. Your idea of remaining ability is the very thing that repels the help of the Spirit, just as any idea of remaining goodness thrusts away the propitiation of the Saviour. It is your not seeing that you have no strength that is keeping you from believing. So long as you think you have some strength in doing something, - and specially in performing to your own and Satan's satisfaction, that great act or exercise of soul called "faith." But when you find out that you have no strength left, you will, in blessed despair, cease to work, - and (ere you are aware) - believe! For, if believing be not a ceasing to work, it is at least the necessary and immediate result of it. You expended your little stock of imagined strength in holding fast the ropes of self- righteousness, but now, when the conviction of having no strength at all is forced upon you, you drop into the arms of Jesus. But this you will never do, so long as you fancy that you have strength to believe. (emphasis mine)



I hope this encourages you to set it all down at his feet, crawl into his lap and rest.



*I'll miss you all too!*