Thursday, February 26, 2009

November 9 2007: After

We were discharged from the hospital the next day. Our sweet, compassionate nurse wept as she handed me a small brown teddy bear. He was the consolation prize for leaving the hospital with empty arms. At first, I didn't want him. I was numb with grief and sorrow. I didn't want a stupid teddy bear. I wanted Owen!
My grateful husband took the bear in his arms and held him for me until my arms were ready...Owen's teddy.


I don't remember her name. I don't remember anything about her except the look in her eyes and the sadness I found there. She had difficulty forming the words but eventually we understood that she was telling us that she could take us out the back way; down the emergency stairs, away from the other moms and their happy endings, away from the nursery window with the crying newborns. I wept with gratitude. I had dreaded this moment from the very first step I had taken into the maternity ward.
No wheelchair. No walk of shame past the other mothers whose babies were still alive. She had given us the most precious gift.

I don't remember her name, but I remember her compassion.


I took the brown bear from my husband and wrapped him in my arms. This was all I was leaving with, but at least my arms weren't empty. I had the love and the compassion of a sweet nurse, my husband's arms around me, and the memories of a precious little boy who left us way too early. My arms were ready.


Down the stairs, out into the cold November air, into the unknown of after, I carried a physical reminder of my son's existence in my arms...

I carried my son in my heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Day of Owen's Birth

Walking into the labor and delivery ward, my whole body was shaking with pain. My legs felt heavier with each step we took. I didn't know if I was strong enough to go through labor. I just wanted to sleep through the intense pain that accompanied my waking hours. Not that sleep was restful, but I couldn't imagine what laboring through my son's birth after his death would be like...and I didn't want to know.


My water broke at 5:30am and labor progressed quickly. I can't remember what we did to pass the time or when our families arrived at the hospital. I decided to have an epidural when I could feel the contractions getting stronger. I didn't want the physical pain; the emotional devastation was crippling.
We brought our computer to the hospital and played a CD of hymns that I had made the week before. I had planned on listening to this CD during labor, while waiting for Owen to be born. It only seemed fitting that we play it now, after his death.

Two hours after getting the epidural, it was time. Everyone was surprised at how quickly I had progressed. I had prayed (and specifically asked for others to pray) for a quick labor, a quick end to the horrible waiting game we had been put through.
Owen had been gone three days when he was born.

God was gracious.

At 11:08am, Owen was born silently into my arms, but three days earlier he had entered joyfully into his Savior's arms.
The most beautiful baby I had ever seen, the tiniest baby I had ever held. He was ours.
I wept with joy at finally holding him in my arms. I had waited for this day for nine months!

Everything about him was perfect. His tiny fingers and toes, his little button nose, the pink perfection of his skin was stunning. His tiny chin was an exact replica of mine. I laughed at our similarities. Owen was my mini-me. He did have his daddy's lips and ears, but the rest...the rest was all me. I couldn't have been a prouder mom.


We held him all day. Family members made their way into our room to meet Owen and weep over him. Was this a dream? I couldn't have just delivered my first born, my son. He couldn't be dead. The stark reality of our life hit me all over again, and again and again.
A deluge of pain swept over me and the shock was slowly worn away.


The song that was playing when he was born will forever be embedded into my brain, my heart.


Oh, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus


Monday, February 23, 2009

November 6 2007 forward

Driving home, I spoke to him through tears. Sobs choking the words. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I...your son. I am...our baby boy shouldn't be the first person you lose."

We sat on the sofa all afternoon. Neither of us moving. For hours, we sat alone. Together. His arms around me, my arms around my huge stomach, our son dead. When people started arriving, I remember whispering to him, "I don't want his death to turn anyone away from God. I'm not angry. I'm not angry. I don't want anyone to be angry."

I wasn't lying. There was no anger in my heart. No anger in my words. Devastation slumped my shoulders, sorrow gripped my heart, pain poured down my face; I was in shock.
The anger would come later.

Our pastor came that night to comfort us. To sit with us and cry and pray. I told him I didn't want Owen's death to turn our family and friends away from God. I was clinging to Him. Where else could we go? My strong father beat his head against the door frame in misery and pain. I felt so hopeless, so helpless. My belly, the little boy inside of me already gone in spirit, still protruding prominently in the midst of us...and all I could do was cry out to the Lord.

The next day, we packed to go to the hospital. To see our son, face to face. To cement the reality already tightening in my chest.
I cried in our bedroom and my mom held me while our tears flowed freely. I was afraid of labor. Afraid of going to the hospital, of leaving the hospital without my son. I didn't want the after. I didn't want to think about coming home to our empty apartment. To our empty life, a life without our son.

There was nothing else to be done, but the inevitable. He needed to come. We needed to see him face to face.
We needed to hold his tiny body and say goodbye.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Healing



I'm sick with grief.

My heart is so heavy. so sad. When does healing come? What does it mean to be healed when I will ALWAYS be separated from and missing my son? What is healing then?


My little boy is gone. My baby should be 15 months old. Not a baby anymore. A toddler. I don't even know what a 15 month old does. Would he be talking? Saying mama and dada? Standing? Walking?
No, he's a baby. Always a baby to us. Do babies stay babies in Heaven?


His beautiful new crib packed into boxes in my parent's basement. His mattress, unused.
Diapers, never opened. Wipes given away...without my permission. Those were supposed to be his wipes. He never needed them. I never got to change his stinky diapers. I wanted to so badly. I couldn't wait.

His tiny clothes, I washed and folded them so carefully. Tucked away in his dresser...taken out and packed away the day he was born. Not the way it was supposed to be. Little hats and socks...so tiny, unimaginable that he would fit into something so tiny. He never wore them.
Stored in boxes in a closet. Blankets and towels with hoods, soft little washcloths and a quilt. A huge, colorful, beautiful red fleece blanket. I wanted to lay him on it and snuggle with him, Dorothe. Thank you making it so lovingly for him.

So many stuffed animals waited for him in his crib. So many people left waiting.

I regret not calling everyone I knew to come and meet my son face to face. The one day I got to spend holding him in my arms. A first time mom, clueless and afraid of hurting him. I knew I couldn't hurt him, but I was clumsy and unsure of myself. I just wanted him to stay, stay a bit longer with us.

I want everyone to know him. Know my baby, our son.
Owen.


Remember him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let Me Count The Ways

This one goes out to the ones I love...the ones that left me behind...

I'm just kidding, but on the other hand, with the week we've had here on the mainland, I wish I was out at sea. I really need to take to the sea.

My parents are on a cruise, as I type. They took off from work and jetted to the seas with some college friends for a week of fun, sun and lots o' fruity drinks. I hope they're having fun...and hope they take us with them next time...hint hint.



Overall this week has been yucky. Is yucky a grown up word? Is grown up a grown up word? I don't know. I just know that it has not been a fun week here in our part of town.

Despite our recent cat issues, I've just been so down.
I miss Owen so much. It hurts to breathe when my heart is aching this much.
And I'm so so sick of constantly being reminded of what I don't have with Owen, of what I won't get to experience with him on this earth. I'm tired of feeling like less than. I'm not a mother, because my son is dead...more than that...my son did not live outside my body, so I am...what? What does that make my son? What is the word for those of us whose babies died before they were born? Are our babies even on the same par as babies who live to take their first breath?
It bothers me so much. It's not so much that I need other people to call me on Mother's Day or whatever else moms get recognition for; I need people to recognize why I'm a mom.
My son. I want people to value him and his life. I want him to be remembered.

My mother's heart cries out Remember him. Value his life. He was important and special.

_______________________________________________________________

Do you have pets? If you do, I'm sure you would agree with me that it is a love-hate relationship.
Oh, kitties, sweet precious cats, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love how much noise you make at 5am when I've finally fallen into a deep sleep, what with the fighting and the meowing and the bathing and the running all over the house like crazy people, it's no wonder why you sleep all day.

I love the smelly poop you deposit in the middle of our yummy dinner, in the middle of watching a movie, and my favorite, on the top of our bed because you're angry.

I love how you use our new furniture as a scratching post.

I love how we've had to resort to covering our sofa with blankets to deter your crazed scratching.

I love the way you always manage to sit in the middle of important papers and disrupt my system by chewing on anything you can get in your little mouths (I take our budget very seriously).

I love how I sat in cat pee our very first night in our new house.

I love how your stinky breath awakens me in the middle of the night.

I love how you decapitate my plants if I leave them in your line of sight.

I love how you turn your smelly butt in my direction to get my attention.

I love how you learn to spray after we've finally gotten up all the stinking cat pee AND removed the offending carpet from the house!

I love...

Okay, okay. Fine. I really, really do love you, Maggie and Lucy. Demonstrated by the fact that I did not throw your smelly butt out when I noticed you doing a funny dance by the door, Lucy. I'm sorry you've been quarantined in the bathroom for the time being, but believe me, it is much better than the alternative.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm having such a sad night.

Feels like I'm falling

I can't find the bottom.

I Wanna Travel

around the world....




and dance.

Yes, friends, there will be dancing in Heaven.
I can't wait.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wasted A Good Thirty Minutes

O.K. So. I read the books. I saw the movie. Twice.

What do I say for myself? Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. I make no excuses; I can only offer you this:

The Lies I Believed

This post piggy-backs off a post from last week.

After I wrote it, I was so excited about the freedom this would bring us in our life and in our grief.
Hubs and I talked about the lies we believe as Christians and how it seems like we are completely content to let each other believe these lies; to put stock in them and carry them with us as truths.


But they are not. They are lies and they hurt. They divide and they destroy.


Maybe I'm the only one who has been buying into this lie. Maybe it's just my issue, but I'm not content to let other people believe this lie, if it's not just me after all.



He loves His children equally.




1 John 3:1-2
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh, The Places You Went!

Dearest Owen,

Even though the sweetness of our time together can be blurred with tears of sadness and longing, we had such great times together! These are memories I never want to forget. Maybe one day, I will be able to think of you and not be filled with anger and frustration at our short time together, but with gratitude for the time we were given with you, our precious first born.


Before we knew about you, dear one, we celebrated your daddy's birthday. We made him a red velvet cake with tons of sprinkles, because that's what he likes best.
We spent the night celebrating with my brother, your uncle T., and his girlfriend K. They're engaged now, little one, and getting married this year!
I'm sure if I had known about you then, I wouldn't have tried picking up their dog Bella.
Side note: she's heavier than she looks...
A few days before we found out you existed, we went hiking with some friends. It was a beautiful March day. The sky was a perfect shade of blue; it was a wonderful spring day. We hiked and played in the river.
We found a park on our hike and played on the swing set. I wonder if you could feel the motion back and forth, and if you noticed when I decided to jump from the swing, like a second grader.
My parents, your sweet grandparents, invited us up to their house a lot when you were happily residing in my tummy. They lived on a lake and we spent many a day fishing and grilling out. Thanks to you, little squirt, I had the perfect excuse not to put the worm on my hook!
When you were about 10 weeks old, we spent the weekend at your great grandmom's house. She's a sweet lady, I know you've met her little baby, Charles Cooper, I'm sure you're great playmates.
Your second cousin had a wedding shower, and man, did you love those little ham biscuits. Yummy!
One day at work, where we spent many an hour sitting at my desk, we had some excitement in the form of a baby possum, who decided to hang out on the front lawn of the building.
You were growing so fast, it was hard to wear my dress to your aunt K.'s high school graduation. We had a great time.
Your second cousin, T., graduated from college just a few weeks later. You were very hungry that day, and not comfortable in the heat, but T. was glad that we were there.
For my birthday, we spent the weekend getting spoiled by your grandparents. Your grandmommy had already bought you so many cute little outfits, and we didn't even know that you were a boy yet!
Later in the summer, the week before the big ultrasound where you would be only too proud to show us you were a boy, we took you to the beach. You loved the smell of the ocean and the roar of the waves. This is where I thought I felt you flutter for the first time. I think you loved being so close to the water, little fish. Little did I know, that you were just gearing up to be the most active baby there ever was!
We spent a lot of time sitting under an umbrella, reading good books and eating goldfish that week. We had a blast...
Well, until your silly daddy broke his shoulder in the rough waters. The three of us spent the Fourth of July in the ER. Fun times!
The next week, the day before our level II ultrasound, you made your first big kick! We were sitting at my desk and after a mango smoothie, you decided to tell me how much you looooved smoothies. We drank smoothies a lot after that!
We went to your second cousin's wedding that week too. I had so much fun showing off your adorable ultrasound pictures. Your grandmommy had said that in your very first picture you looked like a blob of poop. Gee, thanks grandmommy! Well, in these pictures, you proudly showed us you were a boy, but wouldn't show us your cute little face, you little squirt.
We had a great time at the wedding, you kicked up a storm when we danced!
At the end of the summer, we spent Labor Day at your grandparent's. You really really wanted to go swimming, but let's face it, lake water is not clean. We settled for swimming at the local pool every day after work. You were my little fish.
Early in the fall, you scared us when you tried to come early at 29 weeks. Your daddy was so ready for you to be here, that I don't think he was as scared as I was. After we were discharged, we came home and spent a lot of time on the sofa, watching silly t.v shows. Daddy took this picture of the two of us, just in case you came early and we didn't have one of you getting so big; read: your mommy had the greatest excuse to eat whatever she wanted.
We watched your daddy (and helped a little too) put your crib together. You kicked so much that night. It was so funny to think that you were excited about having your crib next to our bed.
We took one last trip to your grandparent's house before you were born. That weekend is a sad one to look back on. We didn't know we'd be seeing you so soon. We didn't know we couldn't keep you. The two of us spent a lot of time sleeping that weekend; I thought that maybe I could store up sleep to tide me over when you finally came.
We didn't know you were leaving us this day, precious one. We spent the day at work, then hurried to the grocery store to pick up some last minute things we needed for your arrival. Your daddy and I were so excited to buy wipes and mylicon drops and some great butt cream we heard was wonderful. Then we took our last pictures together.


Little man, precious Owen, your mommy and daddy miss you so much. We had so much to look forward to, there were still so many things we wanted to do with you, things we wanted to show you.
It was just the beginning, Owen...it wasn't supposed to be the end.

Our hearts will always ache for you. We will always remember you, remember the great times we had, and all the places we went together...we have great memories with you, son. Our memories will have to be enough for the moment, until we see you again, until we hold you in our arms and breathe your sweet baby scent once more. You are in our hearts, sweet baby boy.
We carry your memory there.


Love,
your mommy and daddy

(untitled)

And it looks different, Lord
Different than I thought it would;
More different than I wanted.

It looks uneven, Lord
It feels unfair;
Much more uneven than it should.




Sleep in His arms tonight, little one.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Personal

It seems like pastors have this unspoken rule where they MUST use stories from their wives' pregnancy or labor/birth of their children as leading anecdotes to begin their sermons. For those of us who have horrendous birth stories and sadness surrounding pregnancy, these personal anecdotes hurt.
Sitting on the fourth row at church, I am transported back into the delivery room, laboring for a child who is already gone. The only sounds in the room are cries, but not my child's cries...my husband's, my mother's and my own.
No fetal monitors.
I am laboring for my son. But he is gone. I am praying for a miracle. But none comes. I am praying for mercy.
Is God listening?

Our pastor says something that shakes me from my memories..."God was gracious to us, our son came home in only 11 days, not the 3-4 weeks we were told to expect."

God was gracious...

I am back on the hospital bed; my son is born, perfect stillness. The doctor looks expectantly at me, 'Do you want me to place him on your chest?'
I look at her bewildered...'Yes, yes of course, he is my son. I've been waiting 9 months for him.'

And he is beautiful. He is more than I could have dreamed possible; tiny, perfect, all pink newborn perfection.

I am back in the fourth row. I realize that my head is down, tears streaming from my eyes, quiet sobs escaping my throat, my husband's hand holding mine.
I realize where I am. I am listening to a man remember his son's birth. He is remembering the fear, worry, joy and relief, and I am feeling the line rise up between us...a stark distinction between our experiences, our sons' birth stories...our own stories.

I am not trying to minimize my pastor's pain when he learns his son's lungs are not working well or the worry that he feels when his son is sent to the NICU. I am not playing a game of comparisons.
Or am I?

Is there are discrepancy between our two stories (beyond the obvious)? Was God gracious to my pastor and his wife, but not to us? Was God merciful to them, but not to us? After all, our son died, theirs still lives.

It hurts to hear the other side...the stories where the baby lives, he comes home, he grows up.
It doesn't hurt because his child lived. It hurts because mine died, he didn't come home, I won't watch him grow up;
I had to say goodbye to my little boy.

I am not angry at my pastor or the precious little boy who lived. I am angry with God. Why couldn't He allow Owen, my son, to live?

I suppose I could argue this all day. I have spent over a year trying to reconcile these issues.
How do I trust God when He chooses to work differently in my son's life? When He sees fit to take him home to Heaven, instead of healing him and allowing us to raise him?
Do I trust that He loves Owen as much as the little boy crying in the row next to me?
Does He love me the same too?

If I take other people out of the equation, if I stop looking at their lives, at the story God is weaving in their lives, then what am I left with?
As the months wear on, 15 months to be exact, since the day I held Owen in my arms and marveled at his beauty, I am forced to examine my personal story, my son's story, and see God's grace and mercy permeating both.

It does not look like my pastor's story. It does not look like the stories of the people sitting next to me in church, but it is mine and it is Owen's...and God was gracious in ways I cannot express.
God was gracious, though the outcome was not what I wanted; though we are separated from our son for a time,
God was gracious...

This is our story.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

The above title is from a Travis song, but sometimes, I do feel like this is just par for the course in my life.

Warning: Extreme paranoia and whining ahead, precede with caution.

I've had this dull pain in my left side for maybe a week now. It comes and goes, and mostly feels like there's something in there that doesn't fit; some foreign object that shouldn't be there.

I was taking baby aspirin for about a week when the pain started. It was a sharp, burning sensation on my left side, under my ribcage. Anatomy 101: that is where your stomach and spleen are located, right?
Well, of course, I googled side effects of baby aspirin:

Burning sensation in stomach, caused by gastritis
Bleeding in the stomach or spleen

These two side effects jumped off the screen at me and have been residing in the back of my mind all week.
Worry has taken root in my heart.


What if I'm bleeding internally and don't know it? The burning sensation stopped a day after I quit taking the baby aspirin, but I'm still concerned about this dull ache in my side. It just doesn't feel right. I know the mind is a powerful thing...maybe I am just worrying a pain in my side.

What if I'm one of the few that can't tolerate baby aspirin? The burning pain in my side was intolerable. I do have a high pain tolerance...even if I do whine about it, I can still take it.
But what if I am unable to take baby aspirin in my next pregnancies? I need to take this small pink pill. I need the reassurance that my blood is thin and flowing nicely through my baby's cord.


I know, big deep breaths right? I haven't called my doctor. I do intend on discussing all of this with him, but I fear coming off as a crazy person. My worries and anxiety get on my nerves too.

I was born a worrier. I worry, that's what I do; but after Owen's death...every worse case scenario seems possible, not only possible but inevitable, and likely to come knocking at my door.

Sweet little chipmunk's death only intensified this belief. Do you know how rare cornual ectopic pregnancies are? I don't know the statistic off the top of my head, but I can tell you that I've only 'met' one person that has experienced this tragedy (she's an online friend).

Wait, I'm not done there; I have one more baby in Heaven, tiny enough to hold in my hand.


What the hell am I supposed to think? How can I not jump to worst case scenario?
I don't know.


I do know One who is big enough to handle my worry (and that's a BIG job).
While I can't do anything to prevent the next disaster (imagined or real) looming in the horizon or even will myself to stop worrying about it, there is One who can meet my needs...
in the darkness of my worry,
in the midst of tragedy,
and in the aftermath of disaster.

This is comforting; although, if I'm being completely honest, it would be wonderful if faith and trust could prevent disaster from happening at all...alas, this will never be the case.


God saw fit that His Son should suffer and be made perfect through suffering and death, because He knows how much we suffer through disasters of all kind on this broken earth.
Jesus became a perfect High Priest (interceding on our behalf) that is able to help us when we suffer, because He too has suffered greatly, far more than we will ever suffer. We should draw near to His throne to receive mercy and grace in our time of need...because HE understands.
Hebrews

John Piper's blog has a great message of our Heavenly Father's love for us and His desire to meet our needs.


As I try to navigate today with worry in my heart and suffering at my side, I will turn to my Father, who loves me...

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Talented Mr. Hubs



Because I know you care (admit it, I know you do) I thought you might enjoy this little snippet of my hubs' band for a little levity on this beautiful Friday afternoon. This is a benefit concert from last year...and before you say anything, I know it looks like no one was there, but believe me there were a ton of people behind me. No one wanted to stand close to the stage because it was loud, I mean really loud; except for the guy who randomly walks in front of me.
I think he was just there for the BBQ though.

Ah, sweet levity.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ache

There are a few women that I know who are pregnant with babies due within a few weeks of our little sunshine (the third little one we lost 12 weeks ago).

While I do not begrudge their happiness, especially because they have lost babies themselves, I am still overwhelmed with pain at the reminder that they are still pregnant. Their babies are still alive. They are preparing to bring their babies home, having ultrasounds, seeing their cute little faces on the screen, watching their tummies grow as their babies grow bigger each day, and discovering the gender of their little ones.

My heart is aching with sadness tonight. I miss my sweet sunshine. I miss all my dear ones.


I'm aware that at first glance, this may seem a strange comparison...
but have you ever heard a female cat in heat?

Our kitten is in heat right now. She is prowling the house, restless, unable to sit still, moaning and crying, sometimes softly and other times as loud as her little body can yell...
I called her name and she reluctantly came to me.
I picked her up and rocked her back and forth in my arms. She finally quieted down and was silent. She's lying next to me as I type, confident that I'm here and resting in my closeness.


Oh, Heavenly Father...I'm aching with sadness, overwhelmed with longing and restless with grief.
Please hold me...comfort me.

"This Mystery is Profound...

...and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32


Hubs and I are in group marital counseling. It is an interesting and new concept at our church; we are the guinea pig group, so to speak. There are four couples, ranging from newlyweds (they've been married for 1.5 years) to a couple who's been married 9 years. Hubs and I are right in the middle.

The couple leading the group is the assistant pastor (D.) at our church and his wife (J.); they've been married over 15 years. They're leading us through a book called When Sinners Say "I Do".

I have to tell you that I have not been this excited about a book in a really long time. You have to read this book.
I mean, you really really really need to read this book. Everyone should read this book.

Okay, I'm assuming I've made my point.


Dave Harvey says some things about marriage that I have NEVER heard of, thought about or dreamed were possible. For instance, did you know that when Paul says that the mystery of Christ and his church is profound...he means just that; it is PROFOUND (double, triple exclamation marks)! It was a mystery (in the Old Testament times) that has just now been revealed (when Christ came to earth).
When God designed marriage back in the Garden of Eden He already had Christ and the church in mind.
Our marriages are a picture, a living parable, of Christ's relationship to the church.
Our marriages are not about our happiness or fulfillment...they were designed by God, FOR Him, to display His glory. Which means that He is completely invested in our marriages, He cares so much for them...and He wants them not just to survive, but thrive!

That's some good stuff, huh?

I'm not doing this book justice. Really, you just need to read it for yourself...and make your spouse read it too for that matter. I'm only on the fifth chapter, so I can't give you an overview of the whole book, but I like where it's going.


Since this is my safe place, and because I like it when people are honest and forthright, I'll share a personal anecdote to help illustrate how much hubs and I have gotten from this book and marital counseling.

When hubs and I argue, it usually goes something like this:

me: "What were you thinking???"

Hubs looking sincere and apologetic, gives me his signature sad eyes.

me: "Don't look at me like that!! Seriously...how many times have we had this conversation?
When are you going to start listening to me and change (insert behavior/attitude here)??"

Hubs: "I'm sorry. I have no excuse. I'm so sorry..."

me: "Whatever. I may as well be talking to a brick wall."

And...curtain, end scene.

But it doesn't end there, I usually start back up berating hubs and listing every annoying behavior or short coming he has until I've grown tired of hearing my own voice or finally, I feel like a jerk for going off on him (sometimes that doesn't happen until the next day).

Whatever it is that hubs has done wrong, I feel like I can change his behavior by criticizing him and making him feel bad enough that he finally starts doing things differently.

Okay, so I realize you're all falling off the couch laughing at me right now. I know, I know...after four years of marriage, I realize this way of thinking just does not work. It creates distance and destroys intimacy. It can even make hubs afraid of me and I end up resenting him, because for the love of all that is good, why won't he change???
(I'll admit though, this reaction is a hard behavior for me to change.)

A big thing I've taken from counseling and a point Dave Harvey makes in his book is that I am the chief of sinners, and I do not just sin against my husband, but against my Holy and perfect Father God.
Paul says "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." 1 Timothy 1:15
Harvey makes the observation that we must all view ourselves as the worst of sinners. Not our spouses, or the guy down the street, or terrorists; but me! If I view myself as the worst, then I will be less willing to pin all the blame on my spouse. It is vital to view sin as bitter...it is a big deal, because when we sin, it is first and foremost against our Heavenly Father.

This way of thinking about marriage and our sins against each other has changed everything in our marriage.

Now, when hubs sins against me or I against him, we are starting to feel the impact of our sins in much bigger way, because we are beginning to understand that it is God we are sinning against.
This realization changes the way I react to hubs when he screws up (not that he is the only one that screws up, this example goes both ways). I understand that his sin is bigger than how it effects me.

Hubs seeking to make our relationship right again by offering penance won't change my feelings of hurt, disappointment, and anger. Likewise, my criticism of his actions won't change his behavior. If we continue acting and reacting to each other in this manner, we will drive each other further away. We must turn to our Heavenly Father, grieve for our sins and repent.

You would think that viewing God in this way would make us afraid of Him...but it does the opposite. I want to run to Him. As I grow more and more aware of my sin, I grow more cognizant of His great mercy...and it is freaking amazing!

Furthermore, this consciousness drives me into the arms of my husband because I see how disgusting my sin is...and he has bound himself to me regardless of it!
Anyone else see a phenomenal parallel here?

Wow...marriage is amazing...it is a mystery, and I am speaking of Christ and the church.



"A sober assessment of our sinful condition doesn't hinder that work (God making us into genuine examples of Christ), it celebrates it!"
Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say "I Do" pg. 43

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dance, Dance My Soul

Two weeks ago, H. our pastor (remember him?) gave a sermon about being a 'marked man' (Galatians 6: 14-18). I got so much from the sermon that I had to share it with you.

Ironically, the Sunday when he preached this message, I barely heard a word of it. Remember this post? Well, the hurtful comments I was referring to happened that day, so as I was wallowing in the unfairness, the sorrow, and the pain of the words that were spoken, I completely missed H.'s message of peace and mercy. Praise God our church posts its sermons online and I was able to download and listen to the 'missed message' this morning.

The long and short of it:
We are not marked by our sin, the law, our insecurities, or our short comings as Christians...
We are marked by our profession of faith, our new life in Christ, our assurance in Christ, and God's benediction to us...'the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit' (v. 18).

Paul says 'peace and mercy be upon you' (v. 16) who walk by this rule.

What rule, you ask? Is this another part of the law I must keep? Nope...

It is the rule that Christ is our only hope, and that he has finished the work and no one can cause us trouble (v. 17); no one can accuse us. We can have peace and mercy when the law, when Satan, when other people (some Christians even) tell us that we are not who we are supposed to be.

Phew.


Doesn't that make you want to dance??!

I want to run outside to the middle of the street, yell and sing and dance and praise God for the finished work on my behalf, on all our behalf.

I want to give mercy and grace to those around me (even the object of my pain); I want to love greatly because God has loved me GREATLY.


What we must remember, what must constantly be on our hearts and minds, is that of our own power, we can do none of these things. 1 Corinthians 3:21, 23 says 'Let no one boast in men. For all things are yours...and you are Christ's and Christ is God's.'



Bottom line: We are all in this together.
This life is hard (understatement of the year) and we need one another.



*The title of this post came from an Enter the Worship Circle song. I looked on YouTube for a good recording of it, but couldn't find one. So, instead I'll leave you with another great song, Trouble Won't Go by The Blackthorn Project (some members of Enter the Worship Circle are a part of this group).





1 Corinthians 3:9
'We are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.'

Monday, February 2, 2009

Because it makes me happy...






Say hello to my new plant.

Information Overload

This weekend, I hit the wall. I've never felt as bad, physically and emotionally, as I did Saturday night and Sunday. Hubs kept looking at me, asking what was wrong. "Everything", I'd moan...curl up into a little ball and cry.

I felt awful physically...like any moment I was going to keel over with the flu or some unknown virus that wipes you of energy and leaves you an achy mess on the couch.

Emotionally, I didn't know where I was going. I didn't understand myself...poor hubs...


O.k. so to update on my last post; I do have thyroid disease. A second blood draw and another doctor confirmed my levels are way out of the normal range.


Thyroid Disease 101:

My OB's nurse was mistaken when she told me I had hyperthyroidism...I have the opposite, hypothyroidism. It was an honest mistake. It is pretty confusing...I am on information overload.
The blood draw they took two weeks ago measured my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels, which is released by your pituitary gland and tells your thyroid how much thyroid hormones (T3 and T4 are the two key ones) to produce. Apparently my TSH levels are really high (which is why the nurse thought I had hyperthyroidism). This means that my thyroid is not producing the right amount of T3 or T4 hormones, which was confirmed by my second blood draw on Friday. So, I have an under active thyroid.

hm....

I asked my GP why it seemed like I was experiencing a lot of the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, instead of hypothyroidism. The response I got was pretty much what I expected...everyone is different and will react differently to a drop or increase in thyroid hormones.
He started me on a middle of the line dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone on Friday, which I will take the rest of my life.

He couldn't tell me why I developed thyroid disease, but my good friend L. has a theory which seems to fit. A lot of women will develop thyroid problems after the birth of a baby (postpartum thyroid disease).
So, if you've recently had a baby, you should probably have your TSH levels checked. You could be feeling like crap for many other reasons, besides grief.

Here is a checklist of symptoms/risk factors of thyroid disease, which may be helpful.
(Disclaimer: Please don't freak out about whether or not you may have this too, just get a blood test and maybe, like me, you could be feeling better with the help of a magic little blue pill...a synthetic thyroid hormone).


The good new is that thyroid disease is easily managed, even though it means taking a pill everyday for the rest of my life (I'm officially old now)...I'll just need to have my TSH levels checked periodically to see if I need a different dosage of medication.


I don't know what this means for my reproductive future...I have yet to talk to my OB about all of the new developments, but I expect that he will do everything he can in order to make sure I am confident in his care.
I have a very good friend who has hypothyroidism...she keeps telling me good, positive stories of hypothyroidism babies (her little babe is one too)...


I will hold on to what the Bible says...that God loves me and I can trust him....
I trust him because we have been reconciled through Christ to him and we are no longer enemies, but his children. I trust him, not because I know all things turn out well, or because I know all my babies will live if I trust him...but because...if he sent his one, his only Son to die in my place...where else can I go...who else loves me like this?
And when I feel incapable of trusting him, I know Christ has already done it for me...and I can trust, with the little trust that I have.


Romans 5: 6-11
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.