I was thankful to share this at our church recently, and I'm so thankful to God for making beauty from ashes.
My husband, Chris and I have been married for almost ten years. We were married fairly young- he was 20, and I was 22. I actually bought his beer on our honeymoon. We were young and in love, and believed that love was truly all we needed to make it.
But it started on our honeymoon- the fighting, the hurt, the unmet expectations, and letting each other down. We struggled. We loved each other a lot, but we didn't know how to love each other. Marriage was not the fairy tale we imagined it would be and the life we had planned and dreamed would not be the life we lived.
About two years after we were married, I was shocked to discover I was pregnant. Once the shock wore off, we were truly ecstatic to be having a baby. Though Chris had just graduated from college and our plans for the future were decidedly undecided, the little boy we named Owen soon became our joy and we made new dreams.
Early one morning, a month before my due date, I found myself worrying about Owen's movements. When was the last time I felt him move? Later that afternoon at the doctor's office, an ultrasound confirmed our worst fears. Owen did not have a heartbeat. He was gone. In a flash, all our dreams, our world came crashing down.
I remember our pastor coming to our little apartment and sitting across from me, my hands still holding my pregnant belly, and I told him "I'm not angry at God. I'm not angry". And I wasn't. My heart was broken and I was in shock. Two days later I delivered our only son stillborn.
Slowly the shock wore off... Slowly the reality of what had happened hit me... And I was angry. Irate. I felt cursed. Betrayed for daring to hope- for wanting something so badly. I felt so hopeless. To be honest, the next year is a blur of grief. We tried again to have a baby, and twice we miscarried. It was after our third baby died that I broke. My heart, so hard and angry at God, was transformed.
One night about a year after Owen died, Chris and I were lying in bed in the dark, too quiet of our apartment and I broke down. I begged him to tell me that God had not abandoned me, that he had not forsaken me. I still could not read my bible or pray, so Chris started to tell me what we call true and beautiful things before I fell asleep each night.
"The Lord is your keeper"
"He is before all things and in Him all things hold together"
"Blessed be The Lord who daily bears us up. God is our salvation"
My story of hope is not that my husband and I don't fight anymore, because we do.
It is not that I don't have bad days full of anxiety and sorrow, because I do.
My story of hope is not the two beautiful girls we have running around our house, though they fill our hearts with joy... and it is not the beautiful baby boy who was born seven years after his big brother.
My story of hope is that God has not forsaken me.
When I was unable to get out of bed after Owen died, when I railed at God and stopped going to church for almost a year, and had all but given up... The Lord held onto me. He would not let go.
My story of hope is that I have hope. Hope that God will never abandon us; he is with us right now by His Spirit and Jesus is going to come again and make all the sad, broken things untrue.
I'll end with one of my favorite true and beautiful things from Psalm 121- "I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from The Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper."