Beauty in the Brokenness

This was not how I thought I would be spending Christmas Eve. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of how I thought Christmastime would unfold this year.

I was excited for our daughter to be a little older around the holidays. She even picked out her own Christmas Eve pajamas this year.

But the days leading up to Christmas were not wonderful.

Only two weeks prior, my husband & I were surprised, but overjoyed to find out I was pregnant.

Because this lovely surprise was just that – a surprise, I immediately felt a peace & confidence that this child was supposed to be ours. That specific little life was destined to be a part of our family.

A few days after we shared the exciting news with our families, it became obvious that something was wrong. Because it was the weekend, my OB referred me to the ER but also told me that there really wasn’t anything that could be done since I was only 6 weeks along.

So I waited. And I prayed. Over & over & over & over. There was a constant battle in my mind. I have never been in a situation where waiting without answers tore so violently at my heart & mind. Hours dragged along ever so slowly.

I refused to give up. However, allowing my heart to stay hopeful was also very painful. I don’t quite know how to explain it. My heart was flooded with 2 extreme emotions that I wasn’t sure what to do with.

The next night, I knew the life that was inside of me no longer was. I was so angry. As I walked downstairs to tell my husband & my mother, a rush of emotions like I have never known poured over me. I began punching the stairs. I was not angry with God. I was not angry with myself. I was angry because this attack felt very personal & intentional. I was angry with the enemy. I was angry that he thought he could use this to pull my heart away from my God. I was angry that I would not know this baby here on earth.

My husband & I spent most of Christmas Eve in the ER. It was beyond surreal. This was the same ER that I went to when we lost our first baby. As we were led to our room, the environment was all-too-familiar. It was the strangest of feelings.

As we passed the room I was in 2 years before, I thought, “Lord, this is where you changed our hearts & lives 2 years ago. This is the exact ground that we discovered what ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding’ really looks like. This is where Your truth altered my life & solidified in the core of my very being- You remain faithful & unchanging. Always.”

Shortly after the ultrasound, the doctor confirmed what we already knew.

I’ve seen God redeem the ugliest of situations, the most painful of heartaches & bind the most shattered of hearts. And that has been my prayer since the moment we knew we had lost our second baby – “Redeem this, God. You have done it before & I know you will do it again. Please, just redeem this.”

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1

Although this dark valley was familiar territory, it has felt very different too. But the things that have remained the same have been God’s tender love, sweet comfort & obvious signs of His faithfulness.

God’s presence has once again, been undeniably evident. Our parents & siblings have been so wonderful, helpful & encouraging. We are so blessed by them. My mom took care of our daughter at home while my husband & I spent hours at appointments & in ER rooms. What a gift it was to know she was having fun with grandma. Thank you, Momma. We also had a handful of precious friends that have walked alongside us & been there for us night & day. They spent their Christmastime loving on us & mourning with us. They are treasures & my soul is forever imprinted with their selflessness & unconditional love.

I have numerous stories of how God has remained so faithful to us throughout all this, but I want to share one in particular with you. I cry as I share it because it’s so close to my heart. But I want you to know how closely the Lord listens to us & how loving & active He is:

After we lost our first baby in October 2011, it was so important to me to find a Christmas ornament for our baby to hang on our tree. I wanted him/her to be a part of our Christmas. I needed a tangible way to incorporate that precious little one into our holidays; something I could look at & touch. So as soon as Christmas displays went up in the stores, I began searching. I went to every store I could think of that would have ornaments. But I just couldn’t find “the one”. And I didn’t want an ornament just to have an ornament. It had to be the right one.

I was desperately praying that the Lord would lead me to the right one. I told Him how much I needed it & that I knew it was important to Him too. But I couldn’t find one.

I got a package in the mail from a very, very dear woman. She & I have mutually adopted each other as family & she has played a huge role in my journey as a woman seeking after God.

As I opened the little box, I couldn’t believe it. There it was. The most beautiful, perfect, remembrance ornament. It was white & in the shape of a heart. I hadn’t shared my longing to find an ornament with anyone except my husband & my God. It was as if God himself was saying, “Here is your perfect ornament, my precious daughter. I know your heart needs it. Here it is.”

The following year, she sent me another lovely ornament for my daughter’s first Christmas. The 2 ornaments are always next to each other on our tree. They mean the world to me. They symbolize my babies. They remind me that God hears me & He loves me like a daddy. He knows my heartaches & knows my needs, even the ones I cry & whisper to Him at night.

As my husband & I were driving back from the ER this time, I immediately wanted to get an ornament to include this baby’s life into our Christmas too. As soon as we exited off the highway, the hustle & bustle of last minute shoppers was overwhelming. Traffic was at a standstill. Physically & emotionally depleted, I decided to just come home because I didn’t have it in me to be around people, much less fight crowds.

We got home & as I walked to our front door, there was a little box on our front doorstep from my “adopted aunt”.

Guess what it was?

An ornament. A perfect, beautiful ornament.

It had the same kind of look & ribbon as my first ornament. It was white & heart shaped. She hadn’t known what was going on. But my faithful & loving God knew. He knew days prior what I would need at that exact moment; what would comfort my heart.

“Here is your ornament, my precious daughter. I love you & I remain faithful.”

He will cover you with his feathers, & under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield & rampart. Psalm 91:4

No matter how dark the valley is, His light will find you. No matter deep the valley feels, His arms can reach you. He promises to stay faithful through it all. Come to Him & allow Him to be your faithful God.

Knowing that my 2 babies rest in the perfect arms of their Creator until I can embrace them myself, I declare my God as faithful.

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Fall Afresh

Hello my friend,

I’m so excited to share this with you. I’ve been experiencing God’s spirit in a new & fresh way! There hasn’t been one thing in particular that has kindled the fire in my heart. It’s been a bunch of little details & decisions I’ve made that have added up & created some spectacular results! The way I feel & see the world is so different when I’m intentional about my relationship with God instead of putting it on cruise-control & letting it just coast along. I’m so encouraged & wanted to share that encouragement with you.

This is a list & prayer I made this week. It started as a simple list of acknowledging & thanking God for who He is & what He has done for me. But it quickly grew into a passionate battle cry & fiery prayer.

Be encouraged, sweet friend! Our God is constantly calling us to His heart. Even when we wander. Even when we ignore Him. Even when we get so caught up in the to-dos of our life that we forget to put Him above it all. So this week, I encourage you sit down & think through a few things. Reprioritize your day. Make sure that He is in the forefront of your mind as you run errands. Play worship music in the background. If you can, dive into your Bible a few times throughout the day instead of stopping at your morning devotion. Pray out loud with your friend, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Dig deeper. Lean into Him.

I pray that you too will experience our God’s spirit in a fresh & new way this week! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

 

Oh Savior, your grace for me is scandalous.
It gave me eternal life that I don’t deserve. (John 3:16&17)

Lord, your mercy is indescribable.
It took the punishment that I did deserve. (Psalm 103:8-12)

Father, you have adopted me as your daughter.
My place in your family has been bought with your very blood. (John 1:12)

El Roi, you see into the deepest parts of my soul.
You are acquainted with my every thought & action. (Hebrews 4:13)

Teacher, your patience for me doesn’t end.
It allows me to persevere despite mistakes & failures. (2 Peter 3:9)

God, your Spirit breathes life into my bones.
It nudges me to keep going when I want to give up. (Hebrews 33:4)

El Shaddai, you provide for my every need.
I lack no good thing when I follow you. (Philippians 4:19)

Immanuel, you are always with me.
Your presence gives me courage & strength. (Joshua 1:9)

El Rachum, your compassion envelops my pain.
It shows me that you are near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)

Mighty God, your faithfulness transcends our emotions, situations & circumstances.
You work everything for the good of those who love you. (Romans 8:28)

Jesus, your peace isn’t confined to my understanding.
It penetrates deeper than the pain & is more present than my heartache. (Philippians 4:7)

 

Father God,

You embody all these beautiful things. Yet you, a perfect God, intimately involve yourself in my imperfect life. You walk alongside me in every pain, hardship & trial I face. Even if the only reason you would lay your hand on me is to comfort me, it would be inconceivable that Almighty God would touch the flesh of fallen humanity. But you are love. And you go further than what I could ever ask for or understand. You wrap your arms around me to protect me, to redeem me & to change me from the inside out.

It is by your mercy that I take my next breath. It is for glory that I live today. Build me up & set my heart on fire for you! Infuse your Word so deeply inside of me that it becomes a part of my very being. May it sink into the marrow of my bones & settle into the core of my heart & mind. You have set a calling upon my life, so there is no power on earth or in hell than can stop me from stepping into my destiny!

You are faithful & what you start, you finish. My identity is found in you, so use my heart to reflect yours.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

In The Still Of My Heart

I was doing some cleaning yesterday afternoon to prepare for a visit from my sister & baby nephew. It’s always when I know I’ll be having company that I will dust everywhere (yes, even the places you can’t see) and finally decide where to put that stack of mail that has collected in the corner.
As I was finishing up in the kitchen I looked on top of my refrigerator & stared at the hospital bands that I was required to wear the night we lost our first baby. For months they remained on my counter where I could see & touch them every day. I didn’t want to throw them away or hide them. I don’t know why, but they have remained precious, tangible objects that have reminded me of the physical & emotional pain of that night. I could touch them & hold them in my hand when I needed to. And it brought comfort & connection to me. I didn’t want to get rid of them because I didn’t want to forget anything. Now I know I will never forget. How could I? But for a while it was a very real fear for me to think that the memory of that night or our baby would fade or that people would forget about our baby’s life. Those bands symbolized that for me. So getting rid of them would mean that what happened didn’t mattered. It terrified me. After a couple of months, I deliberately moved them from my counter to the top of the refrigerator. It was a step towards further healing for me. I knew they were there. If I needed to look at them or hold them, I could. But they were further away. And for the past 5 months, that’s where they have remained.
So yesterday, as I fixated my eyes on them, I began crying. Not out of sorrow, but out of remembrance. And I knew & felt that it was time. Not to discard them, but to tuck them away somewhere special, just like that night & our baby will always be a very real, precious part of me. So I did just that. And I realized something. That piece of my heart is no longer an excruciating, open wound. My God started bandaging it the moment that loss began. He personally tended to it in the quiet nights where I laid in bed sobbing, crying out to Him, wrapped in my husband’s arms. Even though it was painful, there were multiple times that my God changed those bandages & cleaned out the wound, because that’s what it needed. And yesterday, as I tucked those hospital bands away where they will remain from now on, I knew that the wound I have felt for 7 months has now become a beautiful scar. I realize that the healing that Jesus Christ has given me does not diminish the memory of our baby or minimize the significance & importance of that life-changing night. It just means that my God is faithful to walk with me through the dark valley & will restore me always. He is close to the broken-hearted & faithful to His Children. His peace is beyond what we can fathom. His love is deeper than we’ll ever know.
Thank you, Father for my beautiful scar. Enjoy loving on our sweet baby. We look forward to the time when we will be reunited & can do it ourselves. I declare You as faithful, my God, Savior & Comfort.
And as another testament to God’s faithfulness & for those of you who may not know, I am 6 ½ months pregnant with a little girl. We are naming her Raelyn which comes from the name Rachel in the Bible. It means “God’s lamb of beauty”. And oh my goodness, yes she is.