I remember it being one of my favorite games to play as a kid.
The countdown has begun! In 5 days, my hubby and I will celebrate our 1st Anniversary! I can’t believe we have almost been married one year. Does that mean we aren’t Newlyweds any more? I have always wondered what defines a couple as a “newlywed.” And if we are no longer “newlyweds,” are we “olderweds?”
With our first anniversary approaching, I have been reflecting on all the things the Lord has taught me through the beautiful and mysterious gift of marriage.
Today, my reflection is a story of an unusual way the Lord convicted my heart during a “discussion” (we don’t argue we discuss…ha…ha!) my husband and I had.
We had been there for maybe 15 minutes when my husband said something that hurt my feelings. I knew it shouldn’t have, but the longer I thought about his comment the more and more mad I became.
In my mind the beach trip was ruined…and of course the lengthy “discussion” that followed didn’t ease my angry emotions.
We came to a point in the “discussion” where I knew I should let it go, apologize for my horrible attitude and move on. But I didn’t want to.
“Why should I be the first to apologize?” I rationalized in my head.
“He started it, He shouldn’t have said that”
So I sat on my towel….
I had a pout on my lips and my eyes squinted with self righteous disdain, like a 2 year old who can’t eat their cookie before dinner.
As I glanced down to see what it was I felt 2 more splats on my upper arm and…yewwwww…my stomach!!!!! It was white, filthy and stinky sea gull poop…
And it was all over me!!!!!!!!!!
I started laughing…then screaming…then running to the water…
My husband helped me wash off the poop in the ocean. I wondered if salt water could kill the bacteria that had been living in that poop.
Our beach day was over…as if the “discussion” hadn’t killed the easy summer living mood, the seagull poop certainly had.
I raced towards our car with one thought in my head..
Get me to our shower and my soap ASAP!
In the 20 minutes drive home…I found myself laughing again as I thought about the events of the day.
– Husband makes comment.
– I take huge offense (although I knew his comment was not in any way meant to be offensive or hurtful)
– I harbor my offense
– I pout
– I refuse to apologize
– I get pooped on…3 times in a row.
“Babe”, I said, my heart humbled and softened after the previous 45 minutes…
“I think God is trying to tell me something.”
“What?” He asked…
“Stop having a POOPY attitude!”
We both laughed as I apologized for having a poopy attitude and ruining our beach trip.
Marriage, is a lot like that fateful beach day. We can believe the worst about each other or the best. We can hold on to offense and refuse to apologize or we can repent, forgive and move on.
We can find the fault in our spouse…while not realizing that the fault may be in us.
Until your folly is revealed to you by a pooping sea gull…
p.s. I was pooped on one other time this summer by a sea gull at the beach…this time it was witnessed by a group of friends. I am happy to report that I was not having a “poopy” attitude that day….
Any other “newlyweds” or “olderweds” out there? What has God taught you during your beginning years of marriage?
Today we continue our series on miscarriage, and how I found hope, healing and even joy after a miscarriage.
If you missed the story of our Sweet Babies you can find it here:
Top 5 Ways you can support someone who has experienced Miscarriage: http://claritywithcharity.com/?p=420
Last week I shared that after my second miscarriage I was finding it very difficult to experience any hope or joy… “After about 2 weeks of walking around in my tornado of bitterness, anger and comparison it struck me how much I did not want to be this person. I didn’t want to be a woman who snapped and glared at every pregnant momma in sight. I didn’t want to resent other women who had healthy children, and I didn’t want to be angry at God. I didn’t want to spend the next twenty years of my life wandering around in self pity, I had to get out….but how??? I felt so trapped.”
One morning I went into our guest bedroom, got on my knees and cried out to God, “God, I need your help, I don’t want to be a bitter woman, I don’t want to be mad at you, I don’t know how to work through the way I feel, but you do, PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!”
In the midst of my desperate plea for help a quiet stillness came over my heart and all I heard was this phrase in my mind over and over again, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”…”Bless the Lord, O my soul”…the words of David from Psalm 103:2.
My heart stopped at these words, deep inside my spirit fought… “what about me God? I’ve been through a lot here! Do I really have to bless you right now? I don’t feel like it, actually I am pretty mad at you.”
The phrase kept echoing over and over, and I knew, I knew I needed to say the phrase out loud, to agree with His Word, to choose to agree even when I felt like it was the last thing I wanted to do. I said it slowly and quietly at first, then a little louder, a little more sure, then heaviness broke, a victorious confidence rose in my heart, and I screamed it over and over, “Bless the Lord O my Soul!” My heart erupted with praise, I began to thank God for who He was, for who I knew Him to be, for who His Word says He is. He is kind, He is faithful when I am faithless , He is strong, He is powerful, He is just, He is good and He is worthy….He is so worthy, even when life is hard really hard, and I don’t understand…He is always worthy of praise.
As I praised Him and thanked Him for who He was I received major breakthrough, the hardness that my heart was being drawn towards begin to melt.
I asked Him my questions. I asked Him why I had to lose two children in 6 months when I knew so many women who had lost none. I asked Him why He hadn’t resurrected my child back to life, when I knew that He could. I asked Him why Liya died when I believed with every fiber of my being that she would live here on this earth. I asked Him if I would ever hold a child of mine in my arms. And I asked Him “WHY” about a million more times.
I felt His comfort, His compassion and His heart break right along with mine. He was listening to every question. And still I heard no answers.
But I encountered HIM!!!!!!!! His presence was so much sweeter and greater than all of my questions. His presence filled the gnawing ache in my heart. His presence filled the emptiness all my questions had carved into my soul. He was enough, even though I didn’t receive the answers I thought I needed and even deserved.
Then He spoke to my heart. He asked me if I would lay it down. Lay down every question. He asked me to give up my right to know and understand what I so desperately didn’t, what I so desperately wanted to know and understand. What I felt I had a right to understand.
I knew this was part of the road to healing for my heart, part of the journey towards hope and so I said yes. I said yes because I knew that God was for me, and He wanted my heart’s healing. Only He could show me how to be whole.
I wanted freedom more than I wanted my questions, I wanted the wholeness He had for me more than to keep my grip and grasp onto my what if’s and why didn’ts. I have learned if God says to do something, to do it, because He loves me. He is wise and wants to guide me into all truth.
Whenever the Lord asks me to lay something down, I always picture the cross. I think about the cross and how when Jesus died He paid the price for all sin, suffering, shame, disease and death. I think about the empty tomb and how regardless of what sorrow I experience in this world, that because of His victory I have a place in heaven, where there will be complete and utter perfection.
I think about the cross and grave because I need to remember, I am not just laying down my questions at the foot of a garbage can or leaving them in an empty room, I am laying them down at a place that is the source of victory and miracles. I am laying them down and leaving it all with Jesus, the one who loves me most. That is an awesome and safe place to leave my questions.
I can’t tell you the ten steps to work through a miscarriage. I have found moving through grief towards a place of wholeness is such a different journey for each person. But I know how I came to this place. I found it because I was desperate and hungry for Jesus. I was desperate for His help and for an encounter with Him.
Where can you go, to find what you need? Its in Him, Its in Jesus.
Become desperate to encounter Him, Ask Him your questions, and then humble your heart to listen and submit yourself to do what He says. Read His Word, and cling to it. His Word and Character are unchanging and a source of life and truth regardless of our circumstances or our feelings.
I pray for you, friend, that whatever heartache you have encountered that you will be able to say “Bless the Lord, O My Soul (Ps. 103:2)” and that you will encounter the One: “Who forgives all you iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:3-5)
We will continue our series on Miscarriage, by looking at a specific question I really wrestled with after losing our second baby. What do you do, when you do not receive the object/circumstance/breakthrough that you had been believing God for?
As always, I welcome your response. How have you worked through grief? Where are you at in your healing process?
Moving from Hurt to Hope after a Miscarriage: Part 3
She is a girl. I had known she was a girl from almost the moment I found out I was pregnant. As I prayed about this babe’s life, I felt like the Lord told me it was a she, and that she was a dancer and one who had the anointing to lead others into worship. I felt Him say that she was witty and her jokes would make you laugh out loud.
The morning after the ER visit, I woke up feeling strange, because sadness enveloped me, strange because my husband had to go into work uncharacteristically early and he was no longer beside me. The steel fist of grief twisted my heart, my baby girl was gone… and she had died inside me. I don’t know how to describe that feeling, but it is awful, real and powerful. I hated knowing that death happened inside a place that was made to hold and cultivate life. It had happened despite the progesterone supplements and the high HCG numbers. It had happened in spite of deep love for our baby.
I rolled out of bed and felt angry…maybe more angry than I have ever felt in my life. I don’t get angry a lot, I get sad, frustrated and impatient but true anger is not something I usually experience. I don’t like the way it makes me feel or act, but there it was…raw anger. I went to the kitchen and slammed cabinets and yelled at the cats for acting like, well ….cats, meowing, pooping and being hungry…”how dare they!” I thought.
I walked around the grocery store glaring at stranger’s in the peanut butter aisle because they were holding a baby, and I wasn’t. It seemed like there were mothers and baby girls down every aisle. I felt like everyone in the world could snap their fingers and get a beautiful, healthy baby girl anytime they wanted. I saw mothers yanking sticky fingers and yelling “shut up” at their little ones….its hard not to judge other parents especially when you want to be one. Then there were the mothers with starry eyed adoration of their babies, who cooed about their undying love to their little ones. They felt the same love I had for my baby, but they held theirs in their arms and mine was only a memory in my heart.
Four months later it is hard to remember what she felt like, as our souls collided.
Her life was like a firework exploding into the darkness, lighting the night with its brilliant color only to fade into an all consuming black sky mere moments later. I remember her light, I remember her brilliance. But what shade of red was that firework and what tones of blue did she use to light the sky? I remember her light, I remember her color, but her memory is like a picture you took on family vacation, before digital cameras. Back in the days when you used real film and prints came back blurry, because the tourist taking the picture was jilted by a biker on the sidewalk. Her life feels a little hazy, I know what was supposed to be there, but it was too quick for me to catch the true intricacy of her beauty. And I HATE that!!!!!!!
That is the worst part. Not remembering clearly what you want to so desperately remember. What I have of her is the memory of what it felt like when her life began to grow inside of mine. I remember my heart welling up with such intense love that I would have risked all my dignity and sanity to save her life. I would have done anything to give her a chance to giggle and dance…because I just knew she was a giggler and a dancer and I loved that about her. I loved the essence of joy her life held, the way her essence fueled my heart to beat a little faster.
Before the dr. came in to tell us the results of the sonogram, I sat in the frigid room my hand held by my husband’s, providing warmth and stability on a surreal night. I saw in my mind Jesus standing beside me. I saw Him cradling my baby in my womb. I glimpsed what advanced technology could not see yet, my little one surrounded by fluid in my womb. Jesus held her, and I knew, I knew she was His, she was now with God.
I named her Liya (pronounced Lay –yah). Liya means “I am the Lord’s”
After my first miscarriage my friend had given me a scripture as a promise, Isaiah 44:1-5. In the passage it says that your offspring “shall spring up among the grass like willows by following streams. This one will say ‘I am the Lord’s’.” I looked up what name meant “I am the Lord’s”– it was Liya. In Latin, Liya means “ bringer of the gospel.” I thought that her physical feet would carry the gospel across the globe. While her physical feet never walked this earth, I believe that part of the redemption of God is that whenever her story is told, salvation will come to the hearts of people.
Her life proclaims the story of Jesus, how He left heaven and became man while fully God, walked on this earth for 33 years, healing and loving people wherever He went. He was perfect and died a horrific death on a cross. He died for every sin that will ever be committed. He died and paid the price for my sin and yours. He died to bring victory over illness, and disease and death. Three days later He rose again, bringing complete victory to the power of death.
When we acknowledge our utter need for a Savior, commit our life to Him and admit the right He has to rule and reign in on our life, we too experience victory over death and sickness. We do not die when our bodies breathe their last breath, we will live and reign with Him forever in Heaven.
Liya’s life, while only with us on earth for 7 weeks, is a testament to the power of Jesus and His victory over death. I knew the moment that I heard they could see nothing on the sonogram and my HCG had dropped, that she was alive. Even when I realized I would never cradle her in my earthly arms, I knew she was in heaven with Jesus. I would cradle her someday. I knew that she would never know pain, she would never know the sting of death because she was in a place with a Savior who had conquered death, in heaven where there are no tears. She would never know a day without the presence of Jesus.
I knew it was true: that there was no one I wanted Liya to be with more than Jesus. Yet, there was a place of indescribable pain in my heart that I had to deal with. There was anger and I didn’t know how to move through. With my first miscarriage it had been much easier to release Alexander to Jesus. I thought what I had experienced was common for a lot of women who are pregnant for the first time and so it would never happen again.
After about 2 weeks of walking around in my tornado of bitterness, anger and comparison it struck me how much I did not want to be this person. I didn’t want to be a woman who snapped and glared at every pregnant momma in sight. I didn’t want to resent other women who had healthy children, and I didn’t want to be angry at God. I didn’t want to spend the next twenty years of my life wandering around in self pity, I had to get out….but how??? I felt so trapped.
Next week, I will be sharing the steps the Lord took me through that brought freedom from bitterness, hopelessness and despair. I hope you will join me!
I originally wrote and published this post on the blog after losing 2 babies to miscarriage, if you would like to hear about my process of finding hope and healing after a miscarriage you can find that here:
It is challenging to walk through a miscarriage and it can also be challenging to know how to support a friend or family member who has experienced this loss.
I confess, that when friends shared about their miscarriages (before I had one), I felt unsure of how to respond. My heart ached with them and I wanted to support them, but I had no idea what to do and say. Maybe some of you have found yourselves in a similar situation, wanting to help but feeling helpless to do so.
1. Say “I am so sorry for your loss.” Through this statement you are expressing what someone who has experienced a miscarriage desperately needs to hear, an acknowledgement that they have suffered the tragic death of a loved one.
2. Acknowledge that you are honored they would share such a personal part of their life with you. Realize that what this person is sharing with you is probably the most difficult thing they have walked through. This may feel overwhelming to you (especially if you have never had a friend share this with you before). Instead of stressing over fixing them or making everything better, focus on your love and concern for the person. Saying something like this can be very helpful, “Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I feel privileged to hear about your baby’s life. This must be a very difficult time for you! I want to be there for you and I am not really sure how to best do that. How can I best support you right now?”
3. Act like you would if there was a funeral to attend and an obituary in the paper. While most families will not have a public memorial service for their child, their need for community support in this time is very similar. We received many of the acts of service and gifts listed below after our miscarriages and they were incredibly healing and also helped in a practical way. When people took these actions they not only acknowledged the tragedy we were walking through but expressed a physical representation of sharing in our grief.
– Send Flowers
– Bring a meal
– Send a gift.
– Send a card.
– Clean their house.
– Offer to watch their children (if they have other children).
Having a miscarriage is not only hard on a women’s heart but it also takes a physical toll on her body. The effects vary woman to woman but usually there is a period of time where you are very tired and weak. This is why I suggested acts of service such as bringing a meal, cleaning their home, or watching their children. I remember a friend bringing us a meal after our miscarriage and it was such a blessing, not only mentally to not have to plan dinner but because my body was so weak it was difficult to function normally.
4. Check in with your friend. Dealing with the emotions of a miscarriage can affect you for months and even years afterwards. Depending on your relationship with your friend, it can be helpful to check in with your friend to see how they are doing. I received texts, emails, and calls from friends months after the miscarriage asking how I was doing and letting me know that I was loved and they were praying for my husband and I. This meant so much to me. Their taking a moment to realize that I was in a season of grieving and that I was on their heart and in their prayers was helpful for me because I didn’t feel alone in my grief. The message or call can be as simple as, “ I just want you to know I am thinking about you and praying for you today. I love you! How are you doing?”
5. Pray for your friend. It sounds nice to say, “I’ll be praying for you” but it is A LOT nicer to share in the burdens of your friend and actually pray for them and their spouse. Here are specific things to pray, if you are unsure what to pray for.
– Healing for their physical body and also for their heart.
– For their doctor to have wisdom.
– An increase in intimacy with the Lord in this season.
– For complete health in their body, that miscarriage would never occur ever again.
– That there would be an increase in love, intimacy, good communication and trust in their marriage through the season of grief.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, what were things you needed to hear or acts of service and support that were helpful to you?
Monday, the world stopped as news of the royal baby’s birth was announced. This news stopped my heart. Our first baby had almost the same due date as the royal couple’s little one.
If you have been following this blog, you know that I have mentioned that my husband and I have lost two babies in the past year to miscarriage.
As I have journeyed through the pain, grief, and questions I have found that hearing someone else’s story is part of the way to healing. Hearing another’s story helps you realize that you are not alone if you have had a miscarriage. It is an experience that can feel lonely and isolating because there is no cast to wrap your broken heart, no casket to bury your memories in and too often no one knows. Even if someone knows, they may not know how to respond.
I am sharing with you my personal reflections about miscarriage, because God has given me hope in the midst of devastation. I am praying that this series provides comfort and hope for those who have walked through a miscarriage, and insight for those with friends who have experienced one.
From the moment I saw the faint pink line turn brighter and then deeper and darker on the pregnancy test, I was absolutely head over heels in love with him. By the time I had seen one plus sign and the word “pregnant” on the 2 different digital pregnancy tests my husband had me buy “just to be sure,” I was shrieking.
I squealed and jumped in delight, begging my husband to let me call and tell someone. Although what I really wanted to do was to run down my street screaming at the top of my lungs, “I’m a MOM!” “I’m a MOM!”
After getting married at the age of twenty – nine, helping seven friends walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid and with most of these friends having their second little bun in the oven I felt that God was redeeming my years of waiting for my children.
As a little girl, my favorite toys were my dolls and my favorite activity was pretending to be a Mom. My love for children continued through my adulthood as I worked as a nanny, camp counselor and children’s pastor. I went on mission’s trips and worked with orphans, I made friends with any child around me. I have left adult conversations at parties, to find the kid’s table where I have spend the night, giggling, playing and reading.
Even in my professional life my student staff lovingly nicknamed me “Mom” because of the way I nurtured and cared for their spirits and even bodies, constantly “nagging” them to make healthy choices in the school cafeteria and to start a work out plan. I had held them while they cried about boys, grades, and life direction. I had also screamed and celebrated with them about boys, grades and life direction.
It has brought immense amounts of joy to my heart to know that around the world I have many spiritual children. I had already been a “mother” to children and young adults offering counsel, correction, a listening ear, prayers, meals, snacks and of course hugs. But I never felt more like a mother than the day I saw that faded pink line turn a deeper shade of rose. I was a Mom forever now, I knew no matter what happened in life, no matter where I went or where my baby went, he would always be my baby and I would always be his momma.
I remember that day so vividly like a beautiful dream you don’t want to wake up from. My husband and I ate dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. I spent the entire dinner asking him if there was anything in the dishes I couldn’t eat because I was pregnant. As an engineer, my husband researches everything and had already learned more about pregnancy that evening, then I had learned in a lifetime of being female. After dinner I insisted that we go to the local used bookstore and look for pregnancy books. We bought a baby name book and a book about eating healthily while pregnant. I then came home and promptly ordered “ What to expect when you’re expecting.”
That same week, Prince William and Kate’s pregnancy was announced. As the whole world watched Kate’s belly, I watched mine with the same force of anticipation and joy as a nation of people awaiting their royal baby. To me this was my royal baby, the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to me that I would be a wife and a mother.
I asked the Lord for promises for my baby. One was so clear to me, this little one would be a person of influence and draw the nations to knowledge and belief in Jesus Christ. To me, this was the dearest promise that I could receive as a mother.
At first I was sure my baby was a girl, Rene was sure the baby was a boy. We would joke about who was right or wrong. I had called a friend to tell her I was pregnant, and she prayed for my pregnancy. While she prayed I saw a picture of my baby Alexander, which would become such a treasure to me to. In the picture I saw my little boy probably about a year old, crawling on hands and knees smiling with dimples just like my husbands’ into his chubby baby cheeks. His dark brown eyes sparkled with mischief and his dark brown hair was wavy and thick, how I imagine my husband’s would have been as a child. He looked sharp in a plaid blue vest with gray trousers and in my opinion was the cutest baby I had ever seen.
Then the bleeding started.
I went to a doctor who was unable to tell me much except that my blood needed to be analyzed again in 48 hours to see if my HCG and Progesterone levels had increased or decreased.
Those days of waiting for the blood work results felt like the longest days of my life.
Then the phone rang, it was “the call.” My body grew cold, my heart stopped in my chest. I answered steadying my voice. The nurse delivering the blood results was short and abrupt. Her tone sounded as empathetic as a piece of steel. “Your progesterone and HCG levels have dropped dramatically in the past 48 hours and we are certain you are miscarrying.” As her words stabbed through my heart, my husband miraculously walked through the door home, home a few hours early from a work project.
He held me as the nurse asked if I had heard her because I hadn’t uttered a word or sound since she had spoken. My mouth couldn’t move because I was deafened by the sound of my heart shattering into a million pieces. My baby was dying, “My baby is dying!” I wanted to scream at the nurse and tell her, “YES I HEAR YOU! I HEAR YOU CLEARLY,” But I couldn’t say a word, I was in shock, and all that spoke was the scream inside my heart…”NO! NO! NO!”
I knew my baby was with Jesus. That my baby would never know the pain of earth and the brokenness of humanity, they would only ever know the love of Jesus and the love of their mother and father.
But I wanted them to know pain! I wanted to kiss every scrape and bandage every wound. I wanted to see them fall bump their head on the coffee table as they learn to walk, I wanted to help them get back on their bike when they fall off their new two wheeler, I wanted to help them find the pieces of their heart after their first heartbreak, I wanted to have a continual drippy and snotty hand because I have wiped their eyes and noses from the sting of this imperfect world. But I knew I never would and I wanted to, more than anything I have ever wanted in my life.
That night I collapsed on the couch holding my belly and cried, a deep soulful cry from my gut that had been building and I yelled until it was only a whisper, “I want my baby, I want my baby, I just want my baby.”
I wrote him a letter that night, I told him all about his life and how I felt when I found out he was inside me, and what we did that night we found out we were pregnant. I told him he was wonderful surprise, the best kind. I told him about eating Vietnemese noodles and buying every pregnancy book in the store. I told him I loved and missed him. It helped.
For anyone who has walked through a miscarriage I think one of hardest parts are the questions. What is the gender, what does the baby look like, what is their personality like? God was so kind to me to give me the gender, a glimpse of Alexander’s sweet face and then my husband named our son. Shortly after the miscarriage I was resting in my husband’s arms, thinking about our baby boy and as hot and gentle tears streamed down my face, Rene said, “his name is Alexander.” I sobbed with relief, he had a name, our son had been named by his father.
I looked up the name Alexander in the baby name book I had bought the night we found out we were pregnant. Alexander means “helper and defender of mankind.” This bothered me a lot. I wanted his name to mean what I needed most at that moment: which was faith, hope or redemption.
How could my baby Alexander bring help to mankind now, I wondered? How could he defend mankind when he had never set foot on this planet? I struggled with the irony that the meaning of his name seemed to pose. Yet, I knew the meaning of his name fit perfectly with the prophetic words God had spoken to my heart about Alexander. God had told me Alexander would have great influence and favor with people for the Kingdom of God. God had told me that Alexander would have an inheritance in the nations of the earth for the glory of God.
I do not have an answer for how Alexander will reach the nations of the earth. However, I feel nudges of hope from my Father, that as I write and share with others about Alexander’s life, that it will bring the hope and life of Jesus Christ to others, even in the furthest corners of the earth. There is a joy and peace to be found when we know Jesus. He is the restorer, He is the redeemer He alone can do this:
“comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated” Isaiah 61:2-4
These are the promises I cling too. There will be joy for my mourning!….there will be for your’s too sweet friend.
To continue this series:
If you have been through a miscarriage, what verses and promises from God have brought you hope? I would love to hear about your sweet baby – What is their name, did you do something special to remember their life? What has been helpful for you in the healing process?