imprints

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Yesterday was officially Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.

Those of us who have lost a child know three key things from our loss:

1. We think about it way more than once a year.

2. We need to talk about it more than once a year.

3. Things have been forever changed.

Once a year only serves as a jump off point for those who need to heal from this kind of loss.

Let me tell you, almost nothing in my life has been more traumatic than the loss of my first pregnancy.

Discovering that I carried him, and the heartbreak of losing him all within a six week period impacted me hard, like falling into a cement block would.

Yet this wee one, whose feet never touched the ground, had a positive impact upon me too.

For God reminded me:
– He had made him (I believe his name is Andrew) and gifted us with him. 
-all life is precious to Him, regardless of how long we get to spend here on earth
-He was with me in Andrew’s conception, his growth and his departing. He never left my side through it all.

I think often what life would have been like had Andrew made it to birth, and at every stage I have celebrated in wonder as my two miracles have grown before my very eyes.

You see, I was so traumatized by losing my first child that I was literally a fear time bomb when I realized I was pregnant again, with my daughter.

Yet God was so gracious in how He poured love, freedom and hope within me as He reassured me He was with me, every time I ran to Him & nestled into His embrace.

I discovered joy in both my following pregnancies, despite my fear.

My delivery of my daughter was a whole other drama (think about having a dozen witnesses!) but I made it through, and delighted in her arrival.  My son’s delivery was scarier, yet God gave me a peace beyond comprehension that he was going to make it, and he did.

Because I had been set free from the heartbreak of loss, I was able to whole hearted accept the gift He handed me. New life.

All my children have been incredible gifts.

One i will meet face to face beside Jesus.

The other two I am honored to say I will have the pleasure of introducing to their sibling who went on ahead one heavenly moment yet to come.

Sometimes when you have lost, in my case, the depth God went to to heal me from my miscarriage, you are blessed to have a heightened wonder at what you have been given afterwards.

If you too have lost a child, in utero or after birth, my heart goes out to you.

My heart has been made whole again despite my losses, grief and trials because its Maker has touched me and brought me back to life.

My prayer is that you will allow Him to do the same.

And may He rise up around you those who you can share your burden and grief with, who will direct you back to the Healer of all wounds, hurts & brokenness, as they love you alongside you in your loss.

Yet Andrew’s tiny feet have left an imprint on my heart which will never leave, nor do I want them to. I am a better mom, more compassionate friend, and can find joy in the mundane of the day to day because I know that I know He is with me, each step, every moment.

Losing Andrew and meeting God in the whirlwind of the emotion which followed taught me that.

hemmed in

This is going to be a hard post to write because of all the emotion which has been left untapped within me for so long.

But God says it is time.

Despite the precautions we took on our honeymoon, I became pregnant then, right after we got married.

I remember the look of joy & shock on my face when I saw the pregnancy kit confirm my suspicion, and again when I gave my hubby that same stick when I shared the good news with him.

We had just begun to tell our family & closest friends when I began to spot heavily.

My husband was at work, so my mom came to take me to the hospital, where in shock, I was hoping for good news.

The words spoken over me by the examining doctor haunted me for many years, but I am not going to give them voice again here.

At 13 weeks, my dreams were shattered just as I was getting used to the blessing that had been heading our way.

And the loss came between my hubby and I, just as we were to be drawing closer to one another.

For my part, because I am here to share my story & not his, I couldn’t unpack my rollercoaster of emotions. Our doctor tried to help with medication to regulate my cycle again, and I hit a deep emotional depression.

I felt alone & abandoned.  Well meaning people offered condolences, and the standard comfort lines, except for one wise woman, my paternal grandmother.

She called me and shared with me how she had lost a baby during delivery, and how worse it had been for her to go the whole pregnancy to come home with empty arms.  She cried with me for my loss. 

Someone who had lost was able to reach past my depression & wrap loving arms around my heart, because they too had been there.

The following spring, hubby & I had heard about a new revival hitting the Toronto area, and our cell group decided to check it out for ourselves.

God met me so powerfully that night I came away changed forever.

When the person laid hands on me during prayer time, I fell to the ground & curled up in a fetal position (hubby told me this afterwards).  In my mind, God met me, revealed He was with me, loved up on my in waves of love, and told me I would go home & soon become pregnant. That He would help me overcome all my fears, and He would be with me each step of the way. He left a verse with me,

Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

On my birthday later that month, I indeed became pregnant with the daughter I had always desired.

God used her to help heal my heart over what has been lost.

Her arrival was traumatic, and when I found myself expecting just over a year later, I turned to God again and cried out for His intervention again for this new child I was carrying.

I had a sense He was with me, and that I was to have a different doctor help with the delivery.  I was much calmer this time around, but still had the underlying fear of “What if” lurking beneath the surface.

The Sunday before I went into labour, a woman from our church felt led to give me a new worship CD.  I listened to the whole CD that same day, until the last song came on. God powerfully spoke to me as I sang perfect harmony to a song I had never heard before as it played.  And God spoke the promise He has for me to be with me through my delivery…

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them, delivers them and and saves them from the wicked, because they take refuge in Him. Psalm 37:39-40

It took me a while to realize that was the correct verse. as the song refers to Psalm 32:7, which has similar wording.

Not long after by son was born, my husband decided he didn’t want to physically have any more children. My deliveries were both very physically hard on me (I had major surgery to fix the damage left afterwards) and he didn’t want to lose me, but didn’t clarify why he was doing what he was doing at the time.

I was devastated, as I always wanted a larger family.

Our pastor came along side me and shared that my hubby had been scared of losing me in another delivery, and couldn’t move forwards without taking steps to keep me safe.  It was hard to hear, but it made me realize his decision had been made out of love.

I poured my heart out in grief to God, and He revealed something to me that I have never forgotten.

Both verses I got for my children’s birth days were from the same psalm. The elder from near the beginning of the psalm, the younger from the end.

God hemmed me in on both sides, and reassured me these were the children I was meant to have.

And He also gave me a picture of the first born in heaven, hanging out with my maternal grandmother, waiting for our reunion.  Happy, healthy & full of joy, this boy is His delight.

Over the ups and downs of raising small children, then teenagers, those verses have brought me great comfort.

I have prayed and continue to for their truth to come to love in my children’s lives.

For my daughter to know she is His treasure, and find the counterpart He has for her who will treat her as his treasure.

For my son to deeply come to know God has his hiding place, Stronghold, and deliverer.  To come a man wise in His ways.

Nothing that happens to us occurs without His awareness.

He knows what is happening , everywhere.

He sees all the loss, pain, grief, depression and brokenness.

But He doesn’t just see it.

He walks along side us through it.

Over the years, I have been hit hard with that depression, twice after the unexpected death of loved ones, and once after my recent second mild concussion.

It took a loving God to help me regain my focus.To allow Him in to comfort, support and strengthen me to face each day as it comes.

For He understands the loss of a loved one quite keenly.

Because even if you know it’s coming, that separation from the one you love rips at your heart, breaking it as it happens.

Jesus dying on the cross ripped God’s heart wide open for all to see. He gets death, the devastation of loss and the drain of grief. He lived through it, and will help you do the same.

He has restored me, filled my heart with His love and continues to draw my husband and I closer together as we both seek Him in our losses & joys.

The Psalms are some of His most precious Words to me, because I have met the God i discovered there, who answers the cries from our depths, and who meets each one in the greatest need.

And because He knew I would need one more confirmation that He knows the plans He has for me. He made sure Psalm 139 was included.

An intimate portrait of a God in pursuit of those He loves, so much so He goes before us, walks beside us and comes behind us, keeping us every step of the way.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

God can use all the moments in our lives as part of the tapestry of His story being woven into our lives.

I cling on the hard days to the Promise Giver, knowing His plan for me will come to pass despite the moments which try to unravel me.

For His story will never end, and His love for His Beloved is eternal, and will last forevermore.

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when mothering hurts

I have not always had the relationship I enjoy now with my mom.  We have both had to work hard at forgiving one another & leaving the past behind to enjoy our current relationship. She is  a treasure i continue to enjoy getting to know better. 🙂

Nor has being a mother always been smooth sailing.  But my kids are the two biggest blessings God has bestowed upon me, and i am way more delighted with them than I am frustrated by the day to day messes they can leave around.

I can get how Mother’s Day stirs up lots of emotions within us:

For many,  joy over their relationship with their mothers, which has been filled with enough blessings to outweigh the growing pains & hard times.

 Joy at becoming a mom.

Others, grief over the early or sudden loss of their mothers, your soft place to land when things got rough or your sounding board when things were tough.

Grief over the unwise choices your children have made, as they have broken your heart by leaving or running away from home right into dangerous, unwise or unknown situations.

Or grief because you are not yet a mom. You have been struggling to have a child of your own.
You may have been blocked from formally adopting the child you adore.  
Your heart aches for what you desire.

Some experience loss because they were abandoned or rejected by their mothers, and intensely feel the lack of that relationship within.

The other side of loss is anger, over abusive or neglectful mothering.

And for those who desperately want to be mothered, no matter why, an intense longing for that hole within to be filled with a mom.  
Or the deep longing for your child to come home.
Or you long for the child you lost, the one who came before their time, or left before living a full life.

All these emotions can swirl around this holiday, making it one of the most emotionally intense holidays of the year.

I have experienced most of the above at one time or another.
I get it.

But more importantly, so does God.

He sees all the ways earthly mothering has broken, battered or abandoned those of you hurt by your mothers.

He knows the grief and devastation of your losses and your longings.

He wants to touch that painful emotion within.

I believe the father waiting for his son in the parable of the Prodigal Son also represents the full heart of God.  That kind of love also includes the heart of mothers.

If God designed man and woman to both be in His image, than both fathers and mothers reflect His heart.

He too longs for your child to come home.

He grieves with you when your mother is suddenly taken from you.

He sees the cries you try to hide at night as you wail in your pillow for the child you lost, or the children you’ve been told will not be coming.

He tears up when you stand at your mother’s grave, and a wave of grief shakes you to your core.

He is there with you.

Just as a mother might be….with her arm around you, even though you may be too dazed to know she is beside you.  Waiting for you to call, and share about your day.

I believe God gives those of us who are His ‘spiritual’ mothers, because He knows that so many of us are rocked by our childhoods, and need a wise discerning mother to step in and mother us where we need it.

I have been very blessed by one such mother, who has since moved on to worship & adore Her Lord face to face.  God caused her to step in at a time when I needed such a mom, with her loving wisdom and redirecting me to Him. I am now pleased to say I have such a relationship with my earthly mother, because He has helped us restore it.

Mother’s Day to me is an earthly celebration, if you don’t know God. Its only one day a year to thank your mom for what she does for you.

Mother’s Day in God’s eyes? An opportunity for every mother, whether by birth, adoption or spiritually, to appreciate the gift of the children He has placed in your care.  The ability to show God’s heart for His kids, every day.

If you are so blessed with a mom you adore, honor her.  Take her out for a meal, if not on Mother’s Day than on your birthday, the day God made her your mom.

Take flowers to her grave, play her favorite movie, sing her favorite song, wear her color.

However she needs to know you appreciate the blessing she is to you when she is alive, and for you to honor her memory in your heart.

And after Mother’s Day is over?

Then honor your mother every day by thanking God for her.

If you struggle with your relationship with your mom, please visit Bonnie Gray‘s excellent blog post on how to find healing from your hurt:

http://www.faithbarista.com/2015/05/toxic-mom-7-ways-to-find-healing/

If you struggle with being the best mother you can to your children, or are waiting to become a mom, ask God to help you become that mother you desire to be.   He will give you the patience you need to stay calm in the terrible twos, the strength to endure the sleepless nights of teething, illness and out past curfew, the wisdom to raise that headstrong child, and the ability to look back and laugh at some of your fumbles.

The best thing you can do as a mother? Know God. And point your kids to Him.

May your children arise to call you blessed. Proverbs 31:28a

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when words fail

Hearing about how Christians are being persecuted, tortured & killed for their faith hurts.

For we are one body, one bride, one church in Jesus.

And when one part of the body hurts, the whole body feels the pain. Sure, those closest to that part may feel it more intensely, but when the part is removed, the whole body has to readjust and learn to compensate.

God calls us to life down here on earth, in the midst battle over the ground the enemy is trying to conquer as his….each of us.

You see, the enemy doesn’t really want land mass, he wants to rule the masses.

He is jealous for God’s kingdom, and will not stop trying to destroy it until Jesus comes and puts an end to him once and for all.

The enemy knows this, which is why he tries so hard to discourage, stir up dissent, distract & decoy us from Kingdom living.

He thought that if this slaughter of His lambs were made public, he could turn the flock away from the Lamb.

He was wrong.

God’s people begin to pray all the more and share Jesus all the louder when we hear & see His people being taken out.

For where the enemy leaves wounds, God brings healing.

Where hearts are broken, God binds up & makes anew.

Where anguish is the cry, God brings His peace.

These are not just platitudes, but hard earned truths I have experienced in my life.

You see, a few years ago now, my lovely sister in law decided she couldn’t take the burdens she carried any longer, and listened to the enemy’s lie that she was better off dead.

She succeeded.

And almost destroyed her husband, rocked our world & stirred up the mental strongholds the enemy has over a few of the family.

If it hadn’t been for God, there would be no family left. Honestly.

God showed up so powerfully at her funeral, and the gospel was fully shared for all to hear…for she was a believer.  I know, because i witnessed her genuine acceptance of Jesus as she poured out her need for him.

Had I not been there, I couldn’t have reassured her husband and mine that she was in God’s hands.
Not the enemy’s greedy clutches. as he had hoped.

God honors our heart’s cry for Him, even if we wander lost for a season or two in the desert.

The peace that God brought into this situation was beyond capture-able in words. 

He revealed His love and grace, mercy and calm beyond words.

We hardly had words to speak in our grief, but He knew.

So my prayer for all of us in the body who are dealing with traumatic loss, heart break, illness, family chaos, debt?

May you press into His Presence with everything you’ve got.
He will be there when you seek Him.
He will hold you together when you begin to fall apart.
He will never leave your side through the lows.
He will rejoice with you in the highs.
He will lavishly love you every step of the way for the rest of your life.

When words fail, the Word steps in and intercedes.

Because what breaks our hearts matters to Him.
When His children hurt, He hurts. When His children die, He cries for our loss as He gathers them Home.

Our words may fail us in the storms that come, but our Word never will. Ever.

If your heart is heavy, draw near to Him and ask Him to lighten your load.  If your soul is parched, ask Him to quench it with life & hope again. If you hunger for more, He will meet your need.

And if you find yourself facing your ISIS one day, He will more than equip you to stand your ground, and lead you into heaven at His side.

And what about the enemy? He knows his days are numbered, and he knows who will win.

He knows it isn’t him.

One God rules, forever and ever!

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cry

My soul chose that moment to do something it hadn’t done in longer ago than I could remember. It began to cry.

#TheMercifulScar

I am not known as a crier.
In fact, I am mostly cheerful and pleasant to be around.

But every so often, when I have let my emotions and stresses build up for too long, I find myself close to tears.

Sometimes I give in to them, and I have a good cry. And I tend to feel a bit better afterwards by releasing my emotion through those tears.

Occasionally, I have a hard awful gut wrenching wail, usually with an unexpected passing of a loved one.

What does God think of tears? Specifically, my tears?

You would figure that busy as He is, there might be more important things on His mind…until one reads this verse:

Psalm 56:8 (MSG) You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

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(Image by:Republic of You-Tears & Fragility, Pinterest)

Really, God? You know each night we/i have had a hard time sleeping? You make a note for each tear we/i cry, each pain we/i endure?

Wow.

God truly is involved aware of every aspect of our lives.

But He waits for you, and me, to invite Him to converse with Him…about anything and everything.

The Bible is full of people who brought their concerns to God- fear of bring murdered, barren. Those who felt alone, deep loss, intense pain or in bondage. Needing healing, hungry, even to pay their taxes.

God met them in those conversations.

He already knows what is going on, in fact God really knows everything, including intentions.

He knows your husband just broke your heart.

He gets that money is getting really tight, because you are still waiting for work, or more work.

He understands when you feel like you can’t take anymore.

He sees when you are sobbing because you suddenly just lost the person who most got you on earth, and you didn’t make the time to tell them how much you loved and appreciated them before they passed.

Each aspect of our lives has value to God.

Because HE values US.

There is nothing you can do that will make Him stop loving you. He may not like your behavior, but He will ALWAYS love you.

Jesus died for you, out of forever love.

He wants to spend eternity WITH us.

Wow.

And the Bible also says in Revelation 21:3-4:
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.”

There are good times coming.

Try to keep that promise in mind next time you have a cry in the moment.

It is just a moment, or a few strung together compared to the eternity awaiting us.

That thought is almost overwhelming enough to make me cry…