Monthly Archives: January 2012

Haves vs. Have Nots

Well, the neon sign is on overdrive today.  I hope it shorts out!  My brother’s girlfriend delivered a daughter this morning, and it’s all the news.

And, it should be – that’s exciting for them.  Despite their circumstances, a life is a life.  This is God’s hand shining here – only He can create.

But, what’s my obligation here?  What am I supposed to do?

I already discussed with her last week that we wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital – walking into the building and the same L&D where my sons died is simply not an option.

But watching my family rejoice is cutting to our hearts.  Where were they when our sons lived and died?  My brother came for a moment, though that little boy seems long given over to a hardened heart and that intimacy has been extinguished.  And my mom was there for a time, but that seemed more clinical.

After the boys were gone, we were alone.  Except for church friends, nobody came.  Nobody discusses them.  They don’t call them by name.  They don’t acknowledge them at gatherings or holidays.  There are no ornaments for them on the family Christmas tree like there are for all the other family members.  Except for my mom, they didn’t let my boys in their hearts.  They don’t let my sons in this family.

So watching them celebrate now, my heart is offended at their lack of acknowledging my sons for the past year.  Isaac and Samuel were born.  They are real.  They are eternally alive.

But this isn’t about me.  This isn’t about my sons.  It’s about this new little life.  And in the same way I want my sons acknowledged and celebrated, so shouldn’t this precious girl be.

How can I get my heart there, though?

I can’t.

But, I know the Lord can.

My favorite song right now is Casting Crowns’ “I Will Praise You in the Storm.”  Here are some of the lyrics:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Again today, that’s all I’ve got.  It hurts to watch the same people who don’t acknowledge my sons celebrate and accommodate this baby’s life.  Once again, I’m called to be the compassionate and understanding one.  Once again, I have to put aside my hurt and paste on a smile or at least not dare utter anything about my sorrow.

And Jesus did all this for me.  So I know He can do it through me.

C.S. Lewis writes, “They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”  I know this will happen.

So, what will my response be?  Mostly, it will be silence because that’s all I can bear.  It’s the most gracious response I can muster today.  God’s mercies are new every morning, so we will see what tomorrow brings.

In the meantime, how about a nod towards my boys and an utterance of their name?  Can they be part of the family too?

Do you have people in your family with infant loss?  Do you want to let them know their babies are a part of your family and matter to you?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Plant something in your garden to remember them – something beautiful that you have to care for.
  • Frame a picture of the baby or the baby’s name and meaning or maybe a poem about a baby – many are available on the internet.  Display this in your home in a prominent place.
  • Put ornaments on your tree every single year for the baby.
  • Remember – or ASK – important dates like the day the pregnancy was discovered, the baby’s birth day, the day the baby passed.  Send cards and notes to Mom and Dad on this day telling them you are remembering with them.  If there are other children, offer to baby sit so that Mom and Dad can have a “fall apart” day to themselves.
  • Write a letter to the parents explaining how you feel about the baby, about their sorrow, and how you think about the baby throughout the year.
  • Offer compassion and understanding when a celebration or child-centered event comes up.  I assure you, they are all thinking how old their child would be and what they would be doing at the event.  Even things like Arbor Day where elementary kids walk home with construction paper trees in hand are difficult.
  • Do not get in a fit when they have a harder time celebrating with you – they want to, they are working on it.  Express to them that you understand and you’re praying for them…be sure to pray for them!
  • Donate to March of Dimes or another baby organization in the name of their child.
  • If you have a child that would be related to their baby, make a onesie that says something meaningful like “little cousin” or something on there.  All of us with lost babies will put future babies in things like “little brother” – it’s a way of saying there is somebody else that’s important, too.
  • Talk about the babies.  Talk to Mom and Dad.  Talk to your kids, other relatives, and friends.  Talking about them keeps their importance up and says “we love these babes”.  Silence calls out shame, insignificance, and apathy.
  • ASK Mom and Dad how they would like their babies remembered.

If you’re really committed to pursuing intimacy with this couple, then read some books about infant loss.  My number one recommendation is I Will Carry You by Angie Smith.  Try to wrap your mind around what they’re going through and will go through the rest of their lives.  In the end, it’s intimacy in our suffering that eases our hearts.

I texted a dear friend this morning. “Will you pray for us today?  _____ had her baby and watching my family rejoice feels like a knife through our hearts.  Know God is faithful, just hurting a lot.  XX”

“We are praying now.  We love you both so much and hurt with you.  Thank you, Father, that you know. “

And that’s it: they are hurting with us and they invite the Father to be a part of it.  There can be nothing more soothing than that.

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The Neon Sign

Probably for most of the world, hearing somebody say, “We’re pregnant!” brings boundless joy and excitement.  Not for us.  What we notice right off is the huge blinking neon sign flashing over our head: “INFERTILE, INFERTILE, INFERTILE”.

It’s not that we aren’t happy for our friends.  I think.  I don’t know – that’s not anything we ever get to address.  Every new pregnancy announcement brings the strain of a smiling face (after all, it’s not their neon sign), hours of snotty sobbing, and more hours of prayer and recovery.  Hey, we’re just trying to get to a place where we don’t want to jump off a bridge.  Trying for happiness, well, gosh, what a foreign concept.

Sometimes, the flesh really comes out and I entertain wishes that others could have a hard time or a scare to know the teeniest bit about what we go through… and it’s not just infertility.  It’s entangled with our sons dying.  No, not just miscarriage in the first trimester (though we can check that box six times).  Actually delivering two perfectly healthy sons and knowing they are dying and then them being dead – well, that’s indescribable.  The only picture that comes to mind is from Indiana Jones when the tribal leader removes the man’s heart with his fist.  Except, he got to die…we’ve had to keep living.

When every new pregnancy announcement ignites the neon sign and flares of six lost babies plus Isaac & Samuel shoot around…how will we ever be able to get to a place of happiness for our friends?

If we try looking at our friends and saying they deserve it, that sure doesn’t help.  On paper, we deserve it, too.  Maybe even more.  Plus, that could just invite feelings of guilt over past sin.  That’s forgiven and long gone.  Don’t need to go there again.

Where can we look?  Misery and despair is not our hearts’ desire even if we have to assert that as a matter of obedience.  We look, then, to the King.

And that’s as much as I know.  No deep realisations yet.  No wisdom spilling forth.  To be honest, my heart has not gotten to a place of happiness.  This is the first time I’ve ever been enough off the edge to consider this.

But, it’s to the throne that we go in all suffering, weariness, and despair.  That’s where Jesus went.  God promises us peace if we cry out to Him.  He promises us joy if we ask Him for it.  He promises us love if we open our hearts to Him.

We will see how God does that here.  I have faith He’ll come get me; He always does.

In the meantime, what neon signs flash over your head?  How do you handle the bright lights?  What neon signs blink incessantly over your friends’ heads?  Do you extend compassion and grace to them?  Do you acknowledge their burden?

They want you to.  Trust me.  The joy/suffering reciprocal is a main topic in all support groups.  My dear friend is even divorcing Facebook because the constant statuses are making her neon sign cause a hole in the ozone.  The jealousy or envy you think they might have…that’s really a deep desire for understanding and intimacy within the context of that particular suffering.

And in your acknowledgement and suffering with them, nothing is greater than pointing them towards the King who can turn the flashing sign into a celebration…for their hearts and yours.

A Transformed/ing Heart

*Original publication date is December 2011

The school called and asked if I would pick up teaching a class I’ve never taught before (speech) – whole different department even!  I’m certified in it, but that just means I tested well that day.

I saw lots of problems with picking up this class:

  • No prep time – it starts in January!
  • Extends my day because it switches my conference period
  • 30+ more things to grade
  • 30+ more personalities to deal with (and the parents that go along with them)
  • Means that I cannnot make doctors appointments during my conference – no way can I get to Dallas and back in 90 minutes.
  • So…if I have to make a doctor’s appointment at all next semester (is that likely?  haha) then I will have to get a sub.  Since I have no sub days, I’ll lose $291 or half that depending on however it gets calculated out for that day.
  • I’m tired; I don’t wanna…

But, I had some other thoughts, too:

  • I’ve been praying that God would help me reach the medical community (specifically OBs) more than I am in advocating for the TAC and proper provider education on cervical insufficiency.  Perhaps teaching this new course dealing in communication would help prepare me for this.
  • I’d have the opportunity to build 30+ new relationships with students
  • I’d be in a new teacher circle that I’m not currently in – maybe they need encouragement or have something for me to learn!
  • I don’t always want to be the teacher that says no – which is who I’ve always been. I love my administration and if I can help serve them, then I want to.

So…initially I thought no, but there was the tiniest spark of an idea in me that maybe I ought to see what the Lord says about it.  So, Nam and I prayed.  And, then the question came up in my heart: what would a missionary say?  Would he say no for self-preservation, or would he say yes and step out on faith that God could take care of the concerns?

Do I want to be me-centered or Kingdom-centered?  That answer is clear…so, then, was my answer…

I am stepping out on faith to see what God has for me here.  I trust that He will handle every single concern.  I figure if I can trust Him with my sons, trust Him with my brain tumor, trust Him with my eternity, then surely I can trust Him with money and schedules and tiredness.  And, I know I can.

What fascinates me most about this is that I don’t think a year and a half ago that I would have said yes.  I don’t think before I lost my sons that I would have known how deeply I can trust my God.  I hadn’t yet given God the chance to be faithful to me with me watching and waiting.

I am so thrilled to see God changing me and to do it through my precious sons.  He is ever faithful.

A Joyful Thanksgiving

I want to share a Thanksgiving blessing with you.

As many of you know, on Thanksgiving Day 2010, I delivered my twin sons and they both passed away within hours of each other.  Needless to say, this week has been looming on my heart for some time.    Besides losing my sons, the weight of infertility still presses on me.  And, to top it all off, I have a brain tumor preventing me from pursuing any further fertility treatments until my radiation is complete.

It’s been a rough year.

As usual, God has shown up in my life in an incredible way.   This is nothing short of a miracle, and I hope it fills your heart with His goodness.

I attend a monthly infertility support group at my doctor’s office in Fort Worth.  Though I’m not pursuing fertility treatment at this time, I continue to go to the meetings to encourage other women and exchange medical info.

Last Monday, I went to the monthly meeting and met a new girl.  I introduced myself and it was halfway through the meeting before she exclaimed that she knew who I was from another friend.   She had heard my story before and we talked and talked – mostly about medical things – and exchanged contact information so I could send her some medication information…so I thought.

Later that night, my new friend called me and said she was so glad to meet me and that meeting me had given she and her husband direction they’d been waiting on.  Weird – I didn’t share that much medical info!  She said they had something they wanted to give us, and that it was urgent they give it that night.  Hesitantly, I gave her our address and they set off on the hour drive to our home.

We met just inside our front door.  She explained how she’d been given this gift for infertility and knew when she received it that it was, indeed, for infertility, but also knew it was not for her.  They’d been waiting for God to tell them who to pass it on to.  When she met me that night, she knew God wanted this for us.  When her husband heard of her meeting me, he also was convicted.

Then, they gave us an extremely large sum of money.

I could write an entire theological treatise on all the thoughts and emotions that happened over the next few days, but suffice it to say we learned about God’s grace.  Though we certainly didn’t deserve the money, He was giving it to us anyway!

The coolest part about this isn’t the money.  Yes, we are broke and in debt from previous medical bills.  Yes, we have had to scramble to put together money to pay for my radiation and to cover the paycheck I’ll be losing.  But, God has provided for all of that.

The coolest part – and what I’m incredibly thankful for – is that God saw my heart.  Just the day before at church, I’d been crying with my friends saying how I felt forgotten by God…that the delay without future direction was so hard.  I knew that God was there, of course, but I was just feeling so heartbroken.

The very next day, He reached through a stranger and sent us a message:  He has not forgotten us; He has a plan for us, and He will provide everything we need.

El Roi, the God who sees me, is why I am thankful this season.  To be such an insignificant part of eternity and have the God of all creation see right into my heart and respond to my need of hope  – wow.

This Thanksgiving is still wrought with grief for me, but I am also refreshed by the generosity of a stranger and the comforting touch of my Father.

A Joyful Thanksgiving to all of you.

PS – I got an email from this girl on Saturday.  Her insurance company contacted her and told her they’d over charged her on a hospital bill and were refunding her money.  Of course, it was the exact same amount of money that she’d given me.  J  God is good – funny – and good.

The Blessing of Infertility and Miscarriage

I wrote this last May, but am posting it again here.  At first the number six surprised me, but then I realised that’s because I lost 2 more babies in July and consider myself to have at least these 8 babes waiting for me in Heaven…

Yesterday, I wrote some of the blessings we’ve had through our struggle of losing six children in less than a year, two leaving me in miscarriage as I write this. I hope you are encouraged and can begin to see God working in your own life through your current suffering.

1. A strengthened marriage – a deeper bond,

2. An incredible ministry to other women – the Lord knew I wouldn’t be satisfied handing out linens or making meals (though I’ll do it!). He gave me a place to connect with women in the trenches and that quenches my soul!

3. A conquering of so many sins – disobedience, disbelief, distrust,

4. A more thorough understanding of His word – I know the healing and nourishment of the Bible in a way that was previously unfathomable.

5. Learning how to spill His love and instruction to others,

6. Able to walk through the fire victoriously and graciously – never burned or set ablaze.

7. A close, abiding relationship of faithfulness, obedience, intimacy, trust, belief, and desire with the Lord,

8. Clarity in understanding that this life is but a vapor and how to set my sights on eternity!