December 11, 2014

My Rainbow Pregnancy Journal {week 27}

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We're in the third trimester, friends! :) 

And... it's totally a girl. :) We're just absolutely tickled and look forward to welcoming our 5th daughter in March!

I'm enjoying an intentionally slow Christmas, and reveling in the Truths and mysteries of Advent currently. I'm feeling quite expecting, spiritually as well as physically, like an unsuspecting bubbling joy. You need Ann Voscamp's book, "The Greatest Gift," in your life. Let it sink way down deep in your bones this Advent. 

This is the first week that I've begun to notice baby girl's weight. I've been doing transverse abdominal and alignment exercises daily with fit2b studio to keep a strong core to support her and not let her growing weight cause my back to sway. Non-flaring rib cage over neutral hips, people! Ha. ;) (use my code to get a special discount on rivkareverer)

The third trimester's arrival brings with it a wide range of feelings and thoughts:

-Anticipatory excitement growing to meet her when she's ready.
-Feeling the incling to "nest" but actively choosing to wait until after Christmas. 
-Feelings of hesitancy in actually getting things ready or thinking too far ahead of TODAY. 

The last is new to me this pregnancy. I'm sure because our last child, Jane, was born too soon. 

I'm thankful that now that we know this she is a she, that the gender questions of, "what I'm hoping for" have ceased. My go-to reply? "I just want a person." 

I'm also thankful I never vomited the more ugly sounding truth on some unsuspecting, well meaning person: "Oh, boy or girl? Actually, I'm just hoping this one stays alive."

Friends, don't say that to people. They mean well and won't know how to handle that. Say it instead to someone who knows and understands. Who will not assume you're "still" stricken with grief or fear. Who will sigh and smile and tell you that's okay or normal or acceptable. Who will hold you with their arms, if you need, and with their eyes. Who will be honored that you felt safe with them to get that off your chest. 

It's healing. :)

 #rainbowpregnancy #pregnancyafterloss 

October 4, 2014

NOW {capture your grief}

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I wrote to you Friday about before. It's been four years of change now. Four years of scratching the surface of who the Lord's made me to be. Four years of #1000gifts, of heart swelling, no, learning to swell, with love in the mundane, every-day. Fours years of pouring into callings. Loads of pouring and sowing, and loads of reaping. As my soul pours out in its hardest work, I begin to recognize myself more as if my spirit already knew from communion with His Spirit, and is rejoicing inside me as I learn so desperately to "hold myself to a standard of grace and not perfection," and continually find myself more and more in love with being their momma and his wife and HIS fully accepted, blameless daughter and servant of the King. And there is such peace and thrill in knowing I have SO far to go. I am excited by the mysteries of God now and laugh at the future because I feel the reality of being firmly rooted. May my roots always reach further for the Source of quenching waters in Him alone, like a tree firmly planted in the desert.

Yes, this is my hardest work, but it yields the greatest return. And so I do the hard things. And there is joy unspeakable.

Some days down right stink. Some don't work. at. all. Some days I forget so easily about being intentional, forget about hunting for His joy dares. some days my soul is just tired. Some days theirs are. Some days my physical body cannot perform the intentionality my soul is ready for.

You see, some days being intentional actually means laying to-do's at rest. Let us eat those last bit of odd pantry and fridge items that don't go with anything when I'm just too tired to go to the grocery today. It teaches them and you of gratefulness and creativity. Let us call "teacher 'work' days" from homeschooling and watch their confusion as you pack a picnic lunch and their glee when you stay at "the awesome park" all day long. It teaches them and you to always make time for play. Let us put our feet up once in a blue moon and eat pop corn all day long because they laugh so hard as the hot air popper blasts strays away from the bowl and they dash to collect them. It teaches them and you to make time for needed rest.

Oh, but don't you yet still see it? The intentionality and commitment even in that?

"Be intentional, not regimental." -Beth Learn

I desire to be more intentional with their hearts than a to-do list, and especially during a to-do list, may I not lose sight of purpose. Because you know, things must get done. Intentionality and commitment; washing the same dishes every day, the same laundry every week, teaching them of school and of life constantly, answering never-ending questions. And it teaches them sacrificial love, diligence, discipline. And you.

Four years of change so far, but it's been this year that's changed me most. These last almost eight months of continuing to live since Jane didn't.

There has been so much more hunger for the Lord's presence, so much desperation to simply sit inside His heart, some days just to keep breathing. There is a new tenderness I feel in me, a good tender. No longer a fresh wound kind of tender, but a kind of humility to my core as I recognize more and more of my need for Him and I learn to rest firmly and rejoicingly in faith that is only found whole in Him. Still there's more to this new reality I muddle down to an inadequate word: tender. There's a quiet surety, a kind of firm strength I didn't have before, meekness. And I know I want to grow in it all my life.

I am not glad for her death or this never-ending but always-changing grief journey just because there has been good change. God is transcendent in faithfulness. He would have been faithful to grow me out of intimacy with Him without my children dying. Yet because He is faithful without waver, He never wastes a moment to work His love into all our hidden rooms of soul and open doors within us we didn't even know were there, let alone capable of walking into. I believe I have changed and grown in Him per His plan all the while. But sometimes how we respond to circumstance speeds it along. ;-) He did not cause it for my growth, but is always, always, always faithful to carry us through when we fall on Him.

I am exceedingly grateful for how I have been irrevocably changed since Jane's death this year, for the change that got me on this road when Caleb died eight years ago, and the four years after that when I realized it.

Carly Marie asked of today what do we want to become. I want to become...more. More growth from more of His presence, more faith from more rest in the hard things, more love from more seeing husband and children, friends and strangers through His eyes, more intercession on their behalf, and more worship. Always more worship. :-)

October 3, 2014

BEFORE {capture your grief}

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Wow. That picture was a long time ago. Back when I was pretty successful at being who I thought I wanted to be at the time: the fun, young, hot Christian mom. It's kind of hard for me to share because my life and my person are so far departed from this. I am feeling a little nervous and vulnerable about this post, but I feel like there are two messages in this that need to get out. I desire to have a willing and obedient heart towards the Lord, and this is what immediately came to mind when I thought about who I was before my children died. Or rather, in between my children dying.

I still loved the Lord, though I looked an awful lot like the world in my dress and manner. I still loved my husband, though I was far from honoring him. I still loved my children fiercely, though I had no desire to commit myself wholly to nurturing, teaching, discipling them. I still loved my home, though I believed housecleaning was a stereotypical, legalistic mold that I needed to have good boundaries against.

You see, I loved. I've always loved deeply. But I wanted to love easy.

Sarah Mae said once upon a time, "Being intentional is super hard. Really loving is also super hard. I want to do the hard things."

I thought I loved well. But I lacked intentionality, commitment, calling. NO, I had calling. But callings take intentionality and commitment and doing hard things, and not just seeing the joy in it but choosing to count it all as joy.

But all that was after our first loss.

When I was 22 Caleb died and I felt life drain from me in every facet, and I wanted to grieve my baby. But we were so, so young and surrounded by young like us and younger. No one told us that grieving would be good and right, there was just silence and encouragement that we'd have another. And that's not their fault. They didn't know, same as us. So my hard-labor preacher husband bottled like it never happened. And I? I made a label-less box, neatly tied with ribbon in my soul to stuff it all in. And it stayed in a back room collecting dust, and I had forgotten where I put that key.

We became pregnant again in less than 3 months and while she truly was a "rainbow baby," we didn't see that nor desired to. We had "gotten over" that "bump in the road." But what I didn't realize was how that neatly packaged box that held grief and my son's name and my identity as his mother would effect me. I felt like I was missing something as I struggled so hard to love and love life. I just kept busy. For years. Because I knew if I stopped, I'd break. But I didn't know what from. My forever deeply passionate momma-heart NEEDED to acknowledge and grieve and heal.

I convinced myself it was a lack of faith in God. This, this constant struggle for peace. This too is how we all feel if we're withholding forgiveness. It eats at us. And it's confusing because we love Jesus and follow Him and yet there's no peace. We have to deal and we have to heal, give Him rein to heal us.

So I stayed busy in ministry and was such a fun, young, hot Christian mom.

Four years after he died and I was pregnant again, I heard someone share of their grief over their daughter's miscarriage. It awed me listening to her talk about this baby as if it were the same to her as her living grandchild. I could barely breathe and all my insides seemed to lock up as she explained that she will always wonder who she would have been and that she asked the Lord, if it pleased Him, to give her a dream to settle her soul. She said she HAD dreamed. DID see. And while she still misses, she has peace.

I felt as though a thousand volcanoes were preparing to erupt inside my soul. And I wondered if God had that for me too. I told Him bluntly and humbly that I was afraid to ask and Him say no, and confessed I had zero faith for it, but was asking anyway. The beauty of acknowledging HIS holiness is that it also acknowledges our lack, our nothingness. And it allows the self-inflicted shackles of condemnation to absolutely disintegrate. I had nothing to bring to the table and He knew it. And that very stinkin' night, I dreamed.

I dreamed of heaven, Glory, and I saw him there, Caleb. He looked straight at me, in my eyes and I knew, knew-knew, that it was my son. He did not come to me. He was where he was supposed to be. But he did smile. A smile of purity and joy and perfect peace untainted by this world. He appeared four years old! His brown hair fluttered over his eyes when he turned and he had his daddy's eyes that shone at me with a mutual acknowledgement of who I am to him.

Turns out a lot of people have experienced these kinds of encounters. A very many.

I stopped being busy. I was still before the Lord. And I wept for days. I acknowledged, I grieved, and started the journey of healing. I had two daughters before my eyes, another in my womb, and a son in heaven. I was a momma of four who could rest.

It was after that I began pouring myself into my callings and relationships, with both intentionality and commitment, and began learning to walk in the Lord's peace and fruit of the Spirit. That's when I started to scratch the surface of who He created me to be; free and full of love and love for life in the mundane, every-day. That's when I started writing. But that's for tomorrow. Today was just about before.

October 2, 2014

My Rainbow Pregnancy Journal {week 17}

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If you interact with me on Facebook or Instagram, then you know we are expecting! This is the first I've really talked about this pregnancy here on the blog though, so no worries if you're totally like, "Whaaaa?! She pregnant?!" Yes, yes I am. :)

We lost our daughter Jane on February 17th of this year and really weren't expecting to conceive so quickly. We were surprised and thrilled, and so, so grateful.

I am due March 12th, 2015 and am 17 weeks today. :)

I was very ill this time with severe morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum that has already subsided, glory to God! I had HG with all four that have been born alive and no nausea at all with our two born to heaven. I don't subscribe to the idea that morning sickness is THE sign of a healthy pregnancy. Many, including my mother, never had it! But I cannot deny the hope that swelled in me for this tiny life when I started to get sick really early on.

The last time I saw one of my children on an ultrasound screen... she was dead and misshapen and breath failed me. I was so nervous walking back into that same room where we were told how sorry they were just a few months ago for my 10 week "dating ultrasound." The hard-labor preacher and I both cried and smiled big smiles as we watched this one alive, heart beating, fluids wooshing, limbs wiggling.

Baby D started moving where I could feel them about 3 weeks ago. I hadn't ever felt Jane move before she died, so I realized with these first movements that my soul had been waiting 7 months to feel life move in my womb. With every little flutter, kisses to my soul. :)

I will begin to write more about this sacred dance journey between grief and joy that is a rainbow pregnancy. It's important. Thank you, friends, for walking through this time in support and for being excited with us about this new life. :)

Heart {capture your grief}

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"For me, it is not a lesser experience of parenting to parent your child's spirit instead of their spirit in a physical body, it is just a different one that is equally as precious." -Carly Marie Dudley

I have a son and a daughter that live in my heart. Their names are Caleb Aaron and Jane Malise. And they are just as much my children as the ones whose faces I don't have to wait 'til Glory to see.

"A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love that she holds in her heart."

October 1, 2014

Sunrise {capture your grief}

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I rose early to watch the sun rise to shine its light and warmth on my side of the world. At first I was sorely disappointed when it was so foggy that I could barely see into the neighbor's yard much less the hope of brilliant colors up over the horizon and the trees over yonder. I sighed looking out the kitchen window over last night's dirty dishes and with it the remembrance of the romance I find in fog. There's a hope in it that I've never found "gloomy." A hope beyond what is visible, the faith that at different, almost intended moments, more is revealed. I found a foggy sunrise rather fitting on this first day of "capturing grief," of chronicling "what heals my heart" on this journey and dance between grief and joy.

I stood outside by myself in the quiet of the morning. Even in my favorite hoodie, the brisk early Autumn air sent chills down my arms, and I remembered. I remembered the two lives that are mine but not with me, and while my heart ached, it swelled with love more. Some days it still aches more, and that's fine, but fewer and fewer knock me flat. I will always ache for their presence but I will heal.  I am, healing.

I remembered too the so many who have lost long before me and were made to grieve in silence. I remembered those who even today believe the lie past down that their children were not such and their grief not valid.

I walked and remembered and sipped from my warm cup the reminder of Truth written on its side.

"God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." -Psalm 46:1

I walked through the fog and gazed over this ground we've been cultivating at our new home. Too late for planting for this season, but will be right on time come Spring. Much like the life currently claiming the sacred space in my womb. I look at the garden and I touch my barely swollen belly, my tiny person bump, and I pray again to hold this one. "Let this person live, Lord." Being filled with the faith that our cultivated crops next year will yield its fruit never takes away the realization of the previous crop, whether abundant or fallen short. But there is faith in the Lord for the crop to come nonetheless. We place our trust in His hands, cultivate with the time we're given, and praise Him, always.

August 25, 2014

My Priest

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I am grateful for the #shereadstruth ministry and community that provides a way for thousands of women to connect online through the study of God's Word. I have been LOVING the current study through the book of Hebrews, and look anxiously forward to digging deep into the next: a study in Hosea! (A book in which I confess to never reading more than whatever verses a preacher was quoting from in a message. Eek!) Here's to the Spirit teaching me to be more theologian-hearted, a lover and passionate studier of His Holy Word.

"Hebrews is dense and complex and rich with the gospel." #shereadstruth

I am admittedly an entire week behind everyone in Hebrews. And for the first time I'm not beating myself up about that. I am not behind for neglect of that precious time with Him. No, this time I know I am exactly where He intended me to be.

The Lord pressed pause in me during this study to meditate there. To sail out and cast my net in deeper waters. To fall absolutely, head over heels, rush to the alter all over again, love...

In love with Christ as my High Priest.
Learning what that truly means and becoming more aware of what our relationship looks like on His side of heaven.

You see, HE paused me. At the end of my devoted study time with Him on the days after being immersed in chapters 4-7, and since, it has not stopped resonating within my soul.

The way excitement would rush through your body and up into your head as the childhood carousel would complete another circle... and keep going.

The way you say, "Goodnight," to someone after a heartfelt conversation and you lay in bed awake replaying everything.

The way you pray intently that the Gospel words you shared with that lady in the market or that neighbor-kid who eats occasionally at your table would stick to their minds and souls like glue until they just have to know more of Him, that is Christ who loves them unconditionally and is seated at the throne of Grace.

He pressed pause in me there.

We fight and we struggle and we plead to know that there's one, anyone, who understands. We search for solidarity. And sometimes, by His grace, we find that beauty in one another. The beauty of connection and how suffering transcends difference. And yet still, it seems no one understand completely.

And all the while Jesus is there, with no condemnation towards us for forgetting, saying, "I understand fully. And I never cease taking you to the Father."

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need." -Hebrews 4:15-16
There. That. Ultimate solidarity.

"But He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Hence also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." -Hebrews 7:24-25

He knows. He sees you up close. Stands in the gap for you. Knowing in advance to any situation or hurt or need, exactly how to intercede for you. Always. He LIVES for it. I have trouble reconciling that scriptural truth with my fallen skin. But I don't have to understand to rest in it. To rest in Him.

“There can be no vacancy in this priesthood, no hour nor moment in which the people are without a priest to negotiate their spiritual concerns in heaven. This ever-living high priest is able to save completely all who come to God through him.” -Matthew Henry

I absolutely adore Laura Woodly Osman's heart and music. I cannot find much of any of it online to link you to (not to mention the chords), but it IS available on iTunes. I have been singing this song constantly this last week, as my family can attest to, and just HAD to share it with you. Lyrics are under the video.

If you are a subscriber reading this post in your email inbox, click on over to be ministered to through her words. Also, I have an inability to record short songs to Jesus. I never watch the clock while I'm worshiping. ;-)

Jesus, You are praying for me
Day and night You are interceding
Jesus, You are praying for me
Day and night You are speaking words of life

My Priest
You know how I get weak
All of my wanderings
And the places I hide when I just can't find my faith

But You say, "Father,"
"Pour out Your grace."
"This one is seeking Your face."
"You know why I died."
"Father, you love this child."
"Look at my hands and feet."
"Grant mercy."

My Priest by Laura Woodly Osman, from the album "Home"

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June 10, 2014

Trusting in the Validator of Your Grief

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In much needed solitude I walked into the middle of the field. With the giant hood of the wind breaker I had borrowed from my husband's closet up and over my head and eyes, I lay there on my back in the sun. I lay there with my arms wide, not caring if I looked silly. It was a cool day in late Spring but the wind made my bones ache a little. I felt the Lord's warmth along with the sun though as I lay there, and the absolute sturdiness of the ground beneath me. And I sang.

Three months after our Jane died in my womb I sat alone on retreat, away from husband and daughters, at Pilgrimage. I ached for little puckered lips and boo-boos I wasn't at home to kiss and for the strong arms that hold me cherished every night. But even still, I could see Jesus and His providence all over that place set-apart, and knew it was where I was supposed to be. For such a time as this.

Someone at my table asked me how I felt when our baby died. I struggled for words and resented being asked. I knew it was because these people, that were just strangers two days beforehand, cared for me now and I for them. They wanted to know where my heart was now. But when the session ended for a break before anyone was able to respond to me, I realized how rock hard I was craving validation. Craving "man" to somehow know, understand, and approve everything I was feeling about the death of my child, and even validate that her little unborn life was worth grieving even though I never got to hold her. A craving unmet brought my attention to His still, small voice.

So I went and laid my shaky soul down flat on my back in the field there. And I sang. I sang to THE Validator of my being. I brought to His feet sacrificial praise, hard eucharisteo, and He lifted me from His feet and held me like a little girl in His lap. I lay there in the field and He held me, face against chest, and told me He knew, that He understands, and He absolutely approves of me.

I know He's got Jane. And Caleb, who went before. Almost eight years now. Like every other child that has gone before, by miscarriage, abortion, born still, as an infant, as a child. He's got them all, all those lives pure, not accountable yet. Creation returns to the Creator and He's marvelous at it beyond our feeble comprehension.

I chose something that day laying in the field. I chose to rest in His validation of my grief. And day by day it's been easier to trust it and not go seeking for something not withstanding.

When I remember Jane, my heart and womb ache for her person, and the life and experience this side of heaven that would have been. But we are here. And there is necessity to find balance in our souls. To always remember and honor and cherish missed life, and to desire to be fully present, completely here. Experiencing the obvious, and seeking out the hidden, joys. Joys and thanksgiving in the everyday. To keep speaking of them does not mean you're still wrent with fresh grief. Saying their names brings more healing. Our parent hearts, both mother and father, are never the same after losing a child. But it WILL get better.

"When death comes in your home like an uninvited guest and sits in your favorite's gonna be okay."
-a speaker at Pilgrimage who has more than enough experience to say this and carry weight to it. May it sink down in our soul, deep unto deep.

"I waited patiently on the Lord; He inclined unto me, and He heard my cry." -Psalm 40:1 >

{I leave with a modified excerpt from the "Meet Me In the Meadow" daybrightener, by Roy Lessin.}

Lord, make me strong in Your hands. May my goals (and passions) be shaped by Your will; may my resolve be based in Your Truth; may my resources (and words) be used for Your glory and the good of others. Cover me with grace, shield me with mercy, and motivate me with Love.
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June 9, 2014

Seasons of Soul in Transition - Moms Against Manic Mondays

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Feels like Spring in my soul here lately.

A crocus would bloom here in there as the early signs of the changing season, but then winter would hold on (like it usually does, doesn't it friends?).

Sometimes it would ice over through the night after I began to get used to the rising temperature, trading in my heavy coat for my favorite knee-length cardigan.  Sometimes it would even snow.  Leaving me cold and clinging to Him again; the best place to grasp hold of when grip is lost.   

I'd watch as the earthly seasons changed, seemingly without me, into Spring with magnificent blooms, and now closing into summer with all the running barefoot through the grass and the dancing in the rain that our daughters do so well with complete abandon.  Coveting even the April showers that people, whose souls were in Spring or Summer or Fall, complained through.

In those moments of hope for Spring drenched by winter again, we must reject the wrong belief that that it isn't normal.  Rejecting the loathing I did not always do well, dwelling on spinning thoughts.  "But I was doing so well...  What changed?  What did I do wrong?  I must have done something wrong.  I must not be trusting you enough.  I'll never get out of this winter."  {these thoughts speak so much louder than just the syllables they make - speaking of deeply rooted weeds in my garden}

You didn't do anything wrong.  It's what transition looks like.  And transition goes even further in securing the right uprooting and death and ash of self in the winter, making your soul ground ready for new growth. 

Transition yields more dependence.  Or depression. 
Our choice.  That's why we desperately need Jesus and the aid of the Holy Spirit sooooo much.

"The beauty of the ash of love, when you emerge you're more beautiful."

Only Jesus knows how long the winter is going to be, or needs to be.  We mustn't allow ourselves to try to rush through.  It usually catches up with us if we do, sweeping up over us from behind, us unaware until we're overtaken. 

Only Jesus knows the purpose.  I've heard, "There's purpose in the pain."  While God absolutely did not cause the pain you're walking through, He absolutely is faithful to fulfill His promises while you're in it --
Romans 8:28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. 
James 1:2-8 Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
I say Your name out loud, and I give up more, making empty space for You to fill me up more and more.  Deep unto deep.  My prayer for us all during Winter seasons and times of transition --
Colossians 2:2 [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it.
"The beauty of the ash of love, when you emerge, you're more beautiful." I say Your name out loud: JESUS.
feeling rested beyond circumstance.
I bless you with eyes to see them and hearts to recognize them - the blessings, the gifts in disguise. DARE to joy in the mundane. Eucharisteo!

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February 28, 2014

Grief Is Grief

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We met her last autumn in that tiny Goodwill, among the shelves of books that no one had a use for any longer.  She began silently passing books to our girls that she thought they'd like.  She noticed our nine year old's current fascination with weather, and located a few on hurricanes.

I left my husband with the girls as I browsed past the books and into the clothing racks.  I found a few peasant skirts I fancied with elastic waistbands I could alter to fit.

Within a few minutes he came over to me with eyes intense.  "Come here.  We need to pray for this woman, together."

She shared with us that just a few months earlier her only child, a son only a few months old, had died tragically in an accident.  He had choked on something at day care while she was at work.  Her tired face and eyes said that it felt like yesterday.  Still so fresh and raw.

We listened.  We grieved with her.  We encouraged.  And we lifted her up.  We prayed together, there in the private back corner of a Goodwill.

We exchanged information, that I regretfully lost pretty quickly, and we haven't seen her again.

Until tonight.

One week and four days since our fifth daughter, Jane Malise, was born to heaven.
And on the very day that marked the one year anniversary of the death of her baby boy.

This was beyond coincidence.  This was Providence.

She started out the conversation in the cold grocery parking lot.  "Aren't you the woman from Goodwill?"

I laughed yes.  We hugged.  She smiled through tears and blurted out the significance of today.  I said I was so glad to see her today then.  I didn't hesitate and vomited out more words to add to the grief pot.

"We lost a baby less than two weeks ago. Her name was Jane."

We hugged again.  And this time she said how glad she was to see me today.


I explained that I couldn't have looked at her today with the heart I have now if this hadn't happened.  She said she understood.  Which was so dern good to hear and know that she meant it.  She did understand.

I told her how angry and hurt I am today.  Yes, terribly missing my baby.  But more angry at ignorant people.  I'm angry that people expect me to just move on.

I'm angry that out of the true goodness of their hearts they say things so extremely ridiculous and unknowingly hurtful to mothers who have lost a child to miscarriage.  Things like this:

"It was God's plan... she obviously fulfilled her purpose... God was merciful to your family in protecting you from the burden of caring for a disabled child... at least you know she's in heaven and you'll see her again... at least you have kids already, you should be thankful for them... buck up, don't worry, y'all got a good track record, you'll have another... at least it wasn't one of your other children... at least you weren't much further along because that would have been harder... at least... at least... at least..."

I was shivering in the the parking lot tonight as we talked, but neither one of us wanted our conversation to end.  We needed each other.  We needed each other TODAY.

[image source]
[image source]

She held me as I sobbed my first real good sob since the day I saw Jane's precious little, lifeless body on the ultrasound screen.  One week and four days ago since I lay there on the exam table bleeding my littlest one out on a sheet.  One week and four days since no one thought to pass along that information to the lab tech in the next room who took my blood and asked happily, "Oh, you're pregnant! How far along are you? Is this your first?"  I just looked at her a few seconds not knowing what to say, then said just louder than a whisper, "No mam, she's our fifth daughter."  Because she was.

"I'll always wonder who she would have been!" I heard myself saying through broken sobs as this woman in the parking lot held me tighter.

She said simply, "Me too."

"I know it would have been different if I held her alive and knew her like you did your son..." I apologized.

"Grief is grief," she said.

Grief. Is. Grief.

She, this woman who held her living son, who fed him, played with him, laughed with him, soothed his tears, wiped his nose, video taped his first crawl...

She saw no difference in the devastation.  She saw lives lost.  She saw a mother's grief.
"What if you held the hand of a grieving mom who miscarried at 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 18 weeks or more?  What if you never compared the loss of a 4-weeker to a 20-weeker?  What if you never said anything that started with, "At least . . . "  What if you didn't try to stifle her tears? What if you welcomed them? And matched her tears with your own?  What if you held back any trite, easy answers that promised God's will and promised easy comfort? What if you just wrapped your arms around her the way Christ would?  What if you made that meal, bought those flowers and wrote that card?  What if you went to the hospital and sat in the waiting room for her, even if you wouldn't see her? Just because she is your friend. Just because that's what you do when someone is sick in the hospital or their child is dying.  What if you called her child by name?  What if you went to the service if they planned one? What if you helped her find a support group? What if you offered to go with her?  What if you prayed constantly for that hole in her heart that will one day scab, one day scar, but will never fully heal?  What if all your actions when dealing with loss of any kind, affirmed that fact that all life -- ALL LIFE -- is good, worthy of recognition and worthy of grief.  What if you didn't just affirm to the world that all babies are valuable -- but you also affirmed to a bereaved mom that HER baby was irreplaceable, and would forever be missed?
'A person is a person, no matter how small.'"
"We have to fall together," she said as she brought her hands toward one another, "or we'll fall apart."

Suffering transcends difference.  The art of solidarity.  Providence.

"There is a support group that a woman leads that I go to sometimes," she said.  "She lost her 6 week old baby now 30 years ago, and she uses writing to heal; uses writing prompts to lead us, guide us, and help us through where we are at and so we can help others.  Would you like to go with me?"

This woman in the parking lot?  The same one from Goodwill?  Yeah, she didn't know that I write.  That I feel the most honest me when I write.  That God pricks and heals my soul when I write.  And that sometimes He graciously uses my writing to encourage others.

"I'd love to," I said, and smiled a good smile.

My husband had loaded all the groceries in the back of our van while we spoke.  As we began to drive away she motioned for him to roll down his driver's window.

"Take care of her," my new friend said smiling, but with eyes that ran it deep.

He always does.  Jane was his girl too.

You, mama-friend, you who have this wound similar,
Give yourself time.  Allow yourself the sobs, and if you have other children, let them see you cry.  Pray with them in that moment together.  You have nothing to explain to people that don't understand.  That's not your job.  They don't have to understand or be okay with what you need.  It doesn't matter if they seem irritated that you had to cancel that luncheon or lesson again.  Or maybe they might.  Maybe they'll be tender and say things like my husband was told tonight on the phone when he made calls for me, "Tell her to take all the time she needs; we'll be here."  But either way-  Just. Take. Time.  And find someone or someones to "fall together" with.  We must know we are not alone, that how we feel is not abnormal, and that there is hope in tomorrow.

Dear mama-friend who needs a voice today to bring a light of validation to your grief after miscarriage,
The truth of this life lost has been ascertained.  Your story as that life's mother has been corroborated.  Your grief has been found as something substantial and authentic.  Your soul and body has been given the stamp of approval, the go ahead, the green light...  to rest. and to bear. this. out.  You are not alone.

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February 24, 2014

Escaping the Mundane - moms against manic mondays

Truth is, we can't.  We cannot, as hard as we try or strive or feel discontent doing the same old or ordinary or usual, live a life apart from it.  And as long as we are focused on the irritation of the mundane, that is all you and I will see, sweet friend.

This past weekend I heard a recount of the story of Moses and the burning bush, for quite possibly the thousandth time in my life so far.  But this time it was different.

I heard something I've never heard before.  A revelation of the simplest magnitude.

Burning bushes in the desert were normal.


That was it!  Rain doesn't come, bushes and other growing things get dry and withered, and due to the sun's constant rays, sometimes com-bust.

The miracle in this story was not at all that the bush was burning, it was that Moses turned aside to look at it.

He turned aside to notice the usual.  The mundane.

When he saw the miracle in the mundane, that it was not consumed by the fire, that is when God spoke.

God placed a miracle in the normal and spoke through it.  But Moses had to notice.
He had to turn aside.  To change position.  To alter his posture.
"No matter how much we are walking in our calling, we cannot escape the mundane... so look at things that have no linear connection to one another, and then from a heart that says, 'Okay, I'll come and see, even though nothing good comes out of Nazareth...' (John 1:35-50), and God. Pours. Out."

--Stephen Roach, on developing the poetic eye
So let us raise our mugs of coffee together, that I sometimes feel I need intravenously, and say here's to being intentional in this day to alter our posture to see the countless eucharisteo moments He places in our every day; His joy dares.  Let us ask the Lord to give us eyes for the miracle in the mundane.

Where are you today, my friend?  How might I lift you up to the One who knows you through and through, and sees you up close?  Let me know.

I bless you with eyes to see them and hearts to recognize them - the blessings, the gifts in disguise. DARE to joy in the mundane. Eucharisteo!
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February 23, 2014

an invitaion to all who suffer loss

We're all there, unknowingly together there.  Spread out.  Feeling alone.
Our wombs bare too soon like those trees whose limbs are stripped by a harsh, early winter.

We're all there, unknowingly together there.  But the road tapers down, drawing us closer together as we search for solidarity.

We're all cupped there, His hands cup us together there.  Because suffering transcends difference.

The invitation chimes in the dark - to see a different reality.  We are not in the wallows, the crevices between pains that no one sees as they walk by in the market unaware of our wounds.

No, we are high and lifted up with You.  You see us up close and lift us up high.

You call us there, You call us together there.  To under-gird one another ...because suffering transcends difference.

The invitation chimes in the dark - to see a different reality.  We are not passed over.  Wear His favor on your head as a crown, sister friend.  We are His and the hope of life is in our wombs.

Art and life will continue to pour forth again.

{dedicated to all who have walked through miscarriage or any other kind of loss,
and to our sweet Jane Malise, born to heaven 2/17/14}

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January 26, 2014

When Choosing Joy Takes Courage
{Moms Against Manic Mondays}

It's easy for me to choose joy when it's like, no biggie.  But when it takes actual courage?  To dare to joy.  That's when it's the most difficult.  But hard-joy, hard-eucharisteo, turns out to be greater, more deeply rooted, preparing me for the next trial (or even the next day).

Courage isn't always about being brave - to do or accomplish something.

Sometimes courage just means being present.

And you, darlin', have the courage of Christ dwelling in you.

January 19, 2014

When the Love is There, But Not the "Like"
{Moms Against Manic Mondays}

Itexted her a plea for prayer support last Friday.  The three year old was having an especially rough day, screaming at each and every juncture her will was not satisfied.  I stuck to my guns, determined.  I am going to show her grace in my response, yet teach her that she is not in charge.  But I was barely hanging on as I allowed her quest to exert her will chip away at me.  It tired my soul.  I love her more than breath.

It grew in me until there was a shroud all around my head.  I couldn't hear or see His gifts in the moment, His joy dares, graces in the mundane.  

No, only this, gut-wrenchingly honest text:

January 15, 2014

Coming Out of Quiet, Confessions, & New Statement of Purpose

I am ready to write again.
I need to write again.
I need to bleed a bit of myself out on paper with the stroke of a pen.

It helps me be real.
It reminds me of who I am in the throws of all I am doing.