I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:1-2

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sometimes it's a sad story

I thought my STORY to be told this year would be vastly different than the one I am telling here.  When the Lord chose "story" as one of my words for 2016, I already knew I was pregnant. In my head, my story was going to be a joyful continuation of the previous amazing year in which I met and married my hero, a man who far exceeded my wildest dreams (and yes, I am well aware that I still owe you the rest of that story.)

I had always dreamed of a large family. Michael and I said "at least" four kids--preferably six or more. When he died nearly 13 years ago, I was eight months pregnant with our second baby and thought that his death was also the death of this large-family dream.  Frankly the death of this dream took longer for me to grieve than the death of my husband, after all, I would see him again someday, but my future babies were just gone.  God had big surprises over the years. He led me to adopt Super T, temporarily provide a home for foster children, and adopt Baby Girl. Every step of the way I marveled at my minivan filling up and rejoiced in adding to my crew.  Less than two years ago God surprised me with the ultimate addition and the amazing joy of a wonderful new love. We tied the knot in November 2014, exactly a year after God began dealing with me to be open to remarriage. Amazing grace has been our theme and it is obvious that God brought us together. Life is good. We decided almost immediately to start "trying" for a baby although we knew the odds were stacked against us because of our ages. After the better part of a year, some things became obvious and we "gave up," content with the four children I brought into the marriage, but disappointed that we wouldn't have a baby together.  A positive pregnancy test in December 2015 made our eyes pop and jaws drop. We were astounded and thrilled! We nicknamed the baby BA (yes, we are fans of The A-Team and that should give you an idea or our ages and why getting pregnant was such a long-shot) and thoughts of him filled our minds and hearts with dreams vying with the logistics of a larger and older family. My most tightly held dream was "doing it all again," this time with a husband by my side.  Eleven and a half years of single motherhood left me feeling cheated of a "normal" parenting experience. I dreamed of going to parks as a family, playing games, traveling, re-reading all of our favorite picture books to BA and Baby Girl, and homeschooling the little ones together.

We told the kids before Christmas and told the grandparents and uncles on Christmas night.  There was so much shock and excitement and love. We started leaking our happy news to friends and family. We just could not contain our excitement. My belly popped out before six weeks. I guess that is typical for a third pregnancy. I relished every moment being pregnant and felt great, but with definite pregnancy symptoms. I was anticipating actually looking pregnant and wearing maternity clothes, rather than just looking like I'd enjoyed the holidays a bit too much.

On Monday January 11 the spotting started.  I didn't think much of it until Tuesday night when I realized it had been off and on for 24 hours.  I texted a friend for prayer, and I told Alan that I was going to call the midwife in the morning.  My first appointment was scheduled for the next week, but I couldn't wait to make sure everything was okay. They squeezed me in on Wednesday morning. There on the ultrasound was our tiny baby. No heartbeat. He measured just 7 weeks 3 days when he should have been 9 weeks. We were sent home to let him miscarry naturally. Within 24 hours all of my pregnancy symptoms disappeared, and on Sunday January 17, my sweet baby passed from my body. My body quickly recovered, but my heart has taken some time. It is shocking how easy it is to fake a smile and do what you need to do even in the face of heartbreak. That familiar lonely feeling of "these people don't know that my world is shattered" came back--immediately recognizable even though the last time I felt that way was 12 years ago. I was thankful we had told family and friends so early because I felt support from every side. God is good and holds us when we are weak.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9

I am continuing to learn to trust Him and His plan for my life. After all, He is the potter and I am just the clay. God is the one writing my STORY.

 But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand. Is. 64:8

I truly have no regrets. I am thankful I got pregnant and loved every minute of my all-too-brief pregnancy. I am thankful we told people. I am thankful I can share this story and relate to so many other women on this potentially lonely and often taboo grief journey. I miss my little one and grieve for him, but I do not grieve as those who have no hope. I anticipate holding BA in my arms one day in heaven. Meanwhile, I look forward through the tears to the next chapter of my story on earth.

 Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
 He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him. Ps. 126:5-6

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Words for 2016

On January 1, 2016, I posted the following on Facebook.  I will soon be writing a piece of the STORY on this blog, so I wanted to give it a bit of context.

Welcome 2016! Can I have two words this year? My first word is SHEPHERD with a couple of verses to go with it 1 Peter 5:2-4 and Psalm 78:72 (I'll copy and paste those verses in the comments.) My first calling is to shepherd my own children and with the age and situation range in our house, that is no small feat. Then I need to shepherd those who the Lord brings across my path one at a time, encouraging or advising. I love that I can now be in the "older women" category (while still feeling young!) and pass along some of the things I've learned the hard way to younger friends and possibly spare them some pain and hard knocks. My second word is STORY. We need to live our own story and share it. I'm not quite sure what that is going to look like going forward, but I am eager to find out. God is good and writes a wonderful story.    ‪#‎2016wordoftheyear‬ ‪#‎shepherd‬ ‪#‎story‬ ‪#‎amazinggraceisforeveryyear‬

 1 Peter 5:2-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

 Psalm 78:72 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them with his skillful hands.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Amazing Grace

One year ago yesterday I signed up for eHarmony.  One year ago today I was matched with a man who immediately contacted me using eHarmony's guided communication.  We met in person nine days later and got married eight months after that.  This is the beginning of our story, but actually our story together begins long before we met and is an example of God's amazing grace.

On November 15, 2013 I started a new journal. My entry that day was one sentence: "God is doing a work in my heart to be open to remarriage."

I don't believe that all dates are coincidental (the big example of that in my life is explained here), however I never gave the date I wrote that line a second thought until we were planning our wedding and had three potential dates on the table.  Only one of those dates was a Saturday and was therefore preferred.  We got married on Saturday November 15, 2014.

I spent the four months leading up to my eHarmony debut in prayer about this potential new season in my life.  Years before I had firmly shut the door of my mind on remarriage and had followed that up with actions that made remarriage seem less likely than literally winning the lottery (which I had already done figuratively once.)  God gave me many many scriptures and spoke to my heart about how it would be soon and quick.  I shared a bit with my pastor and he gave me some words of wisdom.  By January 1, 2014, God had given me a verse for the year and a word for the year.  The word was HOME.  I had no idea what He meant by that.  The verse was Ephesians 3:20-21.

 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Interestingly this isn't a promise verse, but it is one that I had been given prophetically by my dentist when I was eighteen years old.  That year I got a full ride scholarship to college, plus so much outside scholarship money that it took care of room and board and I got a refund check every semester.  Who has even heard of that?  It was crazy.  Definitely exceeding abundantly above all I asked or imagined!  God often gives me scriptures for seasons in my life and had NEVER given me this verse again until 2014.

I have to admit that all of this sounds lovely and spiritual, and it was, but in between my wonderful and encouraging times with the Lord, my regular life had gone downhill.  I had been happy and content in my life, but ever since God started stirring in my heart about remarriage I had become more and more discontent, unhappy, lonely, and generally restless.  My discontent peaked at the beginning of March and I decided to "do something."  I kind of felt like I should sign up for eHarmony, but I was in such a funk that I really didn't think I was hearing from God.  I went ahead and filled out their giant questionnaire, but got sticker shock when it came time to pay.  I then went and found a free Christian singles site and signed up for that.  I realized that one of the things that had been holding me back from online dating was pride, and pride is not a good reason for doing (or not doing) something.  That particular dating site definitely wasn't for me, though, and two days later I followed my first leading and bit the bullet and paid for eHarmony (after finding a coupon code, of course).  That was March 4, 2014.  By March 5 I had several interesting "matches." Only one of them contacted me (not counting the creepy guy I had to get rid of).  He was a local man, an engineer who was a committed Christian and who volunteered time every summer to go to Russia to help with a camp for children with Down syndrome.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A letter to my late husband on his birthday

Dear Michael,

I can hardly believe I still miss you this much. As we celebrate your 44th birthday, the 12th we have celebrated without you, why are these tears spilling out? I am happy. I truly am. I have a wonderful life. Your babies aren't babies anymore, but rather one is a handsome and intelligent teen who is the spitting image of you in both looks and personality and the other is a beautiful, growing-up-too-fast talented and tender-hearted young lady.  To your two babies I have added another two treasures so now I have four just like we always said we wanted, minimum (although we both not-so-secretly wanted six).  I am blessed to be able to homeschool like we always wanted to. I have a wonderful church, supportive friends, and even an amazing new love (never saw that coming after 11 years alone). So why? Why does it still hurt? Why do I still miss you? Why do I just want to talk to you?  I guess it is a testament to our friendship and the life we built together. You know, I am convinced that I have been able to love again because of our good relationship and the friendship we had. Thank you for that. I really thank you for that.  I wish I could tell you all about my life now. I know you'd love hearing about the kids, and I would give absolutely anything to discuss so many other things with you. I miss you. I miss talking to you. I miss that we could talk all day and all night and never run out of things to say.  I am grateful for my life now and so grateful for the lessons that grief has taught me. I am a better person for having relied on God's grace through the suffering and pain to make it to the joy on the other side.  But that joy doesn't change the fact that you are gone and I miss you.  It makes me smile to think of you in heaven. I know you are happy now, and I know you are happy for me. I'm sure that by the time the kids and I are bowling for your birthday celebration and I am telling stories of their dad's exploits I will have smiles rather than tears, but right now I just miss you.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First world problem

After a week with basically no internet, I learned a few things:
1. I am way more productive when I don't have internet.
2. I can't do several crucial things without internet (which means #1 is really only partially true).
3. I spend way too much time on Facebook and reading blogs and articles.
4. I am going to change the way I use the internet, just focus on the vital stuff, and spend less time online.
5. I am going to change tomorrow.   Today I am going to bask in faster browsing speeds.  Thank goodness the technician came right before naptime. ;)