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.