Not sure where to begin…
Last week, Johnny and I had the lovely privilege to help accompany our church’s youth group to Student Life camp in Orange Beach, AL. There is lots to say on this subject, but I think I feel like keeping it short and sweet. When we were first approached with the idea of tagging along on this trip a few months back, of course I was hesitant. I just kept looking at the calendar and looking at John Paul’s vacation time and thinking that there was no way the Lord wanted this for us. I mean, I was going to be 37 weeks pregs, we were going to use all of our saved up time right before we were going to have a baby, and surely there were better people than us that had more to give these kids during their time of growth and renewal. Now, that last part still holds true. There are definitely better people than us. But I remember waking John Paul up in the middle of the night after we were first approached about the trip and saying to him that there was just no way. There was no way we could fully commit to this in the way these people deserve. We just can’t go. We can’t even try to begin to figure this out. And Johnny just looked at me, told me to calm down, promised me that the Lord would confirm what to do in both of us and He’d be faithful to see it through. Well, that next morning, I knew we were going. I knew it was going to work out. And I knew that while this camp was about the kids, the Lord had something real for us there. Just for us. And I was all in.
Until…well, until we got there. And I was contracting on and off. And my normal quiet/restful world was filled with lots of noise, lots of bodies and lots of personalities. And I cried (in privacy, at 1 am, of course). And I was ready to go home. But I remembered how the Lord confirmed this trip in us many months before…and I chose to believe Him. And that may sound small to you, but to me, it wasn’t. I think there’s a protective switch that goes off in a woman about to give birth. You just need your space to be ready, clean and yours. You don’t need it to be 2 hours away from home filled with lots of uncontrollable moving pieces. But anyway, we were right. The Lord had something for us there. And I’m so thankful He gave me rest that first night and renewed His promise in me the next morning. It is an unbelieveable privilege to walk alongside young people as their hearts are stretched and broken for Jesus. It’s a privilege to see our youth pastor work in his gift–his truly amazing gift. It’s a privilege to share the word and your heart to a group of people. It’s all just a true privilege. I was certainly humbled. And these precious teenagers of course gave more to me than it was humanly possible to ever give to them. The Lord was faithful to this overly emotional 9month pregnant lady. So, hey thanks Jesus. That was awesome.
And I didn’t bring my camera. Poo. Here are a very few iphone pics…just of me, Johnny, worship, my Kasie, her Jeremy (youth pastor) and one of her two boys. We all shared a condo together, and I’m more convinced than ever that there is a self-sustaining commune in our future. Overflowing with blue bell ice cream. For that is the one thing none of us will ever live without.
So, now that I have talked about that…let’s get to this:
July 10, 2011; July 14, 2011; July 21, 2011; July 26, 2011.
The anniversary of two of those dates were last week. Namely, July 10, 2011. It was the day our first baby was estimated to have lost his heartbeat. You know, that part where a growing baby dies inside his mother’s womb? Is that too much to write and put out there? Well, that’s what happened. And July 14, 2011, was the day we found out in our routine 10.5 week ultrasound. And thus began a whole new world for me.
And let me start out by saying I know miscarriages are common. I know they happen lots and lots to lots of people. I get that. I realize most people don’t openly express the hurt, subsequent depression, and fight back to life like I have and continue to do. Maybe most women handle it better than me, maybe they handle it just like me, or maybe they handle it worse. I don’t know. All I know is my story. And all I know is anytime I have had the opportunity to share our story with other women walking through the loss of an unborn child (especially when it’s the first child/pregnancy), our stories are incredibly similar. And that’s why I feel compelled to write…becuase darkness has power in isolation. The less isolated we feel, the more power we have to walk through healing. I just believe that. So if there’s one woman who will have to walk out of a doctor’s office today and feel her world falling around her and only hear things like “it’s for the best” or “this happens all the time” or “something was wrong with the baby” can find our story and know that she has real hurt, real pain and a real baby, than it’s worth some blog readers thinking I’m crazy. Or too emotional. Or has obviously never had real pain in life for something like this to make her sink as far as she did.
Pain is not comparative. It is personal.
So, July 10th was last Tuesday. John Paul and I decided to set aside some time alone together in the midst of camp to talk, reflect and pray. To try the best way we knew how to honor the life that so quickly came and left and that changed our hearts forever. And to honor the Lord who turned what was meant to only hurt and destroy us into something so beautiful, and so for our good. Cause gosh y’all, He just is so good.
We had planned to go to the beach, as the beach has been ever representative for this year in our lives. It has been where we have gone both together and individually to work out what seemed like unending hurt, overwhelming thankfulness and just a whole lot of surrender. It was where we pleaded the Lord to breathe life back into our first child (creepy to some people, sorry), it’s where He took me when He needed me alone and quiet, it’s where I told John Paul I was pregnant with Samuel, it’s where we recently went as I fully surrendered the birth of our precious baby over to Him completely, and it was where we wanted to go honor the life of our first child. But, sometimes your feet when you’re 37 weeks pregnant have other ideas. And you decide that the Lord is faithful to meet you where you are, so we stayed put on our balcony ;)
I never wanted to forget the view that evening…not that it was spectacular to anyone but us, but I wanted to capture what I saw, remember how I felt and even what I smelled that night on the balcony as I, one year later, was able to be humbled in gratitude before Him. My God who was faithful. And not because I sit here 9 months pregnant, but because He healed my heart. And He loves my babies. And He didn’t waste this hurt, He made it beautiful.
Our sweet baby,
I know you were with us that night. I know you heard your daddy’s words when he so perfectly described you as our awakening. And when he thanked our Father in Heaven for your precious life. Sweet one, your purpose in our family is so great. You were our awakening. Without you my heart would not be close to what it is today. There is a person, there is a marriage, and there is a God that was before you–and there is a mother, a father, a husband, a wife and a daughter & son in Christ and an Almighty Father that came after you. What you awakened in us will forever be treasured, you will forever be treasured. I feel like I have seen you, I feel like I know you. Your death still stings the deepest part of me, but I know we’re walking in the purpose of your life. Thank you sweet, sweet precious baby. Your momma’s heart is so full. Once it was filled with pain, anger, bitterness and depression. Feelings I never fully knew before you. But peace, surrender, thankfulness and joy have become real to my heart. They are tangible. They are there because of you and because of a faithful, sovereign, good God. We love you precious one. Oh, how we love you.
Thank you Father. Thank you for these two precious lives you have given us. Thank you for your mercy, we are forever grateful.
And later that night, during worship, Aaron Keyes led us in this song. It could not have been more perfect. As someone whose main struggle through the past year has been dealing with the goodness vs. (even though it’s not ‘vs’, hence the struggle) sovereignty of God, this song speaks so clearly to my heart. Hopefully it will bring a moment of healing to someone else as well (lyrics below):
“Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes
There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears
You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting, Sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
Faithful forever, Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
You are wisdom unimagined, Who could understand your ways
Reigning high above the heavens, Reaching down in endless grace
Youʼre the Lifter of the lowly, Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me, Your promises are my delight
Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good and for your glory
Even in the valley You are faithful
Youʼre working for our good, Youʼre working for our good and for your glory
So, the end! That was a lot, whew. Sorry.
I guess I still need to update about precious baby Samuel: we’re still in our 38th week. He keeps faking me out with non-progressing contractions and I feel like we will make it at least to full term, if not a bit past due. Or we could go in tomorrow! This is a super weird and fun time…will keep y’all updated, thanks for stopping by and dealing with my emotions ;)
And in case you’re wondering about those other dates I listed above, maybe they are for another post? Or maybe not. Eh, I don’t know. One day though, I definitely want to get into July 26-Nov 16th. I’m pretty specific on dates, eh? Anyway…