Share Your Joy

In recent months, I feel like like my friends and love ones have been tiptoeing around me a little bit. I feel like when I walk into a room that’s bright and light, full of laughter and joy, people’s eyes go to the floor. They stifle their laughter and put on their mourning faces.

Although there is a time for mourning, those who mourn need joy too. We need joy. We need lightness in our lives, to remind us that joy really does exist in the world. I have been so thankful for one of my dear friends that asks me tell me as many good things as you just told me bad things.

I will be frank. I want to know that you’re expecting. I don’t want you to hide it from me. I want to celebrate that with you. I may go home and cry when I find out, or I may cry my eyes out in the car or in the bathroom, but it’s not because I’m not happy for you. It’s because I ache for myself.

Please don’t leave me out of your joy. Please don’t decide that I can’t handle your joy. I may have trouble handling it. I may not be able to come to showers, or I may need a long time to think about if I’m in a good mental place to hold your newborn baby on a particular day. I may “unfollow” you on Facebook, because I don’t know how a post about your pregnancy will hit me in the middle of the day. I mean, I cried because I saw a Penn Station today (it reminded me of a pregnancy craving). But I want to share your joy. I want to rejoice with you.

When you’re with those who mourn, please don’t hide your joy. I appreciate your sensitivity to my mourning, but please give me the option to participate. If I tell you that I just can’t handle it right now, please have grace with me. But, please, don’t forget to share your joy with me.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

I am 1 in 4

It is estimated (stats from March of Dimes and WomensHealth.gov) that 1 in 10 women will lose a baby to miscarriage if they know they’re pregnant (other agencies estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage). 1 in 10 women struggle with infertility. 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. 

There is so much stigma associated with loss or infertility. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We struggle with guilt and wonder what we’ve done wrong. We wonder if God is punishing us for some sin, remembered by us or forgotten.

When I joined the 25% with my loss, I was shocked at the number of women that I know who have experienced loss or infertility. Some I had spoken with about their experiences before I lost Cora, and some I had no idea that they had experienced loss.

Everyone mourns differently. Some people speak, and others don’t. I have chosen to speak, which you might find odd if you know me in real life. I’m an introvert. I’m a pretty private person. But I wanted to share her story. I wanted to acknowledge her existence and share it with the world, so that I didn’t just lost “a baby”. The baby I lost was wanted and had a personality and a name. There are things that I will not share with the world. There are things that I will not speak of, and that you will never see. I am still her mother, and her father and I have decided to keep the pictures we have of her secret. We have other mementos and memories that we will not share, because we don’t feel comfortable with it.

I wanted to speak so that others could feel free to speak. So that a conversation could happen about dealing with loss, about supporting people who have walked through loss. I know that some women don’t want to speak, and I honor that. I know that some do want to speak and don’t feel free to.

I plan on continuing to speak about her life, and am glad to speak about her. For the rest of the month, I want to walk with you all through the emotions that came through my loss and the kind of support I needed and still need after losing her. At first glance, that feels SO selfish to write. But, as I said before, everyone mourns differently; what was good for me might not be good for someone else. I don’t know what someone else may want or need, but I’ll include questions to help you think through how best to support someone you love that’s going through loss, or yourself if you are going through it.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Why worship?

I’ve spent the past several days posting worship songs, and I didn’t explain why. I just told you “music speaks to me. I leaned on music when my heart was shattered.”

Music is more than a coping mechanism when we’re broken. Music is a form of worship when everything comes crashing down. I will tell you, I did not and often do not feel like worshipping God much of the time in light of Cora’s death. And yet. I was led time and again, through encouragement by old friends, scripture, and countless other sources, to put my energy into worshipping God.

When Husbandman and I have experienced has been very, very difficult. So difficult that I know that I could not have gone through it without my faith. And the examples I have in my Bible are of people reminding themselves in hardship to worship God. After Job lost everything, his livestock, all of his kids, he said:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Job worshiped God. Job did not go before God and say “You took this from me. You did this to me. You slighted me. You’ve hurt me.” Job recognized that his world didn’t revolve around himself. He realized that his world revolved around God, and that’s where he kept his focus.

That’s been my goal: to focus on God and to thank Him for His goodness. That’s what worship is. It reminds us who God is. It keeps us focused on Him, and when we’re focused on Him, our pain is lessened. I still hurt. I still fight anxiety and worry about “why”, “how”, and “what next”. But when I worship God, I remember His goodness. I remind my heart of His goodness. And in the light of His goodness, I remember to cast my cares on Him. He doesn’t answer all of my questions with “yes”, “no”, or “this is why I allowed this to happen”. He answers my questions with “I am here”. And He is enough. May He be enough for you. May you recognize that He is sufficient for you in whatever situation you find yourself.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Torn Asunder

This is the last worship song that I’ll be sharing this month, and it’s the one that touched me the most. I still have no words to express how this song has spoken to my heart.

When my Heart is Asunder

When my heart
Is torn asunder
And my world
Just falls apart
Lord You put
Me back together
And lift me up
To where You are

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

You have turned
Mourning to dancing
You have covered me with grace
The struggle here
May last a moment
But life with You
Will last always

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

When the age
Of death is over
And this world
Has been reborn
I’ll be there
Beside my Savior
This is our GREAT
And rich reward

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Deep Love

When I’m in the depths of grief, I need reminded that God loves me. I need reminded of my faith; of the sacrifice Christ made for me when He died on the cross. I believe with my whole heart that God chose to allow His only Son to die to pay the penalty for my sins. His only Son.

I never thought I would, but I know what it’s like for my only child to die. I know how badly it hurt that Cora died. I know some measure of the pain that God experienced when He allowed His only Son to die for my sins. And knowing that God knows how I feel comforts me. The reminder that God is still sovereign and that I am still His comforts me. And I pray that you know that comfort as well. I pray that you know that no matter what is going on in your life that Christ died for you, and that all you have to do to know Him is to accept that gift by confess that He is Lord and that you have fallen short.

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 

How deep His love is for us indeed.

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

When my Feet Fail

The song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United has been popular since 2013. The song feels good to sing, and when you listen to it on the surface, it feels good to hear as well.

When you take a long, hard look at the lyrics, the refrain goes:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Asking for God to take you “deeper than my feet could ever wander” is asking to get thrown in water that is too deep for you to handle. It’s asking to get placed in water that will drown you if your focus is not correct.

Think of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter tells Jesus to call him out on the water with him “if that is You”. Jesus said to him, “Come” and Peter stepped out on the water. Peter then noticed a “strong wind” and began to sink. He stopped focusing on Jesus.

That is what happens to us when we mourn and take our eyes off Christ. The wind is blowing pretty heavily in my life right now. My stress level is high, and the rest of my life feels like it hinges on test results that have yet to come. Will I be able to have another baby ever? Do I have an illness that will affect me forever?

I am having a difficult time. Have I told you that? I’m a mess. I’m having a hard time. And when I take my eyes of Christ, I start to sink. I start to flail around and become so frightened that I’m paralyzed. Every day this happens to me, usually multiple times a day. What if something else bad happens? What if I start to feel more overwhelmed. What if? 

When we ask Christ to call us out on the water with Him, may we remember that it isn’t “safe”. It is not within our comfort zone. When we’re called out on the water and we’re scared, may we remember that Christ is still good, even when we feel like we’re in over our heads. And He is right there when we cry, “Lord, save me!” like Peter did when he began to sink. May our faith grow as our trust grows. May we remember that trust doesn’t grow without the opportunity to trust more and more as God takes us out of our comfort zones.

When my feet fail, like they do daily, may I turn to Christ. 

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will standAnd I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Hope

That’s our story so far. Husbandman and I are back at work full time, and I’m physically fully recovered. We’re still waiting on test results, but the likelihood that we’ll find out exactly what caused our baby girl to die are slim. (And if I’m completely honest, I am really struggling with not having test results back yet. I really want to know what we can know.)

There have been a few days that I haven’t cried since we lost her, but many more days that I have. Sometimes, the grief comes out of nowhere and takes me by surprise. Some days I wake up sadder than others, and some days I remember to laugh.

I’m used to wrapping up stories in a neat bow, but the truth is that this story won’t ever really be “over”. I have been changed by Cora’s life and death, which means that every experience that I have for the rest of my life will be colored by her’s. And I’m okay with that. Allowing my life to be changed by the fact that she lived means that I won’t forget her, and that’s a good thing.

Husbandman and I choose to see our story as one of hope. We have chosen to see her life in the light of our faith. We could easily focus on the sadness of what we’ve experienced, or we can focus on the hope of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our faith doesn’t mean that hard times won’t come. Christ only lived into His thirties, He told people that to follow Him was to renounce all of their physical possessions, and He wasn’t the CEO of a major carpentry business. He spent His time with social outcasts and slept where His head fell. He chose to die on a cross, the death of a criminal, to pay the price for my sins so that He could redeem me, the very one who is responsible for him being on that cross. I will not deny my faith in Christ, because He does not deny me.

Today, we choose hope. We choose to hope in Christ that we will be reunited with her when we die. We choose to hope in Christ that her life will bring others closer to Him. Tomorrow, we choose to hope as well, and all the days after that.

We encourage you to choose hope with us, regardless of your circumstances. We encourage you to choose hope in Christ Jesus because of a personal relationship with Him. It’s not easy. It hurts. But, it’s worth it. It’s good.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

August

This month has been the longest month of my life, and it’s not over yet. Twice last week I thought it was already September, and panicked because I was sure that we had forgotten to pay our mortgage (due on the first of the month). I’m just now at the point where I’m almost comfortable leaving the house to go to the store or a movie with Husband-Man, so I haven’t had the time markers of work, church, or lunch breaks.

Days have passed with me not bothering to figure out what number the calendar gives them, and for that fuzzy concept of time, I’m thankful. I have spent the majority of this month purposefully not looking towards tomorrow. When we got the news that Cora had died, time stood still. As we’ve gone through the process of mentally trying to grasp the fact that our little girl is gone, we have measured time in prayers, focusing on making it through only the next five or ten minutes. We have spent a month that began with us planning for her arrival and picking out nursery colors driving to the hospital and doctor’s offices, enduring countless tests, delivering her, hearing the silence when her body entered the world, meeting with the funeral director, coming home to a house that we bought with her in mind, but most of all, clinging to the promise that God is still good. God is good, even when I cannot understand what He is doing. God is good, because we had her for seven months, and the first face that she saw was His. God is good, because of who He is.

I am thankful for you helping remind us of His goodness, through your prayers, checking in on a us, feeding us, and keeping up with us in general. I’m learning every day how to trust God for enough strength to make it through today. As we continue to learn how to be in the “normal” world after we have been so changed by this experience, we appreciate your continued prayers, and your continued reading. I’m still writing, even if I can’t share everything that I’ve written. My hope is that through writing, I can encourage you to continue to seek God in whatever circumstances you find yourself. My hope is that through writing, my Cora’s short life can honor Him.

And the baby is…

stubborn baby

Yesterday, I had hoped to be able to share with you something gender-based about our baby (called “the Bean”). I have super cute plans for telling the whole world “what the baby is”. (FYI, the Bean is a baby. I’m not pregnant with a puppy.)

Notice that everything is yellow.

The above picture is not very recent. Because most ultrasound pictures make the Bean look like Skeletor. Let’s be real. Ultrasounds pictures are confusing. And because… the entire time we were having our anatomy scan, the Bean had its legs crossed and was sitting on its feet. And would not move its legs when I talked to it. Or poked my belly. Or pouted. (FYI, the baby is totally healthy, and so am I. We are very, very grateful.)

(This is the second time that we’ve tried to figure out the gender. The Bean hasn’t cooperated either time. They’re in no hurry to satisfy my curiosity.)

So, when I got back to work and had a chance to text our families, everyone asked “So, what is it?!”

Stubborn.

Just like me. I am not in control of this tiny person.

The Bean is already a person, with likes and dislikes and a personality.

  • The Bean already likes coffee, as evidenced by the wiggles I feel after I drink my allotted 8 ounces a day.
  • The Bean likes cold water, and when I bounce around in the pool.
  • The Bean likes bluegrass music, and kicks me when I turn it off because he or she just can’t get enough.
  • The Bean loves their Daddy (maybe his name will also be Daddy-Man in addition to Husband-Man), and the silly songs he sings.
  • The Bean hates it when I get upset, and let’s me know that I am making their house uncomfortable and that I need to calm down.

God already has big plans for the Bean; bigger and grander than mine. God knows the hairs on the Bean’s little head, and exactly who He has created them to be. And I’m blessed beyond measure to be growing this human. I’m blessed beyond measure to already be this little Bean’s Momma, and to get to see the Lord work through a tiny life. (Even if I don’t like if that life is a girl-life or a boy-life.)

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhorthose who rise up against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

“Home”, whatever that means

“Home” is a funny concept.

“Home” to me for years and years had been Momma and Daddy’s ranch on a basement with the big front window, big yard, and layout that I can walk with my eyes closed (except when Momma moves the furniture). “Home” was a permanent, immovable building that still houses my childhood memories.

I’ve been living in my small town for about… eight years now (wow). I came here for college, and spent those four years feeling like I was going “home” every time I passed a certain exit on the interstate on the way to Momma and Daddy’s. Even after I got married, this little town didn’t feel like “home”. It felt like a temporary place, because I was sure that we would move closer to my family before we had kids. (Definition of irony: in which Carla decides that she will move north before she has kids, and is now pregnant and just bought a house 1.5-2 hours away from her Mom and Dad’s house.) The first time it felt like I was coming “home” when we got back into out little town from visiting family was about a year ago, and I was taken by complete surprise.

We just finished buying a house. Which is one of the (many) reasons that I haven’t been here (in the online world) quite as much as I’d like. Packing up the apartment that we’ve been renting for almost four years threw off my introvert’s equilibrium so much, and actually moving into the new house and living among the boxes, granted, in a larger space, has been just as upsetting to my false sense of security in “home”. I gain a sense of security from having my environment in order. And there has been no order in my “home” environment for the past month. It’s not likely to return for some time.

Also, did you know that I’m having a baby? Have you moved when you were pregnant? I’m not very far along, but I’ve been slowed by the symptoms of my pregnancy. I’ve had to stop working every two hours to put my feet up. I haven’t been able to lift boxes. I haven’t been moving as quickly as I’m used to. I’ve gotten insanely hangry and have needed naps like a toddler. So the process of moving and now unpacking has been unsettling in a whole new way.

Our new house is beautiful. It’s big enough for us to grow into, it’s in a lovely neighborhood, and it feels like a little oasis with trees and grass outside of the windows instead of concrete and a few thousand neighbors.

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This is my backyard. *sigh* Isn't it #lovely?

A post shared by Carla Patton (@carlampatton) on

But it doesn’t have the feeling of “home” when I walk in the door yet. I know that feeling will come with time, but for now, I don’t have a “home” in the sense that I’ve known it for so many years. I have to think about my route to and from work. I have to remind myself of where I am when I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

And instead of looking at God and saying “Thank You for this wonderful adventure!” my default has been “…”. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I get mad at God, and I ignore Him. Because I’m mad in a four-year-old way that my inner sense of “home” has been thrown off. I’m mad that I’m tired and that my possessions are all jumbled up and strewn all over a new house. I don’t feel comfortable, so it makes total sense for me to ignore Him and not seek my rest in Him. (Major sarcasm.) Foolish, foolish Carla. And have I rewritten this post a million times to make it look like I’m doing everything right and I’m just a victim of circumstances? Yup. But, I choose to share my mess with you. Because I don’t want to lie to you here. I don’t want to lie to myself or God either.

May you (I) find “home” in Christ. May you (I) find “home” with your family and church family. May you (I) find “home” with your spouse and loved ones. May you (I) find “home” in your chaos, and remember that God is the God of a brilliant mess, made brilliant because it’s been made in His image.