Fear/Hope

Fear used to be the thing that lived under my bed when I was a small child and threatened to grab my foot if I let it dangle over the edge of the bed too long. It would rear its head sometimes, but when I turned the lights on, found someone that I loved to be near to, and fear would retreat.

After losing my daughter last year, fear has taken on a new form. I hear bad news, from markets taking a downturn to illness spreading, and my heart begins to race. My mind whirls with “what if”s that steal my peace and my hope. And I worry that someone else that I love will be taken from me. I worry for all of those who will lose a loved one to senseless violence, illness, or accident. I worry that everything will fall apart again, and that this time, everything will be too broken for me too pick up the pieces and keep going.

Losing Cora was a trauma. It took me a a long time to recognize that. And I carry scars from that trauma, physical and mental. We’re working on the mental scars, and have been going to a therapist. (An aside: If you’re struggling, go see a professional. There is not shame in going to therapy.)

There are so many people suffering trauma now. It feels like the world is ripping itself apart. Fifty people were murdered and countless more injured last weekend.

And the truth is, I am not strong enough for this. We are not strong enough for this. I am not strong enough to pick up the pieces and keep going. But the basis of the faith that has come to mean more to me since Cora died is that God loved us all so much that He was willing to give up His only Son so that we could be saved from punishment for our sins by accepting Him. The point is not that I am supposed to be strong enough to keep going. The point is that I’m to turn to Him when I’m hurt, confused, and falling apart.

It is impossible to hope on my own after loss. To hope that God would allow me to get pregnant again and carry a baby who lives; to hope that it would be soon. To trust that although bad things happen as a result of sin, that God is still good. Hope is an easy task when you have not experienced loss or disappointment. When you know loss and disappointment, hope is an act of faith. Hope is a hard choice that becomes an act of worship and surrender to God, because you know the pain that loss can bring and know that God may choose to tell you “no”. Hope is believing that God is good  and will sustain you even when you are disappointed and hurt. Hope is trusting that God will hold you together when everything goes wrong.

Hope is knowing that even if everyone that I love is lost, even if I never carry a child who lives, even if my home remains empty of children or another sort of calamity visits my life, God is still good. I still choose to love Him because He first loved me. I deserve nothing, and yet Christ loves me.

God is still good. Even when it feels like the world is burning down around us, God is still good. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

If you follow Christ, live your life in the light of hope in Christ, not hope is material things or family members. Even in light of the murder that was committed just this past weekend, hope audaciously. Pray without ceasing. And then go do something. Show your love to another who is hurting. Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. May we all take our fear and pain to the foot of the cross, and then act as Christ would have acted. May we glorify God’s name by living our lives and choosing daily to trust in Him.

If you do not follow Christ, my words won’t make much sense. If God is good, why do people die? If God is good, why do people spew hate in His name? If God is good, why did my unborn child die or why did a man murder fifty people over the weekend? I cannot sum up the whole of my faith in a blog post. I would encourage you to read scripture. To examine the life of Christ and to see what He said about Himself and how He loved and lived, and how He died to pay the price for our sins. I also encourage you to ask questions. God does not require that we become perfect before we seek Him. He came to seek and save those who are hurting and those who are sick.

And when we see pain and sickness, suffering and death, and people who claim faith who wield it like a club with which to beat others, know that Christians are not perfect and that some who claim faith in God are misled. We are a poor reflection of the Christ that we serve. I pray that you would seek Him with your whole heart, because He is waiting for you to find Him.

Advertisements

I Need Thee Every Hour

Another song that I listened to on repeat in the days following her loss was “I Need Thee Every Hour”. This song, penned by Annie S. Hawks and Robert Lowry, is a plea for God to be near. When my mind was so muddle by grief and pain, I could hardly come up with my own words to pray to ask God to be near. This song is a plea for the Lord to draw near; an expression of total dependence on God. When I had no words to express myself, I hid in this song. I cried as I listened to it over and over again.

I Need Thee Every Hour

1 I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.

Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee,
every hour I need thee.
O bless me now, my Savior;
I come to thee.

I need thee every hour;
stay thou near by;
temptations lose their power
when thou art nigh. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide,
or life is vain. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour;
teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises
in me fulfill. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed,
thou Blessed Son! [Refrain]

I am thankful that God is near when we need Him most, even when we don’t have the words to express our needs. I am thankful that we have music available to us when words fail to express our deep need for God, even in suffering. I am thankful that when I lived my life trying to just make it through the next ten minutes, that someone else had written such apt words and music with which I could worship. 

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. 

It is Well

One of the things that has helped carry me through this loss is music. Music has always been a very special part of my life. When I’m scared, I sing. When I can’t sleep, I pray and praise God for who He is, often through going through songs that I’ve loved in my heart and in my head. When I’m scared of the days to come, I find great solace in music. I believe that God designs each of us to worship in a certain way. Some worship through painting or writing, and some through singing. I have been singing since I was a little girl, and hope that I never have to stop. I find the mingling of voices in a church choir to worship God a small glimpse into what I think Heaven will be like when we’re in God’s presence. There is something beautiful about singing with those that we love, each lending our own unique voices to a piece written by someone else and sung by many others in their native tongue in times of pain and in times of joy.  

“It is Well with my Soul” was written by Horatio Spafford. Spafford was a successful businessman in Chicago, and had a great deal of real estate holdings. After the loss of his son and the loss of his property holdings in the Great Chicago Fire, Spafford scheduled a European trip for his family to help them recover. He was delayed in his journey, and sent his wife and daughters ahead. He received news shortly thereafter that all of his daughters drowned on the journey, and that his wife alone survived. He wrote this powerful, hopeful song as his ship sailed over the very place where his daughters died.

(http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/it-is-well-with-my-soul-the-song-and-the-story.html)

This song speaks to my heart. Spafford lost everything, and at the very site where his children drowned, he praised God. He praised God as he reminded his soul of God’s goodness.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

As I live daily without my own daughter, I am thankful for the reminder to my soul that all is well, because of who God is. I am thankful for the reminder that no matter the trial, God is with me. It truly is well with my soul. 

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.

Pan

“El que en pan piensa, hambre tiene.”- Spanish proverb

Translation: “He who thinks about bread is hungry.”

2015.01.25 Pan

I am very hungry. I am hungry for (want) what I think about and what I focus on. I want what I allow my mind to focus on. And the things that I want aren’t “bad” in and of themselves. But they become negative when they make me focus on myself and what I want instead of serving Christ.

I tell myself “it’s okay to want these things. You’ve waited so long for them.” And I have waited a long time for them.  They are things that Husband-Man and I have prayed about and feel let to pursue. But God’s plan doesn’t conform to the next-in-line rule. I may have been waiting longer than my girlfriend, and she may have already been granted the blessings that I have waited for for a very long time. But that doesn’t mean that I am next in line, because “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, ESV). God chooses to move as He sees fit, regardless of my “ideal time-line”.

God also doesn’t want me to focus on anything before Him. Period. In the ten commandments (Exodus 20), God lays out a set of commandments, and “you shall have no gods before Me” is the first commandment on the list. What I focus on more than my relationship with Christ becomes sinful, because I’ve gotten my priorities wrong. 

I get myself in big trouble with my thoughts. I focus on myself and what I want, I focus on where my friends are compared to where I want to be. I think about the thing that I want instead of to who Christ is. I focus on my lack instead of His greatness. I focus on me. And it poisons my heart.

And did I come to this realization on my own?

No.

No I did not. I am so thankful for Christian community and for friends that are willing to say difficult words of encouragement. For friends that are willing to tell me that I’m focusing on myself more than I’m focusing on Christ (translation: it’s not about me). Praise God for gentle correction in a spirit of love. Praise God for my friend Victoria who reminded me that “for every look at [myself], look at Jesus 10 times”.

I’ve been listening to God Centered Mom podcast with Stephanie Rische (Ep. 56) recently, even though I’m not a mom. In her interview, Stephanie talked about God fulfilling her desires on His timeline. Her willingness to share about her difficulty spoke to me. I have to be reminded that God is good and will be good period, with no conditions. He is good if I never own a home. He is good is I never become a mother. He is good regardless of Husband-Man’s health.

These words are me preaching to myself, with the help of a Godly community and resources. I am working, and failing more often than not, to take my thoughts captive and submit them to God (2 Cor. 10:5). I am struggling as I write this to turn my thoughts to who Jesus is and to what He tells us about Himself.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34, ESV

Every day, we’re going to think. Every day, we have to decide what our “pan” (bread) will be; what the focus of our minds will be. Will our bread be our desire for anything but drawing closer to God? Let’s decide to hold God as our “pan” each moment at the forefront of our thoughts. And when any of us fails, let’s commit to gently admonishing each other when we lose focus.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 ESV