Under the Tree

Carly (who gave me the precious gift of the picture seen waaaaay below of Raelyn's name in the sand on the beaches of Australia) has started a monthly series of questions on her blog that help us reach out to other mamas either in support or for support. Come join us under the tree.

How long have you been blogging for? Why did you start? What do you want from writing?

I started this blog in January as a way to let some of my feelings out. I have tried journaling before but found that my hand didn't move fast enough (or neat enough) for my mind. This way, I can have a fashionable, yet flawless hard copy of my journey through this period in my life. I hope that through this blog I can let loose some of those difficult feelings that I can't quite verbalize to people in real life. I still have so many buried feelings that aren't exactly kosher to talk about and I plan to use this as a place of release. That said, not everything on this blog will be roses and happiness, but not everything will be tears either.

Where is safest place for you to share your feelings? Is there anywhere you feel completely accepted just being however you are really feeling?

As I said in my answer to the last question, I have many feelings that I am not even comfortable expressing in solitude, much less to anyone else. I guess that means that this blog should be the safest place for me to share. I hope that it stays that way as I will now have readers (at least occasionally) who may or may not agree with my feelings or the ways in which I express them. In real life, the safest place for me is anywhere alone with my husband. Many times, I am afraid to ask his opinion of my thoughts or let him in on my darkness, but most often I find that when I do let him in, he is having or has had the same feelings. Both of those places sound obvious, so my next safest place is with our friends from our old church. They are both very grounded in faith and they really encourage us when we are at our darkest moments. They experienced an ectopic pregnancy at the beginning of their marriage, so they know these feelings too and have emerged victorious!

Can you recommend any books that you have read that have given you a new insight, hope or courage in this new life you find yourself in?

I tried to find a book that I could read that I could relate to and most that I found were indirect studies of Job. I would get so irritated and angry that I would just put the book down and never finish it. I was so angry at the thought that God would allow this to happen, that He could and yet chose not to heal Raelyn that the last thing I wanted to read was some other sob story about someone else He allowed awful, unthinkable things to happen to (these are some of those buried feelings). I never did find a tangible book to read but the absolute best piece of writing that I found was Angie Smith's blog Bring the Rain. Her heart-writing was so real to me. I sat at work and just balled (it's a good thing my desk faces a wall) through her story of beautiful Audrey and her family's incredible strength and humility. Her words and Audrey's story helped me begin to heal. I only wish I had found it before Raelyn's death so that I would have been better prepared for the onslaught of emotion and brokenness that the death of a beloved child brings.

How would you describe yourself before you lost your baby. How have you changed, who are you today?

I think I was like all first-time mothers. I thought pregnancy was always pink and blue and healthy babies. Sure I knew about stillbirth, trisomies, and all that misfired biology stuff from school. I knew it was out there, but it wouldn't happen to me. I had great prenatal care, ate well and exercised, took my vitamins every day... It is horrifically amazing (like watching a car wreck) to go in an instant from praying that it's not Down's syndrome to praying that it's only Down's syndrome. Explaining to five first-time grandparents that there is no hope, that there is no cure for 'incompatible with life'... one of them cried with me, the rest were silent in shock.

I have lost my innocence. I no longer take anything at face-value. It is still so fresh (how long ago five months feels, and yet in the blink of an eye), that I still have anger and raw sadness and bitterness at the intangible things that are lost--the pregnant bliss, the excitement of all the 'firsts'. There is an overwhelming numbness in my life and in my heart that I have yet to break through, but with God's help, I am healing.

How do you think you are coping? Do you see any light in this road or is it all dark right now? Where do you imagine yourself to be in a years time?

I think I am just coping, nothing more. Obviously I think of Raelyn every day, but some days it is with happiness as I envision her dancing and singing before the throne of God, wrapped in everlasting love, and some days I struggle to breathe at the thought that, on this side of Heaven, I will never know her hair or eye color, I will never know the sweet sound of her voice, I will never know her heart. Those days come and go as they please with no warning.

There is a light--a very, very distant pinpoint of light--and an unfathomable hope that can only come from Jesus, but it is a hope for the future. It is hope for the present that I currently lack.

The only thought I have about 2/27/2010 is that I hope to have one of Raelyn's siblings happy and healthy in my arms. I cannot know the plans God has for my life, but I pray that this desire is God-given.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this. ~Psalm 34:3-5

Heart Cry

The song you are hearing (if you have the sound on and are not 'blurking' at work) has become my heart cry. You can see a live performance of this song here--Desert Song.

The verses say:

This is my prayer in the desert...

This is my prayer in the fire...

This is my prayer in the battle...

This is my prayer in the harvest...

and it's all the same prayer!

1 Peter 4:11 says "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." I had heard that verse many times before but it's hard to praise him in the storms. This song made it real to me. My response should be the same if I am given $100 or have to pay $100; if I have joy or sorrow; if I taste life or death. The prayer is this: (chorus)

I will bring praise! I will bring praise!

No weapon formed against me shall remain.

I will rejoice! I will declare

God is my victory and He is here.

Praise is our only reasonable response to any situation, good or bad. I have learned that we, as humans, are subject to the sinful nature of earth and the ruler of the darkness that abides here. Not everything that happens to us was sent by God. I don't believe that this financial crisis the US is facing was sent by God or that the cancer that is ravaging my coworker's sixteen year old daughter was sent by God or that my own daughter's trisomy was sent by God. God knows of these things and has worked them into His plan, but the scripture says: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28. God doesn't only send good and you will not only have good things in your life if you love God, but in all things God works for the good. He will take the bad that we are experiencing here on earth and turn it into something good for us. We may not see it now but someday (maybe in Heaven) we will see the good that has come from tragedy.

The best part of the song, the part that has become my heart cry, is the bridge:

All of my life, in every season,

You are still God

And I have a reason to sing.

I have a reason to worship!

In every season. In every season. In every season...I have a reason to worship! The God of the Universe is still seated on His throne and he still loves me with all of His ginormous heart! I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. Even when my life is falling apart around me and death weaves its way in and out of my life taking pieces of my heart as it goes, I have a reason to worship!

Some background on this thoughts behind this post... We found out we were pregnant in May and almost exactly a month later, our best couple friends found out they were expecting too. Everyone said we were having a girl and they were having a boy (which was right!) and we were so excited to be pregnant together so we wouldn't have to do anything alone. Then in September, we discovered something was very wrong with our daughter and two weeks later, she was gone. The next week, they found out they were having a perfect boy. Understandably, we have drifted apart some because us girls no longer have anything to talk about. I can't talk about pregnancy anymore (you know, since I'm not pregnant) and at first she was reluctant to talk about it because of the obvious elephant in the room. She got over it after about 15 minutes and began to complain about her pregnancy just like I was anyone other than me; anyone who had not recently lost a baby! Anyway, the rest of her pregnancy has been like that--no mention of Raelyn and a swift change of subject if I brought it up, and many, many complaints about the woes of pregnancy. One of my coworkers asked why we still hang out with them and the only answer I could give surprised me. I wanted to be there if something went wrong. I got no support from anyone at church when we lost Raelyn. I was told to put on a face and never let the congregation see me broken. I wanted to be there for her to cry on if something went terribly wrong because I knew that no one else would.

Fast forward to last night. Last night, she went into labor and when I got the call that she was at the hospital, it was all I could do to get off the phone without bursting into tears. I had not imagined that it would affect me this way. These were not happy tears. These were tears of pain over my own loss and what I will never experience, but they were also tears of supplication. I fell on my face before the Lord and wept over her son and pleaded with Him to divert all His attention to her room. I covered them in prayer until the sobs came so hard that I couldn't breathe. I found this song and I sang that prayer mentioned above until I could breathe again and I could see through my tears. I worshipped Him through my weeping and that bridge became my heart's cry. When I could finally sing with a smile on my face before the Lord, I got up and He gave me sufficient grace to go to the hospital to see her. He gave me grace enough to hug his parents who, as pastors, should have comforted me when I was in the birthing suite. He lavished His grace upon me so that I could to to her room and watch her labor effortlessly (with an epidural, of course) without tears. His grace is enough for me to have no tears when I heard the new grandparents excited adorations over the phone when they called to say that their grandson had arrived safely.

So now, the next morning, as my heart begins to beat again and until we get to meet the new baby and it stops once more, my lifesong sings:

All of my life, in every season,
You are still God
And I have a reason to sing.
I have a reason to worship!

My Marley

Since I've historically (for the last two weeks) been a real downer here on my blog, I thought I'd introduce you to Marley...ahem... Selah.

Selah is an almost-two-years-old Lab/Husky mix that we've had since she was a puppy. See next picture to see why we had to bring her home with us.

See next picture to see why sometimes we'd like to give her back! That was my pillow that she destroyed and yes, she is laughing at me.

Selah loves cheese, steak, and car rides (and Grandma's house) but hates 'bye-bye' and baths. She routinely forgets how big she has gotten and loves to sit in your lap. She will also lick any and every part of you she can reach. She has the meanest bark I've ever heard/seen (see below) but she gets scared of her own shadow.

Here, she and Chloe (my mom's dog) were 'speaking' for a treat. Can you imagine what she might have done if I hadn't given it to her? Oh yeah, just licked me to death. She can be a good dog when she wants to be but she has apparently picked up some bad habits somewhere.

(That's really a rawhide 'chewie bone' not a stogie! Oh, and please disregard background in all of these pictures...I know it's a mess)
Anyway, we love her... most of the time. She's our Selah/Marley.