As I am.
As I am.
Hi there! If you are joining us for the first time today, you may want to go back to the beginning of the story part one is here , part two is here , part three is here, part 4 is here. and part 5 is here. As promised …here is the conclusion…
This time, we didn’t wait to tell our friends and family. I figured, most of them have walked most of this journey with us, might as well have them pray and walk along this stage with us too. So my younger sisters helped me a prepare a dinner for some good friends and we surprised them with the news…it was so. much. fun.
I don’t remember when we settled on the name Lucas, but I do remember speaking to him long before I could feel him moving around…I had minimal morning sickness and because I was still on Sabbatical I wasn’t overly tired because I could sleep whenever I wanted. But soon my sabbatical would be over and I would be returning to ministry and the school in the midst of a lot of upheaval…but I knew it would be short term for me because of mat leave, so the stress of it didn’t really effect me thankfully. The summer weeks flew by.
We had been invited to the wedding of some former students and now very good friends and had made plans to travel to Florida at the end of the summer…it would be just past the 12 week mark.
I was at work the day I was supposed to begin packing and I noticed some spotting…there was a moment when I felt all the fear and torment from the past 5 years rush up and try to overwhelm me…I rushed home without telling Chris, and ran around the house tearing open drawers and cupboards.
I had to find it…please don’t laugh, or roll your eyes, or get overly analytical. I was looking for oil. It was this “anointing oil” a guest speaker had given out at a church meeting…I had scoffed at the time, thinking that if it’s in the bible, it doesn’t matter if you use olive oil, or coconut oil to pray with… I had not been convinced it was “special” , but “just in case I’m wrong” I hadn’t thrown it away…(BTW, I’m Still not sure it was special) but “just in case” I had dumped it all over myself and started thanking God that my joy would be full. FULL. FULL.
I was sitting on the floor in the room with the crib, covered in oil, when Chris got home later that evening. BUT the spotting had stopped. (I’ll leave it up to you what to believe, I’m just relaying my desperation in that moment to try anything…and I do give God credit for his grace throughout the journey, and for my children, and do believe I was healed that day, or earlier).
We called off the trip just to be safe…but after that day, there were no other problems in the pregnancy. The fall and winter came and went, I got bigger and bigger and happier and happier.
I started Mat leave about a month before my due date, and the next day my friends threw us a gigantic shower. Everything we needed and more was provided…we put everything away that night and I packed my hospital bag – well most of it…and the next day…He, the baby that is, decided to arrive early. Lucas would be our only baby to arrive 3 weeks early, the only one to be early period. I can’t begin to convey the joy in the hospital room…in fact the waiting room was full of people who had to be there when he arrived. Thankfully, it was in the afternoon. It was like a party hit the hospital. (Remember the friend who had called me while I was driving in Alberta? Her baby had been born the day before, in the same hospital, she was surprised to see us, because we were so early, but she just joined in the party) It was so much fun – after the grueling work of delivery that is!
An interesting little note… in 2014 we were blessed to have Isabelle join our family. She is from China and she is staying with us for all of high school. We love her parents like family, and she is definitely family, she fits right in, you’d never know she was an only child. She was born the year we lost Maggie. Isabelle makes every day more joyful for me, and our family. I had always said that I hoped to adopt a little girl from Asia someday, and maybe we will still…but maybe not. But I do know, that Isabelle was destined to be a part of our family from that day, and our hearts were being prepared to share life with her today, way back then. I thank God for her (and her family) everyday. Truly, our joy is full.
Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. Someone had asked me why I decided to share now, and honestly, because I was finally ready. I want to keep writing, and I know writing through the hard stuff is part of the process. I hope you’ll come back, I hope you’ll share some of your stories with me. I love hearing from you and thank you for your friendship and love,
As a worship leader, I couldn’t do my job.
I don’t know how to explain this…I couldn’t sing. I literally could not get a melody out. For about 6 weeks… I do not know why…physically, psychologically? Yes, I was confused, hurt and angry with God… I became obsessed with finding out why? Why us? Why me? What had I done? What had I not done? Was I not supposed to have children? Take this cup from me…
It felt like the loving God who had never let me down like this, was suddenly absent. Nothing. No answers, no peace. My journey to embracing grace, had begun that day…
Then, on a Sunday morning in December, I remember, we crept into the church. It was the Christmas season, so part way through the opening songs we found a seat in the back.– I had started arriving late, because I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t just stand there and pretend everything was OK, and I was trying to avoid the uncomfortable conversations.
Everyone else was happy and I was definitely not…
Then the band started playing this song which was not a Christmas song and…I knew for a fact, had been kind of “banned” because the pastor had found it theologically questionable (and even I didn’t really “get it” I mean it was catchy, but it was “me” focused and had this chorus that didn’t jive with the verses…I digress)
… and yet…
The band, the choir, my friends and co-workers…my people… began to sing it quietly…
“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my shame…”
I almost walked out right then… but instead hung my head and let it wash over me. It crescendos you know… and I heard that sweet, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit tell me to try and sing… and I tried…
Choking and squawking I spoke-sang those words through tears until my voice rang out clear…
“Though the sorrows may last for the night, joy comes in the morning!”
and that chorus that never made sense to me…
“Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes, Yes Lord” became my cry, to walk in the awareness of trading that sorrow…would be a willful act, everyday.
Once my voice was free, my journey toward healing and wholeness had begun.
But that’s another story, it would be another 3 years before I held my son…
I’ll share how we got there, next week.
Hi there, if you didn’t read Part 1 of this series, it may be worth your time to go back and get the beginning of the story before reading here today…My hope and prayer is that this post is encouraging to someone today.
The dark clouds had begun to gather…
I had taken the day off to set up for the party but in the afternoon I felt off. Then I felt nauseous, I had not had much morning sickness so far. I tried laying down, but couldn’t sleep. I was restless, I had too much to do…
Then there was cramping, and eventually I started spotting, nothing big, just dark little spots. We went to the ER. The doctor said, it could be nothing, but I could also be losing the baby. There was nothing to be done. Go home and rest. Put your feet up. Wait and see.
The phone kept ringing. We ignored it. How to explain something we hadn’t told anyone about yet? The cramping and bleeding got worse. We prayed, we claimed life, we claimed every promise we’d ever heard. We pulled out every “faith” resource we had. I called a my friend and co-worker, one of the few I had already told. Her mom was a midwife by training and a Christian. She sat with us, and prayed with us… once, after I’d been in the washroom, she looked in the toilet and told me not to look…but that I should go back to the hospital. We waited hours to have an ultrasound, holding out hope, but not sure what to pray… when the doctor confirmed our worst fears, this loud guttural moaning noise filled the room the the hospital bed was shaking, and I eventually realized it was me…
Like that, the dream was shattered. Our baby was lost…my God, in the toilet. Gone. No solace. No light. Nothing. My womb was empty, and so was my heart. I couldn’t breathe.
I don’t remember much about the next couple days… I remember us holding each other on the futon in the living room. Counting the flowers in the wallpaper border…and of never feeling warm enough. Standing in a hot shower and not feeling clean. I remember my friend and her mom’s tear stained faces, even though they had already guessed the truth, they held back the tears until after the hospital. I remember trying to apologize for ruining his birthday, and choking on the words. Somehow we cancelled the party. That friend made all the calls, and gave some lame excuse about a family emergency. After that, I remember the phone kept ringing, over and over. Someone, another friend, had a hunch that something was very wrong, and wouldn’t give up until she’d talked to one of us. She cried too. Then the terrible silence of a house ready for a party, with no guests and no special news.
We shared our sad news over that week…It was next to impossible to see our own pain reflected in the eyes of those we loved. The outpouring of love from our community was overwhelming. Meals and cards and flowers started arriving. I have kept every card…the only evidence that there really was life.
. My pastors gave me time off. They spoke with us about how to mourn, how to let go. I just remember wondering, “How do you let go of someone you never got to hold?” How do you ever feel safe to dream again? What’s the point? The unfinished pregnancy journal was mocking me from the table…
I took the time to grieve. Words that could only be spoken in quiet places, where an empty and broken heart was safe. Saying goodbye to the one who occupied my dreams that fall and facing the reality that now I was a woman with that story, whether I wanted to be or not.
Eventually, we had to go into the world, our world, again…and the barrage of well-meaning but stupid words came at us. “You weren’t ready to be parents anyway”…”Maybe there was something horribly wrong and Nature/God took care of it so you wouldn’t have to”… “well obviously you weren’t praying enough”, “maybe there’s some sin you don’t know about, or aren’t admitting”…“you’ll have another”(like this one didn’t count)… Religion has a way of destroying the silence that real faith grows in. I was walking through an emotional mine field, daily. But there was one truth that I hung onto with all my heart.
“This loss, this pain, this grief…it will not own me”
I knew I had to feel the full force of everything. I could not hide from it or run, but I must walk through it, and win…no matter what.” I had to hold onto the truth that God was the same, even if my circumstances had changed. That He still…that he always loved me. I didn’t realize then that the journey toward healing and fulfillment had only begun.
We got married in the late nineties, newly graduated from bible school and ready to change the world with big dreams and what we thought, was unshakable faith. As one who was recruited to remain on staff of aforementioned bible school, we were in a unique social circle. Most of our close friends and fellow graduates had either moved on to further studies in other cities or they had taken posts in missions around the world. We were suddenly bereft of a social circle of friends who were like us, married, no kids. We were surrounded mostly by high school graduates starting out in Bible School or couples who’d been married several years ahead of us and were now moving on into the next phase of typical family life, having children.
Not having kids yet probably wouldn’t have been a big deal in a different place and time. But at that point, we felt a bit like we couldn’t relate to anyone. After a few months of marriage, the negative side effects of taking birth control caused us to decide that if we got pregnant that year, it was ok because we had both wanted a big family. A year passed and we enjoyed our couple-hood. He was busy travelling in his new job and I was working in full time ministry – I was happy to go to work every day and be with my students and co-workers. I was working in a Creative Arts in Ministry school, leading worship every morning, and also working in the music ministry of a vibrant church.
After that first year, we put a little more thought into family planning. We wanted kids, and my mom had never had any trouble getting pregnant (I have four younger sisters), so I figured it would be a piece of cake. I was almost 25 now. Time to make it happen if I wanted to be done by 30. Silly me, I thought it was up to me, this having babies thing. When another year passed, the niggling doubts started to creep in. Maybe something was wrong with one or both of us. So we went and got things checked out. The doctor said everything was in working order. Stop worrying about it, it would happen, eventually.
But, there was stress. The stress of things not being in my control. Of course this stress would mess with my biology. A vicious 28 day cycle of anxiety, hope and crushing disappointment became my new normal. For another year, I would slap on a happy face each day, because I was in ministry, and these were the days of faith without visible struggle. When doubts and fears and negativity in general were not acceptable. I didn’t want to be that woman, obsessed with her infertility. I had a friend, she cried with me every month, she already had 2 kids, and I’d even been in the room when the second was born. She mourned with me well. But the happy face was driving a wedge between God and I, because not being real on the outside, was causing me to not be real on the inside.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen,
And then, one day… the light shone in. The cycle was interrupted. Hope was not followed by crushing disappointment. The darkness of the previous years was lost in the light of this little seed of hope. My heart came alive, my dreams took flight. I saw this baby in my heart. I prayed like never before, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of protection and love. I had one of those books that had pictures of how she was developing each week – and each day I would offer up thanksgiving for the heart, the limbs, the feet, the spine…my joy was full. We heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks. I had been keeping a pregnancy journal and it was filled with hopes, dreams and plans.
My expectation and my joy grew daily. We had decided to share our good news with friends and family on my husband’s birthday. We’d be just past the first trimester by then, so planned the party and waited eagerly for that November to arrive.
I had a feeling in my heart it was a girl. I liked the name Marion – the name was in both our families. We told my parents, and my father in law – with a balloon that said “Grandpa” – he was overjoyed. (He’d been asking for grandbabies since the wedding). He loved the name…”can I call her Maggie?” and I’d hear him whistle the Foster and Allen song – Maggie to himself, over and over. We also told that friend, the one who cried with me, and we laughed like school girls. That fall, everyday felt like I awoke to a world of sunshine and butterflies…
Until the night before the party…when the dark clouds began to gather…
I heard somewhere recently that when someone wears sweat pants in public, it’s a sign that they’ve given up on life. It’s a thought that burrowed into one of the hidden shadows of my mind, and then began to itch, as most annoying little things do, like a mosquito bite. It’s been bothering me for a while now, and is now at that throbbing, can’t ignore it, what will make it stop? itching stage.
So here’s the rub…
You see, I have spent a good portion of my life in the company of people who have taught me to nurture having a hunger for something more…more money, more success, more happiness, just more. That abundance is good, and lack, is well, lack is bad. That having more was a sign of God’s blessing, and therefore, if you don’t have more, you are not quite as blessed as those that do. Mind you it was not always about material things, in fact it was often very balanced between having more things, or more money (so we can be a blessing to others) but also to have more opportunities, more fun, more friends, more spiritual gifts, more wisdom, you get the idea.
Then a number of years ago, we started having trouble with the more, (even though it was nowhere close to where we thought it should be). We couldn’t manage it properly. We started losing money and opportunities, and losing them fast. Then we started losing people too (literally and figuratively). We had had so many people in our lives we couldn’t take care of them all. We also lost TIME. So, so much time. Watching dreams and years of work go up in smoke. Our peace was shaken, almost destroyed by circumstances, and stress. Faith became work. Hard, impossible work. The harder we tried to hold onto things… the more we tried to scramble and be honourable, the worse it got. Our family was beginning to suffer.
Then the thoughts of “maybe we were wrong” crept in.
Maybe LESS is best. Maybe we should let go a little. Maybe we should be content with what we have (even though it won’t be enough to get the kids through college, and at this rate we’ll never be able to go on those missions trips we’ve dreamed of, or write those books that will help people, or just be able to be a part of changing our world, heaven forbid an emergency comes up) Maybe we should throw in the towel and put all our stock in our kids…maybe we should just go quietly into the night. Maybe it’s game over for us doing anything notable.
But the old way of thinking, dreaming, hoping, imagining the world covered with God’s glory…well that was still there too. Though just a whisper…
Somewhere along the way, we started to give up a little. Letting go of little dreams at first. Then the big ones, not outwardly, but inwardly. Letting go of everyday opportunities for fear of making things worse. Having grown weary of the struggle, we stopped trying to do good with what we did have. We went into crisis mode and got stuck.
But you see, internally, I still had this subconscious voice telling me that “more is better”. So on top of giving up on so much, I started eating more, because more food made me feel better, even if momentarily…we used to talk about a trip to Hawaii, but then I began to think that was a selfish pipe dream…less is better.
And one day, I found myself going out in sweat pants.
Then a couple times… and then it got to the point that none of my non-yoga/sweat pants even fit… and I didn’t have a choice in the matter. At that point, it was easy to take in more food, in fact I’d think that “I was never going to wear a bathing suit in Hawaii, so why not eat what I want today”…so I ate, but it didn’t help me deal with the itch long term.
The warring thoughts and beliefs needed to be put to rest and the appropriate choices must be made between more and less. I knew I would not be less tired by carrying around the extra poundage, but I will be energized by doing things that are exciting to me. And helping people is exciting to me. Travelling, making small differences in people’s lives energizes me. I am not meant to “go quietly into the night”. This decade of struggle will not be in vain. I have a reason, beyond myself for being alive. I repent, I turn away from this double minded thinking. I think the biggest struggle is not when your beliefs are challenged, but when you give yourself over to thinking the opposite of what you have always known to be true.
I have known that I am not here on this planet just for myself. I am here to be an image bearer of God, the one who created me. In order to bear His image, I have to reflect what I know to be true of His nature. His beauty, His grace and His love. His justice and mercy. His provision and compassion. The God who held nothing back, not even his Son, to save the entire world and to do away with sin, once for all.
Is living with less a fair representation of Him to my kids? Maybe regarding some things, yes. But with limitations on my joy, peace, ability to share and provide, health, dreams, creativity, adventures? Perhaps not.
On the other hand, is taking more of whatever I can get (like food) a good representation of Him? Absolutely not.
So, here’s what I walk away from the struggle with..
An open hand.
Not closed, not grasping.
Receiving in rest.
Resting in the One whose image I am to bear. A return to faith that is not work, but simply faith. Yet, knowing still that faith is exercised by works. Not for my own profit, but His, through faith, and not by my human strength or understanding, but through His rest.
As always, I’m reminded that this is nothing new, Paul the Apostle summed it up in Philippians 4 this way:
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess – happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
So there was a moment, a few nights ago, when I said no to that night time snack. I said no, because I thought “just maybe when this battle over my weight has been won, when I can lose the sweatpants for good. Just maybe we’ll be ready to make that trip to Hawaii”… didn’t feel like a selfish pipe dream anymore.
It felt like a possibility. I returned to the way of thinking that maybe the Hawaii seed was dropped in there, because there’s a reason to go to Hawaii bigger than me… and that the goal to get rid of the sweatpants is bigger than me too…
There is the grace that I can be thankful for, even in this season. When I’m on the other side of hurdle, but still growing through the struggle. This old dream has been given new life, and the journey to renewed thoughts has begun again.
This past Sunday, which was Mother’s day, I was rushing through Walmart on my way to lunch at my sisters place. I bumped into one of my hubby’s cousins and she paid me a very high compliment, which I’ve thought about quite a bit since then. She said that she has been reading along via Facebook, etc on my life journey for awhile now, and that I really “seem to enjoy being a stay at home (and homeschooling mom). I told her I really do, and I’ve thought about it more since then. I really enjoy my life. I mean I’ve always made the most of whatever season I’ve been in. I loved so much of the experiences in my high school years. I loved the college years and I especially loved travelling and mentoring students in my twenties. I loved working in music and the creative arts, I have loved so many of the people who shared those years with me.
I can honestly say this though, I LOVE my life right now, probably the most. Oh yes, there are days that are the stuff of bad dreams, and there have been many frustrations and disappointments here and there, but really… I love being home with my boys and my baby girl. I love being the one to teach them, to share the moments that fill our days and to be the one my hubby comes home to. I have enjoyed learning about making our home a happy and peaceful one, a haven. A place where beauty is common and where our family is at rest and friends are always welcome. I would like to learn to infuse it with more joy, and to make it a place where wisdom flourishes. I am happiest when I hear laughter ringing in the halls and music in the rooms. Where the smells of good food lure people to a bright and vibrant kitchen and where people leave our home inspired and having encountered the Holy One in one way or another.
Homeschooling has given me the “excuse” to have books on display in every room. To have the tools and instruments for learning out in the open and put to good use. I love our relaxed daily schedule for housework, homework and soul work… and that I get to go outside with the kids everyday. To work in my garden, to have the baby nap in the cradle in the afternoon breeze (well not this week) but last week and in the months to come. I love that friends come and go, and we can go visiting without having to worry about the bus or school schedule and that if daddy takes a day off, so can we…
There was a day not so long ago, maybe a couple years ago, when I was not at peace like now. When I was harried and trying to “do it all” and struggling in it. I still have many moments when I feel like life is too good to be true, and that I’ll have to give it up soon and go back to the grind I lived before…only to realize that I don’t! Praise God~!
My heart is full of gratitude that the Lord has provided for us to live this way and that He continues to supply for our every need. I am so blessed with a supportive husband who loves us, loves to be with us and helps me make the most of our days together. I hope that I will someday fulfill the role outlined in Proverbs 31 for my family, I am trusting God to complete the work in me, but until then, I really am enjoying the journey and feel like the most blessed woman alive.
There’s a few reasons why you haven’t heard from me in quite awhile.
Numero 1. We had a baby. It’s our fourth. It’s been 5 years. I’m nursing…you understand. I know this and appreciate it.
2. My computer has been dumb, dumb, dumb. The fact that this blog post is getting written is almost miraculous.
That’s the gist of it.
That being said, I have SO MUCH to catch you up on, and so much I really really want to blog about…
So here’s how I will approach the enormity of the task, I will make a list of the topics I need to blog about, and then one by one, attack the list.
Here’s my list (and if you have anything you’d like to add to it, feel free to leave your requests/suggestions in the comments section).
1. Our Summer Wrap Up
2. The Baby (with the following sub posts)
Her Delivery (I even have pics…well I’m waiting on those, but will have some)
How I feel about having a GIRL after my 3 boys, and all that jazz.
A perfect baby shower (with pics)
3. Our Fall
How we celebrated the fall
Major events of the fall
4. Our Christmas Decorating
5. What I’ve been reading – the last 6 months
…and for the Homeschooling Blog
1. Our Summer Wrap Up
2. Curriculum Choices for 2012-13
3. Our Little Homeschool Group
4. Field Trips and the Like From Sept. Oct and Nov.
That should keep me pretty busy, as well as keeping up with the present, but I’m looking forward to it 🙂
Anyways, baby’s crying… I’ll be back!
Yesterday someone asked me how I’m getting through the days…
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