I Am Persuaded that He is Able

My Story of Faith (Part 2)

Despite my changed heart, things were still tough at home throughout my teenage years.  I felt consoled in my heart about salvation and had hope for eternal life, but this did not impact behavior towards my parents. However, I started independently praying, reading my Bible, and paying more attention to preaching and Sunday school lessons at church.

One day a minister at our church preached a sermon and briefly talked about the unpardonable sin.  (See Matthew 12:22-32.) I felt almost sick, recalling how I had cursed God in the closet. I despaired and became convinced that I had ruined everything and was condemned to spend eternity in hell.  Still grieving my uncle’s death, I feared I would never see him again either.

I started looking up information about the unpardonable sin. This was long before google.  I searched church library books, a commentary in the library, and church documents in the back of the hymnal.  Unable to find any clear answers, I became convinced that my salvation had been lost forever.

Months went by in this guilt-ridden frame of mind. Finally, one day I nervously asked the minister if I could speak with him.  I needed to know once and for all if I was condemned forever.  I don’t remember too much about our conversation,  except for one thing he said:

“The very fact that you are so concerned demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is working in your life. If you had truly committed the unpardonable sin, you wouldn’t even care.”

This conversation was such a relief. My mind stopped spinning with guilt, and I was finally able to put it behind me.*

I know not how this saving faithTo me He did impart,Nor how believing in His WordWrought peace within my heart. (2)

From that point, I was fully committed as a Christian.  At age 16, I wanted to become a member of our church and participate in communion. But instead of following Christ, I became all about following the rules.

Almost immediately,  I focused on my own deeds and actions, instead of Christ the Savior. I was keen on emphasizing what I  (and others) were supposed to do or not do, but didn’t consider what Christ did on my behalf. Author Elyse Fitzpatrick calls this “spiritual amnesia”.

Meanwhile at home, I was still doing battle with my parents. Somehow, the commandment about honoring your father and mother was one I chose to ignore.  I was blind to my own faults and often focused on the faults of others.

Ironically, I was known to be a trustworthy and responsible babysitter.  I was a decent student.  I participated in church groups and committees at a young age. Most people didn’t know how rude I was to my parents at home.  I also developed an addiction to candy and sneaking food.

Please don’t misunderstand. All the high school years were not completely awful and miserable.  I had a core group of good friends.  My mom tried to help me the best she could.  I have good memories, too. But my temper and the strife I caused in the family casts a dark shadow over those years.

Recalling these things is embarrassing.  Yet, there is a reason for doing so.

If God can forgive a sinful, cursing, and often angry young girl, he can forgive anyone.  Sure, maybe I was a “good girl”.  I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex.    Instead , I tried to show myself as someone who did everything right and legalistically followed all the rules,  while wreaking havoc at home.

Jesus had some pretty harsh words for hypocrites.

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27, 28 NIV)

I know I was a hypocrite then, and I’m certain there are some ways in which I am still a hypocrite.

Yet, God has redeemed me.  I’ve confessed those sins of the past and asked for forgiveness.  (I will explain more how that came about in the next post.) I’ve trusted in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf. My past sins are covered by the blood of my Savior, which he shed on the cross.  This is humbling.  There is nothing I personally can do to save myself.  What a comfort.  It’s not all on me.

Being a “good girl” was a facade, nothing more.  It didn’t gain me good standing with God.  Only Jesus, God’s Son, could do that.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

Today I can say “I am forgiven.  I am loved by God.” This is only possible through Jesus Christ,  only by the mercy of my heavenly Father.   Knowing full well my weaknesses and innumerable failures, then and now,  I am humbled to know how much I am also loved and forgiven and accepted through the gift of the Cross.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)

 


*For a very helpful article about the unpardonable sin, click here.

In this post I’ve talked about God as the Father, Jesus Christ (the Son) and the Holy Spirit.  This is the Trinity.  For a simple explanation, I suggest this link.

For part one of my faith story, click here.

Stay tuned for part 3…

 

 

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Missing Sara

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire. -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Sara was a friend. Not just to me, but to many others. I’ve wanted to write about her for a long time, but the memories were bittersweet. I struggled to gather the words.

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Karen and Sara

Our story of friendship begins over 100 years ago with a brother and sister named Fred and Henrietta, the children of Dutch immigrants. Fred and Henrietta grew up, found spouses, married, lived a few houses apart, and both had families of their own. Fred took over his dad’s dairy farm. In 1947, Fred’s wife gave birth to a boy, Marvin. Henrietta gave birth to a son, David.

Marvin and David weren’t just cousins who happened to be neighbors. They became best friends. They went to the same church, the same Sunday school, and the same elementary and high schools. They played baseball at the farm and went to 4H Tractor Club. On Sunday afternoons they took walks, wandering around the Twin Lakes area.

Marvin and David grew up and each was married in 1970. Both became fathers for the first time in 1971 and they both had baby girls. That was Sara and me.

I suppose Sara and I played together since we were old enough to toddle around. Our parents often got together on weekends and for Bible study. Every year we attended New Year’s Eve service at church and then spent the evening talking, eating and playing games with our siblings until the exciting countdown to midnight. The next morning we would be at church, starting the New Year in God’s house.

Just like our dads, we attended the same church and Sunday school. We were in the same classes and grades all through our years at North Christian grade school. We played long days together in the summer, wandering all around the farm by Twin Lakes and often had sleepovers.  There were hours in her room with her amazing Barbie townhouse, complete with elevator. We dug up dusty dry calf bones behind the farm and pretended we had found an ancient dinosaur land.

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Riding bikes in 1982

John Deere mountain was what we named our special spot. We perched ourselves in the tall grass on a small hill above the farm. We hid there, talking and laughing as only two little girls can do. At my folk’s house we mixed up crazy concoctions in the kitchen and played with the cassette tape recorder for hours, creating silly radio programs and listening to them while we giggled late into the night.

Starting in second grade we took piano lessons together with Mrs. Grit.  Our moms took turns carpooling. The day that the tornado hit Kalamazoo in 1980, we were at Mrs. Grit’s house for our weekly lesson. We stopped at my aunt’s house to shelter in her cellar because my mom spotted the tornado over Westwood as she was driving us home. When Mrs. Grit moved to Costa Rica with her family to be missionaries, we switched to Mrs. Manni. We took turns  sitting at the dining room table and doing homework while the other had her lesson.

In high school, my cousin drove us to school every day for a couple of semesters. We sometimes carpooled to basketball games, cheering for our Kalamazoo Christian Comets.  We had several friends in common. After  graduating in 1989, Sara stayed at home with her folks and went to college. I moved in with my grandparents and went to work at a doctor’s office. We soon started getting together with friends every Sunday night after church. These were some of the happiest days I remember. Sara started dating Steve, the good-looking fellow who showed up in our Sunday school class in 6th grade. Many of us girls swooned over him, but it was Sara who won his heart.

I went away to college for one year. When I returned  home to Kalamazoo, Sara and I rented an apartment together. It was her first place away from her parents. We had great fun furnishing and decorating our little place. She would come home from her job at the flower shop and have Adventures in Odyssey on her car radio. I would have the radio on in the apartment and we would finish listening together. I can’t say how many nights were spent staying up late, talking and giggling.  There were serious conversations too, about our faith and relationships. It is almost crazy to admit, but at age 19, we joined with a group of friends for our first and only ballet class.  It was so fun(ny)! We loved having friends over and started a Bible study, too.

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Sara talking on the phone and washing dishes in our apartment, 1992

 

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A personal note from Sara.  The front of the card was inscribed with a verse:  “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

One fine summer day, we were feeling a little tired and dull. We jumped into our friend  Jeff’s red Chevy Lumina  and he drove  a group of us to Lake Michigan. At the state park entrance booth, Sara pretended to give an order for McDonald’s, as if we were at the drive-thru. Because of that, we could not stop laughing. The guys gave up on us and walked down to the beach, but we remained in the back seat, rolling around, laughing and crying for at least ten more minutes. Then we laughed our way down to the beach; into the sun and waves and joy of a carefree day.

Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected. –Charles Lamb

On a warm August night in 1992, I had the honor of playing the piano for Sara and Steve’s wedding. Going though my old piano books, I found songs I heard her play while sitting at the dining room table doing homework at Mrs. Manni’s house. I found Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart and hymns from Sunday School. All my heart went into that prelude. Our friend Rhonda and her dad sang a duet and I played the piano for that too. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the church, and there was our first piano teacher, Mrs. Grit!

Sara started teaching school and settled into married life. I married a couple of years later, and moved out of state. Sara and I wrote letters and talked on the phone at first, but gradually we became busy and didn’t keep up. Sara and Steve eventually had six children and started homeschooling. Despite living out of state, I could count on seeing Sara and our group of friends every New Year’s Eve or 4th of July whenever I was in Kalamazoo.  It was always easy to get together on these occasions and catch up on our lives.  Eventually I moved back and we continued our tradition of gathering with our friends twice a year.

Nearly every time a year turned over, Sara and I were together.

These days our parents still get together. They go out to eat. Once a month they still have Bible study with their group of friends. You will always find them celebrating New Year’s Eve at one or the other’s home.

John Deere Mountain is gone now, excavated flat to the ground.

Sara is gone too. She left us suddenly one day seven years ago. She fed her family supper, went to lay down for a rest, and quietly slipped away to heaven. We later learned she had a rare heart condition.

For a long time my heart went flat too. Flat with missing, flat with grief. Flat with fear of loving and losing. It is taking a long time to heal and maybe it never will.

I have had losses. I’ve lost babies. I’ve lost my uncle. I’ve lost young friends and old friends and great aunts and uncles and grandparents. Truthfully, I don’t cry about them anymore, but sometimes I still cry about Sara.  I miss laughing together. Really, I just miss her.

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Sara and Karen on John Deere Mountain, drawn by Esther Kamps.*

Sara had a way of spending time, listening and being present with people. You can see by her notes that she was also an encourager. People were drawn to her, but she never wanted to draw attention to herself. She was living her dream of family, children and homeschooling. God only knows why her time was up, but it was. Sara trusted God with all her heart. I trust Him too, but  I admit it took  time to trust again after she was gone. I have faith in God that I will see her again and  someday all the sorrow of missing her will be gone forever.

 

We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence. -Joseph Roux

For More Information

News article about Sara from The Kalamazoo Gazette

An online memorial (note this was created by someone named Karen, but not myself)

Update on the family  – God is amazing!

Plainwell couple celebrates new love, new life and 9 children (P.S.  Make that 11 blessings.)

*Some years ago I wrote down memories of Sara from childhood to give to Sara’s children, similar to what I’ve shared here. Mrs. Kamps  sketched this lovely picture for me to include with the stories.

You comments are always welcome and appreciated. If you knew Sara and have a memory you’d like to share, you are welcome to add those in the comments too.  I’m sure family and friends would enjoy reading them. Note: I  moderate comments to prevent spam, so they will appear after I’ve approved them.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load

I remember those holidays when I was single.  I remember the acute sense of loneliness when I showed up at a family gathering by myself and those pangs of longing as I left the festivities bursting with family and drove home. Alone.

I remember when I wept sitting under the lighted tree one Christmas Eve because I had been infertile for many years. There were no children to share the joy of the day. My arms and my heart felt empty.

I remember the Christmas when my Grandpa, who was so very dear to me, passed away a few days before the holiday. It was a consuming time with the funeral, visitation and dealing with grief. I barely noticed it was Christmas that year.

I also remember sensing God’s presence in those lonely times. When I cried out to Him, I was reminded:

For unto us a Child is born! Unto us a Son is given!

I pray those who might feel lonely today will know that Christ is born for them. You always have a family and you always have a baby to love if you have Jesus. He is our baby, our brother, our dearest One, and He is with us always. God made flesh.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, verse 2

The Scripture quote comes from Isaiah 9:6

The image is verse two from the Christmas carol “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” written by Edmond Hamilton Sears in 1849.

Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

It’s October Twenty-Eight

This is a beautiful fall day in Michigan.  The sun is shining and the leaves are vibrant.  I’m busy homeschooling, cooking and running errands.

But I’ll admit it. My heart is feeling a little broken inside.

  1. The anniversary of my first marriage was 10-28 and it would have been twenty years today. God has worked all things for the good, and I am utterly blessed to be remarried to a kind, wonderful man.  However, 10-28 was significant in my life.  While I no longer mourn the ending of the relationship, I am reminded every year of the death of a marriage.
  2. It was on 10-28, a few years ago in the doctor’s office that we learned we were having a miscarriage, and would never meet our third baby.
  3. Our fourth baby was also a miscarriage and today was a possibility as a due date.

I wonder why God arranged for those losses to be remembered on the same date?

I don’t know a specific reason it happened that way in my life, but God tells us Himself:  It’s not a bad thing to grieve.

 October 28 or not, there are days where we are called to mourn.  Perhaps for ourselves, perhaps with others.

Despite the pain, mourning comes with promises.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Probably for the rest of my life, October 28 will be a mourning day.  Yet it is also true that there are beautiful ways that God has “turned my mourning into joy”. I have been comforted by Christ, the sure hope of eternal life, and the kindness of friends and family.  I sure would love to have a newborn to welcome into our home this month.  But I will see my babies someday.  I long to hold, snuggle them and kiss their faces.  Bliss! 

Today I can also remember that someday there won’t be anymore October twenty-eighths.

How about you?  Do you have any “October 28’s”?  How has God comforted you?

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  

How do you trust after a divorce?

So how do you trust again after your heart has been ripped to shreds by the person that you committed to live life with till the end of your days?  Would you dare remarry again? For me, these are the thirteen not-so-easy steps.

  1. You tell your friends that you need hugs.  You, the person who has never ever been a “hug” kind of person.   It’s awkward at first, but after awhile, it’s a normal part of greeting and you soak in every hug at any opportunity from friends and family that you trust.
  2. You get some solid Christian counseling. You face your own issues and take responsibility for your own sins related to the marriage that broke up.  When your counselor tells you to wait a year before dating again,  you do that, even though you feel horribly lonely, and you think it’s not fair.
  3. Sometimes  in that first year you are grieving so deeply that you bawl and scream at God when you are alone in the car.  The emotional pain is so overwhelming, that occasionally you wish you were dead  (though you are not suicidal),  but you yell it out, because your counselor reminds you that God can handle that.  Because when you are alone yelling in the car, God is all you have left.
  4. You go to college (a dream you’ve had for several years) and you study diligently and do well in your classes and find something you love to do.  You find that your days are filled with studying and working.
  5. Some creep–you realize later that he’s a creep– from a college class asks you on a date, and you are so lonely, you hang out with him after class one evening. But he directly informs you that he has other motives, and you remember what the counselor said (see step 2) and you call your best friend and ask her to hold you accountable so you don’t do something you’ll regret.  And you resist temptation despite the opportunity, and  a few weeks after the flood of emotions is past, you realize that perhaps you might be okay being alone!
  6. You cling to the Psalms in your Bible.  You pour your aching heart and tears along with David, the ancient king of Israel.   Then you write miles of words in your journals and you pour out your aches and pains before God.  You write until your hands hurt. Then you close the journal and walk away, and realize you feel  lighter.
  7. You often call your best friend, your mom, and the one cousin you know who also went through a divorce.  You tell them how lonely you feel and that a funeral would have been easier than this.  After you stop seeing your counselor,  you find a small support group and you share and they hear you. While you aren’t paying any attention and are just trying to survive,  your heart heals every week because you are processing your grief and not avoiding it.
  8. You find things in your life to look forward to.  You let your mind wander back to long-neglected hobbies and passions that have been smothered by the chaos of a difficult marriage.  You pick up your crochet needles and make something pretty. You keep going to your church, even though you feel weird walking in all by yourself and jealous to see all the happily married couples.  You worship, you take communion.
  9. And then a friend invites you to attend a meeting with his church single’s group.  You are baffled at the idea after being a married woman for eight years, so you politely say no.  So he invites you again, and you say no again. And one night when you are studying that same friend shows up at the coffee shop with a bunch of the people from the group.  You sit by them for an hour and  you realize they are friendly. A few weeks later you walk in to one of their meetings with your heart hammering in your chest. On the way home that night,  you bawl your eyes out with gratitude, thanking God in the car, because you found some genuine Christian fellowship.  So you jump in with both feet.
  10. You hang out with this group so much that they become like brothers and sisters to you.  And particularly you notice  the brothers treat you kindly, and you realize that not all men are out to treat women the way you were treated.  They could care less that you are divorced and weigh over 300 pounds–sure they will sit in the coffee shop with you and talk and play board games and watch movies and discuss all sorts of things about life in general and they ask you how school is going and encourage you and treat you as a sister in Christ consistently and -oh-so-kindly.  You actually find yourself laughing and it surprises you because you forgot that you could laugh. A few of these friends become aware that you have post traumatic stress syndrome, and that sometimes you have panic attacks and become nearly paralyzed just from riding in a car or watching a movie scene, and they still like to hang out with you and accept you as you are.
  11. And then about a year and a half after the first meeting, one of the guys in that group—who happens to be the most kind of them all (and wasn’t actually one that you had been hanging out with very often), surprisingly asks you out on a date. On your first date he gives you a card that says he is praying for God to guide the relationship.  And you remind him (even though he already knew) that you are a divorced woman, because he has never been married. But he still wants to date you.
  12. So you go on your second date with him and he takes you to Lake Michigan and walks on the beach with you and holds your hand,  and you didn’t imagine you could feel those butterflies again, but you do! So you go on your third date with this fellow, and you tell him that you have been infertile for eight years of marriage, and that you have had tests and procedures, and that you were the one with the problem, and that you may never be able to have children, and he says that he still wants to date you.
  13. As you continue to date, you share more and more of your heart with this man, the good and the bad, and he shares with you too, and there is lots of walking and talking and sharing and you find yourself wanting to trust again. Still, you don’t trust your own judgement, because obviously you have made poor decisions in the past. You ask your pastors and your closest friends and family if they think this is a good idea. Then you ask his roommates and his co-workers and his pastor and his family if he is a man of integrity as he seems to be, and you realize that he is, so there is nothing stopping you from marrying him.  So you take a deep breath, walk down that aisle and make a new vow til’ death do you part.

That is how you trust a man again.

But really, the only way you can trust a man again, is to trust GOD and His workings.  For you realize it is His book and His people that have healed your heart to the point that you are ready and willing to trust again. Then you see “He works all things for the good”, and that isn’t just a trite saying in Romans.  And that God can take what has been the most painful experience of your life and turned it into something beautiful.
God Bless the Broken Road

Prologue:

And this same man continues to show you, through all your hurts and insecurities and weight loss and weight gains (not to mention having a baby(!) born 9 months and 2 weeks after your wedding day—and  another baby just sixteen months later—and two miscarriages–and unemployment, and four moves in 8 years) that he loves you.  He calls you beautiful every day, still gives you cards, and reminds you that he’s not going anywhere.  And you realize that God loves you too, you didn’t earn any of it, it’s all grace, and you know it more and more and more.  How much you have been forgiven, and how much Jesus sacrificed to save you, and how you much you are loved.  And you still have occasional bad days where there is grieving, anxiety and even some panic attacks, but you always know you are loved.  And you know that the “happily ever after” is not here on earth, it’s still coming.

When I started to write on the topic, this is what poured out of me.  It’s heavy stuff, and a little scary to hit the publish button, but it’s my story.

Diary of a short, but very real life

February 11, 2014

It was just last week when I called my husband into the bathroom, bawling my eyes out.  I couldn’t even speak while handing  him the little test, that showed two pink lines, clear as day.  I was crying for three reasons:

1. Shock.

2.  Joy.

3.  Terrified.

It has been about three years since my last pregnancy, and an ultrasound close to week 10 showed that baby stopped developing at nine weeks.  The actual physical miscarriage happened at thirteen weeks. Our children are now ages 5 & 6, and well out of baby stages.  Yet, my daughter has prayed on more than one occasion for a baby in our family.  We always told her, “It’s up to God.”   The past two moves, I haven’t quite had the heart to get rid of our favorite baby items.  In recent months, I had assumed we were probably done having children,  and was planning to give most things away.  This pregnancy is a big surprise (but welcome).

Children are a blessing.  I consider a baby a precious gift, and I’m one of those baby people.   Nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to hold a baby.  I am thrilled at the thought of a new child joining our family.

So why am I feeling fear?  Not so much because of my age. Never mind the fact that two days ago I received an invitation to my 25th year high school homecoming festivities!  It’s the fact that there are other health issues of concern, such as blood pressure, arthritis pain, and my weight.  I went to see my family doctor a few days after seeing the positive test.  Everything was confirmed. She wrote “high risk” on my paperwork and sent me to the referral department.  So here we go.  I’m expecting lots of tests, lab work, doctor appointments and ultrasounds over the next many months.  That is…..if we don’t miscarry again.

I am feeling overwhelmed.  I told my husband the first evening after we found out that I don’t want to live in fear.  I have spent the past week or two digesting this exciting news, yet struggling with anxiety and obsessive thoughts.  I am thankful to report that I have been having major pregnancy symptoms.  With the miscarriage, I noticed that the symptoms went away after only a few weeks, and were mild.  Frequently I am nauseated and have food aversions.  I am having to eat every couple hours or I get shaky (and I’m not diabetic–but have had issues with hypoglycemia in the past).  I’m glad to be on the prenatal vitamin along with with extra iron and hoping that will boost my energy level a little bit.

So that’s the story.  That’s where we are at.  This is brand new, fresh, hot-off-the-press news.

I am clinging to Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.

What I really see in this entire situation, is an opportunity to TRUST God.  I cannot control the outcome.  I can only take care of myself  and this baby the best I can.

March 10, 2014 (nearly one month after previous entry)

Went in for our first ultrasound a couple of weeks ago.  Based on dates, I figured we were close to 8 weeks.  What we saw on the screen was a five week, one day gestational sac.  The doctor told me that it was still well within the realm of possibility, and to remain “cautiously optimistic”.  It was torture waiting 9 more days for the next ultrasound. Over and over my husband and I prayed for peace, no matter the outcome.  In the meanwhile, pregnancy symptoms continue as strong as ever including extreme exhaustion.

Nine days later, we were disappointed and sad to see a sac measuring 5 weeks, 3 days. No sign of our baby.  How I had longed to see that little heart beating, but it is not to be.  My body still thinks it is pregnant, but at some point (unless there is a miracle), we are expecting a miscarriage.  The last miscarriage took nearly 3 weeks from hearing the news before it happened.  At least this time I know a little bit what to expect.

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March 15, 2014- Late at night

This is the pits.  The past three days I have been exhausted and nauseated and food tastes gross to me, just like normal pregnancy.  By my original calculations, I should be ten weeks by now.  Everything in my body feels like I’m ten weeks pregnant, but according to the doctor, based on the ultrasound, there is no hope.  I am hurting.  I keep hoping that somehow the ultrasounds were wrong.  I am sad that most people don’t know what I’m going through. We only shared our news with a few people.  I feel alone and like I’m “hiding something”.  I don’t want a bunch of sympathy and advice.  What I really want is to drop off the face of the earth for a few weeks till this is past.

This pregnancy is called a  “blighted ovum” and I feel like I’m a failure.  I wonder if this wee little fertilized egg means anything in the Kingdom of God and how that all works.  Do I now have two little ones in heaven?  Will I see them some day?  How can this be when they are so little, never really developed?  At other times I am calm and very accepting.  In other words, whether I want to or not (and I don’t want to), I am in the middle of some hefty grieving again.  I just want to be alone, but I want other people to know too.  My heart is aching tonight and I am finding the whole situation unbearable.  I don’t think the hormones are helping my emotions either.  I TRUST GOD.  I am disappointed.  I go to church and other places, but only a few people know about it.  I don’t want to hear a bunch of trite stuff.  But I do want to hear some kind words.  I wish I had someone to talk to right now, but it’s the middle of the night.   This could take weeks yet.  And then there are the fears about going through the actual miscarriage.  The last one I went through was painful, difficult, and scary at times.  I am really dreading it.

April 4, 2014  

It is moving so very slow.  This is hard to bear.  I want to plan my son’s birthday for the end of the week, but do not know how I will be feeling.  At this point I do not feel safe traveling outside of my immediate area.  It’s hard to plan anything.  I’m hurting.  Backaches and pain every day. I’m waiting.  I thank God for the midwife who delivered our daughter at home.  She has done more to reassure and comfort me the past few days about the waiting, than anything I’ve heard from the doctor’s office.

 April 5, 2014

Feeling greatly comforted tonight after reading Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur. Read the entire book this afternoon and evening.  If nothing else, I needed to go through this miscarriage to also receive comfort from the previous baby we lost, which I have been silently grieving the past three years.  I am comforted tonight, because I know that I have two precious little ones who are glorifying God in heaven.  I believe that they are among the saints, praising God and worshipping Him.  They have been spared all the grief, sadness, illness and sin of this world, and they are complete and perfect because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  They were sinners, as we all are, but they were not at an age of accountability.  These little ones are with Jesus.  Some day I will see them again.  They will know me, and I will know them, and we will all know Jesus as we should know Him.  Me, no longer through the lense of my own sin.  I read several paragraphs from the book out loud to my husband tonight, which explained, based on Scripture why I can be confident in God’s kindness and grace toward my tiny babies.  My conclusion tonight is this:   This physical suffering is worth it, knowing our baby is with God my Savior.  The babies are not suffering or missing me.  I am grieving my little ones, but I am comforted by that same Redeemer, who holds us all.  I praise God for comforting me through His Word.

April 11, 2014

I’m five days out from the miscarriage.  So thankful that I was able to manage everything at home.  It is similar to preparing for a home birth.  There is a mini-labor involved, very painful.  This time I was well prepared, compared to the previous miscarriage.  I felt really good the day AFTER, relieved to be through with the mini-labor after all the waiting.  Since then, I feel pretty lousy and down in the dumps.

April 15, 2014

I am feeling so low.  The post pregnancy hormones have arrived.  I have to keep myself together all day for the sake of the kids, and at night can’t sleep. I start to think about everything and need to weep and mourn and grieve my little one who I will never see until that day.  I thank God for the hope of the resurrection.

April 24, 2014

My pastor gave me some good advice.  I called him about something else, and then broke down a little bit when he asked how I was doing.  He said (in better words) that I need to give myself permission to grieve, even in front of the kids if need be.  He also told me that going outside always helps him feel better, and he would recommend going outdoors.  Every day I have been going outside a bit.  The best outside day was Easter Sunday when we took a very short hike at Snug Harbor.  The air was fresh and cool, but the sun was warm.  It was amazing to be among the trees, leftover leaves from last fall crunching at our feet.  My daughter running ahead of us in shear delight, my son grumbling because he wanted to go back to the open area and play catch with Dad.  It was truly bliss, especially after the long winter.

I am frustrated at the fatigue.  My husband has had to pick up my slack in many areas, but I’m getting the children schooled every day.  I’m managing to get supper together, but rarely have the energy to clean up.  He still had to do the grocery shopping for me this week.  I often hit a wall of exhaustion.  I’m too tired to go any further and have to lay down.  Perhaps anemia?  I’m taking lots of iron.

May 8, 2014

Anemia confirmed.  I am using every iron trick I know. Black strap molasses, cooking with my cast iron skillet, two types of iron supplements (have been taking those all along), herbal remedies, green leafy vegetables, ground beef.  Still feeling very fatigued. Need multiple mini- naps to get through the day.

May 15, 2014

The iron must be kicking in.  I am not needing the morning nap anymore and starting to get some energy back.  Was able to do some extra housework again besides the bare basics.

May 25, 2014

We buried the little sac today, just my husband and I, right near the spot where we buried our other little one.  We held hands, had a few tears, and prayed and committed our little one to God’s care.  We believe, by God’s grace and kindness, we will meet both of  these “glory babies” some day.

It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. -I Corinthians 15:43

 

Blessings

I wrote a couple of posts about preparing for a natural miscarriage on Hub Pages here and here, while the experience was fresh in my mind.  Hopefully  they will provide some practical help for others in a similar experience.

We’ve had great support from people through this ordeal.  We have seen the love of God displayed from friends, family and our church family.  One gave me a bouquet of flowers.  I was so happy to have them.  They were a visual reminder of our baby’s life. When the miscarriage finally took place, we let our church know.  We received prayers and cards, kind words of support, and people brought meals.  Others helped by taking care of our kids for medical appointments and on days when we needed extra help.  Another friend was going through an extremely difficult trial and sharing her struggles and hope via e-mails.  Her faith and trust in God in a time of deep pain brought much comfort to my own heart.

As I edit and write this final section in June, physically I am feeling better.  There are still days when I feel generally “low”.  The  feeling of loss is not as acute, but I am grieving that we may not have any more children. Yet after going through many years of my adult life longing for children, I am incredibly grateful to God for the two children we have with us.  God is so good to me.  I pray this situation, our baby’s life, our story will bring Him glory.  The hope of heaven is sweeter to me now, than it has ever been.

Psalm 26:8