Sunday, January 13, 2019

nothing separates

Jesus said, "come unto Me." so you did. and you found Rest.

He wiped your tears in the middle of the night when you didn't understand the loneliness.

He exposed the shell you lived in, gave you new skin.

You said you didn't need Him. Couldn't need Him....didn't deserve Him.

You said, "But I'm THIS."

He says, "You're mine."

You flubbed the song. Broke the plate. Misspelled your name. Forgot the answer.

He said, "I washed it away."

You keep forgetting your mistakes don't define you.

He never gets tired of taking your hand, lifting your chin to show you HIS reflection in your mirror.

He brought you someone who sees you like He does.

Marriage highlighted the Mystery in ways you never dreamed.

You learn. Grow. Change. TOGETHER.

Passion and love reflect in each other's eyes as you finally put a finger on the reflection of Church and Christ on earth.

And just when you thought it couldn't get more beautiful.

He gave you a little lamb. a little reflection of both of you.

He entrusts you with a piece of His heart towards us.

"You're my child." He says.

"Here's your child." He says.

And suddenly you realize how much He loves you.

You almost lose her. And you almost forget how to breathe.

But then she's vibrant and thriving and your heart bursts with pride.

"It's how I feel about you," He says.

She cries at night. You're exhausted. Grace slipping.

"I never slumber or sleep. My grace is sufficient," He says.

Teething. Fever. Stuffy nose. Your heart aches for her discomfort. You want to take her pain on yourself.

"I never stop interceding on your behalf," He says.

Her smile lights up the room. You're helpless with love.

"You are the apple of my eye," He says.

No sleep schedule? No real routine? No problem.

She needs you. AGAIN. You're at the end of your rope.

"Lift her chin. Show her you love her. Show her me," He reminds you.

NOTHING can separate us from experiencing the love of our Father from us.

Cuddling at night - she's asleep next to you, you're both entranced watching her.

Two perfect pictures of Heaven's love. Given to us to walk out on earth.

Marriage.

Parenthood.

Nothing can separate us.

Not "normal", "mundane" life. Because He's there.

"This is a great mystery. But I speak of Christ and the Church."

"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him."

"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?"

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

our first miscarriage - two years later

the photo we used to tell the world
that jeremiah had come, and gone.
It's been two years since our first miscarriage. That in itself doesn't feel like that much time, but we've racked up quite some mileage since then so in many ways it feels like a decade. Today, I thought I'd share a little about how we're doing now, with the passage of time, and now that we have our daughter.
"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..." - Joel 2:25

I want to be authentic, to share how I genuinely feel. My grieving for Jeremiah looks very different than it used to. If you're a fellow miscarriage mama, you know how it goes - right after you lose your baby, you start reading everything you can get your hands on. Every testimony, every story you can find. You share your own heart as best you can, and feel the grief will never go away. The stories you hear are all of recent loss, and all is fresh. I want to offer hope, and perspective, from two years down the road - WITH a rainbow baby. If that's what you need to hear today, this is for you.

Jeremiah was not quite a honeymoon baby, but close. *smile* Following a year of long distance relationship and intense spiritual and emotional challenges from outside, finally being married brought a huge sigh of relief and rest. Getting pregnant almost immediately didn't change that - we were elated. I had a niggling fear of miscarriage, but Josh's steadiness and confidence helped keep that in check. Regardless, I didn't even begin to think about preparing for a baby - put it on hold. For almost a month, everything was smooth. At seven weeks, we lost him.

We've had two miscarriages, and being completely honest here, my second one was "harder." More emotional. More physically painful. More intense. I still shed tears over my sweet rainbow baby at random unexpected times. HOWEVER. My first miscarriage took something from me that I'll never get back - the pure joy of a positive test.

Two years later, that's still what hurts the most. The fact that my first pregnancy test, instead of being this sweet, innocent story of bliss and "yay! we're the pregnant newlyweds!", it became a symbol of loss and grief for me. My heart still twinges when I see young couples get married, get pregnant immediately and are so happy and excited and have a healthy baby nine months later. Not a twinge of jealousy, of course, because obviously I wouldn't wish a loss on anyone (duh!) but just a twinge of loss that I missed out on what that feels like. I don't know the little face behind those very first two pink lines. It was a loss of innocence that you can't get back.

I also dealt with what was most likely postpartum depression after that loss. It wasn't just "feeling sad" - it was stuck-in-bed-till-three-pm-with-no-appetite depression that was impossible to "shake". Once my hormones finally balanced themselves again, four months later, I felt so much better, but looking back at my journals and posts and pictures from that season hurts my heart. It's just not what anyone wants their first year of marriage to look like, and that still makes me sad.

As a deeply emotional human being (cheers to fellow fours - good grief our lives can be roller coasters!), I'm often consumed by whatever I'm feeling. Grief, joy, pain, excitement - I'm all in or meh. No real in-between - unless we're talking about action movies. (tangent. sorry.) Acknowledging that grief changes over time was, is, hard for me. I was so consumed with grief - it felt embarrassing to admit that's no longer the case. Even though, of course, that doesn't invalidate how I felt then, but it's funny how self-conscious we can feel about the matters of our heart. I still refuse to be that person who tells friends in the midst of struggle, "Don't worry, it'll get better," because phrases like that made me want to punch a wall back in the day. I still understand, I still remember how that feels. Empathy doesn't mean throwing advice, it means getting down in the muck with people and meeting them where they are. But it's frustratingly true that grief does change. And that doesn't mean we're moving on, forgetting, "getting better," - it simply means just that. It changes. We grow into it. We move forward. We don't forget, but we accept, we grow, we walk. And seeing it now in my own experience brings me hope. And it's allowed me to offer hope to others, and feel less afraid of the future. We've seen what healing does. We understand now that the darkest nights end. The sun does rise.

the doorway to Ellie's room
Now that Ellie is here, the rough edges have softened. Grief DOES look different. It doesn't take my breath away, it doesn't cause crippling sobs. Sometimes I still sit in bed for half the day, cuddling Ellie, but it's usually to get perspective, to remember, to soak up the moments with my miracle baby, to regroup. Grief is more of an mellowed ache now, and when I look back it's as if there's a big black stamp of "WHAT IF" on that year. Jesus has used Ellie to bring enormous amounts of healing to our family, our hearts, our souls. The wounds don't gape like they used to. I daily live the conundrum of being so in love with my amazing daughter, and trying to comprehend the reality that she wouldn't even exist if either of my two other babies had lived. But I've come to terms with the fact that all three of my children's stories are tightly tied together, and none exist without the others. Ellie's story belongs to Jeremiah and Daniella as well, and it is possible to walk the tightrope of contentment and joy and questions and loss.

As this two year anniversary approaches, I'm aware that I'm the most stable I've been emotionally since. To be completely honest, my miscarriages are not on my mind every minute of every day. I no longer feel sorry for myself, or struggle with how Jesus is Healer but our babies still died. But every day as I walk into my daughter's room, I see Jeremiah and Daniella's shadow boxes on the wall - I see that very first positive test, and they are not forgotten. The other week, I walked in to hear Josh telling Ellie about her big brother and sister in heaven, and the family that we all are together.

Time doesn't heal, Jesus does. Time brings perspective. And I know that having a child in my arms has done my heart a world of good. I'm acutely aware that other mamas are still waiting for their rainbow - and that makes me ache. If that's you - I see you. I hear you. You are NOT forgotten! I've been there.

Two years later, and we're doing great. So well. Best we've ever been. We're older, we're stronger, wiser, more together than ever, and more grateful than ever for the healing Jesus brings, for the truth that we're never alone, for the love of the Father that holds us close, for miracles. Grief looks different. Our love looks different. But it's not fading - it's growing. Growing up. Moving FORWARD. Not moving on. Two years later, and we've learned healing doesn't remove grief, but grief doesn't have to stop the healing. As we approach January 11, we'll be doing both.
"Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!...I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame." - Joel 2:21, 25-27

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

talking as fast as i can

you thought I made up the title of this post as the beginning of my reflections of the past year? ah, wrong. guess again.

it's actually the title of the first book I read this year. okay, I finished it on the 30th. but I'm sort of counting it - I did get it for Christmas after all, and we all know that week between Christmas and New Year's might as well be the next year for all nothingness we accomplish.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. A collection of personal anecdotes, a memoir of sorts, this is a conversation-style read with one of the most down-to-earth folks you'll find in Hollywood today. It's like reading an episode of Gilmore girls on paper - so your brain reels a little, but you also feel smarter because your brain also has to work harder to keep up with the stream of consciousness and that in itself is a good thing. Also, I may have finally found someone who writes longer sentences than me. (other than the Apostle Paul)

Lauren is ridiculously funny, and she tells her story of stage and success with refreshing honesty. Our personalities are similar, and I found it encouraging to see someone with character traits of mine that I've often considered to be a deterrent to my adult life, embracing her outgoing nature, randomness, spontaneity, chattiness, and even struggles with staying up with fashion and channeling them into her passion and creative work. She's authentic, unapologetically herself, and she's beloved for it.

I'm sharing this little "review" today, on January 1st of a New Year, because I love the idea of fresh starts. I love the chance to do something new, with a day to mark it. I know we have the choice to make every single day, and a square on a calendar is technically meaningless in regards to our ability to change the course of our life. HOWEVER. When you're a romantic like me, a project starter (with a penchant for leaving them incomplete) and a recovering procrastinator and scatterbrain who relies on lists and goals to stay functional, New Year's Day is the ultimate "Get out of Jail Free" card. A chance to take a deep breath, leave whatever emotional barricades hindering your productivity and creativity behind, and sprint into January with joy and excitement.

Lauren's sweet book was just the encouragement and pick me up I needed as I finish out an eventful, life-altering year and enter my first full year as a parent, and as rubber hits the road raising our beautiful daughter, and learning who I am as a mother, a wife and still as Liza. She writes as fast as she talks, and I had to read each paragraph twice to make sure I didn't miss anything, and my little fast-talking soul was happy to find a kindred spirit in her words and spirit as I start this new season of my life.

Also. She literally IS Lorelai and SHE thought Year in the Life was more of a cliffhanger. So. Instant bonding.  The End.

Happy New Year everyone - and if you think new starts are cliche and lame-o...get a new perspective.