Monday, September 29, 2014

The Hurricane of Grief

I know a lot about hurricanes. I have lived the past 7 years on an island that is vulnerable to hurricanes, so I have had to become educated about them. I have learned that along with the high winds and heavy rains, storm surge is an often overlooked danger during a storm - the fact that the ocean water will rise up higher than normal, which when coupled with heavy rains causes additional flooding. I have also learned that in addition to the well-known "eye," the rain and winds in a hurricane come in "bands." There will be times when the wind is gentle and the rain sprinkling, followed by pouring rain and thrashing winds, over and over in a pattern.

I feel like my experience with Mikayla and Selah has been very much like a hurricane. When I began bleeding with Mikayla, it was like when the weather forecasters see a storm forming way out in the ocean. At that point everyone is wondering which direction it will really go. Will it come right at us for a direct hit? Will it miss us entirely, or fizzle out before it hits land? Or will it skirt by us giving us lots of wind and rain, but leave us with little or no damage?

With my hospitalization and my water breaking, it was looking more certain that the storm was coming our way. There were still no guarantees - we've seen several hurricanes that looked like they would hit us dead-on that have curved at the last minute and spared us. It was time to fill up the pantry, batten down the hatches, and put up the shutters. In spiritual terms, it meant filling up on gospel truths and God's faithful promises, and sending up prayers and petitions.

When I went into labor at not quite 22 weeks, I knew the storm was centered right on us. With a hurricane, this would be the time to fill up the bathtub and sinks and all available containers with water, and pull out the candles and flashlights. With a stillbirth, this was a time of crying out to God to spare me if possible, and to fill me with His presence and His light to bring me through the storm and its aftermath.

Just like the wind and rains, the grief comes in waves and bands. It will ease up for a bit, and then out of the blue hit me like a tree branch and knock me on my knees.

Not everyone in a hurricane will pass through the eye. Only where the hurricane passes directly over will there be a true calm in the midst of the storm. They say the most dangerous part of a hurricane is directly after the eye passes. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the strongest winds are in the eyewall just behind the eye of the storm, and second, some people will be lulled into a false sense of security by the calm blue skies outside as the eye is passing over, and they will venture out of their shelters and begin assessing the damage that has been done only to be caught unaware by the remainder of the storm.

My pregnancy with Selah was a bit like being in the eye of the storm. I could see the sun shining outside, and blue sky peeking through the clouds. Thankfully I knew enough to stay inside my shelter of the Almighty's arms even during this calm. I did not let the prayers stop, or give up on feasting on the Word of God.

When the eyewall hit of losing Selah, it was a double grief. A grief for the loss of another precious baby, and the loss of the calm and hope I had experienced during those weeks I knew Selah was with us.

I am now passing through the back side of the storm. I don't know how much longer it will be until it passes over. The grief is still coming in bands, some stronger, some calmer. My heart is still being battered and bruised.

But I know I will make it through the storm. Because my life is built on a firm foundation, and is capped with God's mighty hand, it will not fall. Even before hurricane season, when building a house where hurricanes may blow, they must be built on a firm foundation, with proper construction and a strong roof to withstand the winds and the rain and the surge. Without that foundation, the house would be washed away.

Clinging to my rock.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Because


Joining the 5-minute flash-write. I look forward to Thursday nights to get me through my week. This week's going to be a rough one, though.

Prompt of the week: Because



So many questions without answers. Why did I start bleeding? Why couldn't the doctors do anything to stop it? Why didn't I go on bed rest sooner? Why didn't I get tested after June Bug's birth? Why did my baby have to die? Why did I never even hold her, or take pictures, or even touch my precious girl? Why did God let me get pregnant again only to take away that baby, too? Why didn't my insurance card come sooner so I could have gone to the doctors sooner to get an action plan before it was too late? 

Why do I keep beating myself up over choices I made that were the best I could have done with the knowledge I had at the time?

And the only answer I get is the answer God gave to Job. Because. Because I AM. 

Because God is sovereign, and His ways are not my ways. Because the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and all I can do is say, sing, shout, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!" 

Someday I will know the because to all of my whys, but for now I am content to cast all my whys and what ifs on the I AM. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Selah - Waiting for us in Heaven

Well, it happened.

The day I feared would come ever since I got a positive pregnancy test.

On Monday, I started bleeding.

At first I tried to write it off as just irritation from a combination of having a yeast infection and having been intimate, but then the clots started coming.

I never had any physical pain. It was over quickly and peacefully, at home. No emergency room visits and cold, hard hospital bed and insensitive doctors. From the time the clots started until it was all over was only about 2 hours. I am grateful for that.

I am also grateful knowing where my baby is - with big sister Mikayla, and our Heavenly Father. I don't know if this baby was a boy or girl as it was too early, only 8 weeks, so I chose the name Selah.


A pause. A rest. A time to reflect on what has come before and anticipate what is to come next. A time to praise God for His goodness and faithfulness that endure forever.

Selah. A reminder that God in on His throne.

And so in place of a lingering rainbow I am plunged once more into the midst of the storm, but I know where to look for my lighthouse. I know where the buoy is that will lift me up and keep me from drowning. I know a loving Father who will shelter me under His wings until the storm has passed, and then whisper His tender mercies to me as I huddle in my cave in the after-math until I have found the strength to venture forth again.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hold

Linking up for five minutes of free-write - come join us!

Prompt of the week -- Hold

I can't wait. I am counting down the days until I get to hold this little life that is growing inside me. I know right now I get to hold this baby in my womb, and I already hold love for this baby in my heart, but the moment I get to hold a squirming bundle in my arms....that is what I dream of (literally!).

I never held Mikayla. That is one of my biggest regrets. I saw her, looked at her briefly, and then the doctor said something about sending "the fetus" for testing in the lab, and despite my heart crying out for my baby girl I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth. So they took her off to the lab, and I never got my chance to hold her in my arms.

Since then I have taken every opportunity I can to hold June Bug. Every night when I send her off to bed, I crawl in with her and just hold her until she falls asleep. I ignore the work that needs to get done, the dishes I should be washing, the emails I need to reply to, and I just hold her while she drifts off to dreams, while she holds her "Baby Sissy Bear".

I dream of another day, too. I dream of the day that my heavenly Father will take me in His arms and hold me and wipe away every tear from my eyes.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Ready

Joining in the five minute Friday unedited five minute free-write 

Prompt of the week: Ready

Ready or not, here I GO:

Here in hurricane territory, we talk a lot about being ready for storms. Water, food, candles, shutters and shelters prepared for the fury of the wind and rain. We can't always forecast life's storms, but we can be ready. We can prepare by filling our tanks with the water of life that will never leave us thirsty, by digging our teeth into the meat of the gospel, by looking to the light of the world, and wrapping ourselves into the strongest shelter there ever can be to protect us from the fury of sin and satan. 

"Are you sure you're ready? I mean, what if we didn't wait long enough? Do you think you're healed now?" 

Those were the questions my husband verbalized that had already been running through my head since I got a positive pregnancy test. 

The doctor said wait three to six months. It had been 4 when we conceived, nearly at 5 now (on Saturday). I took my iron pills, I never stopped taking the folic acid and prenatal vitamins, and I feel in pretty good shape now. It took a while to bounce back from nearly a month of bed rest combined with blood loss and giving birth, but I feel like I'm physically healed. 

The emotional part is harder. I don't know if I'm ready or not, but I trust God's timing that He won't give me anything without providing the grace to make me ready. I am ready, not because I have emotionally healed or the hurt is gone or I've gotten over it. I am ready because I know God goes with me on this journey, and He will carry me through. 

And I'll leave you with a song I've got on repeat over here tonight:


Monday, September 8, 2014

Welcome to the Roller Coaster!

Well, I don't know where to start so I'll just come out and say it: We're expecting! June-Bug and Mikayla will (Lord Willing) be big sisters in May!

The emotions are all. over. the. place. One minute I am elated and so excited I could burst, and the next I am weeping and fearful and over-analyzing every little twinge.

I have decided that the only way to hang on is to take it day by day. Each morning, I am going to wake up and thank God for another day to carry this precious child. If one morning happens to be my last and this rainbow dissolves in more storm clouds, then so be it. I know where my shelter lies, and He is strong enough to see me through any storm that may come my way.

Either way, this baby will get to live; either with me and his/her father and big sister June Bug; or with Jesus and his/her Heavenly father, and big sister Mikayla.

God is good all the time! All the time, God is good!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Whisper

Prompt of the week for  minutes unedited writing: Whisper


I love the way God whispers in my life. Have you had this experience? Where it seems all the sermons you hear, all the devotionals you read, and all the testimonies of friends all seem to be sending the same message to your heart? It is times like these that I can feel the holy spirit moving the most.

Sometimes God shouts into our lives with one pivotal moment where the light-bulb goes on and we suddenly see truth from a new perspective and our lives will never be the same again. 

Other times He whispers. Quietly, persistently, gently whispering truth in our ear. And we say, "yes, God, I get it." And He whispers again, and you think, "Yes, I understand." And again you hear the whispering and if you are not careful you start to brush it off because you have heard it so many times from so many different places in so many different voices that you think it's old news. 

God's good news never grows old. Listen to the whispers. Hold them tight. Hide them in your heart.

I remember a time in college when I kept hearing sermons about sickness and death and pain. The topic kept coming up in school chapels, and devotionals I was reading. I even read several novels for enjoyment that touched on the same topic! 

And then BOOM. Out of no-where my father was diagnosed with kidney disease and my mother had cancer. I stood face-to-face with the possibility that death might take one, or both, of my parents. Suddenly all those whisperings came back to me, and were my anchor in the storm. They helped me remember that It Is Finished and death no longer has the last word.

Thankfully, after surgery the doctors discovered that the only cancerous cells in my mother had already been removed in the biopsy, and a willing friend was found who was a match and gave his kidney to my father. They are both still here to love on June-bug. 

Fast-forward to 2013. I always take notes in church, but I generally took notes on the bulletin which invariably ended up in the garbage. In November of 2013 I decided to start keeping the notes, so I got a notebook to take sermon notes in. (By the way, the one bulletin that "happened" to get stuck in between two books on a shelf instead of thrown away, was a sermon about Job's trials and God's sovereignty).

  • December 8th the sermon was about God's purpose and plan.
  • On December 15th, right after I found out I was pregnant with Mikayla, the pastor gave an incredible list of verses that are promises God gives to His people - I looked them all up and copied them into my notebook.
  • On December 29th, the sermon title was: Is God Enough When I have Lost a Loved One?
  • January 12th was about Jonah. One of the quotes I wrote down? "Run to Him and not from Him when troubles come."
  • A follow-up on Jonah on January 26th, I have written down, "God can handle our anger. When you are angry, listen to others, express your emotions, trust God, and take Him at His word."
  • March 1st, my aunt posted on Facebook about a free Kindle book about Romans 8 - I downloaded it and read through it over the next few weeks.
  • March 16th, the sermon was all about our suffering and God's comfort.
  • April 13th, Mikayla was stillborn.
  • April 27th, the sermon was about the defeat of death. 
  • June 24th, I downloaded another free Kindle book which I highly recommend:

  • June 29th, the sermon was about walking in God's will.
  • July 6th, I wept through most of the sermon about the beauty of heaven.
  • July 13th, that very-difficult 3-month anniversary Sunday, I wrote down in my notes, "(Rev.1:4) is a reminder that we are not only saved by grace, but also kept by grace through times of trial, and peace comes as a result of that grace."

And I could go on and on about the little whispers of God's grace and comfort that He has injected into my daily living over the past year. All the little things that would have been easy to miss or dismiss or forget, but when all added together have been a powerful barge to keep me afloat in my sea of confusion and grief. 

I do not believe anything is a coincidence, and I know that God whispered each and every one of these truths into my life at the moments I needed them most. I am thankful that God prompted me to record them and keep them for when I am tempted to forget. And He keeps on whispering His words of love in my ear.


Whoa. That was way more than five minutes, but it was worth it. What has God been whispering to you lately?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

His Eye is on the Sparrow

One of the things that has been the most difficult for me in the aftermath of Mikayla's stillbirth is June-bug's reactions and questions. She has always been a very inquisitive child, and some of the thoughts she comes up with astound me.

Directly after the stillbirth, she showed some regression which I've read is pretty typical for children who experience trauma or loss. She started having bathroom accidents more often, and sucking on her fingers. Thankfully that has gotten better and though I still find her sucking her fingers every so often, it's not constant like it used to be.

The questions, though, have not let up.

I remember one night I was putting her to bed and we had been talking about the lizard we had seen in the backyard that afternoon. She piped up with, "Mommy, what makes lizards die?" We discussed different things like lack of food, old age, illness, being eaten by larger animals, etc. She then asked the same question of chickens (the other animal in our backyard). I had a feeling I knew where it was leading, but I continued giving her reasons chickens might die. Finally she asked, "Mommy, what makes peoples die?" At first I tried to skirt around the issue and listed things that were in common with the chickens and lizards: old age, illness, lack of food, getting hurt like in a car accident. She wasn't satisfied with that, however and added to my list, "Or when too much of their blood comes out because of the baby in their tummy?"

I was floored. I had no idea that she had been bottling up this knowledge (or suspicion at least) that I could have died if I had lost too much blood while I was pregnant. I realized that for her the trauma wasn't just the loss of a baby sister, but the fear of losing a mother as well!

Today we went to the park, just June-bug and me. We went on the swings, played on the see-saw, and I watched her go down each of the slides. She left the smallest slide for last, I think because it is the least exciting. As she walked over to climb the ladder onto the platform, I heard her gasp. When I rushed over (because I have become somewhat over-protective since April), I saw her pointing at a little sparrow.

The sparrow was obviously dead. It was not moving, and had ants crawling all over it. June-bug just sat and watched it for a few minutes, then said, "Mommy, that bird is dead, right?" I told her yes it was, and then she said, "Mommy, I can't take it home, right?" I told her no, you can't take dead things home. Then she asked, "Mommy, do sometimes people take dead birds home? You know, to try to make them better and not dead anymore?"

I must admit I teared up at that, but had to reply truthfully that once something is dead, people can't make it better. We can only make it better if it is only sick or hurt, and even then sometimes it will still die. June-bug took that in for a minute, then said she wished the bird was only sick so she could help it, because it was so cute and sweet, but then she added, "But if it wasn't dead it wouldn't be here. Not sitting here on the playground. It would be flying around in the sky or sitting in its nest."

She sat mournfully for a few minutes just looking at the little bird. Then she piped up, "People can't fix dead things, but Jesus takes people who die to heaven. Do you think heaven needs birdies, too?"

So I quoted her the scripture about God watching every sparrow that falls. She smiled then, and told me that Jesus would take this little bird to heaven and make it fly there for Baby Sissy to watch.

And my heart soared with the sparrows that God keeps an eye on, and I know He watches my June-bug and me.