Wednesday, July 29, 2015

goodness and sovereignty and boxes

God is sovereign.

God is good.

May I just say, "ugh?"  (Please bear with me on this… I know what you are thinking all you "spiritually mature" Christians…)  I know, I have been stuck here for a while...

What does being sovereign even mean?  I think it means God is in control, nothing is a surprise to Him, nothing happens in this world without God's permission. The devil cannot pull a fast one on Him because He knows what is going to happen before it even happens.  Ultimately, it is His plan that is coming into fruition.  Not mine, not yours, and especially not the devil's.

When we say God is sovereign, we are saying God sometimes creates babies and then takes them, He allows suffering, and it is a part of His plan.  And now I sit here choking as I have a million times while trying to swallow this jagged pill called "my ways are higher than yours."

In my humanness I am weak and confused, and I am broken and hurt and I am desperately grasping for some control.   I question Him out of anger and grief.  I miss the days where I felt like I was protected from harm, from tragedy, from death.  It was then that God fit into "my little box."  Is that what I really want? To limit God like that? No, of course not, because I want to know Him for real.  But, I also really miss my son.  I long for days of knowing my babies.  What do they look like, sound like, and who would they be?  God knows these things and I am so jealous.  I just wish they were here.  I wish life was fair.

For the past year or so, I have fiercely protected my idea of what His goodness looks like inside my little box. Don't you dare say that the babies that died inside of me, or you, or her, were a part of His plan.  (Although I am learning it is ALL part of it- yes still choking on that pill.)  We walk a dangerous line when we try and assume causation.  It is cruel and wounding.  Babies dying is very, very wrong.  God mourns these babies too, and I doubt He would say, "oh don't be sad, I am in control, it is all in my plan... I did this to teach you something...  I did this so you could grow strong, you were getting weak...  I did this because I was protecting you…"  No, no, no. Instead, he cries over death, because it wasn't supposed to be this way.

We will know when we see our Savior face to face.  He will make things right.  Then, and only then, will I be capable of understanding any reason for a baby to die- when the veil of sin is lifted and the tears wiped away and all things are made new.  We will understand on that side of heaven, not this side.

Because His ways are higher.

His goodness and sovereignty and boxes don't belong together.  And I will keep learning this over and over until I don't have to anymore.  It will take a lifetime I'm sure.

I was so timely reminded of biblical hope again when I watched a dear sweet Hope Mommy friend's testimony this week.  Her husband says, "If we're hopeful it's because things will someday be made right, and all things sad will come untrue, and darkness will be swallowed up in light, and joy will run rampant and all will be well."

Such a sweet reminder of who our God really is and what He is up to.  He really is good, even when we can't see, even when life is not fair and our babies die.  It is not my job to fit His goodness and sovereignty into my human box.  That is the devil's scheme.  I serve a God who is limitless, who is higher.  I serve a God who has good things for me and who loves me beyond comprehension.  He is sovereign AND He is good.

When all the questions settle and the pride fades, when my heart is soft and my mind is open, when my focus is on Jesus, I begin to feel peace again.  When I forget my box, I can feel His love and goodness again.  I trust His sovereignty.  I feel the hope of heaven flood my being and a smile can finally move across my face again.

We are called to be hopefully and joyfully His. 

Why do I fight so hard to limit Him?  Do you?

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Man, have I been through a season!  A season that I felt ashamed to write about actually.  I was a little embarrassed to read my last post.  No, a lot of embarrassed.

God and I have done quite a bit of wrestling.  I have questioned his goodness, his intentions, his plan, and the importance of the purpose in all of my suffering.  And it didn't help that there was this thing they call depression clinging to my body like a cold, wet blanket.  Nothing in the world was right, I saw no beauty, no purpose.

This season was gross.  It was grief, depression, grief, a little bit of avoidance, and a little bit of resentment.  Ok, a whole lot of resentment.

What purpose is good enough?  Doesn't He value the life he creates?  How could there be any "reason" good enough for Him to take babies so soon… on purpose?  And please… if you don't know the pain of losing a child DO NOT attempt to explain it away with some cheap cliche.  It adds to our grief to know that someone is "over it" because they have tied my baby's death up in a pretty little package with a nice shiny bow on the top.  It is dismissive, and I'm sure it's not meant to be dismissive, it's meant to be helpful, but think about it…

If you fell and broke your leg and I say, "oh it was all in God's plan!"  Did that help?
If your dog got run over by a car and I say, "oh God needed another animal up in heaven!"  (pshhhh like he needs animals?!?) Did that help?
If your spouse cheated on you and I say, "oh it'll all be ok, just wait for God's timing!" Did that help?
And if your 10 year old son drown in a lake and I say, "oh God's protecting you or him from something worse!"

Get it????  No, not helpful.  Hurtful.

Ok, I'm done with my soapbox.  My point in all of this negative talk that makes "normal" people uncomfortable is actually simple…

It's growth.

If I hadn't felt the wave, accepted the depression, wallowed in my hurt, searched for the answers to my questions, I would have missed the growth.  Sister, if you've lost a child, I know you are shaken down to your core.  Anything good and sovereign about God that you once believed is tested to the max now.    Everyone's relationship with God before their loss is different, heck, I thought mine was pretty strong, but comparing is a dangerous road.  All I know is the house that I had built with Him, the relationship that I shared with Him, was completely knocked down to it's foundation.  I found some cracks in it, and He has been revealing himself to me so that we can fill those cracks and start building again.

Be angry, be hurt, be broken, be whatever you are, but do it at the feet of God.
Bring it to him as an offering, because sister, He knows it's all you've got.

"'Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears.'
-1 Samuel 1:10
'I've been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment,' she said.  From the depth of her anguish and resentment.  The good, the bad, and the painful- Hannah brought it all to her God as an act of worship.'" -quoted from this devotion at She Reads Truth

Did you catch that?  Worship.  When we bring our brokenness to the one and only Healer, it is an act of worship.  Shoot, and all this time, we've been taught by the world to believe that feeling this way is not "grieving well."  Well, sister, you just worship your heart out and don't let the devil trick you into believing you're doing it wrong.  Bring it to Him.  Search for His peace and just rest in it.

I am learning to be ok with all of these new feelings and experiences.  Like when I catch a glimpse of Jaxon's perfect face on my mantle at the same moment my belly jumps in response to my precious baby girl playing in my ribs.  Just like her brother :)  The strange new mixture of sadness and joy flood my body in the same 5 seconds, it is just… confusing.  I am sad that his will not be one of the faces welcoming her into this world, but am elated at the thought of holding this beautiful baby girl gift in my arms.  And then I feel guilty for being 19 months out, which means that sometimes my excitement overshadows my sorrow.  And knowing that it is ok to feel that way.  I think the strangest I have felt was during the Mother's Day weekend, when my little baby Jensen was due.  Jensen would have been in my arms that weekend, but if that were true, the beloved baby girl currently in my belly wouldn't exist.  I wasn't overcome with sadness, just strange tingles.  Confused?  I don't even know what to call it...

With all of this being said, Happy July everyone! Happy summer, happy friendship, happy swimming, happy ice cream, happy life.  My worn out, weary, broken self is welcoming a new season and I couldn't be more ready for it.  The sun is out, I've got my shades on, my flowers planted, and I'm ready to smile and I'm ready to worship.  I'm going to bring the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly.  And I'm going to be ok because I am His.  :)  And in case you didn't catch it, we are expecting a baby girl, due at the end of August!!!

My God, I thank you for life and I thank you for peace and redemption.  I thank you for taking my sorrow and my anger and my resentment and not holding it against me.  I thank you for washing me white as snow and gifting me with salvation and the unwavering hope of seeing my babies, all of my babies.  Because I know, I do not deserve it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Misscarriage and A Confession

I have a confession to make.  It shouldn't come as a big surprise to you, but it kinda was to me.  Before I tell you what it is, let me make one thing clear.  Wherever this journey has taken me, it is ok.  It is part of my journey and no one else's journey.  And to be even more clear, it was no surprise to God.  So here it is…

I have been depressed.  Depressed where I literally spent some days in bed.  Days where I talked with no one, and days where I felt sick and my body hurt.  The depth of this sorrow and the realization that missing my Jaxon is not going to end just hit me like a brick wall.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Out in the world, I couldn't tell my story without crying.  I would avoid sharing in bible study in fear of losing it and looking like I didn't have it together like I "should." I spent many days at work and barely would say anything.  Not because I didn't like who I was with, not because I didn't enjoy my job, but because it just took way too much energy to be "normal." Does that make sense?

Perhaps my miscarriage had something to do with it.  Hormones always play a huge role in depression and the way we physically feel.  I don't think I shared what it felt like to miscarry…

We found out we were pregnant for the second time on September 24, 2014.  Oh the joy we experienced that evening.  We had been trying ever since February to get pregnant, however, our definition of "trying" was simply not preventing.  I found myself in front of my sweet counselor, Kate, hearing her say rather sternly, "girl, if you are going to try, then TRY!"  Ha.  She gave me a list of things I could be doing from checking my temperature to peeing on ovulation test strips on a daily basis.  So… This month we TRIED.  And we were successful!  My husband looked at the test first.  I remember so vividly his face turn this bright red color with the widest smile spread across his face.  I jumped and squealed and then cried with elation.  Thank you God!

I immediately scheduled an appointment with my sweet Dr. Ward and they were so excited for us that we were scheduled to come in that Friday, 2 days later.  We had a sonogram that confirmed we were pregnant, but we were still too early to really see anything other than a tiny little bubble of an amniotic sac.  I was scheduled to come back in 2 1/2 weeks when we would be roughly 7 weeks, far enough along to see a baby and potentially a heartbeat.  Oh that day couldn't get here fast enough!

October 15, 2014.  The day we would see our second child.  Also the day we would release a balloon along with many other hope moms to remember our babies in heaven.  Oh, this day.  This day is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  This day started with so much anticipation, anxiety, and joy (quite the spectrum).  We got to our OB's office aaaaaaaand waited.  I look back on this day and am soooooo thankful I had my husband by my side.  I am so thankful that God chose this day to reveal to us that our sweet second was no longer with us.

The sonogram begins.  Immediately, without hesitation, and with a sweet calmness and tenderness, Dr. Ward informs us that she suspects a blighted ovum.  A blighted ovum?  What in the world is that?  She says, "I can't see a baby developing.  At this point we should see something.  I suspect this is a blighted ovum.  This happens when the pregnancy begins, but shortly after, like in a week or two after conception, there is something wrong with either the sperm or the egg, and a baby never begins to develop.  Your body is still reacting like it is pregnant, but there is no baby growing."  With each word, I felt the weight of a house crushing deeper and deeper into my chest.  I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak, I couldn't think.  Really God?  You're taking from us again?

We went home and I immediately googled "blighted ovum."  I know, not the smartest thing, but it was the only thing I could think of to figure out exactly what we were facing.  I felt a tingle of hope for this little baby.  I read story after story of women claiming to have been diagnosed with a blighted ovum, only to find out in their next appointment that the baby miraculously appeared, growing healthy and strong.  I thought, ok God, this is your chance to show us a miracle, to show us you are faithful, to show us that you are sovereign and in control, to give me what I want.  

Unfortunately, we were chosen to endure loss one more time.  It was not in God's plan for us or for our second child, whom we named Jensen, to be together on this earth.  We had another sonogram a week later that confirmed our baby Jensen was indeed with God.

November 2, 2014.  Two weeks and four days of anxiety and fear later, my body began to release the microscopic body of our sweet Jensen.  Just ten days before the first anniversary of our sweet Jaxon meeting the One who gives and takes away.

Enter defensiveness.  Enter shame.  Enter anger.  Enter jealousy.  Enter broken, tired, and defeated.

This was ugly.  Enter depression.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Through it all, it is well...

So much heartache in this world.  So much disappointment.  So much abuse.  So much evil.  Oh how broken this world is.  So broken.

I got news a couple of days ago that a friend of a friend's baby girl died.  5 weeks old.  Then the next day we found out she was murdered.  By her own father.  Broken arms, broken legs.  Broken ribs.  Scratches, burns, and bruises all over her body- fresh and old.  On a 5 week old baby.  Pure evil.  My heart broke into a million pieces for that defenseless little baby.

It angers me that so many children suffer like this.  Basically thrown out like trash.

Don't we know that children are miracles?!

God I just don't understand how something like this could happen.  Our world needs you so badly.  When can we pull back that veil between heaven and earth and understand?  When will you come, because I am getting so impatient.

This morning, I just sat in my bedroom and cried.

For so many things.

For this sweet defenseless baby murdered by the ones who were supposed to protect her, for the victims of terrorism, victims of sex slavery, for all the parents who have had to bury their children, for Jaxon, for this sweet unformed body in my belly.  At times it is all overwhelming.

My God, thank you for your peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding.  You won't let my head go under.  All I have to do is look up, look to eternity.

You are going to come and right every wrong.  You will wipe all of our tears away.  We will live with you in righteousness, there will be no more evil, no more heartache and misunderstanding, there will be pure joy and celebration.  

One sweet day, we will be HOME.  You will mend all my broken pieces, all of our broken pieces and make us whole.

One of my favorite songs right now says it pretty good, "through it all it is well."

You have overcome death.

And because of that, no matter what this world hands me, it is well with my soul.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Big Neon, Flashing Sign

I recently started a second job.  My first job as a nanny has become drastically part-time since the new school year has begun, and to be honest, I was really looking forward to being lazy and only working that very short period of time each day.  I imagined doing P90X every morning to finally get rid of this last 15 pounds that has stuck around for the past 7 months, having a clean house every day, working on Hope Mommies outreach, getting all of the grocery shopping done for the week and cooking a healthy meal each night.  I was going to use this time for what I wanted to do.  But, since I typically like to have a Plan B, I filled out a couple of job applications here and there, and even went to an interview once.

As the summer progressed, I let these opportunities slip away.

You see, I felt like God was telling me to hold off.  We had just wrapped up the summer bible study on discerning God's voice, and I was really, really into being quiet in my morning time with Him and instead of praying about all of my troubles, I was simply just sitting quietly, listening for Him.  I felt Him say He had something big for me to do and I didn't need to fill up my days with a second job.  I didn't hear His voice, I felt His voice.

Now some might say (myself included), "oh, it was just wishful thinking because you really, really wanted to be lazy and not get a second job."  Well, maybe that was part of it, the human side of me.  Maybe it was, but I really don't think so.  Not this time.  I know that the devil loves to sabotage wherever he can, and he often uses shame and guilt to achieve his destruction.  And because of this, I would regain control of my thoughts and tell myself, No, I felt His voice.  Then I would say, God if you really want me to have a second job, bless it or block it.  Literally have it fall into my lap with a big neon, flashing sign.

And it did…

After a phone call that pretty much broke my heart in a couple of different ways, I realized that the plan I thought God was setting before me did not look like the way I had pictured it.  And this is not anything new.  The plan I had for Jaxon was not the plan God had for him.  I literally hung up the phone, realizing crap I'll need another job.  Not even 5 minutes had passed before I saw it- the big neon, flashing sign.

Immediately, I checked my email to calm down a bit, and a new message caught my eye.  The email read something like "Hey Michelle, we were wondering if you were still interested in working here with us?!?  If you are, email or call me back and we will get started on some paperwork!"

What I had pictured for my "free time" was not God's picture.
And He sure revealed that to me.
Once again.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

30 Boxes and the Sacred Dance

On the evening of July 22, 2014, our summer bible study came to a breathtakingly beautiful and emotional close.  I ended up in tears as I witnessed a room full of 200-something women gather together in prayer to love on and encourage future hope moms enduring the loss of their beloved baby.

If you read earlier, on June 3rd, our bible study women committed to raising money over the summer in order to provide hope boxes for bereaved mothers in our community.  Several weeks ago, our total came in and we raised over $1,500!!!  That's enough to provide 30 boxes!! 

So that last night of summer bible study, each woman was able to write an encouraging note, pray over a hope box, or write out some scripture that would eventually wrap a future bereaved mother in Hope.  

Thankfully, I was able to capture this picture...

I found it beautiful the way the light glares off of this hope box in the foreground as these two women have their hands on the box, their heads bowed in prayer.  It's as if we can see that God himself was right there.  In the background you can see more women praying over the other boxes, and some women sitting in their chairs quietly praying in their seats and writing out scripture cards and encouragement cards.  I am so honored and happy and thankful and inspired and humbled and blessed to be a part of this bible study!

Later that evening, a woman came up to me and told me that her step-daughter lost her full term baby girl unexpectedly almost a year prior.  She told me how she talks about her daughter all the time and she would really like to get her a hope box.  As I began to tell her absolutely, she said, "well she's here tonight!"  

We were able to give her step-daughter a hope box that night, and I was able to chat with her a little bit about her baby girl.  By the way… she just happened to be visiting that week from Mexico.  Let that sink in for a moment… 

I was in tears by the end of the night.  Wow, God.  Just wow.  

Her step-mother later messaged me that night and told me how thrilled her step-daughter was to have gotten a box that night.  She burst into her bedroom that night gushing about how much she loved the bible that was in her box and how it was her favorite part.  

I loved hearing that!!  Selfishly, I love to hear of how my son, my Jaxon, is impacting others.  

This all started because my Jaxon died.  

My desire to be an instrumental part of this ministry is because my Jaxon died.  

These women are being reached with the hope of Christ.  Because we have the common ground of our resurrected babies in heaven.

Now let that sink in for a minute…

Suffering is not fun.  I hasn't gotten easier.  

This. is. not. easy. because. I. am. a. Christian.

There are times when out of nowhere, the reality of my dead baby sinks in all over again.    

I find myself always walking this thin wire.  Sometimes I fall to the one side and the depth of the sorrow and grief that comes along with this whole suffering thing consumes me.  I can't help but play that night in my head all over again.  I gave birth to a lifeless body.  I never really got to meet my sweet Jaxon.  I simply held his lifeless body in my arms.  He never saw my face.  I was robbed on a completely different level.

This is a life I would never have chosen, of course.  It hurts.  No one wants to suffer.  And yet we all do.  Things are just not the way they are supposed to be.  This world has gone wrong.  

And then the reality of heaven sinks in all over again.  My anchor, my hope, my real home is yet to come.  One day, things will be the way they were supposed to be.  Until then, I will continue to walk this thin wire.  Angie Smith describes it well when she calls it "the sacred dance of grief and joy." 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Eternal Sunshine

This is me today.

Another day.  One day closer to meeting my savior face to face.  One day closer to spending eternity with my handsome little man.  My sunshine.  And one day closer to meeting the One who created him.

Sometimes I feel guilty for getting more excited to see Jaxon on that day than I am to see God Himself.  I mean, don't get me wrong… to meet the creator of all of this beauty.  Wow, that is beyond my wildest dreams.  So wild, it is hard to imagine.  Impossible to imagine.  Imagine accurately anyway.

You know that song "You Are My Sunshine?"  Yea, I sang that to Jaxon just about every day while he was growing in my belly.  And I used to wear this shirt all the time.  And obviously I still do.  It says "eternal sunshine."

 Here we are on August 20, 2013.  Please forgive the cheesy bathroom "selfie" and dorky face, ha!  I'm pretty sure I was thinking, "Huh!!  Kinda looks like a basketball down there!  Maybe Jaxon will be a basketball star instead of a baseball star?!?"  ;)

I long for that innocent joy.  Ignorant joy, rather.  I ache to have Jaxon in my belly again.

God I simply do not understand.  

But your ways are higher than mine.  

Thank you for giving me a son.  Thank you for giving me 38 1/2 weeks of ignorant joy with him.  And thank you for the gifts.  Gifts that Jaxon's life on earth is still pouring out on me, and my prayer is they keep pouring out over me and and John-Michael and our future children for the rest of our lives.  

The gift of awareness of grief.  
The gift of compassion.  
The gift of becoming a better parent, a better wife, a better person.  
The gift of becoming closer to You.

In all things, I give You thanks.  I give You all the glory.  You have and will continue to make good from this.

You are enough for me.    

Who knew that this shirt would come to symbolize so much of my sweet Jaxon… My eternal sunshine!