Tuesday, April 15, 2014

stronger than you could ever have imagined...

Today has been emotional to put it mildly.  I've been listening to this song over and over and over again- it reminds me of everything.  Sweet anticipation (almost to the point of impatience) of Jesus coming again, deep deep sorrow that only my God can console, submission to a trust that runs so deep that all my fears cease to exist in His presence, seeking and finding permission to be just me.  Just wholefully resting in my Jesus' arms.  Words just don't do it justice.  Sometimes a song can come close. 
Close your eyes and just picture Jesus calling you out into the waters- scary, unknown, death-seeking waters.  The waves all around you are higher than you can see.  The devil has shaken and stirred the water so high.  The world says you are sure to drown and you realize just how small you really are.  You look at Him and He holds you secure.  You see the catastrophe all around you.  But you haven't been swallowed up.  Soon you find yourself going limp as you give up control. Trust overpowers fear and you submit with complete confidence in Him.  Not only are you safe, but you are stronger than you could ever have imagined... 

music video here

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"
by Hillsong
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Monday, April 14, 2014

5 months

At five months out, I can say that it does get a little easier.  I miss my little man and I always will.  My aching is getting lighter and my emptiness sometimes feels as though (dare I say it?) it is being filled.  Maybe it is because I've cried a lot recently.  Maybe it's because I am learning to carry this better.

Saturday, we took my dad to a Ranger game at the good ole ballpark in arlington for his birthday.  Baseball will always remind me of Jaxon.  His room is covered in baseballs.  It was a good day, and was a great game (even though we lost in the 10th inning- yes the 10th.  By 1 run!)  I just pictured Jaxon watching the game with us from the best seat in the house, maybe on Jesus' lap.  I dream that he sees us down here every time we are happy, and that he knows that we are only sad because we miss and love him so much.  Before he knows it, we will be right there behind him, running to hug him.

Yesterday (Sunday, the 13th) was our 5th "Jaxon day."  I've been posting a picture of my boy on Facebook on monthly anniversaries for the last couple months, but yesterday I decided to leave technology alone and just be with John-Michael.  We bought another candle, which seems to have been our tradition when remembering Jaxon.  This one is dark blue and matches the colors in his room beautifully.  We bought some blueberry pie and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream and had a little party in honor of our Jaxon.

We still haven't changed much in his room.  All of his clothes are still hanging up in the closet, his crib and changing table are still out and put together, and his dresser has become a second memorial to him.  Sometimes I go in there and just sit and talk to him, talk to God, cry, and look at his sweet face in all of his pictures.

We finally filed our taxes today, ugh.  Hard day because we tried to explain to our tax lady several times why we don't have a social security number for Jaxon.  I guess she didn't quite understand what the term "stillborn" meant, so after the 3rd time trying, I said quite bluntly, "He was dead when he was born."  I think it hurt John-Michael more than it hurt me when I said it.  I hate to see him hurting.  Men grieve so differently.

But, in spite of all of the pain, I came across a couple verses that I am just in love with today…
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  2 Corinthians 4:17 

I have to say- right now these troubles are quite large, but compared to what they will seem like when we reach heaven's gates, I have to believe they will be quite small!  Because...

I know the lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.  My body rests in safety.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.  Psalms 16:8-11

Thursday, April 10, 2014

holding back…?

This past week, I've had a couple encounters with people that didn't know I was pregnant and lost Jaxon.  Let me tell you, it sucked…

The first was a lady that I met about 6 years ago, when I would take the little girl I nanny for to Kindermusik.  A kindermusik class usually lasts around 45 mins or so, and you just take your little ones there to explore music and movement- it's fun!  So anyway, this lady was just an aquaintance from Kindermusik, she has twin boys.  I haven't seen her since the class ended 6 years ago.

So, last week, I was at the park and here she comes with her now 7 year old boys.  At first, I didn't recognize her, but she recognized us.  We found ourselves sitting under the gazebo, talking about the kids and how fast time goes by, etc.  Then she asks the question.  "So do you have any kids now?"  My immediate response was, "no, not yet."  Wait- what?!?

Then, a couple days ago on Tuesday, I had dinner with a friend who was going to introduce me to someone who works as a dental hygienist for children.  We had a previous conversation where I thought, wow that would be cool to be able to clean children's teeth!  (Ha! Well, after a second thought… maybe not so much...)  But anyway, I went ahead and agreed to meet with her anyway- what's the harm, right?

So we start talking about it and like I already knew, you need an associates degree, and a lot of labs and internship time and study time… ummmm…NO.  I'm done with school for now.  I will go back if and when the time comes in about 10 years- after I have kids and they are in school.  Nothing is going to make me hold off on having kids for another 2 years.  I said these things to her, and she had no idea why I was saying them.  That was a perfect opportunity to tell her my story.  And I didn't.

These things just suck!  I know it's hard to talk about losing Jaxon, and I just want to cry anytime I do talk about him, and I should give myself grace, and we should judge each situation, and maybe not make other people uncomfortable by talking about it.  But you know what?  After not talking about him and feeling so guilty immediately afterwards, I know I want to talk about him.  This isn't for everyone, and I know that.  Please, don't let me make you feel bad for not talking about your child, because I know how that feels too.  My husband was a little upset and surprised with me when I told him that I said I don't have any kids yet.  It just made me feel even guiltier… and don't get mad at him either, because that is a true, heartfelt response from him that comes from the love he has for Jaxon.  

But I'm choosing to talk about him.  You never know whose life you will touch, whose life you will save by telling these stories.  We have hope of seeing our babies again because of Jesus Christ and the promise He fulfilled.  And some acquaintance might not have that same hope.  Everyone has hardship.  Everyone.  It's not if the hardship comes.  It's when.  Having hope is what this life is all about.  Pressing on and having peace in a hard, cruel world.  It sounds impossible, but it's not, I promise.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

hope box delivery

At the hope box gathering, a girl came up to us and told us about a friend of her friend that recently lost a baby.  She wanted to know if we could get a hope box to her, so of course, we set one of the boxes aside for her friend.  I took the address and decided I would take it out to the girl on thursday morning (yesterday).  Later that night, the wave of anxiety hit.  What do I say to her?  What if she doesn't want one?  What if all I can do is cry- how helpful is that?!? (btw, the box I delivered was the one I pictured in my last post- it was gorgeous!)

I didn't know this family, I didn't know many details of their loss, or what to expect with how she was grieving.  I just wanted to be whatever she needed me to be for her.  Whether that was dropping it off and leaving, sharing my story with her, listening to her story, or just a big hug- whatever she needed.  Everyone is so different when grieving.  Of course, I played out every scenario in my head and thought way too hard about this.

The girls at hope group prayed for me last night, my mom prayed for me, and my musketeers prayed for me.  And I prayed the whole way out to their house.  Ok- so I know God heard these prayers and he wasn't going to let me get in the way of His plan for this delivery.  As simple as it was supposed to be, leave it to me to make it complicated.  ;)

As I pull up to their house, I finish writing in the card that goes in the box.  I had asked the girl who told us about this family to send me specifics so I could make the message in the card more personal- like "I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter <insert name here>."  It means so much more getting a personalized message rather than a generic "sorry for your loss" type message.  I left, still no reply.  And go figure… just as I pull up to their house, I get a reply.  "I believe around 20 weeks-girl-unsure of name."  Ok, now I have a little more of a clue what to say.

I finish up the card, say a last "please Jesus speak through me" prayer in my head, and I walk up to their door.  There was this beautiful potted tree with orange flowers all over it, I've seen these flowers everywhere- but sadly I don't remember what they are called!  I want one of those trees for our patio :)  Anyway, as I ring the doorbell, I notice the door was slightly opened already!  Weird I thought.

A guy answers, a young guy.  I quickly blurt out, "Hi this box is for <keeping their identity private>.  It's from Hope Mommies, we heard about your loss from a friend of a friend…."  I don't remember exactly what was said, but I felt the awkwardness coming out of me.  He said something like, "great, thank you!"  He did have a smile on his face :)  And then I see a young girl poke around the corner inside the house.  She smiles at me and I smile at her and wave.  He says, "well we were just leaving, sorry about the open door," and so I took that as my cue to leave.  As I left, I said, "ya'll take care!" Umm… what?  Take care?  Ok… now we know what not to say next time.  

I realize that I am my own worst critic.  I'm asking God to work that out in me.  I have the tendency to think I should say the perfect thing to create a scenario that I picture would be best.  And as I'm typing this I also realize- this is the very thing I wish people wouldn't do when talking to me about Jaxon.  There isn't a perfect thing to say.  There are definitely some wrong things to say though, and we usually say those when trying to say the perfect thing.  Thank goodness I didn't say one of the wrong things!  But I believe God took care of that, because I asked Him to just let me be what they needed me to be for them.

1 John 3:18-20 NLT
Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.  Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.  

I read this verse last night, and something new popped out at me.  I've heard this one before and I just took 'actions speak louder than words' out of it.  But I got something else this time.  I got 'God knows our hearts, and that's what matters!'  He's trying to tell me I'm not the inadequate girl I'm always telling myself I am.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

hope box gathering

Back on the 18th of March, I went with Amy to help her "host" (more like watch her host) a hope box gathering at her church.  I remember being SO NERVOUS walking into that church, thinking I was just going to cry the whole time while we talked about our babies and asked these women to join together and make hope boxes for other moms like us.  I have this tendency to totally work myself up over something that may or may not come true, and I play out every single stupid scenario and agonize about how it would go.  My brain is such a mess!  You know, I've heard you can totally make things come true if you think about them too much.  And I think there is a lot of truth in that.

So anyway, there we were in front of these women (sweethearts!) and Amy starts sharing.  I'm sure she knew I wasn't ready to speak my story just yet- I told her while walking into the church how nervous I was.  And in email too!  Yea- BIG CHICKEN right here!  Oh yea, and this just so happened to be the 6 month anniversary of her daughter's death- this girl is so BRAVE.  Can you see why I'm in awe?  Anyway, gush session over. :) So all the women have made their way in and it's time to start.  Amy begins telling her story, she introduces me (and I sheepishly wave like a dork), she starts going through her box and explaining the items and what they mean to moms like us, answers a few questions and then its over.  Nice, I didn't have to cry in front of a bunch of strangers and I lived another day! (I'm totally being sarcastic here, hopefully you picked up on it.)

For some reason I feel like I have to mention, this was a very hard week for me.  I don't really know what triggered it, other than a couple days before this, I wrote Jaxon's story down and relived every moment of november 12 and 13.  I was doubting the goodness of God during this time.  I had a front row seat to witness how God was working in someone's life- to make something good out of her pain. And it was very inspiring, yes.  But, I was still doubting His goodness.  I guess there's really only so much hope you can borrow before you have to find your own.  That Friday, I had an awful day drowning in the whys of my loss.  It didn't matter how inspired I was a few days before, I still had a hard time with trust and doubt.  I think this just goes to show how God works.  Real change, real trust and faith, real growth doesn't develop by watching others do it- you can't copy or mimic that.  It happens by going through it yourself.  By asking the questions and seeking through the bible and feeling the answers in yourself.  It is a personal relationship with Him.

So, fast forward to this Tuesday, April fool's day (barf!! with all the pregnancy pranks), and we are collecting the items for the hope boxes.  These women went above and beyond with this!

These women wrote down some verses like Romans 15:13, Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 46:10, Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 56:8 (go ahead- look these up now!) and several other good scriptures to help someone grieve.  We gathered around the boxes and prayed over them.  Yea, and about that- I cried through my prayer, of course- that's me, why wouldn't I?! Ha!

My point is, this ministry is so good.  When I got my box, the contents in it immediately ministered to me.  It gave me a community and I wasn't alone anymore.  I didn't know where to start, and this made it easier on my missing brain (which I still haven't gotten back- I think Jaxon took half of it with him when he went to be with Jesus).  The fact that a complete stranger is able to provide so much love and comfort is nothing short of a miracle- and that is what God does for us.  This is how He works in us.  And it's warms my heart to see that our babies have an impact on this world when they aren't even here.  It makes me feel like I'm doing my motherly duty by making sure that my boy had a purpose.  I want Jaxon to be proud of his mamma and one day he may even be able to call me brave.  :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

a year ago today...

March 31, 2013, one year ago today, was the day that we found out we were pregnant with Jaxon.  It was Easter sunday and my mom was here visiting.  I remember taking a pregnancy test that morning first thing, totally expecting a negative because well, that's all I had ever gotten.  My cycles are abnormally long, but they are consistent, so being on day 43 wasn't a huge deal for me.  But I thought oh what the heck, wouldn't it be cool if we were pregnant?  

And there it was… the word 'pregnant.'  :)  I remember just staring at the word for a minute or two.  Is this real?  Am I really pregnant?  No way.  Really?  :) I was in shock, I was ecstatic, I was trying hard not to bounce off the wall because what if it was a false positive?  Well, obviously it wasn't a false positive, it was Jaxon.  The beginning of the best 9 months of my life so far.  

A year ago today, he was here with us.  And now he's not.  Depressing, yes?  And then, I think about what he would be doing here… He'd be about 4 1/2 months old, sleeping and eating and pooping and peeing, repeat.  He'd be smiling and giggling, cooing and rolling over.  But you know what?  He's not doing that in heaven I don't think.  I think he's running and laughing with the other souls in heaven right now- the friends he's made in the last 4 months, talking with Jesus, and learning about who he is.  But not the way we do.  It's just different up there, so much better.  He is being loved in a way that I can only imagine- and I'm 100% sure what I can imagine doesn't even scratch the surface.  

I miss those feet in my ribs.  Today really could have just sucked- it marked the first of many anniversaries yet to come.  But when I think of my boy and what his day was like, I'm happy with it.  He is happy where he is.  And that does make me happy.  

Thank God that life here on this earth is not the whole story.

John 16:33-
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  

Friday, March 28, 2014

everything to gain

During my visit with Kate on Tuesday, I told her about my doubts and my anger and all my questions.  I could see the urgency in her eyes- she wanted to tell me "it's all going to be okay," but couldn't because she knew all to well that those words wouldn't help.  Instead, she says, "borrow my hope."  This is why I like reading the stories of other moms who have been there.  Because I see in their stories how they survive, how they find joy in the details, how they put their trust in Jesus's promise.  (Now seriously be careful whose stories you read, because obviously there are some stories out there that just plain suck- no hope, no will to live, no God, etc.  These are people with no hope.)

Speaking of hope, do you have hope?  Do you know what Jesus did for you on the cross?  I mean what He did for you.  Have you ever accepted His promises as truth?  If you were to die today, do you know where you are going?

John 14:1-4
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going."

Those are Jesus' words.  He says we know the way to heaven, it's a matter of acknowledging it or not.    If you've never accepted any of this as truth, will you?  What do you have to lose by putting your trust in God?  You don't have anything to lose.  But you have everything to gain.

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

If you're curious about who this God is I'm always talking about, ask Him.  Talk to Him.  Literally!  I usually wait until I'm alone in my apartment, but yea, I talk out loud to God :)  Ask Him into your heart and into your life and then seek Him out.  The best thing I ever did is go to a bible study.  The bible is real, the history is there.  God is real, He will be there.  If He shows up for someone like me, I promise you He will show up for you.  All you have to do is say something like, "Jesus I want to know you.  I feel in my heart that you are God, you made the heavens and the earth, you made all of us.  I have done some awful things (we all have) and these things weigh me down.  I need your forgiveness and your salvation.  Please come into my life and take over.  Take these burdens and help me carry them."

It's as simple as that.  I have the hope that helps me survive because of what Jesus did for me and for you on the cross.  I will see my son again because of Jesus and nothing else.  Hope means confident expectation in Hebrew… somewhere in America we got screwed up into using the word 'hope' in place of 'wish.'  That's not what I have, I don't have a wish to see my son again.  I have the confident expectation that I will see my son again.