Monday, September 30, 2013

God is so good

I love baptisms. Not the ones where tiny babies are baptized, but the ones where kids or adults make a conscious decision out of obedience to declare their faith in Jesus in a public way. Every time I witness one in person, I cry. It is just such a beautiful expression of how we die and are re-born. Yesterday, the pastor of the church we attended in Buffalo had the privilege of baptizing his father. Oh, how I wished I could have been there to see it in person. You see, Pastor Dan is an extremely important part of mine and Steve's story.

Steve and I fell for each other very quickly. We had our first date in December 2009, and he asked me to marry him five months later. I happily accepted, and then the discussions of when would I be moving in began. I knew in my heart that it wasn't right to live together before marriage, but we were just so impatient, and listened to our flesh instead of our spirits. By June, I had sold all of my stuff, and had moved in with Steve.

We started looking for a church to attend shortly after that. We were convinced that we wanted to attend a "big" church, so we tried all of those, but none of them felt quite right. Then, we decided to try Restoration. It was a small church plant, and it didn't even have its own building. They met in a school cafeteria. Steve had been to a service there, as his brother's church was helping with financial support, and went with him when his brother was visiting. We both really liked it, and decided that this was the place we wanted to be.

We went up and said hello to Dan before or after service one Sunday, and he invited us to come to his house for community group. There, we met the couple that were the leaders of the community group we ended up joining. We attended services on Sunday morning, and met with our community group one night a week. We never officially said that we were living together, but we did not try to hide it, either.

After a few months, Dan had reached out to Steve and said he wanted to meet with us. He did not tell us exactly why, but I think we both had a feeling what it was about. I was unable to attend, I think because of a work commitment, so Steve went alone. It was exactly what I thought - Dan was calling us out. Telling us what we already knew - that living together outside of marriage was wrong, and we needed to do something about it. He suggested that we should either live apart until we got married, or get married now. As my condo was now empty, I really did not have anywhere else to live. Also, we did not really have a good reason to not get married right away. Yes, we were planning a wedding in Arkansas, but we could still do that, and get married in Buffalo. So that's what we did. We threw together a wedding in less than a week and in front of a few friends and family, made a covenant with God to become husband and wife.

I cannot express how thankful we both are for Dan. How thankful we are that God placed us in that church, with Dan as the pastor. If we had been at a "big" church, our living situation would probably never have come to light, we never would have married in September, and would not have gotten pregnant with Joey in October. Praise God for an obedient and courageous pastor, who knows the truth, and loved us enough to show us a way out of our sin. Praise God that we were not prideful, but humble and repentant. And Praise God for Dan being able to baptize his father, something I'm sure he prayed for for a very long time. God is so good. Please watch this video - Dan is baptizing his father at the end. I promise it's worth the 4 minutes of your time!

Baptism 92913 from Restoration Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The truth is

  • I'm not okay. I am hurting. Most of the time I feel okay, and then, out of nowhere I am sobbing.
  • I am afraid to hold a baby. I don't know how I will react. What if I cry? What if I don't cry?
  • I am deeply hurt that there are people that I consider close friends or family that still, almost 3 months later, have never acknowledged the loss of my baby.
  • My empty arms ache.
  • I don't want people to feel sorry for me when they read this. I am blessed beyond measure, but I still miss my baby.
  • I wonder what people think of me when I tell them my daughter is in heaven. It is my truth. I cannot deny her, nor can I deny my Savior. My baby girl is safe in the arms of Jesus Christ. But I am still sad.
  • I miss a very dear friend. I miss her phone calls, her sarcasm, her genuineness, her laugh. I miss our adventures together.
  • I am blessed to have a new friend that I can be truly honest with and not worry about being judged.
  • I don't know how I would survive if I didn't have Joey. I hate that he has to see me sad some days, and he has to ask, What's the matter, mommy?
  • I don't like going to the cemetery. My little girl is not there. Her body is, but she is not.
  • I am afraid to share anything at my mom's group, because I don't want to cry. The tears are always so close to the surface.
  • I am loved by an almighty God, who is big enough to handle this, who has something wonderfully amazing in store for me.
  • I am angry sometimes. But it is not a righteous anger, it is an anger over things I cannot control, so I pray to not feel this way.
  • I am doing the best I can. Some days I can cook and clean and paint my house. Other days all I can do is sit on the couch.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A life is a life, no matter how small

Before we lost Harper, I knew very little about baby loss. I had family members and friends that had lost babies, but no one really talked about it. The medical world likes to classify it as a miscarriage or a stillbirth, depending on how far along in the pregnancy one is, and I think that carries over to the rest of us, too. Somehow, a miscarriage is supposed to be not a big deal. The baby could not have survived outside the womb, so you should just get over it and move on.

I have to admit that I had thoughts like that, too. It's ugly, and I'm not proud of it, but I'm being honest. But, God has given me a heart to understand through this experience. All babies, no matter how long they lived, they all matter. They lived. God knew them. If you were his/her mommy, even if it was too early to know whether you were carrying a boy or girl, you are still their mommy, and they matter.

I sometimes think I had it easier because Harper was born at 33 weeks. I delivered her in the hospital. I was treated like any other mother in labor. Offered comfort measures, allowed to labor in the water when I needed to. I held my baby. I kissed her cheek. I touched her little hands and toes. I had pictures taken of her. We were able to keep her with us the entire time we were there. I know this is not the case at all hospitals, but I am so grateful that we were in a place with compassionate people who got it.

My heart just hurts for moms who don't have that acknowledgement. Who choose to have a D&C or D&E because they can't bear the thought of going through the physical pain. Who choose to have their miscarriage at home, whether using medication, or waiting for it to happen naturally. They are alone, in pain, physically and emotionally, and there is no acknowledgement. They birth their tiny babies and are then left to decide what to do. Many of them have to go right back to work, if they work outside the home. Their families can be unsympathetic, or their families may not even know that there was a baby to begin with. I cannot imagine the sorrow of trying to pretend, of not being able to talk about my child, of having to go back to work the next day. Just know that my heart aches for you, and you are just as much a mother as anyone with living children.

I am sad to say that this happens within the baby loss community as well. Moms who have had babies that were still born expressing anger for a mom who had a miscarriage trying to tell them they understand. Psalm 139:13 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb". Jeremiah 1:5 says, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb". God knew them. He loved them. They matter. They matter just as much as the babies that are here on earth.

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. There are "walks to remember" taking place all over the world and this country during the month of October. In Baton Rouge, the walk will be on October 5th at Forest Community Park. You can register for the walk by going here. If you have not experienced a loss, we would be honored if you would walk in memory of Harper. If you have had a loss, I encourage you to walk in memory of your baby.