Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Monitoring & Peace

Sharing our story has caused relief, than an oh-my-what-did-I-just-share period, and then again comfort when others reach out in support or share that they (or their friends) have found encouragement in our story.

I've had some of my lowest days in the past two weeks, but God continues to lift me up through the words and actions of others. Time itself is healing. And the numbers. The numbers help a lot right now.

Every week  (and then monthly) I have to get my blood drawn to make sure my HCG levels have gone down. They are monitoring the levels to ensure the molar tissue does not turn cancerous. There is a very low chance that it actually would. But boy, seeing the decline remains refreshing and comforting. I will be monitored for 6ish months, but I am trying to focus on God's sovereignty rather than perseverating on next week's numbers. 

When we first started this journey, everything was unfamiliar, unknown and overwhelming. But each week I feel more hopeful. Since the beginning of the pregnancy, I've felt the Lord's presence which is the most peaceful feeling of all. When I finally surrendered all the fear from last week I felt an incomprehensible peace that can only be attributed as coming from the Lord. He is worthy to be trusted.

This past weekend Corey and I had a long overdue date night, then there was lots of playing outside, church, apple cider drinking, small group and relaxing in the incredible weather. It was a weekend of normalcy. A weekend of excitement for others. A weekend that helped reframe my thoughts. There are still so many things that I am incredibly grateful for from being able to watch Will play with neighbors to the cool breeze entering our living room window at night. And although I know it is important to embrace the grief, I am eager to keep moving forward...while acknowledging that there are others enduring much more difficult circumstances.  

There is still uncertainty of course, but I have clearly seen God answer our prayers. God has continually provided support through friends and family. He has reminded me of His goodness in such tangible ways. We constantly are in awe of the love we've felt, and we continually praise God for each of you.

Being human, I know I'll have more low moments or days, but the joy is returning more frequently as I start feeling more like myself again. The grief comes in waves, but instead of overwhelming billows, they are a rippling that I hop over. I pray it stays this way :)

Whatever our future holds, we will continue to thank the Lord for his provision and blessings. We thank Him for our salvation, that is what matters most, despite our circumstances. We will continue to exclaim, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will continually be on my lips" Psalm 34:1

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Protection and Intention

I have been amazed at quite a few things the past few weeks with one of the biggest realizations being that God has been, and will continue to be, protecting me. 

He is not protecting me from pain or grief--quite the opposite actually. But he is protecting and keeping my heart. The Lord has granted me an incredible support system, and I have been continually lifted up by some dear friends and family. I am amazed with the community I have--not taking it for granted for one second because I know it is quite a rarity these days.

And although the Lord has a hold of my heart and spirit, I am feeling a constant pull. It has been more difficult for me to regulate my emotions the past few days due to this constant battle to hope and trust in the Lord, knowing that He is sovereign and good, while also negating the fear. Fear of cancer, fear of dying (there's more to the story if you know me well), and fear of not having another baby. Irrational fears, I know.

In my head I know that all things will work out for good, and when we look back on this part of our journey we will be immensely grateful for it and how the Lord guided us through it. I trust that someday it will make sense. But right now, in the middle of the mess, I am torn moment by moment. The enemy is trying to extinguish my hope and fill me with anxiety. At times I've let that worry consume me. I've been overwhelmed and overtaken by the unknown more times than I'd like to admit. 

But then the Lord quietly whispers truth or brings clarity through people again and again. He is holding me close when someone checks in, provides insight, offers encouragement or just listens to my high and low ramblings. (And boy, they are high and low as my blog posts often tend to show). And I have been able to laugh about our circumstances. Sometimes I chuckle, "Is this real life?" Corey's strengths have been exactly what I need right now.

And I'm so tired. Emotionally and psychically spent. But I've been able to function well at work, and it has been a positive distraction for me. (I laughed with Corey in the ER as I realized I can empathize with my students so much better now. Utilizing coping skills are hard work!) Being able to do my job right now is another example of the Lord protecting and providing for me. He is giving me a strength that I wholly could not have mustered on my own. Even if I don't feel peace every moment, He is providing endurance.  

Right now, although being constantly tempted to, I cannot afford to worry. I'm desperately hanging on to what I know to be right and true and good. I earnestly want to remain faithful to God during this season as He has been (and always will be) faithful to me. Even if it is the most difficult journey we've been on thus far. 

I am remembering that I have the choice to let the fear consume me or choose gratitude and to live with intention. To be thankful for our sweet little family and this extra time we have together. To enjoy this upcoming fall (the best season) and holiday time. To be so intentional with my words, focus and purpose.

I pray that I would allow my heart, not just my mind, to continually remember that God has already won the battle. He's already conquered my fears. He is good, He is in control, and He can be trusted...even with the news of a partial molar pregnancy. 

I'm praying that God would "restore to me the joy of His salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:12). I mean, it's tattooed on my body for a reason. And that I truly would have joy for others (pregnant or not) because everyone has a story worth hearing.

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PS Again, I must say it feels awkward to share these posts (aka my constant self-talk and processing) on social media, but writing out our journey has been nurturing to my soul. I have also been feeling a nudge to share so that someone else may be encouraged that they are not alone. And ultimately, that God's will is better than we can ever imagine.

The first post about the miscarriage can be found here. The one following it, can be found here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Surrender

Surrender

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting because you will not win or succeed
: to give the control to someone else
: to allow something to influence you

I recently shared about our miscarriage in this post, and since then we've had some turn of events. We found out we had a partial molar pregnancy, I had a trip to the ER, and I had another D&C. This has added more questions, processing and surrendering. 

In theory, surrendering should be comfortable. I am committing all my worries, my entire life even, to a God who is described as a good father, just, merciful, faithful, everywhere, gracious, all-powerful, loving, sovereign, faithful, all-knowing. When my heart believes those things, then surrendering is comforting. But sometimes it's scary. I want control, and I want to plan (it's my gift after all). 

When I first heard about the partial molar pregnancy, I was really struggling. I felt like I was grieving the miscarriage well, adjusting to new expectations, and finally able to surrender control. And then wham. 

But you know what? God is those things I mentioned above. The next morning in my devotions God  gave me Psalm 20 (English Standard Version):

Trust in the Name of the Lord Our God

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!

May he grant you your heart's desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill your petitions!

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.
It was exactly what I needed to read, and I thanked God through the tears as I shared with him my rawness. I was reminded that God doesn't just notice me, He knows me. He hurts with me. He cares about everything about me. He surrendered and suffered on the cross for me. Sometimes I'm frustrated at how easily I forget that.

And I praise dear friends who continually remind me.

So here we are. Researching and communicating with others in similar situations. I'm constantly vacillating between being realistic so no more surprises occur (ha!) and hopeful. Still grieving, still desperately clinging to truth. Praying that I glorify God through this refining process, hoping that others are encouraged or may hear His voice. 

I started reading Shaun Niequist's book Bittersweet a few years ago, but I was not in the right place in life for it. I recently picked it back up, and this is what she writes in the first essay:

What I know now, though, is that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools.  I’ve learned that change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us.  It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways.  I’ve learned that in many cases, change is not a function of life’s cruelty but instead a function of God’s graciousness. 

If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits.  They’ll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you.  But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter.  Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and let God do his work in you.

I think learning to surrender, even when I am scared, confused or want to fight back, will 
 be a constant theme for my life. This journey, although devastating and overwhelming right now, is a blessing to help me learn that. And patience. (I really need help with patience). And through it all, I'm going to keep choosing hope. Hope that God will give us another baby someday on his perfect timing. It's hard friends, but I'm choosing it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Thank you, God, for Everything

It feels awkward posting this. But it also healing to share a recent sliver of our story...maybe someone will be encouraged even <3

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Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you, God, for everything

These are the beginning of the prayers we say with Will every night at bedtime. I began crying as I recited the last few words because I was thanking God for the missed miscarriage I found out about earlier that day. Thank you for everything. We proceeded to pray for bulldozers and air conditioning units per Will's request. 

When the ultrasound began, I knew right away. I didn't feel angry or guilty. I wasn't surprised even.The intense nausea had dissipated all too quickly. I felt disappointed and sad. 

A very deep, accepting sadness. 

The baby had stopped growing at 8.5 weeks, and we received the news when I was supposed to be 11 weeks along. It was supposed to be a March baby. A long maternity leave, and a completion of our family. Instead, a procedure was done the following week.

Gratefully, we have been covered in prayer and God has provided comfort with the tears and sorrow. I haven't doubted His goodness. I haven't felt envy of others. I've soaked in the grief and reality of the situation. I didn't fear the initial next steps, but my heart is cautious about our future...knowing that we are not entitled to another healthy baby. Yet, there is nothing to do but trust Him and put one foot in front of the other.

Will has been an exhausting, yet encouraging and sweet, distraction.  

 It is a gift that God would allow me to experience a miscarriage in this way I guess...providing peace the moment we found out we were pregnant early this summer. Acknowledging that this baby is God's baby from the start. Allowing us to again recognize how deeply blessed we are to have Will.

But some moments are just really hard.

A phrase our pastor mentioned months ago has been on repeat in my heart and mind, "God is good. He is in control. He can be trusted." I truly believed that, and I still do. I can't say I have believed that through other trials in my life, but through this journey it has grounded me. Especially since the sadness has been really difficult, and annoying, to process through thus far.

There is more to the story that I could share over a cup of hot chocolate sometime, but this is what I feel comfortable sharing with the world right now. Surprisingly for me, it has been quite healing to talk openly about it, so if you're curious about something you are more than welcome to ask in person.

Ultimately, there's no way we could have endured the news, and continue to do so, in our own strength. "I may be weak, but Your spirit's strong in me. My flesh my fail but, my God, You never will."

And our story definitely isn't over yet.

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To the friends and family who have been diligent in praying for us, checking on us with texts/cards/emails, bringing us food/flowers, offering to take Will: our deepest thank you...except that I may have eaten too many cookies. (Never mind, that's not possible). We have been completely overwhelmed and humbled by your support and love. We have been astonished by who God has placed in our life to protect us and build us up--we cherish each one of you. You have been a clear reminder that there is so much to be thankful for among the grief. Again, thank you...our words do not do justice for the gratitude we have in our hearts for you.

To those experiencing loss in any form: you are not alone. I wish my words could take away the pain, but even more so, I hope you feel how fiercely your Heavenly Father loves you. Also know that there is no right or wrong way to grieve as it looks different for everyone and each situation is unique. Grief is weird and tricky. May you feel the freedom to embrace the messy, uncomfortable feelings--they are normal and okay. (This is my constant self-talk).

To those who are pregnant: I am excited for you :)