Tag Archives: God

Journey_to_trust

The Journey to Trust

March 10, 2017

God, the one and only — I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, 

An impregnable castle: I’m set for life. 

My help and glory are in God — granite-strength and safe-harbor-God — So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. {Psalm 62:5-8}

My word for 2016 was JOY, but to be honest much of it felt anything but joyful. The year started off on the heels of the miscarriage of our much-longed for twins and I spent months wrestling with God over His plans for my family. And His voice echoed in my head:

Do you trust me?

Of course, I trust you God, I’d reason. But the truth was, it was hard to trust. I knew that trusting God wouldn’t create an immunity from the yucky stuff of life. But when life is difficult, trusting God is what has gotten me through, and I’m reminded that God is my strength and safe-harbor, the solid rock on which I am stable {Psalm 62}.

Do you trust me?

Throughout the year, I tried by my own might to achieve the dream of my heart – a larger family. But by December, J and I had concluded that it was time to fully surrender that dream to God and pray about what was next. And so we began 2017 feeling a peace that could only come from trusting Him, even in the unknown.

Do you trust me?

Through prayer and tears, conversations with family and friends, the next has become abundantly clear. We know what He is calling us to trust Him in and with.

As so, with excitement and trusting God with our anxieties, J and I are beginning the journey to become licensed FOSTER PARENTS and to welcome children temporarily {and maybe forever} into our home and family. There is a lot of training ahead and paperwork galore {not to mention physicals, background checks, etc}, but we believe that this is where He wants us. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be good? We sure hope so! And we would love your prayers and encouragement as we begin this new journey.

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

{Oceans by Hillsong United)

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You are beautiful, magnificent really.

February 17, 2017

I see you. You are beautiful, magnificent really.
        You were shaped first inside, then out; formed in your mother’s womb.

You shrug it off. You hear but don’t listen. Truth can be slow to penetrate.
        Body and soul, you are marvelously made!

“But I’ve got 10/15/50 pounds to lose,” you reason. “Then maybe.”
        Your weight doesn’t define you.

“And these wrinkles/pimples/cellulite. That’s all people see – that’s all I see.” You tell me.
        There is so much more to you than your skin.

“But I’m too tall/short/light/dark. My hair is too straight/curly/thick/thin. If I could just be different…” you argue.
        You were made, bit by bit, sculpted from nothing into something with meaning and purpose.

When I see you, I see the hand of God.

I see the glorious work He has created in you and am reminded that He is still at work in each of us. When I look at you, I don’t see your weight, or your skin tone. I don’t care about how tall you are or the color of your skin. What your hair is like makes no difference to me. Uniquely you by design, I see your kindness and your generosity, your love and your sense of humor. I see the way you offer a helping hand to a mom struggling with a wayward toddler and an overflowing stroller, the gentle way you wipe your child’s tears and kiss his owies. I see the way you pitch in to help a new mom in need, and comfort a hurting friend. I see someone beautiful inside and out. And I hope you begin to see it, too.

You are beautiful, magnificent really.

I see you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Psalms 119:13-16  from The Message

You are beautiful, magnificent really.

Choosing Joy

Choosing Joy

January 15, 2016

Selecting a word or theme for the year – that’s never been my thing. In the past I haven’t felt the urge or conviction to be tied to any one thing for 365 days.

Until now. Like a 2×4 over the head, I felt compelled to focus on one big idea as 2016 rolled around. And not just on any word or concept, it was clear that JOY was needed in my heart and mind.

2015 proved a difficult time for my family, and while I’d love to say that choosing joy means that this coming year is going to be all roses and smooth sailing, with happiness just shooting out of every area of my life, that’s not what joy is about. In fact, joy has nothing to do with what’s going on around me.

In my friend Elisa Morgan’s book Naked Fruit, she writes, “joy is something deep that celebrates God’s character despite the circumstances.” She goes on, “joy is the ability to hold up because we know we are being held up … a confidence in God no matter what happens.”

Joy relies on a God bigger than my circumstances.

And while I’d love to have a year of ease and happiness (boy, would I), that’s not what I am focusing on while I pursue joy.

In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah tells the people to stop grieving, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” While the Lord understands our grief and this passage should not be taken to mean never grieve (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). This is a great reminder that our grief should not keep us from the joy that comes from Christ and in that joy we find strength to face any circumstance.

Joy is an assurance in the Lord that sustains us through whatever life brings.

In other words, we are called to have joy in any circumstance and it’s through that joy that comes only from the Lord that we’ll find the strength to face the challenge.

Joy hasn’t been my natural response lately but in 2016 I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to focus on the God of this universe who holds me close through the journey. Won’t you join me?

Do you choose a word or theme to focus each year on? If so, what are you focusing on in 2016?

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Daring to Trust God in the Midst of Heartache

January 7, 2016

“If I just knew the end result, then I could trust, God.” I would pray in a whisper. And then laugh disparagingly at myself. Knowing requires little trust. Trust and faith happen in the face of uncertainty.

For 15 months my husband and I had tried for another baby. At first we assumed it would happen quickly. Even with our losses, we had never had any issues getting pregnant. Staying pregnant had always been the problem.

Now, it seemed, this would be hard too.

I kept thinking, if I just knew, then I could move on. If I knew that we were never to have another biological child, then I could grieve and move forward. If I were to find out that we’d have another child but not until a certain time (preferably given the knowledge of the exact month and day we’d find out, because planning) then I could relax and live fully in the now without worrying about the future.

But where is the trust in that?

Then it happened. Two little lines on the pregnancy test, “I don’t believe it,” I cried as I called a friend. “Can this be true?” And it was true.

Early pregnancy symptoms kicked in, but I didn’t care. I felt awful, but I was finally pregnant and so full of joy. “Thank you, God.” I prayed, not taking a minute of it for granted. This is probably my last pregnancy, I’d tell myself and I wouldn’t allow myself to be consumed by worry or complaint.

Then the best news of all: TWINS! God’s grace and favor felt abundant. Perhaps this is why I needed to wait for another baby, I reasoned as I googled double strollers and non-minivans that could hold three car seats. But the good news was couched in some concern. The babies were smaller than they should have been and the doctor was uncertain of what that meant. As I left the appointment, anxiety overwhelmed me, but my husband and I quickly concluded this was just another area we needed to trust God, and provided another means for Him to show His glory and power. I began to plan our Christmas announcement.

A week later – in early December – we were devastated to learn that both babies had been lost. As we prepared to celebrate the coming of the Christ-child, I felt numb and void.

I had trusted God to make things go my way. But that wasn’t how it went. Could I still trust? In the midst of this shattering heartache and new uncertainty, I didn’t know.

TRUST AND FAITH HAPPEN IN THE FACE OF UNCERTAINTY, NOT IN THE KNOWING1.

This is where my sticky friends came to my aid. I didn’t want to talk – I didn’t even want to see anyone. But cards starting pouring in with words like “I don’t understand but I’m sorry” and included gift cards for coffee and treats. And I realized that even in the midst of my hurt, God heard my cries and provided comfort. I began to want to trust. I prayed for God to fill my lack of trust with faith that only He could provide, and I looked up verses on trust.

Two verses especially stuck out to me:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4

Notice that both begin with “Trust in the Lord.” Perhaps He’s trying to say something? Even in the middle of my pain, I’m choosing to trust. Not because I have any idea of what’s next. And not because trusting is easy, because it isn’t. Rather, I’m choosing to trust because I know that I know that I know, that God is good and His love for me (and you) endures forever. Even when we can’t see what’s coming next, He has a plan, and we are just called to trust in the Lord.

After all, trust and faith happen in the face of uncertainty.

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Choosing to be brave in a scary world

December 6, 2015

“Careful, be careful,” I hear her tell her imaginary friend through the bedroom door. And I wince. Those words are exactly the opposite of the brave spirit I want to instill in her.

Before Reagan was born I determined I wanted to raise her to be brave and adventurous with a curiosity to see and learn without fear. I wanted to give her the opportunity to try things, to succeed and to fail. And within reason, the space to get hurt. Rather than telling her to be careful I would be more descriptive in helping her learn to be wise and observant to what’s around her, or so I planned. Now I find myself telling her to be careful regularly – when she jumps off the ottoman or carries her stool in to the kitchen. “Be careful, Reagan,” as she scales her changing table.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

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Recount the Good

November 14, 2015

I thought I could get a few minutes. We’d played out in the snow for nearly an hour and watched her favorite cartoons. Surely, she could play quietly for a half hour while I blogged. That’s when I noticed her using my glass of iced tea as her cowgirl-rubber-ducky’s swimming pool. Ahhhhh kids!

As I poured myself another glass of tea and snagged a piece of dark chocolate from the kitchen cupboard (because clearly I deserve it, right!?!), I began to recount the blessings of motherhood.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

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When Church is the Answer

October 10, 2015

I walked into the new-to-me church feeling a little hesitant. It’s not that I have an issue with church per say, but it’s always a little uncomfortable walking into one where you don’t know anyone (yet).

But this church had something very special going for it. Something that had me falling madly in love with it before even stepping a foot inside the door. You’ll understand why soon.

Read the rest on the Middle Places blog.

 

Welcome to my mess

Welcome to My Mess

December 11, 2014

Some things are too personal to share publically. Too deep, too vulnerable, too hurtful. But if no one shares, then others facing the same hurts – in the same mess – can often feel alone and isolated, as if no one else has ever gone through what they are going through.

That’s how I’m feeling today. Welcome to my mess.

My husband and I have been trying for some months to have another baby. We planned to stay home for the holidays this year because we assumed I’d be pregnant (I’m a high-risk pregnancy so I am not allowed to travel after the first trimester) and yet, here I sit in mid-December with yet another reminder that I am not pregnant. And my heart aches.

At first the teasing of “time for another,” and “Reagan needs a little brother or sister” amused me. “Maybe someday,” I’d joke back. But now, through no fault of my sweet friends, the comments hurt, and my confidence wavers. Self-doubt creeps in. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe I’m not a very good mom and wouldn’t be able to handle two kiddos. After all we’ve been through, maybe I should just be content with having one happy and healthy child.

And yet the truth is, my heart longs for more. More children, more special moments, more “firsts.” I long to feel a baby move inside me again, to smell the wonderful fragrance of a newly born infant, to watch my daughter interact with and love a younger sibling.

And whether rational or not, it feels like my dream is out of reach. It’s not happening today and there is no guarantee it will happen tomorrow. And life must go on.

Even in the midst of my sorrow, there is joy in this season. As I watch my daughter experience Christmas with her toddler-like wonder, my heart swells. As I cheer for my newly-engaged friends, I am reminded of all of that with which God has blessed me. As I congratulate the new mamas-to-be in my sphere of influence, my focus takes aim on truth. A truth that doesn’t deny my own hurts and disappointments, but rather takes the feelings and turns them into something deeper and stronger than they ever could have been without the struggles. Transforming them into the very type of deep love that is at the heart of Christmas. And I am reminded of the great love God has showered on each of us through the gift of his tiny son on Christmas Day; even knowing that some thirty-three years later mankind would nail that babe-turned-man to a cross to die for our sins.

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. John 3:16

So although I grieve, I am also hopeful. Hopeful that someday – through some means – God will grow my tiny family. But even more strongly, I am hopeful that during this season God’s family will grow, and that more of those I love, and those I hope to one day know and love, will come to understand what a gift that little baby-born-in-a-manger was to each of us and how He can bring hope to our private tears and deepest hurts.

And just in case you’re wondering, there’s no follow-up to this story {yet}. No “and since writing this…” This is where I’m at today – right now – where I uncomfortable sit while God works on my head and my heart. Welcome to my mess.

3.13.12

March 13, 2014

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Today is my son’s second birthday.

From the moment that plus sign appeared on the pregnancy test, J and I planned and dreamed and waited. Waited for the first ultrasound with the beating heart. Waited to feel that first flutter of movement. We watched and we waited and we prayed for our firstborn.

With a thatch of dark brown hair on his tiny head from me and J’s muscular calves he was beautiful. But life had already left his body when I held him in my arms at 20 weeks gestation. I was just meeting him – just finding out that he was a he – and already I had to say goodbye.

“You’ll have more…” they said. They were right. Although many are not so fortunate.

“You are blessed,” they say. It’s true. We just celebrated Reagan’s first birthday and I love being her mom more than words can say. She brings joy to my life and is the beat of my heart.

“You’ll get over it.” Never. You never get over losing a child. You continue on {hopefully} and the pain lessens. You don’t think about your child quite so often. Then a song comes on the radio, a breeze blows through a wind chime or a smell catches your attention and the memories come flooding back. And with them, tears. Tears on the solitary drive to work or in the quiet hours of darkness. And guilt that you had forgotten even a little bit.

Others move on and it feels like they have forgotten. Maybe they have. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say or if it would hurt more to bring it up.

Bring it up.

You can never hurt me by thinking of my child. You can never wound me with your love for my son. Your concern, your thoughts, are like a balm to my broken spirit.

Since this journey began I have met many moms like me. Moms without babes to be held in their arms, but mothers the same. If that describes you, know that you are not alone.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

This post is in honor of Samuel Evan Oliver. Mommy can’t wait to hug and kiss you in Heaven!

Special thanks to all who have walked alongside me on this journey, both family and friends. And thanks to Wendy, Eva, Stephanie and my many friends in my Incompetent Cervix support group for sharing their own stories of pain and encouraging me when I wasn’t sure how to move forward.

“Is she your first?”

September 17, 2013

As a mom to a new baby, I get this question a lot. And you’d think it would be a pretty easy question. Or maybe, if you are like me, it isn’t such an easy question.

Is she your first

Photography provided by Danae Wheeler {www.dwdesignandphotography.com}

Reagan is my only living child, but she isn’t my first child. In fact, Reagan is my third.

A few months after ditching the birth control, J and I were thrilled to see that positive sign on the pregnancy test (and at least 3 more … just to make sure!). We couldn’t contain our excitement and called our parents and siblings to let them know right away. Unfortunately, just a few days later I miscarried. And our hearts broke.

“Dear Lord, I would have loved to have held my babies on my lap
and tell them about you, but since I didn’t get the chance,
would you please hold them on your lap and tell them about me?”
{author unknown}

That’s when I learned that nearly 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That didn’t make me miss my baby any less nor did it ease the ache over the lost dreams I had for the precious life taken-too-soon, but it softened my heart to other mothers who grieved silently, never having the chance to hold their little ones.

After a physical, I was given the green light to start trying again and we were blessed to get pregnant right away. I tried to contain my excitement, in case. This time we waited until after we saw our baby’s heartbeat to begin sharing the good news. When we passed into the second trimester, I breathed a sigh of relief. “We made it!” or so I thought.

Just before hitting the halfway point {20 weeks}, signs of trouble began. When I made it in to the doctor’s office we were shocked to discover that my cervix was dilated to 4cm*. I was rushed to the hospital but before my doctors could try any interventions, my water broke. There was nothing that could be done. Twelve hours later I delivered my stillborn son. We named him Samuel Evan after his grandfather and because of the story in the Bible {Samuel means “asked of God”}.

“The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
but it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of his name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.”
{author unknown}

Reagan was born almost exactly 12 months after Samuel went to Heaven. She is my rainbow baby and brings her Daddy and I great joy.

But I still have struggled with how to answer the question, “Is she your first?” I have found it best to craft my answer based on who I am talking to. For the most part, when I am asked {by a sweet stranger in the grocery store or a new acquaintance at church}, I simply answer “yes.”  But when I am asked by another mom who I know will understand my heart and my loss, I share, “She’s my third. I’ve got two other precious babes in Heaven.”

Who do you share your mom-heartaches with? MOPS is a community of moms who gather together to talk about the highs and lows of motherhood. From first smiles and steps to potty training and starting school… and everything in between. MOPS mourns with moms who are hurting and celebrates with moms through each life victory. Find a group in your area!

Today I am giving away a FREE MOPS Membership (valued at $23.95 but worth so much more!).  Comment below for your chance to win. I will draw and announce one winner (using random.org) on Friday, September 20.

*I have since been diagnosed with Incompetent Cervix. More on that later.