Saturday, April 5, 2014

a (very) unexpected journey - my miscarriage / chapter 3

"For this child I prayed,
and the Lord has granted my petition to Him.
Therefore I have given him to the Lord;
as long as he lives he is given to the Lord."
1 Samuel 1:27-28 (AMP)

...continued. See Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here.

On the morning of Chelsea's return, I sat outside in the beautiful summer sunshine and spent time reading my Bible and journaling to the Lord.

Here is an excerpt from this day's entry (click on the image below if you are interested in trying to read my 'chicken-scratch'):

Yes, my heart was beyond full! (grin) I was overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to the One who had seen me through so many, many painful and difficult seasons. My sweet family had been through so much, especially the past three years. 

With a new baby on his/her way, we all felt like we were f.i.n.a.l.l.y. leaving the cold and dreary winter months behind. Hope was on the horizon! Praise God!

On the next page, I wrote out the next verse of Psalm 37,

"Commit your way to the LORD,
trust in Him and He will act."

As I write this post, I am sitting in a gorgeous log cabin located just south of Seattle, overlooking the Eld Inlet. Geoff and I stayed here together a couple of years ago, thanks to Sara's awesome RAD Nanny. 

This particular weekend, however, my husband is blessing me with a weekend alone(!) He knows his introverted wife needs to occasionally sneak away for some much needed quiet time and reflection with the Lord

(Thanks, Babe! You are the BEST! You know I miss you!!!) 

The above picture is my view from a cozy ottoman next to a wood stove.

What a healing gift it is to be able to go back and remember the events of the past nine months. 

As I read in Dan Allender's workbook, To Be Told, this morning: 

"Choosing to engage our stories honestly requires a great deal of courage...Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. One of the privileges of being human is that we have an enormous capacity to reflect and learn and change. When we settle for simply getting by, we mar the glory that was created in us and we thwart the potential for growth and maturity...The only reason worth reentering...pain is the hope that somehow it can be transformed, that through it we will learn to love better and will know more joy. We trudge through the valley of the shadow of death clinging to the hope of what lies on the other side. We could take the shortcut putting the past behind us and leaving it there. But instead we choose the difficult path back through stories because of our sacred hope that this path will lead to something beautiful and good: God has a history of redeeming. Perhaps He will redeem my stories as well." (p. 2)

It is with that hope and prayer that I continue my story...

The next day our family attended church with big smiles on our faces. The youth group was planning to share about their mission trip to Washington, and Chelsea was asked by our pastor to sing a solo.

I sat next to my friend, Jane. We had met a few years back when our daughters took dance class together. God had recently been revealing to both of us why He had connected our families together. We had more in common than we initially realized. I absolutely love it when He does that!

As soon as Chelsea started singing "Oh How He Loves Us" with her youth group joining her for the chorus, the tears started flowing. I was so very proud of my daughter...and perhaps just a 'wee-bit' hormonal to boot! (Grin)

We hadn't planned on sharing our news with anyone (well, except for my Chatties who know just about every detail of my life!), until after our first doctor appointment. The kids were so excited, though, they begged me to share our news with Jane and her family.

After the service Jane told me that she wasn't able to look at me during Chelsea's song because seeing the tears streaming down my face made her cry even harder!

You have to know that Jane has a gorgeous British /South African accent. Everything she says makes my heart happy. Not to mention, she has a very sweet, sweet spirit about her. Makes you want to meet her, doesn't it? (Smile)

I took that as an opportune moment to share our news. I leaned in close and quietly whispered, "Blame it on my pregnancy hormones!"

Her response was one I will never forget. And, again, was just what I needed in the moment. I am so blessed by the friends God has brought into my life.

Jane's eyes grew wide and she let out a squeal of delight. The next moment found me in a huge celebratory hug, followed by more happy tears. 

God is so good!

"I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"
Deuteronomy 32:3

Geoff was standing with us, smiling. Thankfully, by this point, he was starting to find his own center of gravity after his initial shock. Jane turned to him and congratulated him with an exuberant side-hug. 

Ah, such sweet memories to hold onto. 

"My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word."
Psalm 119:28 (NIV)

Before we knew it, our teenager daughters were quickly formulating plans on how best to tell their friends in the youth group. They were both so excited to welcome a new little one into our lives.

Ah, how sweet friendship is, both in times of blessing and times of trial. God always knows what we need and He provides at just the right time.

One of the interesting things about our family is that all of our birthdays fall within a two month period. I was excited about the baby's due date because it fit our family's pattern. 

Admittedly, having a baby born any time of year would have been a blessing. However, I would have felt a bit sad to have all of us celebrating birthdays between April 21st and June 11, with the sixth birthday sometime in the Fall/Winter. 

To me, it was just another sign that God knows my heart and cares about even the tiniest of details.

So, I'm really trying not to make these posts too long. I know your time is precious, my Friend. I am blessed that you are taking the time to read my words as I continue to process all that was, so that I may embrace all that God has yet to reveal to me. 

Although this is not easy for me to share, I do hope and pray that at least one person will be touched by the incredible story God is weaving through my life. 

It really is all about Him and His amazing and sacrificial love and grace for us, His beloved children.

He loves us. My Beautiful and Brave Friend, God loves YOU.

As Dan went on further to say, "So, as we journey through stories, we hope for a deeper taste of joy and a glimpse of redemption. We are detectives searching for the fingerprints of God in our lives. We look for traces of his authorship in the rubble of a fallen world." (p. 2-3)

I pray you are inspired to look back at the storms you have weathered...or are currently weathering...and seek the fingerprints of God. Even in the midst of heartache, they are there.

Especially in the midst of heartache.

He is there. I promise. Better yet, He promises!

"You will search for me. 
And when you search for me with all your heart, 
you will find Me!"
Jeremiah 29:13 (NCV)

What a blessing it is to travel this amazingly, crazy, and challenging journey together.

Keep seeking Christ, and KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Prayers for peace and joy,

a (very) unexpected journey - my miscarriage / chapter 2

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

...continued. Read Chapter 1 here

When Chelsea finally came home, I was bursting to share our big news. My frequent trips to the restroom those few days leading up to her return helped Geoff and I adjust to our new reality.

We couldn't wait to share the news with our kiddos. Understandably, Chelsea was excited to share all the details and photos from her trip. After over an hour of listening to our excited 15-year-old recant stories of living and working among the people of the Yakama Nation, I finally got a chance to sneak in, "So, we have some exciting news to share with all of you..."

The words were barely out of my mouth before Liam piped up with, "What? Are you having a baby?!?"

I think he was only partially serious, given the shocked look on his face when I responded with a stunned, "Um...YES..." (smile)

The girls were thrilled. In fact, one of them (whom to this day will deny it) actually teared up (cough*teenager*cough.) 

Liam, on the other hand, expressed a bit of apprehension about our family dynamics changing. As even-keeled as my boy is, it takes him a while to process change. Especially big change. 

I appreciated his honesty and assured him that while his dad and I were both incredibly excited, we had a bit of anxiety ourselves. In the end, it took Liam less than a day to come to me and assure me that he was very excited and felt better about the new changes we would be facing.

Meanwhile, his sisters were busy with discussing how amazing it would be if I was expected twins. As crazy as it sounds, I was secretly hoping the same thing. (Must have been those lovely pregnancy hormones messing with my level-headed thinking. Wink.)

Geoff and I both knew we would all have our own adjustments to face in the future. Big life changes are like that - even when they come in the form of blessings.

As I mentioned yesterday, this story will take me awhile to share. So please check back again soon to continue reading about the (very) unexpected journey God has taken our family on...

Until then, I pray you are doing well, my Friend. Whatever season you find yourself in, may you know without a shadow of doubt that YOU ARE LOVED

You may not feel loved. You may not even feel you are lovable. But, the reality is that God loves you. Truly. Deeply. Unconditionally.

You are alive, living the life you are living for a reason. You may not know what that reason is yet - but I assure you, there is a purpose for your life. An eternal purpose. 

Your life has purpose and value - to the One who created and loves you - and to those He has placed in your life. (Yes, even those thorns in your side. Grin)

May you find hope and encouragement to embrace today fully. And, I pray you will find rest and peace in the God who loves you with an everlasting and sacrificial love.

More soon...until then, KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With grace and hope,

Friday, April 4, 2014

a very (unexpected) journey - my miscarriage / chapter 1

In order to truly grieve,
I must remember what was.
~ amy jo ~

"What are you doing March 13, 2014?" I asked Geoff with a huge grin on my face.

"Why? Do you want to go to Hawaii?" he asked in return.

"Always," I replied, my smile growing even bigger. "But we might need to hold off on that..."

Not being able to wait any longer, I held up two white (now sanitized!) sticks with plus signs on them. "This is why..."

To say he was shocked is an understatement. In fact, we both were. He repeated his next word at least five times. "WOW."

I couldn't help but laugh and smile. Although shocked, I was also completely and utterly full of glee and total giddiness.

We were both a bit nervous, but incredibly thrilled to be expecting another child. Even in our forties. (Gulp)

The desire to have another child had been growing in my heart for quite some time. In fact, Geoff and I had tried to get pregnant the year before. When it didn't happen, we both assumed the door was closed.

But now?

Only God could make the desire in my heart, given my age and life situation, a reality. He's like that. Full of amazing surprises, on His timeline.

"Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

I'm not sure how much either of us slept that night. I have to admit, though, it was a relief to know why my bladder had started waking me up in the middle of the night. Thankfully, it wasn't my age as I thought! (Grin)

It turned out I was further along than most women are when they find out they are expecting. Pregnancy just wasn't on my radar anymore.

Aside from the typical concerns about my baby's health and well-being, the physical changes I would be going through, and the adjustment our family would go through, I was BEYOND THRILLED. Giddy, indeed!

The next day, I called my doctor's office and set up an appointment. It had been a very long time (um, 13 years, to be precise), since I had made a similar call. So much has changed over the years, but alas, they wanted another 'pee-test.' Fun times!

Every doctor I met over the next couple of months approached me the same. Before congratulating me on the new life I was carrying, they cautiously asked if we had planned to get pregnant and if we were happy about it.

To which I replied, "Well, we were hoping and praying to have another child. But, we honestly thought that door had closed. We are THRILLED about this new blessing."

I recognize that not all moms with kids in high school are excited to find out they are expecting. Our life situation is just that. Every woman, couple, and family are unique.

However, in sharing from my heart, I have to admit I felt a sadness stir in my spirit knowing what their response would have been had we not been happy about our news.

Please do not read into my personal convictions as judgement. That's not who I am. Personally, the "options" that are so readily available deeply grieve my heart. For all who are involved.

It has never been something I could/would choose. But that's between me and God, as it is for all of us. Thankfully. (warm smile)

And yet, I know many women who have made that difficult and life altering choice. To you, I say, please listen very closely...

You are loved. 

And God can and will bring healing and new life from whatever choices you have made. As well as choices that may have been made for you.

Always loved.
 Because He is Love.

...back to my original thoughts...

So, when the doctor covering for my regular physician came into the exam room after said 'pee-test #3,' she started talking about prenatal vitamins and finding a good obstetrician.

After a few minutes, I had to stop her.

"'m still in a bit (a LOT) of shock. Was my test really positive?"

The real question I wanted to ask...

"I've been holding my breath for the past two days, hoping and praying that I am in fact pregnant. I'm kinda ready to exhale and GET REALLY HAPPY. Can you please confirm that GLEE is a suitable response right now?!?" (Grin)

I LOVE Dr. Oh.

She was 'just the doctor' I needed to see on that particular day. Bless her heart (in the Northwest kind of way..said with sincerity...NOT the Southern way, as my sweet Southern girlfriends explained to me years ago! I had NO idea it was spoken with tongue in cheek. So, if I have ever 'blessed your heart,' please translate it with the Pacific NW guidebook instead, eh?)


Dr. Oh literally turned the computer screen towards me and showed me the line that read:

"POCT Pregnancy Test, Urine - 
Your value=POSITIVE
Standard Range=NEGATIVE." 

Yup, giddiness be free! I'm having a baby!!!

God is SO good. 
So gracious! 

That moment is forever burned in my was THAT sweet.

Bursting with complete and utter joy, I was a bit (read: exremely) bummed that we had to wait a full THREE days to share our news with our three "olders." Chelsea was out of state on a mission trip. Geoff and I really wanted to tell all three kids about our BIG news together and in person.

So, we waited. And continued to toss and turn in shock and awe every night until she came home.

Funny enough, we were late picking her up from the church because I had to stop so many times to relief my pressing bladder! Truth be told, even that brought a smile to my face.

The reality of the tiny life inside of me manifesting himself/herself through constantly trying to find restrooms here and there was PURE BLISS. (TMI? Sorry. Just being real...chuckle)

As only God would have it, all three kids had been asking me to have another baby for over a year. In fact, all three of them brought up the topic to me at least once over the past month. Strange, eh?

All I could say in response to them was that, sadly, God had other plans for our family. It wasn't what I personally wanted, but I knew that I could (and would) trust in His will for our lives. There is no other way.

Granted, that didn't take away the physical longing I felt every time I passed through the baby clothes section in Target or saw another mom with a precious little bundle of deliciousness. To make matters worse, none of my friends had a sweet baby for me to love on and curb my cravings...(sigh)

And, no, there were not any babies to snuggle in the church nursery. I came close to begging new moms in Panera, but knew that would be beyond creepy and stalker-ish. (Mostly kidding)

I really wanted to be physically pregnant again, to snuggle a newborn, and, yes, to even go through childbirth again. (YES, it had been THAT long since I had been pregnant. Long enough to forget the horrific pain and consider a natural childbirth. Have mercy!)

But my heart's desire was (and is) to trust Him in all things. All the time. 

The baby yearnings were quite the roller coaster ride. To put it mildly. (Grin)

I had finally come to a place of true surrender that a baby was not in our future...we would have to wait years for grandchildren.

And then I found out I was PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I'll end here for now. This is a story my heart needs to speak. If only to myself.

And, it's going to take some time to stay tuned.

For those who do take time to read these (l-o-n-g) chapters in my life, I pray God will bless you in a new and fresh way today.

If you are in the midst of a storm, or stuck, unable to process grief, please know you are not alone. Ever.

I pray you will be able to carve out some time and allow yourself to sit in your sorrow, rejoice in the blessings, and rest in His sweet presence.

He loves you. He has good things in store for you, my Friend. 

And, for those of us whom He allows to experience the blessing of loss, death, pain, or (sniffle) all of the above, His love is steadfast.

He will give you beauty for ashes. You can trust Him, no matter what your circumstances tell you.

Please feel free to drop me a line or send me a prayer request. It would be an honor and privilege to pray for you, my Friend.

Until tomorrow, keep pressing into the LORD, and KEEP LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With HOPE and faith,