Faith, Pregnancy Loss

A Miracle On My Street

Over the last couple of months, I have opened up about experiencing a miscarriage, struggling to overcome all of the emotions that accompany such a loss, and taking the needed steps to move forward.

For months I didn’t want to make any changes. I just wanted to live in my sadness and my anger, because it was easier to hide in the dark than fight to see the light. But at the very end of the year when I was at the halfway point of my current pregnancy, I felt this intense need to break free of the pile of bricks pinning me down. I realized that even though I was mourning the baby I had lost, I had another healthy baby living inside of me. At first I was discouraged, because I just kept thinking I was too far gone, but when I opened up my heart to God, He assured me no one was too far gone for Him.

After I opened my heart back up to God, I started to choose Him instead of my sadness, anger, confusion, and guilt. I chose to go to church every Sunday morning whether I felt like it or not. I chose to join a small group even though it is scary to meet new people. I chose to expose my deep, ugly parts to these strangers. I chose to ask for help and prayer. I chose to begin reading a chapter of my Bible every day. I chose to pray for healing, understanding, forgiveness, purpose, peace, and clarity. I chose to take little steps every day toward trust and toward light… and God showed up for me!

While doing some self-reflection, I realized what a complete 180 my heart has made in the past month. In thirty-one days, God took an angry, bitter, brokenhearted woman and turned her into a woman with a humble and hopeful heart. It wasn’t easy to be open to what God had to show and teach me regarding my loss, but I would like to share the clarity and understanding I began to see when I started to really pay attention.

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He blessed my attendance.

I have been burned by church after church, so going to church is never something very high on my to-do list regardless of how convicted I feel about attending. After many lengthy discussions, Jeremiah and I made the decision to go to a church service every Sunday. Although it was emotional and difficult the first couple of visits, I felt my heart being softened every time we showed up. The second Sunday in January, we were sitting in service and it was all about moving into this new year and what that looked like for you. God made it very clear that he was calling me to not let my loss from last year dominate my focus this year.

Just because you don’t understand, doesn’t mean you can’t move forward. -John Stickl

While thinking about what would hold me back from experiencing what God has in store this year, I knew without a doubt it would be my loss and the fear, distrust, anger, and insecurities that came with it. Now that I recognized what I needed to work on, God was calling me to lift it up in prayer and ask Him for help in my healing.

He blessed my obedience.

I had known for awhile that Jeremiah and I were being called to join a small group. It had been on my mind for months before we finally showed up for the first time. I didn’t necessarily have a bad attitude about going, but I still felt insecure about the idea. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, be able to open up, or get anything out of it, but God laughed at my notion. That first night, we were the first couple to arrive and had a good fifteen minutes of conversation with the host couple before anyone else showed up. After that initial conversation, I knew that I couldn’t worry about not fitting in anymore, because I knew that I already did. As the evening got started, it was plain to see that this was a group centered around vulnerability and honesty, so I couldn’t worry about not being able to open up, because I knew it would be my choice not to. And at the very end, they began a couples’ prayer accountability group, where we would all share what we are praying for as a couple, pray for each other throughout the week, and give updates on how things are going. When it got to me, I knew that I couldn’t worry about not getting anything out if it, because God told me I was brave enough to share.

He blessed my courage.

After sharing during group – which was one of the hardest things I have ever chosen to do – a sweet, new friend came up to me, gave me a hug, and offered some advice that helped her through her own loss.

The baby you lost has only ever known perfect love. The baby you lost has only ever known the perfect love of its Heavenly father.

I had never thought about it that way. It felt to me that my baby didn’t get to feel love, but that’s because I was only thinking of the love that we would have provided. But as much as we would have loved on that little baby, it would have been nothing compared to the love it is experiencing in Heaven.

He blessed my perseverance.

Starting in January, I began to follow along with our church’s reading plan of reading one chapter a day. Fifteen days in, I came across this passage from the story of when Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. -John 9:1-3

This passage spoke to me in two different ways. The first being that what happens in life (being blind or losing a child) isn’t because we have sinned. After we lost our baby, I blamed myself and then I blamed God. I assumed this awful thing had happened, because of something I had done and then I blamed God for taking it out on our baby. But once I read this passage (and I have read it over and over), I realized that it had nothing to do with me at all, but that God wanted to use this situation for His will.

And I believe that will was to bring our family back to Him. Although we were going to church before our loss, we weren’t actively seeking God. We weren’t reading our Bibles, praying regularly, discussing the sermons, or building strong relationships. We were stale; going through the motions of being “good people,” not Godly people. I think God knew this was the wake up call I needed to see that we were not on the path He intended for us.

He blessed my prayers for clarity.

One of my biggest setbacks was lack of understanding. I didn’t understand how a father could take away a child, so I began to pray every day for clarity. I wanted to be able to see and understand my situation from God’s perspective. I learned that:

We were all created by God.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14

Your hands made me and formed me… -Psalm 119:73

We all ultimately belong to God.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. -1 Peter 5:2-3

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. -Psalm 100:3

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. -Romans 14:8

So our baby that we lost was created by God and belonged to God first. God entrusts us – as parents – with his children to love them, raise them, and care for them, but they are His, just as we are His.

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I fully believe that God worked a miracle in my heart during the month of January. I am amazed when I look back at the lies I was telling myself and the despair I was drowning in at the end of last year to the hope for the future that I have now. God humbled me to recognize where I was going wrong and gave me the push and the courage to start making changes. This is one of my life mountains that I was only able to climb by looking to God. I hope this gives you some kind of encouragement that if you choose to choose God, He will show up for you!

Faith, Pregnancy Loss

Disappointments Don’t Define

During today’s church service, our pastor began by saying “don’t let last year’s disappointments become this year’s expectations.” That jump-started a very inspirational and uplifting lesson on identifying what we need to work on or change this year to create a life that is Christ-centered.

As someone who experienced a great disappointment last year that really put my relationship with God through the ringer, this message was one that I not only needed to hear, but wanted to hear. Focusing on my loss is the most natural thing for me to do going into this new year. Remembering my despair as I searched for answers to my situation and dwelling on the frustration of my unanswered prayers can so easily hinder rebuilding my relationship and experiencing what God has in store for my future.

The pastor talked about when God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt right to the promised land. All they had to do was walk in, slay the giants, and accept what God had provided them. But instead, the Israelites decided that the giants occupying the land were too big and scary for them to defeat, so they turned their backs on the promised land to wander the desert. He encouraged us to identify the giants in our own lives that are keeping us from experiencing what God has planned for us.

I think my biggest giant is the great loss I experienced last year.

That huge giant birthed a few smaller giants: fear, distrust, and insecurity. I desperately want to defeat these giants that are screaming lies into my ear anytime I start to put my guard down. These giants want to constantly remind me what I went through, how I felt, and how I never received answers. They want to keep me in the past and I let them. I make a choice to listen to these lies instead of focusing on the promises God has made to me and remembering the times when God came through for me.

The lack of answers is what holds me back the most. I want to stay angry and frustrated, because I will never know the answer to “why my baby?” Right before the service ended, the pastor said, “just because you don’t understand, doesn’t mean you can’t move forward.” Which was one of those eyes wide open moments for me. Having faith is all about the unknown. I don’t have to stay a slave to this disappointment due to a lack of answers, but instead I can have faith and look to God on how to move forward this year.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” -Psalm 32:8

Faith, Pregnancy Loss

Love, Loss, Rebirth // A Faith Story

Back in May of this year, Jeremiah and I found out we had lost our first baby. For eleven weeks, we had been the happiest couple on the planet; overjoyed at this life we had created and excited for what the future held for us. At ten weeks we had gone in for our dating ultrasound where we would get to see our little bean for the first time, but instead received the news that no baby could be located. I sat in the chair with tears leaking from my eyes as I waiting for some kind of explanation that never came. We were instructed to come back the next week to see if anything changed. Nothing did. Those two weeks were the longest, loneliest, and scariest weeks of my life. I spent most of my time huddled up in our closet buried under blankets with my childhood stuffed bear. Sometimes there were tears, other times screams, and often silence. I was lost. I didn’t know where to go from there. I didn’t understand why this had happened to me… to us.

My mind and heart just couldn’t grasp any kind of explanation for miscarriage. I had so many questions and prayers that went unanswered and I felt absolutely betrayed and abandoned by God. I blamed God for the loss of our baby and held onto that hurt and anger for the better half of this year. After hearing the news that our baby had stopped growing and going through the trauma of a miscarriage, I did not want to talk to – let alone worship – a God that could do this to someone, so I stopped going to church.

Then in August, Jeremiah and I found out that we were expecting again. Those first couple of weeks after finding out were brutal. Instead of being over the moon with love and excitement, I was nervous and scared. I had multiple breakdowns involving crying and shaking, because I just knew I couldn’t handle losing another baby. I just kept thinking that it was going to happen again. God was going to take my baby again. We knew from the beginning that this pregnancy was going to be different… more tender, more cautious, but not any less loved. We chose to go in for an early ultrasound to reduce the risk of being blindsided at the end of our first trimester with bad news and we saw our baby and every few weeks afterward we went in and were able to hear its heartbeat. This relaxed my mind and opened my heart to our new baby, but I still wasn’t sure if I trusted God.

Over the last couple of months, we had talked a little bit about where I stood and what the future looked like with my faith. We discussed if I would be willing to give it another chance, and if so, what we wanted out of a church. I wasn’t done with faith or being a Christian or God, but I wasn’t sure when I would be ready to give it another go. Stepping foot into a church seemed like I was accepting what had happened and I just hadn’t… how could I?

Jeremiah received an invitation from his brother to visit their church and when he initially brought it up to me I agreed to go, but it started to eat away at me all day. The more I thought about it, the more scared and freaked out I became. That night I lost it and admitted that I didn’t want to go. The truth was that I wasn’t so hung up on the idea of going to church, but more that I was going to have an audience for this huge reunion between me and God. It just felt like too much pressure for me to go through motions of a normal Sunday morning and “like” it than for me to have an honest experience. So we ended up coming to an agreement: we would attend a new church where we don’t know anyone.

So a few Sundays ago, Jeremiah and I got up to attend a local church service. I woke up semi-confident to face my fear and to open my heart. We walked in a little bit late in the middle of worship. Worship has always been my favorite part of church. I love singing and feeling the emotion deep inside with the music all around me. But that morning was different. I didn’t feel comfortable singing, so I just read the words on the screen. I read song after song until I came to this one song that read:

Your presence is an open door
We want You, Lord
Like never before
Your presence is an open door
So come now, Lord
Like never before

Those words just kept repeating in my head. We want you, Lord, like never before. In those first couple weeks of losing our baby, I needed God more than ever, but I felt like he didn’t show up for us. He left us brokenhearted and then just deserted us. So why did I want to sing at the top of my lungs these words of wanting God? I sat through the rest of service listening and trying to stay brave. Communion came around and I took my piece of cracker and my cup of juice and was completely prepared to take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of what Jesus did for us when the preacher said “while you take this, remember and be thankful for how God was there for you in your hardest times” and I just froze. I got stuck on those words, because I didn’t feel like God was there for me in my hardest time. How can I take this and be thankful when I’m angry and sad? I sat there for awhile and a few tears slid down my cheeks in embarrassment that I couldn’t get over this one thing and move forward. Eventually, I dropped my cracker in the juice and set it under the chair in front of me.

Although it wasn’t a perfect Sunday morning and I didn’t sail through service without any hangups, I did face my fear and walked through the doors. I opened my mind and heart to forgiveness and healing. It won’t be a quick or easy process, but showing up and being vulnerable is just the beginning.