Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why the test?

    I went to church today for the first time since I lost him.  If I was being honest, I would say that I was dreading the whole experience.  I was dreading all of the people who want to tell me that they love me and that they are sad for me.  Why - in - the - world?  That doesn't make any sense.  These people love me, and I want to run away.
    But, that's what we usually do, isn't it?  We put on our happy church clothes and our happy church faces and pray that no one will ask us what is really going on inside.  We hope no one can see that we are not perfect.  When people reach out in love, we draw back, because they might actually see the real us.
    I was so worried about talking to my friends at church, that I didn't even really think about running into God.  But, it seems that He had a lot to say to me.  Our first hymn caught me by surprise.  I thought I was doing a very good job of distancing myself from emotion, (because that's what you're supposed to do, right?)  Our first hymn was "When the Morning Comes," and verse three says...
Temptations, hidden snares, often take us unawares,
And our hearts are made to bleed, for each thoughtless word or deed;
And we wonder why the test, when we try to do our best,
But we'll understand it better by and by.

I wanted to scream out at that point. "Why the test?!!! I don't understand." Our associate pastor's sermon this morning was about listening to God. He said that we are too busy to listen. And, that we often only listen when there is a test in our lives. He mentioned how we misunderstand what God is trying to tell us.

Ok. How in the world? Do you ever feel like a sermon was written just for you? I was absolutely SURE that I knew what God was telling me. I was positive that when I talked to my husband about it, he would say, "He's been telling me that too!!! Let's do it!" That is not how our conversation went. I must admit that I was disappointed.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD" Isaiah 55:8.

The scripture from this morning was 1 Kings 19:9-13. Have you read it? Do you remember where Elijah heard God's voice? It was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in "a still small voice." Do you know what I think God told me this morning? He said, "Keep listening. Curl up in my lap, take comfort under my strong wing, and wait."
1. Trials dark on ev'ry hand, and we cannot understand All the ways that God willlead us to that blessed promised land;
But He'll guide us with His eye, and we'll follow till we die,
We will understand it better by and by.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Value of Life: "A person's a person, no matter how small."

  May 14, 2014

    Grief is a weird thing.  There are so many stages of it and so many different ways to express it. I must say, that I always feel like I'm doing it wrong.  I feel like I should apologise when I cry too much.  On the other hand, I think I don't look sad enough when I don't feel like crying.  Why can't I just be okay with the way I feel?
    My husband and I found out that we were expecting our 4th (5th) child about 2 months ago.  I'm intrigued by the difference in people's reactions to finding out that you are expecting your 4th child instead of finding out that you are expecting your 1st child.  With your first child, there are grand congratulations and excitement.  They tell you that you're glowing and have lots of (unsolicited) advice about how you should go forward.
    When someone finds out that you are expecting your 4th (or 5th, or 6th, or 7th......) child, the reactions are different.  I've heard the all popular, "Don't you know how that happens?"  Some people feel the need to inform you of how birth control works.  Or, "Boy, don't you have your hands full already?"  "Better you than me."
    It's like people think children are a disease that you don't want to catch.  Did they somehow forget that we all start out as children and that someone chose to have them?  Can you imagine saying those things to someone who is pregnant for the first time? The Bible tells us that "Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord"  Psalm 127:3.  It does not say that one or two children are a gift from God.  It does not say that only perfect children are a gift from God.
    About two weeks ago, I began to feel that things were not quite right with this pregnancy.  I have had three successful pregnancies that followed a miscarriage, so no matter what people told me, I knew that something was wrong.  I'm gonna tell you what was going on with me.  (If you're pregnant, please don't think that these things mean you are having problems.  These were just things unlike my previous pregnancies.)  In the beginning of this pregnancy, I was horribly nauseous and tired; more than any other time.  I felt comfort in this, because it confirmed that I was pregnant.  Two weeks ago, I was no longer nauseous or tired, and the stomach issues I had been having just went away.  This was all at the same time that I saw one small pink spot.
    I began to have long, tearful talks with God at night instead of sleeping.  One night I just could not get calmed down, when an Amy Grant song came to my head.  "Lay down your burdens.  I will carry you.  I will carry you, my child my child."  I sang it over and over and was finally able to go to sleep.  You see, God and I have been talking about this for a long time now.  I've been mourning my child long before I really knew for sure that anything was wrong.
    I teach 4th and 5th grade children's choir at my church.  We have been preparing to sing in church on Mother's day.  On Saturday, we went to my middle child's soccer game, shopping, and then to my cousin's birthday lunch.  Then, I cleaned the house for all of our family who was coming over the rest of the day.  And on Sunday, the kids did great!!  When we all came back to the house to eat lunch, I began to feel horrible.  I had a headache that wouldn't go away, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
    Monday morning, I had planned to take the kids to Columbia to the Riverbanks zoo and to see their Grandfather.  My spotting was worse and I almost called it off, but we went. We had a great time Monday, and all night I prayed that I would be able to make it back home the next day without anything happening.  I called the doctor Tuesday morning and got a 2:20 appointment.  So, we went back to the zoo.  My back hurt and I was really tired, but I am so glad that we went.  The children had a great time, and I got to think about my happy time with them instead of focusing on my worry and sadness the whole time.

    I knew before my appointment that my baby was gone.

    The nurses and doctors were very kind the next day.  Dr. T did an ultrasound and told me very gently that there was no heartbeat.  I knew there wouldn't be, but I didn't really think about the fact that I would see my little one looking just like my little baby right there on the screen.  There's the thought that my baby doesn't have a heartbeat, and then there's looking at a baby on a screen who isn't moving.  He died at 9 weeks.  I carried him 2 more weeks.  A 9 week old baby is only about an inch long.  An inch long, and he looked just like a baby.  "A person's a person no matter how small."  My baby was 1 inch long, and I loved him as much as I love my big tall almost 7 year old boy.

    I love him.
    The doctor brought us (my husband and I) into a room.  I'd been in this room almost 8 years ago exactly.  I hate this part.  I felt prepared for it, having done it before and knowing that I was losing him.  I was ready for the words of comfort and the details of what had to be done now.
I    was    not    prepared.
    He began by telling us that studies have shown that with most miscarriages, the tissue shows that the babies had downs or trisomy 18.  (I love him.)  He went on to tell us a story about a lady who has carried a baby for 22 weeks and just found out that her baby has trisomy 18.  "She'll probably just miscarry the baby on her own now, which is good, but still sad," he says.  (She loves her.  I love him.)  He says it's not my fault.  ( I know.)  You know, all I really wanted to say was, "Please be quiet.  You're making it worse."  He was so kind.  He was so compassionate.  He did great at his job.  Did he value the life of my baby?  Well, his words said no.  God's words say  "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
  "Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7.  Don't give all your worries to your doctor, because, oh my goodness, he will fail you.  Don't hide them under a bushel or scream them at your husband.  Give them to God, because He can handle them.
    God may have taken my child to spare him a life of pain.  Does that mean that I don't miss him?  No.  Does that mean I'm mad at God?  No.  We named him Isaiah.  "So don't worry, because I am with you.  Don't be afraid, because I am your God.  I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you."  Isaiah 41:10.  One day, I will go to him.
    Let's make a new vow, Christians.  Let's embrace the blessing of children:  all children, no matter how many, no matter where they come from, and no matter what they look like.  Can we let our words show God's love of children?  And if we can't, can we please be quiet?  Because, we're making things worse.