Stories

In our small group at church we were talking about our “stories” tonight. How we came to be followers of Christ and how we’ve seen God move in our lives. We were talking a bit about how some people have “big” stories. They have these big life changing moments when they clearly remember not following Christ, then being “saved” and now their new life after. Those stories are great, they make for great press and are catchy when telling them to others. But when you don’t have a “flashy” story sometimes you feel like your story isn’t worth telling. It isn’t something that is going to move someone else or it somehow doesn’t have the “street cred” that someone else’s does.
I’m one of those people. I don’t have a big flashy story. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe God and know that His word was true and I trusted it. My faith story is a long process, I took a long time to grow, there are big events where God grew me more, when I learned a big lesson (I call them my knock on the head moments). I don’t have a neat little package to share, my life certainly wasn’t and hasn’t been perfect but God has used the events in my life to shape who I am. It was a long messy process. I am still growing and learning what God is about and always will be.
We watched a video this morning in church about one woman’s journey to Christ. She shared the lifestyle she engaged in and how she was rescued by God from that lifestyle. It was moving, but as I thought about it…the truth is… before I found Christ my sin was just as ugly as hers. My rescue was just as miraculous as hers because I didn’t do it. One person’s sin isn’t worse than someone else’s. A murderer, in the sight of God, is just as bad as someone who lies or steals or cheats or whatever. A person who is a drug addict is the same as a person who sits in the pew on Sunday but hates in his heart. Without Christ, we are all the same…sinners…no one is worse than another. The redemption of a prostitute is just a beautiful and amazing as the redemption of a small child who puts her faith in Christ.
Sure it makes for good drama and a good story, but the “quiet” stories are just as amazing. Jesus died for her sins, my sins and yours. Through our faith and trust in Him, as our savior, we are redeemed. Ordinary stories are ones of beauty, ones of forgiveness and ones that deserves to be told, just like the flashy ones.
 

14 weeks

Today was a big day. Today I turned 14 weeks pregnant. Most people would say “Yay! You’re at the *safe* point, you’re in the second trimester now!”. But that is far from the truth I know.
I have learned in the last year that no point in a pregnancy is *safe*. Sure, risk goes down, but you’re never *safe*. I have experienced 2 early losses (before 6 weeks), but until last December, bought into the myth that the second trimester was the safe part.
But…
Our daughter Lily was born on May 19, we found out she had died on May 18…the day I was 14 weeks pregnant. Our son Knox died when I was 15 weeks in December. With those losses, I felt like my innocence with pregnancy was lost. I knew after they died that no point is “safe”.

Lily at our 13 week sonogram

 

And today I turned 14 weeks with my current pregnancy, I am 6 months from my due date.  We are living in a new community and I don’t have a healthcare provider yet. I haven’t been able to find a midwife who will be willing to travel to where we live for a home birth and I don’t have a doctor who will let me VBAC here yet. God has always provided the right person to care for us when we needed them and we trust He’s going to do it again. So for now, I am doing my own prenatal care and monitoring my weight, blood pressure, heart rate and baby’s heart beat every week.  It’s been going well. I have easily found the heart beat every week for the last month. And I have been peaceful for the most part.
Then today came.

Daddy and Lily's finger just after she was born

14 weeks, it seemed like I was giving my anxiety over to God every moment of the day. I tried hard not to think about what today meant to me and why it was significant. The boys remembered what today was, they prayed specifically for the baby this morning, they asked when we would listen for the heart beat.
I debated for a long time today. I was trying to decided if I wanted to listen alone or with Kerry and the boys here. I thought about sneaking off to my bedroom while the boys were playing and Kerry was gone to a visitation. But that’s how I learned Knox and Lily had died. I was just listening at home and couldn’t find their heartbeats, I was alone both times.
So tonight, just before bed Kerry suggested we try together to hear our little one’s heartbeat. It is always such a highlight for Zeke to hear the baby. He gets so excited to hear “his baby”, but I didn’t want him to not hear it…I was scared. I pulled the doppler from the closet and laid down on the living room floor. I prayed.
I prayed, as I have every day, that God would protect this little one, that we would be able to hold this little one in our arms…alive…and that he/she would be able to be born at home. I have been able to tell my uterus is growing, which means the baby must be growing. And then we listened. Daddy and I held our breath and we listened.
Lily's foot at 14 weeks

We heard my heartbeat and the blood vessels feeding  my uterus and the placenta. The slow woosh, woosh beating in time with my heart. And just below, in the background we hear the light sound of baby. The faint gallop of hoof-beats. Slight relief, but I want louder…I want more…I want to listen until this baby is born…I want it to be the soundtrack of the next 6 months.
We wait and move the doppler…slow woosh, woosh…then galloping. Strong, loud, steady…my baby’s heart is still beating. I am thankful. I close my eyes in prayer. A prayer of gratitude and thankfulness. Thank you God, for the life of my baby. That this life is still here and we can hear the heart beat. Thank you God!
We listen for a few more minutes and are thankful for each beat we hear. Eventually the baby kicks and moves away. Then in a moment…my mind immediately goes to fear again. Knox had a heartbeat at 14 weeks. My baby is alive…for now.
Ugh! Where does that come from? Why do I let it in to steal the joy and blessing of a heart beating within me? I start to quote in my mind the scripture verse we’re memorizing as a family. “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philipians 4:8. Fear is not true, honorable, right, pure or any of the things mentioned in this verse. Fear is the language Satan speaks and uses to control.
There are many times I have to remind myself to be thankful for the blessings I have been given, to be thankful here in the moment for the blessing I have now. To remember, not to get caught up in the fear of what might happen or what has happened in the past. I know that today my baby is alive. I am joyful, hopeful and so very grateful.
Lily's hand

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Connection

This last week Kerry and I went to a pastor’s get together for 3 days. We met lots of new people (well…everyone has been *new* to us in the last month or so). It was refreshing…and surprising.
It felt so good to connect with other families who have been where we are. Who have relocated their families, taken on pastorates in unfamiliar places and tackled tough stuff. We were joking about how we were probably going to be the only “weirdos” (ie family with lots of kids and homeschooling) at the event. Funny thing…everyone started introducing themselves and we heard “we have 4 kids and we homeschool” or “we have 5 kids and we also homeschool”. I felt myself feeling more comfortable and connected with those sitting around me. I was thankful.
I hadn’t realized how much I have missed, in just the 4 weeks we’ve been gone from Pueblo, the connection with others. Adjusting to being a full time stay at home mom, Kerry working outside the home and being in a new community and church has been harder than I expected. It’s been lonelier than I thought it would be (there I said it, something hard for me to admit). We’ve been very “busy” but it still feels very alone sometimes. Being able to sit, laugh and talk with other moms and wives felt good. I told Kerry on the way home that the the fellowship probably did me more good than listening to the speaker.
This weekend also made me realize other “connections” we share, some happy and some sad. As I near my “mark” with this pregnancy, the weeks where I lost Lily and Knox there are moments when I start to get anxious. I try not to worry, I pray and I trust, but there are moments when it creeps in. I’ve also started to show a bit more this week so Kerry and I decided to announce our pregnancy to a group of strangers when we introduced ourselves the first night. (In truth, it felt good to say it and to not have everyone wonder if I was really *that* fat). But in our down time, for whatever reason, I found myself in the middle of a conversation about the babies I lost and the baby that we are expecting. I shared our story surrounded by women I had just met, women who cared for me when they barely knew me. They prayed for me and I felt loved.
The surprising part for me, though was as the next two days unfolded, the mothers and fathers who came to Kerry and I and talked about their own losses. The grief and hurt they suffered. I stood there, I was so grateful that they shared with us. I was grateful to hear the stories of how God had carried their families through and delighted in the joy they experienced when they were able to welcome a healthy baby after their losses. In the evening I sat and prayed for each of them. I was astounded at the thread of grief that connected so many of us, but also the grace and the blessing God has given. I didn’t have words of comfort, words of wisdom or explanation, but I had words of a parent who has walked that trail too. It was a time to remember and connect in a way that I don’t think any of us would have expected at the beginning.
I have been thinking lately about the connections we left behind, the ones we’ve made and the ones to come. I’ve been thinking about the threads that tie us together with those around us. It is a beautiful thing that God is making, weaving our lives together through events that often make us feel so alone, but He ties it together to make something glorious.

Five Minute Friday — Wide

This is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.
Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Oh and Ahem, if you would take pity and turn off comment verification, it would make leaving some love on your post that much easier for folks!
OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on:::

Wide…

Sometimes a word is just too big. It encompasses too much for me to write, I have a hard time finding words to fill the space. Wide is that word to me.
I can’t put the significance into words for me. Wide, His arms spread wide, held there by nails. Paying the price for my sin and my wrong so that I could be redeemed. I should have been separated from Him…I deserve it. But He loved me enough to send His son to take the punishment in my place.
I have believed it from the time I was small. I have learned to trust it, really trust it, in the last year or two.
I think often of the trials this last year has brought for our family. Family confrontation and abandonment, the loss of our son, then our daughter, the upheaval of interviewing for a job hours away from what had become so comfortable. Now here I sit, in our new town, new home with a new church…at times feeling lost. My life has changed so very much in such a short time. I am learning a new role in a place that is different. When I think about “before” here, it seems so far away and I long for comfort of normal, known, close.
I have relied on the hope that I have in Christ to carry me through so much. I am so thankful for the hope I have in Him. I’m thankful to know that when I have moments when where I’m supposed to be seems so very far away that I am right where He wants me. Where I am reliant on Him for what comes next, for my peace and my direction.
His arms are always wide open. Waiting to hold me, comfort me and remind me that He has me every step of the way.
 

Defiance of fear

Today I won a small victory against fear. I will be 11 weeks pregnant this week, rapidly approaching the mark in my pregnancy where I lost Knox and Lily. I try not to dwell on it, I try not to let the fear seep it’s way into my daily thoughts. There are fleeting moments where I think…”what if it happens again?” I can usually push it out and keep going.
But…
Every morning I am greeted with three tubs. They hold my maternity clothes. And I struggle.

The week before Knox was born, I had just unpacked all of my maternity clothes and hung them in my closet. I had finally told work I was expecting because my regular clothes were looking suspiciously tight and not in the “she ate too many chili fries” kind of way. Co-workers who knew me well had already guessed. So before we came back for our Thanksgiving visit, I unpacked, hung up and folded maternity clothes.
Then Knox died.
The night before I went to the hospital I stood in front of my closet and pulled all of those clothes out. I put them back in their tubs…I wouldn’t be needing them after all and I knew I wouldn’t want to pack them when I came home. I cried and I mourned and I was angry. I could hardly see through the tears I was crying as I folded my favorite black sweater I wore with Zeke.
So when I got pregnant with Lily, I decided not to get maternity clothes out until I had passed 15 weeks. I didn’t want to have to pack them away. But I had to pull a few things out because regular clothes were just too uncomfortable. I kept them in their tubs though. Nothing maternity went in my closet. And then she died too.
So now, here I am. Almost 11 weeks pregnant, starting to struggle to button my jeans and not look “frumpy” in anything else. There is a little bulge where this baby is growing and while most of the time it just looks like I ate too many donuts, I could use some clothes that are a little more forgiving. In addition to that, we moved 2 weeks ago and I really hate unpacking clothes. I’m sitting there thinking “if this baby makes it, I’m going to be putting these all away in a month anyway” (I hate thinking that “if” but it is a reality I know now).
But I haven’t been quite daring enough to take the lids off the bins that hold those clothes that signify the “thick around the middle” isn’t fat…it’s baby. I pass those bins sitting at the foot of my bed every morning when I wake up. They remind me of my fear, of my hurt and of the hope that just might be this time. Every day they have psyched me out and dared me to open them. And until this morning I have left the right where the guys who unloaded them put them.
Until today.
In a moment of defiance, of sheer “screw you fear”, I decided to unpack them. “It’s going to be a time waster to unpack my “regular” clothes now and put them away in a month”, I told myself. “They’re just clothes” I reminded myself as I pulled shirt after shirt, paneled pant after paneled pant out of the bin and put them in my closet. “This isn’t going to determine the outcome. God does.” Every so often I would pause and wonder if I’m doing the right thing…if I should wait until…
But I know that God has numbered this baby’s days before he or she was ever created. God knows. He has a plan. Psalm 139:13-16 says…

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

So I unpacked. And I prayed. I prayed for the health and safety of this baby. I prayed that I would find someone who would care for me, who would support me in my quest for another home birth or at the very least another VBAC.

They hang together in my closet, clumped to one end…but they are there. The empty tubs sit now in the storage room in our basement. If I have to put them away too soon, so be it, but today I defied the fear and the reminder of “what if” that has greeted me every morning.

Prayer

I don’t have anything profound to post today other than just asking for your prayers.
We are in the final days of packing up our house to move to a new community. It can be stressful and the chaos of maneuvering around boxes can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like everywhere I turn there is more stuff…even when I thought I had just packed that spot up.
We have been battling physical illness. I started this week with sore throat and fever (our son brought it home with him from camp a week or so ago). Now our 3rd son has been running and fever and not feeling well. I have developed an infection along my jaw line which is quite swollen and painful. It came on quickly and I went in this morning for some antibiotics so hopefully that will clear things up. If not, I will need to have it drained. Not an appealing proposition. So please pray for healing and health in these last few days of packing and moving.
It’s just exhausting. 🙂 I don’t think any of us have been sleeping well between the “not feeling good” and the “I should be doing” kinds of thoughts that start running through our minds at night. We need good restful nights of sleep.
The spiritual and emotional attacks have intensified the last week or so. Both Kerry and I have been feeling more attacked lately. I have struggled with thoughts of failure, being a burden and not fit for the role in which I have been called. Kerry too has struggled with similar thoughts and there have been times we’ve found ourselves short with the other person which is pretty uncommon for us. There have been some moments where past hurts, which have been forgiven and almost forgotten, have come crashing in out of the clear blue to take our minds off of what God has called us to do as a couple.
I think the changes ahead are really starting to hit our older two boys. Gabe especially has seemed to be taking more in and thinking some about “this might be the last time I do….here” kinds of things. It is hard to know how to help him because he’s not terribly verbal about it. I expect that Otto will become emotional on our actual moving day.
So again nothing profound today. But we would covet your prayers over the next few days and weeks as we finish packing, move and settle in to our new home.

Baggage

We will probably be moving in the next month or so, which means I am packing up our household of 6.
The last time we moved we only had 2 children and moved just a couple miles away so it wasn’t a huge “pack and drive” kind of thing, more like take a load in the car and hope nothing breaks. This time we’re moving significantly farther and with significantly more stuff.
I wish there was an easy way to go about it. I want to be organized about the whole process so if I need something I can find it easily when we get to our new house. I also want to make sure that I utilize the help I have when we get there. In my mind I envision having a “master plan” list that shows which rooms each bin/box goes into so we only have to touch it once. We’ll see…
As I’m packing I’m thinking too about baggage. The “stuff” that one carries around for years sometimes. Baggage shapes who we are. Sometimes baggage boosts us up to reach our goals, sometimes it weighs us down so much that we never move. Regardless though, we all have it.
I have been sorting through bins from my childhood and adolescence the last couple of days. There are times when I read notes to and from friends and I laugh. I laugh at the silliness and the nicknames we had for one another. I have found things that I wrote to help me cope with difficult times at home. I read love notes from boyfriends and the one boyfriend who became my husband. I cringe sometimes at the person I was. I feel wounds being re-opened because I remember the hurt, the anger I felt back then and if I’m not careful it can come sneaking back up and leak out into my life now. I can remember the black I felt so often years ago.
I have looked back the last couple of days, I have laughed at pictures from my high school years with my boys. I’ve told them stories of the friends I had and the things we did. We laughed at how young daddy and I looked when we started dating. But…I’ve kept the journals and poems I wrote tucked away for later when they’re older and I can explain what was going on in my life then. But I can look back and can see how I’ve grown because of and in spite of my baggage. I can see that God used those experiences and my baggage to shape who I am today.
Most of all though, I am reminded of His grace. I am reminded that even then, He was guiding my steps. Much of the baggage I carried early on, I have left by the wayside. It no longer attaches itself to me, it no longer adds weight to my shoulders. But this last week I was reminded just how much baggage I used to carry and how far I have walked away from it all.
And I am grateful.

Five Minute Friday — Story

On Fridays a group of folk meet here for a free writing exercise.

Just 5 minutes. On the prompt that’s posted here just after midnight early Friday morning. Want to know more – check out the Five Minute Friday back story over here.

And every week I feature a favorite Five Minute Friday post by one of you over there in my side bar. It never ceases to amaze me the creative collaboration that can come from all of us writing on just one word.

Want to join our favorite free writing exercise of the week? It’s easy peasy:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Story” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:::

Story…

My story.

My story is more than just a list of facts and statistics. It is about emotion and the shaping of who I am. My story has turns and twists and ups and downs. My story has chapters that only I know have been written. But most of all, as cliche’ as it sounds, I hope that my story has God written all over it.

I love how I can look back at my life and see the Author of my life weaving story lines together building my life piece by piece. I used to wonder when I was 8 and struggling to fit in, in a new town, why God moved our family. I can look back and see how He brought characters to my story into my life in that little town. How they helped shape me in ways only they could. I think of my friends and my teachers. The ones who made a difference and who were there listening to me and rooting me on from the sidelines. I hear them telling me “you can do it” and “I’m praying for you” when I think about the challenges that were brought my way in that small little town.

I can see how God brought me to that small town to meet my husband. And what a blessing that has been!

God is the author of my life. He directs my steps and I trust Him with the pen of my life. As I have learned that He is the one penning this tale, I have become eager to read what the next page holds and where the next chapter will take us. I am never so anxious though that I forget to savor the story on this page, this chapter, at this moment.

Psalm 119:35

35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,

For I delight in it.

Five Minute Friday — Path

For five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday.
Write and see what comes out. There’s no right or wrong.
It’s a #FiveMinuteFriday flash mob! <—click to tweet this!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

::
OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:

Path…

A path lies before our family. We can’t see it and we don’t know where it’s taking us. We trust the One who made the path and who prods us along on this journey.
We can only see what He chooses to reveal, sometimes it stretches out miles in front of us and other times we can only see to the next bend, the next few feet.
In the last year this path has brought us to trials that we would have never imagined. We have lost 2 precious children in 6 months, but our God carried us through and we learned lessons along the way. We have experienced despair, abandonment, betrayal and incredible heartache at the hands of those who shouldn’t inflict such deep wounds. We have had to learn forgiveness, grow thick skin and learn to walk away all while still loving…because no matter what we do or say we can’t make them see.
And now our path has brought us through the future unknown. The “what next” as we wonder where the path leads. At this point in our lives, we can’t see more than a few feet ahead. But out of obedience we continue to walk together, waiting, discovering and learning. We trust that when we look back at the winding twisted path, that it will indeed be straight, it has been carved especially for us by the hand of God who can see exactly where we’re going. Our job is to be obedient His gentle prompting…”Keep walking”

Proverbs 3:6

In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Five Minute Friday — See

A Five Minute Writing Challenge <—click to tweet this!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:
 

See…

Life experience gives you the opportunity to see things from another perspective. In the last 6 months I have lost two children in my second trimester. I have been given the opportunity to see life from the perspective of patient (instead of nurse), grieving parent (instead of blissfully ignorant), offended mother, hurt and wounded. But I have also seen compassion, caring and consideration in each of these situations.
I can see the love of Christ in each kind word spoken, each act of service that has been extended to me and my family. God is showing me that even when I feel alone, I am not alone. He has a purpose for bringing me on this journey. I don’t understand why, but I am beginning to see.
Sometimes when we are on a road like this it’s like hiking a trail in the mountains. We can only see a little ways ahead. We can’t see around the next bend. If we could, we wouldn’t keep walking because we wouldn’t like the rocks, trials or the steepness of the trail. But there is something about the unknown up ahead that beckons us to keep walking…to keep going and see what is in store. Sometimes it is more of the same, sometimes it is a soft shady place to rest, sometimes it is just another bend. But we can never see more than what we are meant to see. Life is much the same.
We see what we are meant to see. Never more, never less. Only what God wants in our focus, only what He reveals, urging us on to the next bend, to keep moving. To see.