Why?

That’s really the big question in all of this isn’t it? Why did it happen? Twice? To us? Why would a loving God let something so horrible happen?
Here is what I’ve come up with as I’ve tried to answer this question for myself.
First of all, it isn’t His fault. It is easy to blame Him for the bad things that happen, but truthfully when we blame God we are blaming a perfect and holy God who created a perfect and holy world for the unholy and sinful things we have done. When God created the world, it was perfect, it was sinless and it was beautiful. In fact, God says it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But it didn’t stay that way. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and follow the advice of Satan. Because we are all part of Adam’s race, we have been living with the consequences of his disobedience.The moment that sin happened, perfection became imperfection and “good” was replaced with “not so good”. Adam moved away from God’s perfection and took all of us with him.
But praise God that we have a way to be redeemed! The cool thing about it is that when we trust that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, paying that penalty we’re brought into a relationship with God better than the one Adam had! My husband preached a sermon on this very topic several weeks ago in Romans. You can listen to it here.
The truth is Satan is a thief (John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly). That’s his strategy, to steal the good and joy that God created, replacing it instead with false promises and destruction. Jesus rescued us from all of that by paying the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.) We still have hurt and pain because we’re still living in a fallen and sinful world. We know that God will win the war, but there is still a battle going on here on earth, we still live on an earth where the enemy has freedom.
So really, this whole thing happened because we live in a sinful and fallen world. That’s the big picture answer, but to be honest as a grieving mother that didn’t bring me much comfort. It seems too easy, not personal enough. I want to know why this happened to me.
I have decided and am still learning about why I have lost 2 children within 6 months, why I have been dealt this horrible blow to my “mommy ego” and my ability to carry a pregnancy. One of the reasons, I think, is reflected in 1 Peter 1: 6-7. “6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the  proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
God’s goal for my life isn’t for me to be without trial, easy going, nothing touches me. His goal for my life is that He will be reflected, I will become like Him in character and heart. God uses the pain and the hurt I have encountered to refine my character. To teach me grace, forgiveness, compassion, endurance and to develop a heart like His. In doing so, His work is able to be reflected in my life. It is to bring Him glory, not me. God is not the cause of my pain, He is not the orchestrator of my hurt, those things come from living in a sinful world. But He uses those things to bring about change in my life, in my heart, in my soul. He uses them for His purpose.
Do I know what that purpose is? Nope. I know that it will bring Him glory. I don’t know what big lesson I’m supposed to learn or what I’m supposed to do if anything other than be humble and be ready. My prayer since the loss of Lily is different from my prayer after Knox died. When Knox died I prayed desperately for the hurt to be taken away, I prayed that I would be able to have another child, I prayed that it wouldn’t happen again. My prayer this time has simply been “use me”. I want to continually be in a place where I can be used by God. I have prayed that God would use this experience, this grief, the lives of my children in Heaven to bring Him glory and that I would be ready, humble and obedient to do what He asks of me.
That is why this has happened.

I am not strong

I am just like you. Going through the loss of our son Knox in December and Lily this last weekend does not make me strong. It makes me reliant on God.
The loss of my children has brought me to my knees. It has shaken the very core of who I am in some respects and has made me question why God allowed this to happen to our family. Before I lost my children, I felt sorry for women who experienced loss  and wondered how they were even upright and talking. I couldn’t imagine what that mourning must be like and I was sure I could never endure it. When Knox died that little wall of safety during pregnancy came crashing down and completely shocked me. I grieved not only the loss of my child, but the loss of my security too.
When Lily died, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that there was that magical “safe” point in my pregnancy. I knew it could happen. But it doesn’t make the hurt any less. I still grieve the loss of my child, the rest of my pregnancy, her birth and watching her grow up. I grieve the loss of inhaling deep the smell of a new life, cuddling that tiny warm body and staring in awe at her beautiful face while she sleeps. In my selfishness, I even grieve the fact that I have spent about 6 months in the first trimester…the morning sickness, the food aversions, the just feeling rotten and I have nothing to show for it except the ashes of my children. It isn’t fair, I don’t understand it and I grieve.
The loss though, and my ability to endure it has nothing to do with me.

I am weak.

I have moments where I just don’t think I can go on. I get so angry at the unfairness of it all. I have struggled with bitterness towards women who got to have babies they didn’t want and complained about when they got pregnant. I have struggled with bitterness towards the joy of others. I am ashamed to say how many times I have wanted someone to hurt just as bad as I have. But my mourning shouldn’t take away someone else’s joy. My grief is my journey. It is a journey I am on as a mother, but I am not alone.
The loss of my children has brought me to the point where I realize there is no one left for me to rely on but God. Only God can share my grief, only God can help me reconcile my feelings and forgive. Only God can give me the strength to take one step after another. No one else. Not Kerry, with all his leadership, love and compassion can identify with what I feel down deep inside. Not my children or future pregnancies will redeem the feelings of bitterness and anger I have felt. Only God.

Psalm 121: 1-4

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

2 My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

My reliance on God is the only thing that has allowed me to continue on this journey. The help from my God, is what enables me to wake up every morning without crumbling under the tremendous weight of my grief.

Jesus has conquered the pain of this world. Because we still live in a fallen world full of sin, we still experience the pain and grief of losing loved ones. BUT…Jesus has conquered the world and all the pain in it. We may not experience freedom from that pain in this life, but we will certainly experience it when we die if we trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior.

John 16:33

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

We will have tribulation, but we are to be courageous, we are to be peaceful because Jesus has overcome this world. That is where my hope comes from, that is where I draw strength to move from day to day. I still hurt, I still get angry, but I give those feelings to God. I ask for His strength. Not strength to make it through the month, the week or even the day. I ask for the strength I need to make it through the next hour, sometimes the next minute or next conversation. And He delivers. He doesn’t often give me more than what I need, but He never gives me less than what I need.

Psalm 16: 1-2

1 Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

I choose to walk daily trusting in God for the strength I need. God has a purpose for these challenges, I know that He is using this journey to make me into the woman He wants me to be. I surrender daily to His will, even if I don’t understand. It is His strength, not mine that allows me to make that choice and move forward one step at a time.

Journal entry for 5/18/12

This is the journal entry I made on Friday night. I’m still trying to find the right words to describe what I’m feeling this time. It feels, in a way, familiar  yet so very different.
May 18, 2012
It is so hard to believe this is happening again. I don’t feel as shocked, but I still feel heartbroken and wonder why. But the shock has  been replaced by numb this time. With Knox, we were so floored by the loss of a child. It was such a gut check. We’d had 4 healthy boys, although we’d had early losses, it came as such as shock to lose a baby at 15 weeks. When we got pregnant this time we were surprised but delighted. Our delight though, was slightly tainted because we knew that there was no “safe” time during a pregnancy. I was just starting to really let myself hope when we went for our first appointment with Dr. Growney. When we saw a heartbeat I was so happy I cried.
But…
I knew something was wrong. I could tell by what wasn’t being said by the sonographer. I hoped I was wrong. Until I got a call from my doctor setting up an appointment with maternal fetal medicine. But I still hoped. I hoped that it would be unnecessary and that our baby would be fine. While I was concerned about the CVS, I was peaceful that day. Even more hopeful because the NT measurement was down, there was no other edema and our baby looked “good”. I allowed myself to really hope and fall in love with the tiny profile image from the sonogram. I began to dream what the future might hold for our little one.
For 3 days.
When our results came back with Turner syndrome 3 days later I was shocked. A long shot at survival. 1% to be exact. But I still hoped, despite the genetic counselor’s dire outlook. Surely! Surely! We would not be asked to go down through the loss of another child in our second trimester. Surely, this baby would survive. But over the course of 4 days (from results to today), our baby died.
We heard her heartbeat for the last time on Tuesday morning before Kerry left for work. It was gone by Wednesday and today I sat with my doctor staring at her silent chest on a sonogram machine.
My hopes for a live birth, a normal birth, a redemptive birth were gone. I sit here tonight numb, disappointed and confused. Emotionally exhausted from the rollercoaster we’ve been on. Stunned a bit at the irony of it all. Today was Knox’s due date, today was the day we found out his sister died as well.
I don’t understand. I mourn this loss. I know have just as many children in heaven as I do here on earth. I have mourned the loss of as many children as I have rejoiced in their first cries. It seems so wrong and unfair. I don’t know why we’re here again. I was so hopeful for this baby, this pregnancy and this birth. My hope though, is due elsewhere. My hope must be in Christ. It is my God that I have to rely on, hope in and trust. What other choice do I have?
My peace and my hope can’t be based on my circumstances, my pregnancy, or the life of my child. My peace and hope must come from the person of Jesus and His presences in the midst of my pain and my grief. Afterall, He conquered it already on the cross.

Romans 1:17

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

 

May 18, 2012

Today is a significant day. Today was the day Knox was due. Today is also the day we found out our daughter Lillian Faith has died.
We have been praying for her from before her conception. We prayed fervently for her life, her growth and her soul. This week we were told she had a chromosomal defect called Turner Syndrome, meaning she was missing a sex chromosome. 99% of the babies with Turner syndrome die before they reach term. We were praying our daughter was in the 1% who survive.
We were hopeful because she wasn’t showing signs of distress, such as fluid build up around her organs or in her brain  and she didn’t seem to have heart dysrhythmias. We heard her heartbeat for the last time on Tuesday morning when Kerry and I listened together before he went to work.
I have “had a feeling” the last 2 days that something was amiss, but I dismissed it as paranoia and anxiety because I was approaching the same time in my pregnancy when I lost Knox. My very understanding doctor said I could come in any time to have heart tones checked and check on baby. I went in this morning while Kerry took the boys to the park.
We searched for the heart beat with the doppler initially and when we didn’t find it, we did a sonogram. There was our perfect baby, her only movement was with my pulse and no heart beat. My heart is broken. I feel so numb, so wronged and so empty.
We have elected to have an induction tomorrow morning. I could have surgery instead, but I want the opportunity to hold my daughter. I want the option to look on her face and not just an outline from a sonogram. My heart needs that. We ask for prayers for a quick, safe and uncomplicated birth. My birth with Knox was fraught with complications after he was born and I would like to avoid that again. I am also praying for compassionate nurses.
We don’t know medically why Knox died. We didn’t have chromosome studies (as we already had 4 healthy boys) and there was nothing obviously wrong after he was born. We know medically why Lillian has died, but it doesn’t make it easier. We don’t know why God has taken either of them, why we are walking through such sorrow. We don’t know any of it. But we have to trust that He has a purpose. I may not know it for years, I may never know why. But I believe God has a purpose. I believe that He knew the outcome of this pregnancy from the moment He created it, when He was knitting our daughter together in my womb.
My grief is deep, my pain is intense. I get angry at the injustice of it all. I am jealous of the mothers who will get to hold their babies today, while I will sit with empty arms for a second time in 6 months. It seems unfair, it seems cruel, it seems so very wrong. But we believe that God is faithful, we believe that He loves us and the children He has created. We believe that He will carry us through and give us strength.
I am reminded after Job suffered terrible losses of family and property. Job 1 20-22
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped21 He said,

“ Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
 
 
 

March 5, 2012

As I get prepared for our appointment with maternal fetal medicine tomorrow, I spent some time reading over the prayer I wrote the day I found out we were expecting this little one. I write to get thoughts out and since Kerry was working and we wanted to keep the whole pregnant under wraps for a bit, I had to sit down for 2 minutes to write out my prayer of thanks the afternoon I found out. This is what I wrote thanking God for this precious gift. It was a good reminder today.
3/5/12
My Dear Heavenly Father,
I have to write this down because my mind is racing so much I can’t even focus long enough to say anything more than the words “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for my salvation. Thank you Lord for the blessing of children! And Thank you God for allowing me to be pregnant again. I cannot put into words the joy I’m feeling at this moment.
I am so grateful for this moment it’s hard to describe. I thought I would be more afraid of being pregnant after losing Knox, but I’m anticipating it. I’m excited about the prospect. I pray Lord that you will allow me to carry this baby to term and that you will help him/her to grow and develop normally. I also pray God that you will allow me to have a safe birth at home.
Lord, please guide our steps as we make decisions for my healthcare and as we look to the future of this little one. Lord, please bring about a peace as we embark on this adventure. Please help this pregnancy to glorify you and this child and his/her birth glorify you and the grace that you give. God I thank you so much for the precious blessing you have bestowed on our family. Please help us to be good stewards of the gifts You provide for us and to always trust You.
Thank you. I praise You Lord for Your provision and Your grace and Your love for me. Thank you God for the blessing of another child.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen.
 

Talk Turkey and pray

November is a special time at our house. Three of our boys have birthdays in November. Gabe is November 22, Otto is November 23 and Zeke is November 19. We lost a baby November 15, 2009. We remember that baby each year because I truly think that God doesn’t let you forget the children He blesses you with, even if you’ve only known them for a short time.
We are looking forward to November for another reason this year. We are expecting our 8th child (5th here on earth) on November 15. We were quite surprised to find we were pregnant in early March. Everyone at our house had a bout of the flu around that time, myself included and I just wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I felt rotten and exhausted. Then coffee made me nauseous and I suspected something was up.
We are excited and to be totally honest a bit nervous. When we lost Knox last December, it was such a shock to our family. While I had suffered miscarriages previously, I had never lost a baby so late in the pregnancy. My biggest fear after he was born, due to the complications I had after he was born, was that I wouldn’t be able become pregnant again.
I am delighted to be pregnant, but I approach it with much more caution and prayer. I have prayed more fervently for this pregnancy, this child and this birth more than I have any of my others. I am nervous about how I will navigate through the weeks of this pregnancy that coincide with the days and weeks when I lost Knox. I will be 15 weeks pregnant with this pregnancy the week I would have been due with Knox (he was 15 weeks when he died). This baby is due the same day we lost another baby, but is also due the same week that we celebrate the births of our 3 oldest boys.
I have learned though and have been reminded, that this pregnancy is not in my control. He has a purpose for this child and his or her life, just as He did for Knox and the other two babies I have lost and just as He does for my 4 boys here on earth. No matter how much I want to cling to them, if God chooses to take them from this earth, it is His will and not mine. We are trusting God for my health and this baby’s health as we progress in this pregnancy. We appreciate and desire your prayers for our family and this precious baby.
This is our first picture of our little one.
I wrote the above post on Thursday night, below is an update from Friday morning…
We got a phone call this morning from our doctor. Below is an email we sent to our family…
On Wednesday we had a sonogram to check the baby and to ease my mind a bit as I’m a little anxious after we lost Knox. At that sonogram, they take a measurement called a nuchal translucency test. They measure the amount of fluid at the back of baby’s neck. Normal values are less than 2.5 mm. Ours was 6mm. They often combine that test with a blood test (which I did, but we don’t have the results for) to determine the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and heart defects. Because our result was so high, my physician called this morning to talk about options and refer me to maternal fetal medicine in Colorado Springs. With a measurement that significant it is unlikely that the blood work would bring the “risk” level down to an acceptable range.

We have a number of options. One option is to have a CVS study (where they take part of the placenta) and do genetic testing to determine if there are chromosomal abnormalities with the baby. It won’t necessarily tell us if there are cardiac defects. This test has to be done in the next week. Or we can wait for about 2 months and have an amniocentesis (where they take amniotic fluid) and do genetic testing. The risks of both procedures are the loss of the pregnancy, which is about 1:200 or 1:225 for both. While it won’t change our decision to carry this pregnancy to term, I very much need to know what I’m dealing with. I have elected to undergo the CVS test next Thursday morning at 0900 in Colorado Springs.
Regardless of the results, I will have a very detailed sonogram at 22-24 weeks and a fetal cardiac echocardiogram to evaluate the functioning of the baby’s heart and screen for any defects there. As I said, the results of these tests won’t affect whether we continue with the pregnancy as we believe every life is precious the test will help prepare us for what lies ahead. If the chromosome studies are normal, but there is a heart defect we will most likely have the baby in Denver where we have access to baby heart doctors. 🙂 If the chromosome studies are abnormal, it will change how we manage the birth in terms of interventions, such as a c-section etc. We appreciate prayers and since I often use this blog to “brain dump” I’m sure updates will follow.
We are trusting God to help us navigate through this really scary time for our family. We also know that our God is big, our God is good and that He loves His children. We trust Him for whatever the future holds for our family and our precious little baby.

 

What next?

When I tell someone I’ve quit my job, the very next question is “what are you going to do?” Well… I’m going to stay home with our children. But I really think the question they’re asking is “how are you going to pay your bills?”
The truth is we have no idea what lies ahead for our family. We took a step of faith (and obedience) when I turned in my resignation. We felt like God was calling me home full time to disciple and school our children. We trust that God will provide for our family because He is faithful to those who are obedient to Him. We have never been hungry and we have always had a home to sleep in. 1 Timothy 6:8 says “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content”. We have been so blessed that Kerry has always been able to find a job that provides for our needs and that we have both been able to work while homeschooling and have not had to put our boys in childcare. We are looking forward even more to me being able to be home full time. (And can I say when I was younger, I never thought I would want to be a stay at home mom…but that is a whole other post).
So no, we don’t know what lies ahead. We don’t know if we’ll move or if we’ll stay here. Kerry has been called to be in ministry and he would love to be in ministry full time. He is looking for a position that will allow him to be full time answering that call. So if you know of anything…:)
Will we move? Beats me. We are open to moving just about any where, and since I worked as a traveling nurse the idea of a new place is a little exciting. (Although we like it here and are so blessed by a church family that is really FAMILY). Our Kansas family would like us to move that direction, but we really are open to any where. I’ve always wanted to try living in Alaska, but they might disown us if we moved there. Some of our criteria for if we move are that 1. the church be Biblically sound and we are called there 2. I will be able to stay at home and 3. the homeschooling laws/options are doable. We’re not limiting ourselves to certain states or areas (although there are some we’d enjoy more than others).
Saying “I have no idea” sounds so ill advised when people ask the “what next” question. But it isn’t. No we don’t know where we will be, what we will be doing or where we are going. But we do know that we are being obedient and our God is faithful. Both Kerry and I have felt such peace since we’ve made our decision, and because of that peace we know we’re doing exactly what God has called us to do. I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future (I think Homer said it). That’s exactly how we feel.

Matthew 6: 25-24 (NASB)

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes thegrass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

I’m also reminded of a song we sing sometimes in church. It’s a Gaither song (not usually my type), but it captures why we’re so peaceful about our “unknown future”.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives


Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.


And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives.


Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

~ William and Gloria Gaither ~

 
 
 

Light

Darkness. Sin. Worldliness. Hate. Anger. Hurt. Grief. Gossip.
They’re all part of life everyday. We’re surrounded by them, we’re affected by them and we’re involved with them. This weekend we remember the death of Jesus (and His resurrection). As I read through the story this last week with the boys, I couldn’t help but imagine the despair His followers felt. The hopelessness and darkness. What always astounds me is that they didn’t remember what Jesus told them. They had a heads up. He told them that He would rise again. But they were so surrounded by darkness and the world around them that they didn’t have hope.
We are like that sometimes. We get so wrapped up in the world around us, in the sin and despair that we forget the promises we have from God. We’re not promised an “easy” life, but we are promised that He will be with us every step of the way. We are promised that He will give us strength to endure the trials we go through. But yet we are like the disciples and Jesus’ followers. We forget.
I think too, this weekend of the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf. Apart from the fact that He was put to death a completely innocent man, and I think of not only the physical pain and suffering He endured, but the despair He felt. Because Jesus took on my sin and yours, God turned away from Him and poured out the wrath that you and I deserve on His own son. The worst thing I can imagine is being apart from my God. Being isolated, attacked without defense and left alone. I am so thankful that because of the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ, I am able to have a relationship with God. I don’t have to be alone, I don’t have to be engulfed by the darkness that rules this world. I am promised eternal life in Heaven with God.
The light of Christ gives me hope in this dark world. It is His light that guides me and leads me through the trials. I am so thankful that I have hope because of the sacrifice that was made for me. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of my sin so that I wouldn’t have to. Isn’t that awesome? I have light in this dark world…I have hope and I have a future.