Saturday, November 7, 2015

Justification and Promises

As most blog posts are, this one has been on my heart for awhile. We are nearing the 2 year mark since Naomi went to be with Jesus. In some ways it feels like its been forever in other ways it feels like just yesterday.

From the moment that she went to be in Heaven until now, I've been told so many things about what was Gods purpose, what I should believe, what I have to expect next. A lot of them come in forms of promises. Whats even harder is that the deliverer of the message is trying to be encouraging and kind.

At the beginning I really enjoyed them, they were things that I grasped onto but as time continued I realized that they were more harmful more often than good.

To summarize I would say these are justifications and promises. Our culture is so full of them. We feel like we need to offer platitudes. Let me give you some examples of these justifications that I've dealt with or have heard: "Well, something must have been wrong with the baby. It's good that it happened early". "At least you have Sophia!" "At least you didn't have a chance to get to know the baby!" "God must have wanted her more". "God has a purpose for her," (This last one seems to come with a rationale of that she was purposed to die. This was her whole meaning in life.

Some examples of promises are "It will all be okay!" "You'll get over this one day!" "God will redeem Naomi in this way ____". One of the biggest one I had faced and the most detrimental to my heart was, "God has another baby for you".

These justifications and promises are often times unfounded. They have no rationale or biblical basis. Justifying the hard times can make it seem like it shouldn't hurt as much and most of the time ends up adding barbs to the situation rather than help. Promises that are unfounded can offer false hope and or frustration. It may not be God's plan for our life.

These things are not promised to us. What are we promised as Christians? We are promised that God is here for us (Exodus 33:14), that if we do accept Jesus as our Savior that we know we will go to Heaven (John 3:16) and he even promises hard times (James 1:2-4). But never once does he promise we will have as many kids as we want, or that we will stop missing our kids or that our life is going to be without pain. He does however promise that he will be honored in all of this. Romans 8:28 says: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." I was often quoted a version of this... In attempt to tell me that God's plan for Naomi was good. I will blog more about this later, but I don't believe with any part of me that God wanted Naomi to die. Death was not in His plan for us. When sin entered the picture so did death and suffering and pain. God's plans to use what's going on now (the horrible every day to day moments that I have of not living this life with my girl) those plans... those are good.

When we first started trying to get pregnant after Naomi, I held onto these promises so tightly. "We are going to find out we're pregnant before the next year! It will make the year ok.", then "I'm going to be pregnant for Naomi's birthday... what a sweet thing", then "I'll get pregnant during her birthday month", and it kept going on. For over a year. Every month I rationalized what promise was going to be fulfilled... How God was going to redeem that promise.

It wasn't God's promise to redeem! When I finally started to realize that this was how I was holding on to these I started to receive a different type of healing.

As Christians we do this a lot, we offer platitudes that are not ones that we have right to offer. So how do we offer Hope that is Biblically grounded but also helpful? In my opinion we start by just saying, "I'm so sorry this happened to you!", "I'm here to cry with you.", "God is still here." "He loves you and your baby so much.". If in doubt just say "I'm sorry!"

What promises can we offer? We can offer the promise of God's redemption. Our God is one of redemption. It is part of his very nature! But how he redeems it may be not what we think or planned. But to be specific in how God redeems it is not our job or right.

So what can we do when someone around us is suffering? We can let them know that God hasn't left them (Psalm 3:4) and neither have we. We can say I'm sorry. We can cry with them. Eat copious amounts of cookie dough. Bring their favorite wine or beverage (mine is wine fyi). We can offer to be there for them. We can be the hands and feet of Christ. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Drying and Waiting Period

Monday I had the chance to chance to hear "The Potter Lady" (Rachel Norris) again. The last time I heard her speak was December of 2013 about 2 months before Naomi was born. It is interesting how you can hear the same message twice but it can hit you so differently.

I don't exactly remember what I took from her speaking the first time I heard her but this year it has been resonating so soundly with me. If you haven't heard of her before look her up:  Rachel is a very talented potter and makes it look effortless but more than that she speaks such beautiful and raw truth that it really cuts to the core and captures your entire attention.

There are numerous references to the potter and clay in the Bible. It is so amazing to me that the Bible can put an entire lesson in life in one sentence...  Look at Isaiah 64:8. He is the Potter and we are the clay. So what does that mean? Well, the clay is chosen for a specific purpose by the Potter and it goes through several steps in order to be perfect and useful. We need to be wedged first (like kneading bread) in order to get out air bubbles and make it all the same, then we start to be formed. Once we're done on the Potters wheel we've got to set for awhile to get all the moisture out before we get sent to the fire (Kiln). If a piece of pottery goes into the fire too early it will burst. Afterwards, it gets glazed and painted and then re-fired, the second time even hotter than the first. We need to go through each of these steps in order to be useful for our Potter... and they aren't fun but we can't tell him what we need because we are just the clay and He has the vision. How hard is that! I can tell you friends, it's been a struggle.

Why? Well... It will be 6 years in May that Joe and I've been married and although we've been so happy and I couldn't be happier that he is my partner in life... the life that has been surrounding us since than has been not very peachy. We keep waiting for our break. We both feel like its just been storming on us and man are we tired. 

I have been still struggling with my health stuff. I found out that my thyroid numbers are perfect but my hormone levels are still not where they should be... This is also part of we we have yet to get pregnant again.  So, I got sent to a specialist.. He's hopeful some medication should be able to fix some things and hopefully restart my body's natural rhythm. It contributes to a lot every day, from being exhausted, to gaining weight and hot flashes.

Joe's waiting for a new job. He really dislikes his current one and can't wait to get into a police department where he feels his heart is calling. Police departments hire during certain parts of the year though and so we wait. He thought of applying to a department that is an hour away but that would be 14 hour days and a lot of time away from his family. 

It is so easy to try to rush God's plan for us because the waiting is tough.. but what I kept hearing on Monday was "wait, sweet child of mine, wait. I know what I'm doing... and it is going to be so good."

So this is where we are. We're in the waiting period. I know my God is good... I know His plans are good. I know that I can trust Him and what He has said. In the mean time, we're trying to enjoy life as much as we can. We're getting healthy and doing all that we can to prepare for the next stage. We're ready Jesus! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

One Year- A letter to my angel daughter.

My Dear Sweet Naomi,
I have been struggling so hard in what to write to you. I wanted so badly to have this letter done by your birthday but the words just wouldn't come. This year had been next to impossible to explain. It has been full of seemingly opposites, both the longest and quickest year, the hardest and most life altering, the most emotional and the most emotionless.

You have changed me little one and more than just my body or hormones. I am not the same and I am so glad that I am not. I hope to live my life not just for myself but you. You have taught me so much about grace and hope, courage and bravery, compassion and empathy, love and hurt. I look at the world around me and I see people in a way that I never did before. I have clarity in so many ways, I have little patience for pettiness and want so desperately for people to be their best. Life is too short for intentional hurt. I know I fail at this too but God is working on me. I asked God to use you to teach me instead of just thinking of you in pain and Oh my darling, He so has. God has used you to minister to other mamas and families that are hurting too. Your little footprints are imprinting this world so big and I can't wait to see where they go during my lifetime.

Your big sister is singing to me from her bed right now. I can't help but think of who you'd be if you had grown up with us this year. Would you love to sing like your sister? Would you be loud or quiet or a little of both? Would you look more like your daddy or your mommy or be your sister's little twin? I've missed so much. People say one day it won't hurt so much... Some people think I'll get over you. Naomi, I never will get over you and maybe it won't hurt so much but I will always wonder. I'll wonder if you inherited the Brown toes and fingers like your sister? What color hair or eyes would you have? Would your hair be curly too? Would you dance silly with your big sister? Would you think she hung the moon?

I've missed your smell, your touch, your laugh, your eyes. I miss middle of the nights with you, chaos during the day with you. I miss changing your diapers and washing your clothes. I miss making you baby food and cleaning that baby food off of the floor when you decide to feed the dogs. I miss watching you crawl and teaching you to walk. Teaching you sign language and hearing your first word. Oh sweet girl. I miss you.

There will always be an empty place where you should be. I felt it last night as we giggled on the couch and when I put your big sister in her car seat. I feel it as I sing Sophia songs and kiss her goodnight. You always have a place in my heart.

I wouldn't give up an ounce of the pain that I have felt because it means that you are so deeply loved my darling. I am so very glad that I have the hope and knowledge of where you are and where I one day will be too. Sweet Naomi, I cannot wait to touch your cheek once again, see what color of eyes you have and hug you so tightly. I may never let go.

But sweet baby, before Mama can hold you, I pray that one of your great- grandparents are. They all love you so much. Know that we will be okay and we cannot wait for the day we get to see Jesus and YOU.

Yours Forever,

Friday, February 6, 2015

A letter to my oldest.

My dear Sophia,
One day I want you to be able to read this and know my mama heart. I want you to you how hard this year has been but through it all how very much you are loved and how much I am glad you are a part of our lives.

You are 3 now and you are my three-nager. Finally becoming so vocal,  you will tell me when your feelings are hurt or you are feeling happy. You will tell me randomly how much you love me and that is probably my absolute favorite. I adore watching you grow and learn even when you are grumpy. I love you being in our family. We are so much better off because you are here.

I am so proud of you I know you don't understand all that has happened this year but you have been so sweet. For the first couple weeks after your sister Naomi went to heaven you still kissed my tummy. Ever since, during our nightly prayers, we ask God to give Naomi kisses. When I ask you about Naomi you tell me she's in Heaven and we send balloons to her.

But you probably understand more than we give you credit for, you at least are very comforting and sweet when mama has a bad day. There are just some days that I miss your sister so much. I miss holding and loving on her. I miss watching her grow and seeing her personality develop. Most of all, I miss watching y'all together. I miss seeing you be the loving big sister you are and seeing you teach her all that you know. When I have those hard days you are usually easier to manage and you just let me have those moments.

Usually oldest kids have to learn the hard way. Oh my sweet oldest, how I wish you wouldn't. There are so many "hard ways" that I have learned this year. I wish you never would have to learn....

I wish you could know happiness and joy without heartache. I wish you could know love for others without knowing pain of them being gone from your earthly life. I wish you could learn endurance without having to endure or strength without having to feel weak and powerless. I wish you never had to learn devastation, heartache or hurt. But my sweet girl, know that your mama has walked that hard road and will always be your extra guiding post. I will always listen and support and give you that tight squeeze. I want you to know that through it all God is there most of all. He will bring you out of the fire just as he has me. He will be your hope when you have none. Trust in Him, Sophia- even in the darkest days.

God hasn't promised us anything other than Heaven if we know Him. He hasn't promised us a life of happiness and sunshine. Hard things will happen in our life. Everyone has something that they struggle with. But you will get through because you are strong! Especially because you are a Child of our KING!

My dear girl, I love you. And I can't wait to see what God has in store for you.

Love you always, forever and no matter what,
Your Mama

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grief 101 part 1.

Its 2015 which means that we have officially entered another year without our sweet Naomi in our arms. It's had been one heck of a year. We've had everything break on us, lots of things to fix and not much happiness. Through it all. God has given us joy in the midst and taught us lots of lessons. I have not come out from 2014 unscathed and I'm okay with that. I'm glad for my war wounds it means that she has made an impression on my life. Those little feet have touched this world even if they never did physically.

We've learned a lot, at some point I'll be able to hopefully share it all but for now I figured I would share the biggest lesson that we've learned in a multi-part blog. What is that lesson you say? Grief. We got thrown into the depths of those muddy waters and are starting to come out. We've learned what it means but also what it means to those around us and how others can walk the path alongside those in grief.

What does Grief even mean? The dictionary defines it as:
1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
2) a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow

However, each and every person has a different experience and that what makes it so intangible. No-one really knows what to do especially when a child leaves this earth. It becomes a taboo subject and causes more insult to the injury. There are common threads in grief though and that is what we should keep in mind. Here are some:

1) Everyone grieves differently. Allow them to. We learned this with my husband and I... But I also see it as I interact with other people who have lost loved ones especially little ones.
2) Grief doesn't just end/ You don't just "get over it". You get through it and learn how your life is going to be "after". The before is gone. Although I feel pretty good these days, I know that my thought process and daily life is very different after my daughter went to heaven.
3) Grief can hit you in ways you can't expect at times you can't expect AND it's okay! There are times where I don't even know what triggered it. I just feel flat lined emotionally and know I need to give myself extra grace.
4) There are things that can cause grief to be worse. I only want to lightly tough on this now, because I will be talking about alleviating and helping someone through grief in part 2. The biggest thing one can do is just to ignore that the child died. And no I'm not talking about talking about that day in the hospital. I'm talking about saying her name.(please! Say it!) Thinking with me often about how she may be... (Would she be annoying her big sister these days?) and so on. Do you know someone that haven't been able to bring a baby home? Make sure to tell them Happy Mother/Fathers Day! It's hard when someone forgets they are a parent even if they are doing a different model of parenting than we may think.

I may need to add to this as we continue to walk the grief journey... It's just one step a day, one day at a time...