Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grief and Hope ~ Fourth Miscarriage

Grief is a peculiar thing.
 
Miscarriage, a fourth one.  It seems almost too much.
 
I've cried...and wept bitterly.
I've talked it out with my husband.
We've shared moments of sorrow as a family. 
We've shared great conversation, growth opportunities. 
 
I've analyzed it from every angle...
With no resolution.
I've asked why...
With no answer.
 
I've blamed myself...
Then reminded myself of Truth.
I've physically suffered...
Then found some much welcome relief.
 
I've been angry...not at anyone in particular.
I've been hurt by the insensitive things people say and do...
Then chosen to extend the grace that's been given to me.
I've also been thankful for many compassionate, praying friends.
 
I 've been fearful of the future.
I've been sad for the present.
I've grieved over the past, we all have....
Especially over the child we hoped to adopt.
 
I've prayed in groans that can't be expressed in words...
And other times in earnest.
I've searched His Word for answers.
And found much consolation.
 
Then the sunshine came back out...
It's been there all along.
 
There is hope. There is Jesus.
He is my Light and my Salvation.
He sanctifies and strengthens us in the hard.
He is faithful to those of us who believe.
 
I've counted my blessings.
I've hugged my treasures on earth.
I've praised the Giver...Who gives and takes away.
I've experienced the peace that passes all comprehension.
 
I've seen how He uses our circumstances for good,
Although I know I haven't seen it all entirely yet...
And most likely won't this side of heaven.
I trust that God has a plan, although I can't see it all now.
 
We live in a broken, fallen world...
Where there is pain, tears and death.
But there comes a day when this will end...
And I will meet my four treasures in heaven.
 
When grief comes, because it will keep coming,
I will keep looking up to the Faithful One.
He is my hope.  He is my joy.
He is my Shield and Defender.
 
Now I move forward in faith,
Knowing something better is coming.
Enjoying the blessing of Life all around.
I will glory in the One Who is good all the time.
 
Tomorrow is a new day, full of fresh mercies.
I'm so grateful to know Truth,
To know the One acquainted with our grief.
What would I do without Him?
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Are you going through something?
Run, leap, bound toward Him, my friend.
Abide and trust. You won't regret it. 
His love never fails. It heals and restores.
He gives strength for today.
Peace for the past.
Hope for tomorrow.

You might also want to read "Faith In the Waiting" about my Third Miscarriage...
and there you will find links to posts about previous losses.

Click the following link if you want some tips on "How to Help the Hurting".

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rest

I have to admit my mind spins too much most of the time.  And like most people I get on the "crazy cycle" at times.  Life in this modern world can get busy, too busy sometimes. 

When 2014 dawned I found God leading me to simplify, to cut back on commitments and re-focus on the most important.  I reduced my number of commitments.  Yet, life kept spinning.  I slowed down for spinal surgery.  But, I recovered and jumped right back in.  I wasn't running as much.  Still, my heart felt unsettled, restless.  

I hear people complain about winter.  I've complained about it plenty of times myself.  However, the last few years I've seen the beauty in it.  No, not the snow necessarily (but if you have eyes to see, it is beautiful too) or the cold or the wind or the ice.  The beauty I see in it is: the call to rest


  “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

We had an unseasonably warm December.  But now it's January.  It's well below zero today with much more wretched wind chills.  A fresh layer of snow fell last night.  Schools are closed (not that it matters much to us homeschoolers), roads conditions are hazardous and we don't have to go anywhere.  On days like this we hunker down.  Once our chores and school work are done (farmers and homeschoolers don't take snow days), we play games.  We eat soup and other comfort food.  We snuggle up on the couch together with a good book or movie.  I enjoy time with my family!



When I find a few moments to myself, I am still.  I find time to read, write, reflect and breath.  I might even taken a nap.  I give my mind a rest and just "be".  I find rest for my harried soul. 

I've had time to talk to God about what He wants for me (and my family) in 2015.  I hear Him whispering, "Don't forget how good it is to rest."  And I realize winter isn't all that bad.  In fact, it's the season of rest God knew I needed. 

I certainly am not an expert at this resting thing.  It has taken me time to rein in my spinning mind and restless heart.  Still, I'm glad the rest came when I saw winter as a chance to quiet my soul.

How about you?  Will you spend this winter feeling restless and complaining, or will you be intentional and find rest for your soul? 
      

Friday, December 12, 2014

Another Lesson I Learned From My Child

Motherhood can be so humbling...especially when it's your children who keep teaching YOU things. 

I'm a homeschool mom.  I spend my days with my two boys.  I teach them reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.  But we also talk a lot about character and Biblical truth. 

Recently our family fell in love with a foster child.  He spent weekends bonding with us.  We all enjoyed him so much and it felt so perfect, a great match in every way.  We thought he would soon come to live with us, that he would become our son/brother. 

Then, as the termination of parental rights hearing neared, after the child had already spent several months in foster care, some distant relatives who had never met him and live in another state came forward.  They decided they wanted to be considered as the primary adoptive family.  In our state (Iowa), relatives to the fourth degree of kinship (!!!) receive preference over foster/adoptive families.

I've found myself irritated at "the system" and the laws in our great state of Iowa.

I've found myself frustrated that caring DHS workers can't make decisions that seem to be in the child's best interest, like turning away distant relatives who don't even know a child and live all the way across the country, because of laws that don't make sense and seem to even frustrate them.  Have we lost all common sense?

I've found myself so angry that this precious little one will remain in foster care much longer than necessary, remaining in limbo and unable to get settled into his forever family, because of relatives who don't seem to be thinking of what is best for him.  If they pass their home study process months from now, he will be drug off across the country with complete strangers, having everyone and everything he knows disappear from his life, and without any transition into his new home.  Perhaps they think he's too young to remember.  They're probably right, but he won't forget the feelings associated with such loss and change.  It's unfortunate that they don't mind putting him through this when it could be avoided.  He's a real person with real feelings.  We have developed a relationship with his foster family and would continue his contact with them, the only family he's ever really known.  It's a great loss for them too.  It just doesn't seem right! 

My heart has been breaking over the loss of this little one!  I've prayed.  I've cried.  I've consoled my two little boys many times as they mourn this "little brother".  I've asked God "Why?" many times...with no real answer.  I've asked for strength, wisdom and peace for everyone involved.  I've tried to remain faithful and faith-filled, trusting the One in control of all things.

Last night our 7 year old, Andrew, brought up this little one in conversation again.  We both agreed, we miss him.  I asked him, "Have you been praying about it?"  He quickly said, "Not really."  My heart cried out, "Have I taught you nothing?!"  Then, I calmly asked, "Why not?"  And here it is...the moment when it felt like a 2x4 across my head...

He said, "Well, I believe God is doing His best.  We already prayed about it and I don't think I have to just keep on asking.  He's doing His best, Mom."

"Oh, yes, Andrew, you're right!  We need to thank God that He's working."

When we prayed together before bedtime I thanked God for the lesson I received from Him through my son.  For the reminder that He is doing His best...just as we asked Him to.  Oh, to have the faith of a child!

I remembered a quote from author and speaker, Susie Larson, "God's will for you is your best-case scenario."

I don't understand why.  I'm still frustrated with "the system".  But, ultimately, God is in control.  I can choose to trust that He's looking out for our best interest, and the best interest of this darling child.  I will keep praying that God's will, will be done and that we and others involved will cooperate with Him.  I will thank Him for hearing and answering our prayers.  I will praise Him for giving us His BEST.    

Thanks for the reminder, Andrew!  You are part of God's best-case scenario for me.    :)

Andrew with the pumpkin he carved for me this fall :)

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."  Matthew 6:7-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
 
For the word of the Lord holds true,
    and we can trust everything he does.
He loves whatever is just and good;
    the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.
Psalm 33:4-5

Monday, November 24, 2014

Joy In the Ordinary ~ Fun Day Monday Returns

A few weeks ago my sons and I made a cake with lots of sprinkles.  It wasn't anyone's Birthday or a holiday or anything.  It was the middle of the week.


Who needs an excuse to celebrate?  Life is a gift from God, one to be celebrated.

Susie Larson says in her book "Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places" (I am paraphrasing) when we take time to play it communicates to our children that all is well and more rests on the shoulder of God than on ours.  Susie's words are full of wisdom. 

Our family has been through some real ups and downs in the past week and a half.  It's felt much like a roller coaster ride.  Then today, more news came that brought (more) tears and saddened our hearts.  Yes, we wonder why.  We can't see what He's doing exactly.  This life can be tough.  But we trust that God is in complete control!  We want to communicate that loud and clear to our children.

So today, we keep counting down the days to Thanksgiving by modeling gratitude for our kids.  We've been going around the table at dinner time and writing down what we're grateful for.  Not as elaborate as our Thanksgiving Tree last year, but it works.  :)  We keep walking forward in faith, trusting that God sees all of this, hears our prayers, answers faithfully and rightly, that He loves us and has good plans for our family.  We keep celebrating the gifts He's given us.

There is so much hope, joy and peace in knowing Jesus.  If you know Him you have much to celebrate.  I encourage you to join us in taking the time to celebrate His goodness in the ordinary; to pause to give thanks to the Giver today!

Cake with sprinkles, anyone?

Jesus said, "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."  John 10:10
 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hard Can Equal Easy

Last time I wrote about my friend Janet and the struggles she faced in this life; how she endured and grew in her faith in the process.  I wrote "I can honestly say I don't want easy.  I want to endure the hard stuff with joy and faith. To set my eyes on things above.   To finish strong!"

I've thought about this quite a bit recently.  I meant what I said.  But I want to make something a bit clearer.  The thing that really marked Janet's life wasn't that she faced hard times, it was the fact that she faced them with peace and even joy.  She could do so only because she had a thriving, dependent relationship with the One true Savior, Jesus.

Not wanting easy doesn't mean making it hard on ourselves.  It doesn't mean striving and straining to do more or be more.  It doesn't mean taking on fifteen things when God's only called us to two.  There's a name for that: perfectionism.  Perfectionism is the opposite of peace.  And peace is found in God Himself through Jesus Christ (Phil 4:6-7).     

In this life we will face trials.  Life can be tough!  It's inevitable.  That's part of living in this world.  But we don't need to go out looking for crosses to bear.  We don't have anything to prove to God, or anyone else.  I heard a quote recently from Luis Palau, "God is not disillusioned with us. He never had any illusions to begin with." We need to be discerning to follow His lead...only where He leads us.

When we know and follow Jesus closely we can face the ups and downs of life with peace in our hearts.  We can choose to rest in His love for us.  We can know where our hope is found, in Him.  We can know we are not alone and that we can Trust everything He does (Psalm 33:4).  We can even find joy in the process (James 1:2-3).  Life will be better, easier in that way.  We can be grateful for that.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. 
Matthew 11:29-30
 
In this way hard can equal easy!
 
How about we hang up those heavy yokes of striving, proving and perfectionism...
 
 
To  choose to trade them in for His yoke
which is easy and light...
Learn from Him,
Find rest for our souls,
Put on His peace.
 
Even, and especially in, the "hard".

 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

We Want Easy

The truth be told, we want easy.  We often say, "We want your will LORD" while in our hearts we think, "Surely your will is to bless me."  We prefer to coast along in ease and happiness.  We believe a loving God would want to shower us with "good".  And He does.  The thing is: His blessings often come disguised in hard things. 

Today a friend of mine died to this life.  She lived well.  She died well.  She suffered much.  For over forty years Janet struggled with her health.  She experienced pain ongoing.  It wasn't easy.  It was hard!  But it was in these struggles that she drew closer to the LORD.  She did  not become bitter or angry.  She did not grumble and complain.  No, she chose a better way.  She was gentle, kind and prayerful.  She chose to rely more heavily upon the LORD.  She relied on His strength and His truth more than her feelings.  She was humble, yet strong, so strong.  Her strength came from the LORD.

In the last weeks of her life she lied in a hospital bed waiting on impending death; waiting to meet the Savior she'd served and relied so heavily on.  She asked why she was still here and wondered aloud at what HE had for her to accomplish each of her last days.  She knew He wasn't done with her yet.

She was assured that He was in complete control.  She took every opportunity to tell of His goodness; to give Him glory and point others to Him even from her hospital bed.  She didn't waste a breath.  She was intentional.  She gave life giving words.  She didn't fear the future.  Yes, she hated to say goodbye to her loved ones left behind.  But she eagerly awaited seeing face to face the One with whom, through both hardship and joy, she had developed a true relationship. 

Janet didn't have an easy life.  But it was in those struggles that she developed her faith muscles.  It was in them that she developed perseverance.  It was in them that she had an opportunity to set a beautiful real life example of  "To live is Christ, to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). 
 
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

 
We often think we want easy. We want to be spiritually mature, lacking nothing, but we don't want the testing and trials that seem to get us there.  Just like a teenager or 20 something desires the nice cars, homes and cash flow his parents and grandparents worked for years to attain.  It takes doing the "next right thing" to get there.  It doesn't usually come easy.  It takes time and effort, patience and endurance.  It's often hard.     

I don't know how many times I've written this.  I say it again and again because I'm preaching it to myself.  God did not promise us easy!  In fact, He said we will face trials.  We live in a broken, fallen, sinful world.  It's not a matter of if we will face tough times, it's a matter of when.   Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." 



See, He didn't promise us that we wouldn't go through tough times, maybe even for a long time.  He did promise He would go with us; protecting us, strengthening us.  Then, as we see Him work, our faith will grow.  

When I consider all of this I can honestly say I don't want easy.  I want to endure the hard stuff with joy and faith. To set my eyes on things above.   To finish strong!  I want to be more like Janet.  Because being more like Janet means being more like Jesus.

"Fight the good fight for the true faith.  Hold tightly to the eternal life (eternal purpose) to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses." 
 I Timothy 6:13

I'm thankful Janet endured.  She fought a good fight for the faith.   I'm thankful she pointed me, and many others, to Jesus.  She was a great example and will be greatly missed.  Yet, what a joy and comfort to know she is in Heaven now; in the presence of our Beloved Savior.  She's completely whole, free from pain and sickness.  She received the ultimate healing!  Thank you, LORD, for answered prayers and for the life you gave Janet...both earthly and eternal!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Building Faith Muscles

It seems like it would be easier not to change things...


It seems like it would be easier to leave our family structure the way it is; everyone knows their role.   Our boys are getting bigger, more self-sufficient. Although we always thought we would like a bigger family, we've become quite satisfied  and content with the one God's given us.  Life is good.

It seems like it would be easier to avoid the stress; not to have to wait on court dates and judges rulings, important phone calls, DHS decisions that could change everything; to depend on a bunch of people we don't know to do their jobs and to do the right things.  Easier to stay where we're comfortable.  To avoid the anxiety inducing variables that seem to accompany every adoption process.

It seems like it would be easier to just stay home rather than running off to visits, drop offs and pick ups. To avoid the chaos of going back and forth, changing routine and having to say goodbye again and again to a child we wish we could keep with us.

It seems like it would be easier not to have to answer so many questions.  While it's nice people are interested (and praying), it's not easy explaining over and over again; hearing everyone's comments and opinions.  It's even harder to know what to say and what not to say.  There are rules we need to follow.  (But I don't want people to stop asking.  We'll share what we can...and ask you to pray)

It seems like it would be easier just not to. Not to set ourselves, and our two biological children, up for potential heartbreak.  It feels risky. There are so many unknowns, uncertainties and undetermined details.  We've been investing in, and now have fallen in love with, a child we're not even sure we're ever going to get to  call "ours".  And no one can tell us if we will or won't.  No one knows but God.

Yes, it seems like it would be easier.  But would it?  The real question is, is it suppose to be easy?!

We didn't go into foster care and adoption because we were seeking easy and simple. We began this journey because we felt the LORD prompting our hearts. We felt called. We had a desire to help children. We saw the need. We wanted to obey God.

Let's go back a little...

Honestly, it would have been easier not to go to ten weeks of three hour classes an hours drive away.  To go through background checks, fill out mounds of paperwork, be analyzed and have three home studies!  But we kept stepping forward in faith believing we would be used of God to make a difference in the life of a child or two.

It seems easier not to...

Then we see the face of this child; smiling, sweet, precious.  A completely lovable child who deserves a stable, loving family; one like ours.  A vulnerable child who depends on strangers to make right choices on his/her behalf.  A child who is worth the effort!  A child who fits right in to our family and brings much joy to our hearts.  It becomes obvious...this is why we're doing this!  We only want what's best for this dear little one; dear to us and dear to God.  It's really not about us, or our comfort level.  We would never turn our backs on this little one.

Then we hear another uncertainty, a huge hitch in "our plans".  Then another one.  Things I can't share.  But, trust me, they are anxiety inducing. 

"But God doesn't call us to be comfortable.  He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."  Francis Chan

Yep, today it seems easier to avoid all of this....but it wouldn't be.  God has called us here for such a time as this; for such a child as this.  We love this child already.  God loves this child much more!  We pray.  We hope.  We believe.  If we never get to adopt this child, we will still be better for having known him/her.  We've already learned quite a bit through this process.

God whispers to our hearts, "You say you trust me.  Do you?"  We are building faith muscles that apparently needed a bit more exercise. 

Things may not go the way we think they should.  He never promised this life would be easy.  In fact, He told us in His Word that there would be trials of many kinds.  BUT He did promise that He would walk closely with those of us who love Him.  He promised good things for us who love Him. When we're coasting along,  in ease and comfort, there's no need to cling to such promises.  It's when we recognize how much our lives are out of our control that we turn more fully to Him. 

So for now I meditate on scriptures like this one...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

When I consider these verses I don't want easy...I want to be a woman who walks in faith, develops perseverance and fully trusts the God I serve to do what is best; knowing His best is truly our best case scenario.  I will ask for what I want.  I will do the next right thing. Not because I'm so awesome...because I serve a God who is!! I will remind myself that He is God and I am not.  It is a choice to believe what His Word says; He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and we can trust Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I've had a bit of experience with Faith in the Waiting.  It's definitely not easy!  But I can choose faith.  When my flesh feels anxious because I can't see what He is up to (which is often) and my heart is troubled, it's just another opportunity to take Him at His Word.  I pray we will, and believe our faith muscles will be strengthened in the process.

As we continue to wait I will find joy in the honor to know and pray for this little one.  We will love on this child as if he/she is staying forever.  And I will remind myself...

"Don't let your heart be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me (Jesus)...I am leaving you with a gift ~ peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:1, 27
 
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10