All of your pieces.

I have some embarrassing news.

I’ve been doing this thing, (well up until God revealed it to me this weekend while praying with Davin), that when things were getting stressful, I’d imagine I was somewhere else.  I did this for like, weeks.

Now, I know that sounds harmless enough, but assure you, it’s not.

It was killing my life.  Like, my real one.  Because when my real one was getting to stressful I’d imagine I was just… somewhere else.  Anywhere.  A beach, a spa.  A desert.  I didn’t care, as long as in my imagination, I was alone.  And it was silent.  And no one needed anything from me in my imaginary world.  It could be a foreign country where I don’t even know the language and that seemed easier in my mind than wherever I was at the moment.  I was just gone in my mind.  Because it seemed easier than facing my real emotions on what was really happening.  It seemed safer.

Sometimes I hate that I have emotions at all.  I just wish I didn’t feel stressed or angry or anything.  I’ve told God more than once, “why did you give me emotions if I can’t even handle them properly?”  I know, what a whiner.

Instead of praying, I’d just sigh a sigh of discontentment and then imagine myself away.  It didn’t really make me happy, it just seemed easier than really accepting that I completely fail and that I still need God.  I don’t like that I still need God.  I wan’t to be perfect on my own.

Here is a first world problem example from last Thursday of a time when I mentally tried to escape, if you don’t feel like hearing a negative parenting experience, read on past the italics. Here’s the scene: Last week, we arrived to swim lessons 20 minutes early because we had to pay for lessons on new credit card because the old one was hacked.  Swim is stressful because everyone has to go potty before they swim, and there is a fine line between on time and too early.  Too much time sitting and waiting with three small persons in bathing suits can create mutiny.  So, I took the kids potty and had something like fourteen minuets left.  More than enough time to handle the payment, I am such a responsible mother who has her act together.  Not so. We waited in line behind ONE person for like over twelve minutes because they had a thousand good questions and were brand new, but didn’t want to be on a schedule, just pick a day once in a while and come… so they are looking at calendars and I am trying not to say negative things in my mind about people who can’t just make a decision and pick a day!  After this person who has no lessons scheduled gets a full tour of the facility, the receptionist comes back in a leisurely manner.  I then attempt to pay as quickly as possible and it still takes over five minutes to figure it out because computers are confusing and her’s was unfortunately from the 1990’s, then… wait for it, Ellie poops her swim diaper.  Perfect.  Once we finish, I rush the kids to pick up the mess on the floor, rush them back to the bathroom, attempt to put Ellie in a new swim diaper (at least I had an extra), and we are now LATE for swim.  I accept absurd defeat.  We are now wasting money on swim lessons that aren’t happening.  This should not have happened like this.  I tried so hard to be responsible. And now the older two kids are looking under the stall at some other woman and her child (I’ve told them NOT to do this a million times), then they are touching bathroom floor, Ellie’s poop falls onto a bench and I’ve about lost it.  We are late to lessons even though we were here TWENTY minuets early!  There is poop on a bench, a toddler is laughing, and my kids faces are near the bathroom floors!!! AGGGGHHH!  All I said was, “SIT DOWN NOW.” and then point my finger to a space on a bench.  It not only put fear into my children, who quickly acquiesced, but I believe also into the poor woman and her daughter who probably thought I was the most stressed, frazzled and grumpy woman to ever parent children.  She cowered out of the stall and went on her way.  When we finally made it to the pool, we were late and I was not smiling.

As I hashed and rehashed how in twenty short minutes I went from relaxed and happy to stress-case, I told God all about how all satan has to do is get me in a bathroom alone with three small children and I will loose my mind all up in he-ah! But that doesn’t matter.  God is bigger than bathrooms, and late swim lessons.  But in my mind, I wasn’t even giving him the chance to be.

I just sighed, told God again that I obviously wasn’t fit for this job and he should just retire me and send me somewhere that doesn’t involve me being perfect.

I didn’t take the time to hear him tell me that he hasn’t called me to perfection.

I was already gone.  In my mind I was just in some trees, staring.  It was quiet and I was alone.  And at least there I wasn’t ruining little peoples lives by not being able to handle my emotions in public bathrooms.

My kids were happy swimming.  I was watching them and wishing I was a perfect parent who never made mistakes.  I was disqualifying myself again, telling myself how I should have done better.

So, this is bad for a number of reasons, I get that.  And giving myself a mental lobotomy/vacation is not the answer.  Going away in my mind didn’t even make me feel any better, it just made me feel nothing, which is the gateway to apathy.  Scary.

Over the last few weeks, I had been slowly detaching myself, and my emotions from my own life.  From my children, from my marriage, from anything that made me feel something negative.  And it was beginning to affect my actual life, at least on my end.  Fortunately, it quickly caught up to me and God revealed the problem.

I would never in a million years actually leave my family, not physically.  But I was doing it.  In my mind.  In my spirit, I was basically checking out.  They were all there, yelling, touching bathroom floors, doing whatever was too much, and I was just like, “I can’t even handle this anymore, I want an imaginary life where I don’t feel frustrated.”

After a weekend of feeling down and restless, the Lord revealed in prayer to both Davin and I that mentally checking out was not helping us.  It was detaching us from our family.  From each other.  After we prayed, we committed to holding each other accountable, by texting or calling when we felt like mentally escaping, and instead just asking for prayer and then waiting for God to show up.

Here’s how my week has been.  Besides amazing.

And here’s a song for you to listen while you read, if you’re into that kind of thing.  It’s called Pieces by Andrew Belle.

So, I currently have a horrific cold, the kind where your entire face is leaking.  I took medicine to help and I haven’t taken cold medicine in like over three years, because normally I just deal.  So, I felt pretty hideous, but here is Dani.  I spent some one-on-one time with her in her room.  She put her crown on me and said,

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“You look like a beautiful mommy.

You look better than anything.” 

I had to stop and take a picture, and then type out what she said, because I wanted to remember that moment forever, and share it with her when she was grown, to remind her of who she is.

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Here’s Ellie this morning during our date (the twins were in preschool) and she’s wearing my old baby bonnet.

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Here is Dani kissing my leg this afternoon because I don’t feel good.

We read this in a book last week and started saving our boxes for a town…

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We made the town today

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It was messy and chaotic, but we all enjoyed ourselves.

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I asked Ellie what she wanted her store to be called, she said, “green.”

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I made a streetlamp.

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My church slogan was inspired by Kid President’s post, An Open Letter to Moms.

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I feel it’s also necessary to share that I made a hair boutique with a drawing of a poodle and an glorious old woman with big white hair, and a slogan that says, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.”  I plan to have very big hair when I am older.  It will be the biggest.

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When I asked Dani what her store was called, she said, “a hand store, where if your hand is hurting, they make it better.”  I feel like she might be in a nurse or a surgeon when she grows up.

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This firehouse is an ode to my Grandpa Jack.  He was a fireman in Alameda, CA.  He once did a safety demonstration of how to jump off a building onto one of those fireman catcher things.

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It’s called a life net.  He jumped down three stories and landed wrong, breaking his leg.  He never let the crowd know, he just jumped up smiled and walked off on a broken leg, everyone left feeling safe thinking that life nets were probably a good option and not to be afraid of them.

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“Home of the Famous Jumping Jack Reason”

I saw the film, The Giver a few weekends ago.  It was perfect timing.  I was really down and not sure why I was so despondent over life.  It wasn’t until the end of a day by myself that I realized I was still mourning the loss of our baby.  I was driving home in the car, and I started singing.  It was a love song.  I started crying, singing it to my baby in heaven.  Then I knew.  I knew why I was feeling everything I was.

I came home to an empty house and cried over and over to God,

“I just wanted that baby.”

“I just wanted that baby.”

“I just want MY baby.”

I accused God of taking him or her because I wasn’t a good enough mom. That if I had just made better dinners and didn’t get angry, then maybe he would have let me keep this precious, precious baby.  I knew it wasn’t really true when I said it all out loud.  But that didn’t keep me from feeling it.

I told him everything I felt, even though I knew it wasn’t all quite true.

Then I felt his peace wash over me.  A peace that maybe this baby wasn’t healthy and whole enough to be born.  A peace that maybe it wasn’t all my fault.  A peace that this baby was in heaven and that every time I kissed one of my babies on earth, maybe this baby in heaven could know and feel how loved he or she was too.

Watching The Giver reminded me why God gives us emotions in the first place.  So many times, I’d rather do without them.  Or at least that’s what I think.  Because it’s no fun to feel these types of emotions.  They are like a storm at sea.

A wise friend recently told me to ride the waves.  Not to stand there and fight them, letting them overtake me and drown me, but to ride them out and know that they will take me somewhere.

So, it’s okay to mourn.

It’s okay that I feel sad.

It’s okay to feel angry.

It doesn’t mean I make all of my decisions on my emotions, or justify acting in anger.  It just means that I’m human, and I can ask God to meet me there, in the middle of my storm, and calm my seas.  And wait for him to say, “It’s okay about all the mess ups.”

And know that I don’t have to be perfect.

And it’s better that I need him.

Anyway, this film reminded me of the beautiful messiness of life.  And how sometimes it’s a perfect mess.  I recommend it.  You should see it.

As always, thank you for reading.

Cornerstone

How’s it going?

This is a pretty normal question that lots of people ask me on a regular basis.  My answer is usually, “things are going pretty good, it’s been a nice summer…”

However, if I’m in a moment where I’m thinking about the baby we lost, I might say something more like, “Things are getting better.”  Sometimes I forget who I’m talking to, and if they knew or not.

Then I remember that not everyone reads my blog or knows what happened.

It’s strange to experience such a great loss, and realize that the whole world didn’t stop.

After the loss, we went to church a few days later on a Saturday night.  It happened to be celebration weekend at our church.  We were celebrating everything God had done and was doing for our church.  Lots of people were really happy.  There was an air of joy in the building.

I didn’t feel like I belonged there.

I wanted to leave and not ruin the party.

I didn’t feel like celebrating anything.

But I felt something in me tell me to stay, and decided that it was okay if I was sad and everyone else was happy.  It was still my church, and these people loved me weather I was smiling or not.  I was safe here.

During worship, we sang the song, Cornerstone by Hillsong.

Here are some of the words:

Christ alone, cornerstone
Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of all

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

My husband sat on my left and held my hand, and my dear friend sat on my right and held my other hand as I sat and cried/ attempted to sing.

“This is the hardest part” she said.

She would know.  She’s had three miscarriages.

She knows my pain.  She’s cried these tears.

She held my hand as I sang all the words as full as I could with a lump in my throat.

My eyes were blurry with tears, knowing the words were true.

She was right.  This was the hardest part.  Believing that Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.

But I was choosing to believe it.  Right there, right then.  In that very difficult moment.  I knew God had not abandoned me, and his love for me pierced something deep in my heart.

After a while, I felt God speak to me.  He said, “the angels are singing over your baby.”

I started crying, sobbing.

My baby was safe.  My baby was with Jesus.

I tried to sing again, and asked if maybe the baby could hear my voice too.  I sang as best I could, crying and cracking and singing, imagining that my baby could hear his or her Mama’s voice praising God among the angels.  I sang the words over my baby,

Then He shall come with trumpets sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless, stand before the throne

I will not sit in sorrow, refusing to believe what is good about God.  I will not let my sadness drag me into a place of misery, believing lies that God doesn’t care.  I will choose to take God at his word.  He’s been there for me before, he will be here with me now, he will never leave or forsake me.  Not ever.

I am His.

our baby’s in heaven

IMG_4538A while back, I felt like I should take a break from writing.  We had a lot going on with birthdays, vacations and the end of the school year.  I felt the Lord whisper to, “take a break and just rest”.  Funny, a week after I decided to listen, we found out we were pregnant… with our fourth.  We were excited and a bit overwhelmed at the idea of four kids, but mostly just stoked.  I was really wanting another baby… and so was Davin.

These last few months have been gloriously free from most social media, blogging and all the “writing thoughts” that go on in my mind during the day.  I took a step back from all that I was engaged in and just rested with my family.  I played with my family, took naps and ate snacks.  Not much to worry about except what I should eat.  Pregnant ladies get really, really hungry… all day long.  It’s a serious business, that eating.

A week ago, we discovered that our baby had gone to heaven… with… out… our permission.  He or she most likely went to heaven around nine and a half weeks, because that’s what the ultra sound showed the growth rate at the day before our miscarriage, information we didn’t have until the following day.  I was fortunate enough to have a natural miscarriage, without any medical procedures.  Since we had never experienced one, and still didn’t have the news from our doctor that the baby had stopped growing, we at first were still hopeful that maybe the baby was okay even with the spotting, since it can be normal in pregnancy.  (Warning: the rest of this paragraph may be TMI for you… warning… warning!)  By 2:30 am when my water broke, we were pretty sure things weren’t okay.  By 4:30 am, after much bleeding and contractions we knew I was miscarrying our baby.  By 8:30 that morning, my contractions stopped, and the bleeding subsided, our baby was in heaven.

We cried when it was happening.  We cried when we realized our hopes for our little Dude or Lady in January were crashed.  We cried to think of the sweet child that we would never get to know on earth.  We cried just thinking about telling our kids that the baby they loved in Mommy’s tummy was in heaven.

It was sad.  But you know what else?  It was inexplicably covered in peace.  Literally just how the scripture that says in Philippians 4:7,  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  A peace really did come over us and that transcended ALL understanding.  

I know it’s early in the process, and I’m sure there is more grieving to be done.  I am not minimizing that.  I am just saying that in the midst of physically experiencing a miscarriage and not realizing what was going on right away, in the midst of understanding the truth that our baby wasn’t with us anymore, in the midst of grieving the loss – I still felt surrounded by peace.  If that doesn’t transcend all understanding, I don’t know what does.

Worldly logic says I shouldn’t be able to feel any peace in the midst of this sorrow.

Here’s something else.  The day before when I was getting the silent ultra sound, (I say that because the tech only asked me three questions, then never spoke again…) the tech finished and went to see if the radiologist wanted to share any information with me, which he did not. While I waited, I stood there thinking, hmmm, this wasn’t like all my other ultra sounds where the sweet lady says, “ohhhh, here’s the baby’s heartbeat!  Here’s the hands!” it was just some weird dude saying not a word.  Thoughts started to cross my mind that the spotting might have actually meant that something was wrong.  When I started to panic and get sad, I heard the Nat King Cole song, “Smile” on the speakers in the hallway.  It’s a pretty tragic song guys, if you start playing it while you read this, you might just cry.  So only do that if you want a good cry.  Once I heard the sound of Nat’s voice, I felt this crazy peace rush over me and I was back at my grandparents’ house, as a kid, listening to their records.  My grandpa is already in heaven and I felt like that was God’s way of saying, “Yea, this is rough, but it’s going to be okay.  We go way back, I was there with you then, and I’ll be here for you now.”

Guys, I didn’t walk through this miscarriage alone.

God surrounded me with his presence in so many ways.  Jesus showed up in Davin as he sat near me the entire night, holding my hand, taking care of my every need, being unbelievably supportive, loving, amazing and strong.  He showed up in the love and support of my family and friends through texts, muffins, flowers, cards and a friend watching our three kids so Davin could go with me to the doctors to make sure I was healthy the next day.  God was gracious to take the baby to heaven earlier in my pregnancy, when it wasn’t as difficult to miscarry naturally.  He timed it so we’d still have space to heal before we go on the crazy awesome tropical kid-free vacation we’d planned for this summer.  I even still get to  look forward to and celebrate a baby right around Christmas, since my brother and his wife will be having their second then (#babyfix)!  And, I felt his grace when I held my three kids the next morning in the kitchen, thinking that some women experience a miscarriage, and don’t yet have a child to hold and thank him for.

I keep thinking of all the ways that he was so gracious to me, even in the midst of this sorrow. And, it doesn’t make me not sad that my sweet baby is in heaven.  That I’ll never hear this kid laugh or see he or she smile on this earth.  But seeing God show up in so many different ways made me feel like there must be something bigger going on than my plans and purposes. Because those weren’t my plans and purposes.

God is sovereign.

Does that mean he wanted my baby to die and my pregnancy to end in a miscarriage?  No. Not at all.

We live in a non-Eden world.  It’s not a perfect heaven just yet.  God’s given us the power of free will, making our world a messy, sin-filled, sometimes crappy place that we get to bring light into through Christ’s love.

God is sovereign means that he has a bigger plan that he is working out in spite of sin’s effects on this world, making room for his love in the tough stuff.  And because he sent his Son to die for our sins, we know that his whole plan is motivated around his love for us.  Even when it doesn’t look like it.  Even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

We toss the word love around like it’s whatever, but when you really, really think about it – God loves ultimately, fully, completely and perfectly, each one of us.  And somehow, I think that truth resonates with you, somewhere deep, deep down in your heart.  And if you want him in your life, you don’t have to be perfect, it’s as simple as this prayer,

“Jesus, please forgive me for all the stuff I’ve done that didn’t honor you.  I’m sorry.  Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.  Please come into my life and begin to make stuff right.  I want to see you transform my life into something beautiful.  Please be Lord of my life.  Amen.”

That’s kinda a, “Jesus Take the Wheel” type of thing, giving your life over to him;-)  It’s sorta a big deal, so If you did pray that for the first time, you should find someone who reads their bible and let them know so they can help you find a church.  Walking with Jesus is never an orphan experience, you need a big family around you, reminding you about God’s love and truth in word and action.  And, some churches are awesome and some are not, or can be super old-school and if that’s not your thing, keep looking until you find the one that feels like home.

And, like I told Davin after we’d finished crying, “Hey, that’s the BEST kid we ever raised!  That baby is in heaven!  SUCESS!”  God can bring good out of anything.  We high-fived with tears still running down our faces, knowing that there was still joy in our future.

Now I am a mom of four (actually maybe five, we thought we were pregnant before this one and then weren’t after a few days, so maybe number four has a sibling in heaven).  Either way, I have three little ones on earth to raise-up to know the Jesus that their little sibling or siblings are hanging out with right now.

And that’s a huge job.

Thanks for reading.

And for those of you who just love to cry… I give you

“Smile” by Nat King Cole

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile