Monday, April 28, 2008

Letting Go of Hanging On

So, I'm sure you've noticed it... I've not been myself lately. That's what my husband said loud and clear the other night. Then I admitted to him that a part of me felt as if it left when our baby did. I started thinking about who I was before there ever was a baby. Do you know how difficult that is? To imagine yourself BEFORE the loss of a child?

Well, here I go. I was so happy. I had been married 10 months to my husband, and I could not be more in love. I was looking forward to date nights on Fridays and post-it note love letters every single day. I was learning to cook... It wasn't always successful but I was trying. I was anxious about getting pregnant and had taken a NUMBER of pregnancy tests in the hope of becoming so. I was a friend. People came to me for advice and they often listened to what I had to say. I was joyous. I knew that my life had meaning, though I didn't know what it was, and I was thrilled to see what God had in store. I was a teacher. I loved everything about this classroom, yet I knew God was calling me out of it. These kids were interesting and awesome, and they brightened each day with their quirky looks and hilarious stories. I enjoyed listening to and singing music, looking at and taking pictures, and I absolutely adored polka dots.

That was then.

I am overwhelmed just to get out of bed for fear of thinking of him. I feel suffocated in a classroom full children because none of them are mine. I cry at any talk of pregnancy or just a simple photo of a baby. Baby showers scare me. I am frightened to talk about children. I'm afraid of even discussing babies because I know people feel as though I'm crazy. People walk around me as if I'm surrounded by egg shells. They talk behind my back for fear of not hurting my feelings. I cry all the time. I can't even sing a song at church because the thought of Heaven sometimes hurts because he's there and I'm not. Prayers are difficult, school is harder, and polka dots are driving me nuts.

See, this is now.

I do not want to be this person I've become anymore. I long to move on and feel excitement again over the HOPE of one day becoming a parent. It's not over. I STILL have that chance, that opportunity, even though I've acted as though it's over for me. I want to be a wife again, one who loves unconditionally and goes to bed loving rather than crying herself to sleep. I want my friendships back. I know I don't necessarily even know how to be one, but I want to try. I want to rejoice in my suffering. There are far worse circumstances than mine. My life is not over. I don't want to be like this anymore. Will you PLEASE pray for me? Help me fight this silly battle I've faced for 71 days... I HAVE to let him go. I've been hanging on for too long, and it's time to let go and give God what He deserves:

Praise. "The Lord gave and has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." He gave me a child, and He took him to Heaven; it's up to me to praise Him for it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This Side of Heaven

I know I've talked about Ethan often, but I can't help but think of him everyday. It seems as if he just could be in the other room, but then I realize God has taken him and I am left with this deafening silence and unbearable emptiness. I am not sad that he's gone, because I know his reward in Heaven is FAR GREATER than anything Brian and I could have given him here. Yet my heart aches for him and longs to hold him on THIS SIDE of Heaven...

I know that this isn't possible. I know that God has put 17 (seventeen may be a slight exaggeration but ONLY slight) different pregnant women around me to help me understand that our time is not "this time." I know that there are children in my life everyday and I have no reason to complain, but when I think that none of these are mine, I can't help but feel the pain of losing Ethan all over again.

I know that my fear of babies since losing him is irrational. I get completely overwhelmed when I see a baby boy or the clothes I "might have" bought for him or hear a child cry. I passed a little boy in a brown and turquoise polka dot stroller the other day and nearly choked 1) because of the baby himself, 2) because who would have imagined a boy's stroller in polka dots, and 3) Heaven only knows that that could have been mine! All of this sounds crazy, and I realize it. But then again, until you've experienced it for yourself, which I pray NEVER has to happen for you, you'll soon learn that all of these things are completely normal.

I know I'll hold him one day. I know he'll show us around Heaven, and that, in the mean time, he's in the upmost care. He's with MY FATHER. Why am I so sad about that? Why can I not look at a baby without seeing him? Why is holding a baby such a fear now?

I know that these have been my thought pattern for the past 2 months. I'm not saying it's okay but it is what it is. God has a funny way of showing you to move on from certain things...

I sat at the zoo today with my Kindergarteners when a dear friend and chaperone brought her little baby girl, Eden, over and sat her in my lap. Eden can't be more than 4-5 months old, but when this friend was learning of her girl in the womb, Brian and I were discussing names in case something should happen. Eden was one of those names! I was completely scared to death to touch her, let alone HOLD HER. But as I did, I realized there was a reason for all of this. I don't understand it, and I never will on this side of Heaven. It's not for me to question. It's for God above to work out and show me what time is "the right time." But just in case he doesn't know:

Ethan, Mommy misses you on this side of Heaven.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

God Knows Who You Are

I have really had a lot of time to think about how much God knows about me. It's overwhelming at times, thinking that every thought I have, He knew it before I could even speak it. Every time I hear my Pop pray, he begins by saying, "All-wise, all-knowing and wise, Heavenly Father..." I've sometimes questioned the possibility of an "all-knowing" God. Yet this week, I'm so thankful that He is.

On Friday, as I talked in the office with my principal for only 15 minutes, a third grade student was stealing my cell phone and $12 from my purse. I came back to my classroom to discover that these things were missing, and in a panic, went speed-walking back to the office. However, just the day before, a "suspect" had been accused of taking $45 from the teacher across the hall. Sure, this gave me an idea of who it was, but I didn't know for sure. This strange sense that I had been violated in some way came over me.

All I was able to do in the circumstance was panic. I went to Verizon to suspend the phone and possibly get a new one. That turned out being a huge ordeal as I wasn't actually named on our account. It was awful; Brian was out of town and unable to help, so a fellow friend and teacher drove me around working all of this out.

Looking back, I realize how ridiculous all of this was. In His Word, God says, "In this world you will have tribulation, but take heed; I have overcome the world (John 16:33)." There was no need for my dismay or being fearful. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)." Why was I so frightened at the fact that a 10 year old had taken something of mine? I have no idea. I wondered often over the weekend if that child felt guilty or if he worried over what would happen to him if he were caught. This was not for me to know because my Heavenly Father knew it all.

He saw the child's face as he walked into my room.
He knew that the child would not feel remorse.
He realized that the child needed help.
He understood the child's heart.
He was angry with his actions.
He knew that His judgment on him would be stiff.
He also realized that his punishment here would be small.
He was working in my heart.
He helped the child's parent find the money and my phone.
He was disappointed when I didn't trust that He could.
He probably laughed when my principal handed it to me.
He knows how scared I am to leave my doors unlocked.
He keeps them safely secured even when they are wide open.
He feels my broken heart.
He rejoices when I think of Ethan in Heaven.
He smiles when I love on my husband.
He is put to tears when I praise His name.
He is anxious to see me put my trust in Him.
He is waiting for me to understand Him more.
He wants me to open His pages more often.
He asks that I let it go.
He is proud as I smile at the child who took my things.
He knows that I can be a testimony of His grace.
He knows about my disbelief when I'm walking away.
He feels the readiness I'm experiencing.
He hears my prayers but is already in the works.
He knows exactly who I am.

As angry as I was, I thought about how sorry I felt for this little boy. How lonely he must be and how starved for attention he is. It broke my heart. I am mad, but the emotions I feel are only a piece of what that child hurts with. My God is longing to show His face in this situation, and I am praying that it will be me. Remember today that God knows who you are, and He loves you for it anyway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Things I Should Have Said

Have you ever been through a situation, then, after having stepped away from it, realized that there were some things that you left unsaid? It's happened to me more times than not. I'm terrible about saying exactly what I think, and unfortunately, I've hurt some people with this character trait of mine. Lately, however, I have not said some things that I KNOW I should have when the Lord was leading me to do so.

So I guess you're thinking that I have started writing to make things right and to FINALLY say what I should have... Well, you'd be exactly right. Except it's not going to be what you think it is. I just hope you'll forgive me for opening my heart before you...

When you took care of me after the surgery, I didn't realize how blessed I was; to have the kind of love you possessed even overwhelmed me. Every act of service you performed and every word you didn't say, they went unnoticed at the time. The nights you allowed me to cry myself to sleep as you stayed awake simply praying without ceasing for my brokenness were so unbelievably considerate. The bitterness you have seen has been unbearable at times, and the words that have been thrown at you in anger were unacceptable. Yet, you stood by and loved me nonetheless. As I ached for my arms to be filled, you held me. You were angry at times, but you never showed it. You've shown your faith in our future by not letting go. You've loved with an unconditional love through my darkest days. You've seen the miracles God has performed and trusted that there would be more. You've listened as I poured my heart out in frustration. You've trusted my decisions, but led me to believe in God's faithfulness. You've had faith when I've had none. You've picked up ALL of my slack, and moved on without asking more. You have proven yourself time and time again. You've loved the unlovable. You've been my biggest encouragement, and you have believed in me. You deserve more love. You should have all that I have to give. You are better than 10 sons (1 Samuel 1:8), but without doubt, would be an amazing parent to all of them. You make me want to stop grieving because of your joy. You help me to see that Ethan was a gift, and nothing can take that away. You love my hurting heart and pray for its healing. You are everything a best friend should be. You don't hear these things enough from me, and I'm sorry.

These are the things I should have said to my husband for the past 53 days. I'm sorry it took me so long.

To Heaven and Back, Brian.
I love you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Even a Heart Needs a Break

"...This can be nothing but sadness of heart."
Nehemiah 2:2

I don't know how much more I can take, and yet I know I can face it all with God as my strength and shield. It's overwhelming at times, this sadness I seem to face. The ironic part is that I feel guilty for being sad. God never meant for His children to be anything less than joyful, but I can't seem to let go. I have a great excitement about what must be over this strange, upsetting feeling I've been experiencing.

I've been reading Psalm just to make me feel somewhat normal. Reason being? It's the one chapter in the bible where there is great sadness. The cries and sounds of despair cry out in its midst, and the Lord hears their prayers. I think that maybe I believed that something within myself had let my faith decrease, and that's just not true. Just because I'm saddened does not mean I have any less faith. Did you know that in the Old Testament, people grieved for up to 40 days... Jesus even grieved, even when He KNEW that in minutes He Himself would bring Lazarus back to life, "Jesus wept (John 11:35)." Also, I see no instance in which God didn't respond to those who grieved. "Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy (Ps 126:5)." This is His promise. He doesn't want us to feel the sorrow His Son faced, that is why Christ died, to bear our sins and griefs. However, I deeply believe that God will bless those who trust in them through their despair. I HAVE to think on this and trust His Word.

My heart just seems to stay sad. I'll go through seasons of happiness but underneath it all, I still can't get past the looming emotion. How long must my heart grieve? I know many wonder about me. I just wanted to make some things clear and ask a few requests...

-Please don't count me as weak simply because I cry.
-Please don't question my faith because I know God will provide comfort.
-Please don't say, "You'll have a baby soon," because you don't actually know that.
-Please, if you're worried about hurting my feelings, talk to me.
-Please realize I'm fragile, but I'm not a piece of glass. I won't break if you discuss babies with me, but I might cry; it's just my heart grieving my child.
-Please talk about this with me if you feel led.
-Please understand that I NEED to say his name. I miss him, and though I may cry when I say it, I'm rejoicing that he was and is.
-Please know that I feel your pain too. My burden is NO bigger than yours. If you need my prayers, PLEASE ask of me to pray. I will and can despite my loss.
-Please spend time with me if you can. I need you. Yes, you.
-Please forgive me if I'm harsh, if I say nothing, if I cry, if I don't attend your special events, if I seem distant... I don't mean to be. I long to be involved again, but there are moments when I can't.
-Please read Job. I sometimes feel just like him. No, I haven't exactly lived blameslessly before the Lord, and I haven't lost all that I have. But I have tasted death firsthand, and I have been tempted by the devil and tried by my Lord. I TRY to live after losing Ethan as Job, praising God for his life but saddened by the loss.
-Please respect my time away and with my husband.
-Please don't forget about me.
-Please know that I am so happy for you if you are pregnant or have children. Your joys with your children make you beautiful, and I one day hope to learn from you.
-PLEASE, please, please pray for me. I want to live in a state of love, joy, and peace, and I know I haven't lately. Pray for these three things I long to have.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you today.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Heavy Heart

What's actually heavier than a heavy heart?

Throughout my years, I've never once found anything more difficult than a heart that's been broken, busy aching, or deeply burdened. I've had my share of all of these. The teenage years of dating taught me what a broken heart was. None of these proved serious, and eventually God showed up and showed me how silly my sadness was. My aching heart comes into play when I've seen or heard of something that upsets me. From childless marriages and lack of parenting, to this upcoming 2008 election and every evening news I watch, my heart just yearns for changes in these situations, yet my aching heart doesn't do anything for helping those involved. A burdened heart is one I'm quite familiar with.

I remember the first time I ever was burdened; it came when I was 10-years-old at church. The pastor had asked for a handshake from the church, and as I went around the circle, clasping hands with friends and the adults, my heart started feeling incredibly heavy. That was the moment when I realized that that heavy feeling I would sometimes get throughout my life would be the Holy Spirit moving in me. This, just so happened, to the be first time I ever experienced it. But Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30, "Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. Serving me is easy, and my burden is light." So immediately, I realized my condition: the Lord was working in my heart and offering His plan of salvation to me. It was nothing I had done to deserve Him, but He came to me. I humbly bowed and prayed for that burden to be lifted, and within minutes, He had taken my burden upon Himself, and I was saved and free.

I think now that then I thought my life would be free of burdens because of that moment. Don't get me wrong; it (my getting savedd) only happened once, and that's all I need to know that I have a home in Heaven. But my burdens continue. He often shows me that He's willing, but my flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). I look around my classroom even today and ponder how many of these precious children would come to know Him. It grieved my heart to think that very few would be taught the truth, that Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life (John 14:6).

That's when I remembered a prayer I prayed many years ago... I guess it's not been that long, but I think back to a time when I was imagining what my future children's names would be... This was before there was our Ethan Caleb (who's now passed on to be with Jesus) and much earlier than there was a Brian and me. It was one of those moments in your teenage years when you think of all the creative names for children, and you sit and write them down, maybe in your Bible or in a journal, but you never forget about it. I had one of those times... I barely remember the names now, because God changes your plans whether it be for marriage and/or your children's names, but as I thought about my children-to-come, I prayed one simple prayer. It was something about how I wished that if my children were not going to be saved, I'd rather the Lord take them before they enter this world. How ironic that is to me now!

I have ached... and cried... and been angry... and spiteful... and bitter... and miserable... and so BROKEN since God took Ethan from us. It wasn't until today that God burdened me with that long-forgotten prayer of MINE. My eyes fill with tears as I type this, but I realize that God knows what He's doing. I've learned that it takes a burden to relieve another one, and my heart now understands that God knows best. It hurts and the pain is at times unbearable, but I know that whatever God does is beautiful in time.

There's nothing beautiful about heartache, my brokenness, or these burdens that come on ever so weighty, but God's Word says that "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)." In time, God will heal this wound just as he took that burden away so long ago. I am excited to see God's future plans for me, and I pray that I will wait in anticipation with a heart lifted up toward Him.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Looking Back, I See It All

As Brian and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary on Monday, March 31st, I was surprised at how quickly the memories flooded back. I imagined that I would forget most things, and believe I have, but as the date of our 1 year came around, it was amazing the little things I recalled about this past year.

I realized how:
intricately God had prepared our hearts for one another...
detailed His plan was to make us see what He saw...
He opened my eyes to my future husband while sitting in Starbucks...
quickly our wedding came together...
that beautiful day was perfectly detailed and uplifting to my Father...
time can change everything...
the loss of two loved ones can really bring you closer...
illness can cause the two of you to drift apart...
an endless amount of scheduled activities can make for an awesome summer...
a middle-schooler can change your attitude about children...
God speaks about your future while listening to a Sunday School lesson...
family can either make or break your time with one another...
time apart makes your heart long for each other...
holidays are completely hectic and overbooked...
holidays are so filled with love once you're married...
gifts are something you'll eventually forget...
post-it notes are your favorite thing to find...
peace is such a comfort when you're needing patience...
the excitement of our first pregnancy was perfectly anticipated...
the loss of that child can drive you to desperation...
you long to see him in Heaven...
the strength of your marriage is tested and proven solid...
troubled times always come...
chasing after a dream isn't always what God has in store...
trusting in God is more than just a dream...
asking God to fill you is easier said than done...
the pure joy of seeing it through a year is indescribable...
wanting more isn't enough...
praying for it is.