Reflective Meandering

Thoughts on faith, people, politics, travel, and transition.

God’s Grace in Our Suffering

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I think the hardest part of experiencing the death of a loved one is that everyone else’s world doesn’t stop. When I lost a friend a couple of years ago, I remember feeling shocked and disappointed that everyone who lived around him wasn’t mourning with me. He was a great man, and a great witness for Christ. This world lost so much when it lost him. I feel similarly now. Not that my baby had done great things for the Lord, but that his potential was endless.

My husband and I went out to pick up lunch and I stayed in the car. We were at a shopping center and I watched people buzz around me, going into shops and restaurants, their lives unchanged by the loss we’re experiencing. It makes sense. I’m sure they’ve experienced losses I couldn’t sympathize or empathize with as well. It’s still overwhelming though, that something so world-changing for me doesn’t even begin to affect the people in the car next to me.

To say we are devastated is an understatement. But, the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. I cannot comprehend His works right now, but I know that they are good.

The Lord is not surprised by our loss. Not a sparrow falls without the Father’s knowledge. I wish knowing that was a salve to my wounds, but right now it’s merely a reminder of His power and sovereignty. Right now, we focus on reminding ourselves of who God is, and how He has shown us grace, even through our suffering.

The timing of my water breaking was a blessing. I was with my husband, we were together, able to go to the hospital together, hand-in-hand. I can’t imagine having to begin this process from work or by myself.

We feel fortunate to have had our baby with us long enough to see him wiggle all over the sonogram for us, but not so long that we would’ve had an even more difficult miscarriage in our second trimester. Things could’ve been much worse, particularly if this occurred during the babymoon we were planning to take. In fact, it’s a blessing we hadn’t yet finalized those babymoon plans.

It was so gracious of the Lord to allow our baby to arrive in this world whole. Our perinatologist told us to expect to see white “tissue” mixed in blood and that would be the baby. But, we had seen his head and his hands and his legs and his feet via sonogram, and I think it would’ve been so much harder had we not delivered our little guy intact. Not only that, but we had the blessing of having the doctor tell us that our baby boy was beautiful. I will always treasure those words.

The timing of our delivering our little guy was also a blessing. It just so happened that when we left the hospital it was too late for us to go to our pharmacy, that we just so happened to think of a pharmacy close by, that just so happened to have a single stall bathroom at the front of the store, and that just so happened to be less than a mile from the hospital for an easy jaunt back after then bleeding began. None of these circumstances just so happened, and we are so thankful we didn’t get all the way home (25 minutes away from the hospital) and have the bleeding start.

It was also such a blessing that the hubs was back at the hospital when I fainted, so that I didn’t hit the floor, and before I went down to surgery so that we could exchange I love yous.

Before this situation developed, I was incredibly disappointed with the perinatology practice I was referred to. They rotate you through the doctors so that you’re comfortable with all of them for labor, and I hadn’t hit it off with any of the doctors at the practice, which works closely with the high risk floor of the hospital I went to. That said, there’s one doctor that I didn’t see at the practice that happened to be working at the hospital that night. She saw me at each stage of our miscarriage’s progression. She provided condolences for the loss of our son, she said my baby is beautiful. She seemed informed and intelligent, but also compassionate, and she made me feel comforted and validated, which was not something the other doctors at the practice provided. She was such a blessing to me.

There are so many ways in which we could see God’s grace in our suffering. I suppose the greatest evidence of that grace is, as one of my friends put it, our “son is where we all long to be.” He has achieved his eternal glory, and made my longing for heaven that much stronger. May we all live lives worthy of saying, as Paul did, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

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Our Baby Entered the Arms of Jesus

I bought my first two maternity outfits on Monday and wore the professional one for the first time to work Thursday. Thursday night, on my first day in my maternity wear, my water broke. I was admitted to the hospital because of the high risk of infection in the first 24 hrs after the water breaks. We had gone straight to the hospital from our friends’ house so we didn’t have any of the necessities.

After tucking me into our hospital room, the hubs went home to grab a change of clothes and some other things. He came straight back and didn’t leave my side, sleeping on that awful couch that even the nurse complained was uncomfortable.

Just before we left the hospital Friday morning, the perinatologist did a sonogram. Our baby’s heart was still beating at 165bpm, even though there was no amniotic fluid around him. The perinatologist said he was surprised the baby was still alive, but he doesn’t know us, he didn’t know our baby would be a fighter. He recommended we go ahead and have a surgical procedure to end the baby’s life and remove him from my womb. I told the perinatologist we would not take our baby’s life. He said that the baby cannot survive without the amniotic fluid, he would not develop, it was only a matter of time, that if we were closer to 18 weeks there may be something they could do, but at this stage, there was nothing. My husband stepped in to defend my wishes and work out the particulars. I was exhausted and had had it with my perinatology group’s unwillingness to recognize the humanity of my little one. I couldn’t even look the doctor in the face anymore.

We went back to the hospital room and agreed to come back to the hospital after we miscarried, after the baby had died a natural death and my body had delivered my little one, as things should be. If we didn’t miscarry by Monday, we would go back to the hospital for another sonogram. If the baby had passed away at that point, we would have a D&C then. We left the hospital Friday morning at around 10am.

Friday was such a long day I hardly remember the timeline. At some point we grabbed Taco Bell and took it home to eat, but my glucose numbers had gone crazy and I had to wait hours for them to come down. In the meantime I prepared a couple of outfits for our inevitable return to the hospital and took a shower. My glucose had dropped by the time I was done, the hubs had been carefully watching my levels drop from my continuous glucose monitor app and finally announced that I needed to eat. He heated my lunch and I scarfed it down. The hubs entertained me with a few rounds of connect four and the Ellen game on his iPad when my pump began to alarm because it was out of insulin. I went down stairs to change it and a few steps into the process, I suddenly had to pee. I went to use the bathroom and felt something abnormal come out. I asked my husband to check if it was the baby. It was. I did nothing.

The hubs retrieved our little one from the toilet and put him in a cup to take him to the hospital for genetic testing. I’ve never been a fan of seeing the dead at viewings. I like to remember people full of life. Knowing this, the hubs asked me not to look at our baby’s body, but told me he didn’t want me to regret that either, so it was up to me. We wept some more and I agreed that it was probably best for me not to see. But, the hubs saw, he held our little one in the palm of his hand. Our baby had come out whole, and I don’t even think the hubs understands the strength that it took to do what he did. I’m not sure what I would’ve done without him.

We called the hospital and the doctor said to come in for an evaluation, but that everything would take about 20 minutes. We went in and took our baby with us, the hubs dutifully carrying him every step of the way. The doctor confirmed that our baby was a boy and said he was beautiful.

Not having passed the placenta yet, the doctor gave me a prescription for medication that would help and sent us on our way. Our pharmacy closes at 9 so we decided to try one close to the hospital. I got out of the car and took a few steps toward the pharmacy and it felt like my water broke again. I went straight to the bathroom thinking I was passing the placenta and wouldn’t need the medication. I felt relieved-the medication would make me cramp and very uncomfortable.

When I pulled my pants down I was shocked. There was so much blood and it wasn’t slowing down. The hubs bought me new panties and some pads and I let him in the single stall bathroom to help me. Again, he was amazing. I just continued to bleed. He went back to buy me leggings because my pants were also soiled with blood. Then, he came back to help me change, politely redirecting another woman in line for the bathroom and a pharmacy employee in the process. We called the hospital to let them know we were coming back.

I felt faint on my way out of the store and he held me up. He got me into our car. He ran two red lights getting me back to the hospital and he helped me back into triage at the Women’s Hospital. I wouldn’t have been able to manage any step of the way in that process without him. He was amazing and I was awestruck at the blessing God had provided me in this amazing man, who stepped up every step of the way.

The doctor did another sonogram and informed me my placenta was still inside. I tried to explain how much I bled but it had slowed a bit and I’m not sure she really understood. She gave me a medication to help me contract and expel the placenta, since we didn’t actually make it to the pharmacist, and she checked us back into the hospital for another overnight stay.

They put what they called a hat into the toilet so they could evaluate how much blood I passed. The hubs got me settled and went home for the change of clothes we’d packed, but didn’t think we would need. By that time it was after midnight.

When he got back to the hospital, I asked him to help me in the bathroom. Every time I went I got light-headed and when I told the nurse that before going into the bathroom the last time, I came out to an empty room. I didn’t go back to the bathroom until the hubs returned, and I’m so glad I waited because I passed out sitting on the toilet, right after pulling the string for help. Had the hubs not been there I would’ve ended up falling on the floor. When I woke up the nurse and charge nurse were there helping and shortly after that the doctor came in. I had lost too much blood to continue waiting for me to pass the placenta on my own, so the doctor booked an operating room, and they wheeled me down on a stretcher. I told the hubs I loved him and asked the nurse to check on him while I was in surgery. I transferred myself to the OR table, remember them stretching my arms out on both sides and thinking about Christ, and then I was out. The next thing I saw was the ceiling of the recovery room. Then I saw the hubs, my super hero.

We weren’t in recovery long before they took me back to my room, and the hubs and I finally got some sleep. I think we slept from around 4:30am until 9:30 or so. The doctor came in around 10 and said that even if I had passed the placenta I likely would’ve needed a D&C anyways because of the uterine bleed. She said the bleed is what ultimately caused my water to break. I feel like my body failed us, all three of us.

We were told at one point we might have to stay another night because my iron count was low, and just after we both showered, we were told we’d get to go home. We had one set of visitors during all of this, a couple from our church. It was precious to have them come out of their way to offer us company and love. They’ve also said they’ll be bringing us dinner.

We are blessed by many people who’ve offered condolences and told us to let them know what we needed, but this couple was there, committing to bring what they know we need. The hubs and I both hope to grow to be like them as our friends and fellow believers face difficult situations.

At any rate, we left the hospital with that couple, and we are on the road to recovery. Physically, everything is downhill from here. But, we still have to work through how and where we will bury our little one’s body, as the doctor said he will be disposed of as medical waste if we don’t figure it out ourselves. And, we have to work through the emotional turmoil of a hope deferred.

The last few days were so busy that I mostly feel numb right now. I know the loss I’ve not completely dealt with yet will hit me like a ton of bricks when I least expect it. When I drive by a park or walk by the room in our house that was meant to be our baby boy’s nursery, I know the grief will buckle me. In those moments, may I remember to lean on Christ and the man that helped carry me through this painful situation instead of pushing both of them away.

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A Peace that Passes Understanding

Sometimes, I have no idea how people cope with difficult situations without the intervening work of the Holy Spirit. The hubs and I are pregnant (YAY!), but baby #2 has also brought a few scares. In fact, I found out I was pregnant because I thought that I was having another miscarriage and decided to get to the bottom of things by scheduling an endocrinology and ob/gyn appointment.

My endo did a test to see if I had pregnancy hormone (betahcg) present because I planned to go to the ob/gyn two days later, and she wanted me to be informed. The morning of my ob appointment, a Thursday, I found out that Tuesday my betahcg was 9. I had been pregnant. I was bummed with what I thought had confirmed not only a pregnancy, but also another loss, but I went to my appointment purposed in moving forward. When the ob came in, rather than discuss what was causing our miscarriages, my ob told me the urine sample I’d just given confirmed I was still pregnant, and sent me along to get another betahcg lab. A few days later I found out my betahcg that Thursday was 34. It’s only expected to double every 48-72 hours at that early stage (around 3.5 weeks), but it had almost quadrupled. A week later, the betahcg was 610. I was shocked.

At round 6.5 weeks we thought we lost baby #2 again when I passed several large blood clots. Shortly after I passed the clots, my husband found out his grandfather died, he was 92 and had lived a long God-honoring life. After attempting to navigate the logistics of when the funeral would be, and whether we’d be able to attend, we went to the ER for confirmation of our other bad news.

Ironically, we were actually scheduled for our first sonogram and appointment at our perinatologist that morning, but it was cancelled and the clinic was closed because of a snowstorm. That Tuesday night when we went to the ER, at 6.5 weeks, the sonogram tech confirmed that our baby was still alive inside me. He said its heart was beating at 145bpm, and despite the bleed, the baby seemed healthy. My husband held my hand as I wept. Just like I wept the Thursday the ob told me we were pregnant. At 7.5 weeks we had our first visit to the perinatologist and saw our little one for the first time. 169bpm that day.

The following Monday, at just over 8 weeks, I began to have light bleeding, which tapered off that night and then came back Wednesday, just two days later. I called the perinatologist’s office and she said to come in for another sonogram.

The sono tech was the same tech from the week before. My 8.5 weeks sonograms showed a uterine bleed above baby #2. She re-examined my 7.5 weeks sonograms to confirm she hadn’t missed anything else. I talked with the doctor and he said no vigorous activity. He seemed positive about my situation and when I asked if it was normal he was quick to say it is not, but that there is a good chance everything will be fine. He told me to come back in two weeks for our 10 week sonogram, or to make an emergency appointment if the bleeding became very heavy before then.

Last week, we went in at around 10.5 weeks. Baby #2 is doing well. Heart rate was 165bpm. The hubs and I actually saw the baby moving – what a wiggle worm – and it was amazing! We even got a sonogram of baby #2 waving to us. We used it for our announcement on social media.

Unfortunately, we were also told at our 10.5 week appointment that there is a large clot in my cervix (presumably from the uterine bleed) that is even bigger than baby #2 at this stage. The doctor said that my cervix is dilated to around .5 cm, and that I may experience cramping as my body attempts to get rid of the clot. This means, because of these pesky bleeds, miscarriage is still a possibility, even though we’re almost into our second trimester.

I was in a bit of a shock as we left the doctor last week, trying to wrap my head around how everything was progressing, from the baby to the blood clot. I felt a little anxious, while the hubs was a picture of calm. In the drive between the perinatologist’s office and my work, a calm came over me, too. Perhaps it was the realization that the God who raised Jesus from the dead (happy Easter!) is also sovereign over my womb. Perhaps it was the recitation of the same verse that gave us comfort in the loss of baby Avery – the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Whatever it was, I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit has given me a peace that passes understanding during this time of uncertainty with baby #2. It’s been a peace that has allowed me to hope and plan for baby #2’s future, despite the realist within me that has always planned for the worst and hoped for the best.

Truly, I’ve no idea how people cope with difficult and trying situations like this without the Father, without the Son, and without the Holy Spirit guiding, guarding hearts, and providing a peace that passes understanding in the times when it’s so desperately needed. On this resurrection Sunday, I remember Avery and am reminded that because Christ conquered death, eventually, the hubs and I will spend an eternity with our first baby, the hubs’s grandfather, mother, and so many other loved ones who have passed on before us.

In the meantime, I take comfort in the fact that the God who raised his son from the dead, and conquered death once and for all, also has the power to sustain the life within me. I take comfort in the fact in that God has promised He will never leave me nor forsake me.

He provides a peace that passes understanding, and at 11 weeks and 1 day, we rejoice that He is also the giver of life.

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We Must Persevere

I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. Aside from the autoimmune nature of my disease, being Type 1 means I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. My father-in-law lovingly called me the bionic woman one night as I measured out the insulin I needed to cover my meal – I do have a machine functioning as my pancreas – I thought it was funny.

It’s not always easy to be Type 1, but I’m not on death’s door. The average life span of a Type 1 diabetic is 69 years. I have a lot of years ahead of me, and a lot of adventures, too. That’s not how some people see me and my diseases, though.

My disease is terminal, and if I don’t use synthetic insulin, I will die within six months. That makes me eligible for assisted suicide. I’m sure my insurance carrier would prefer that to the infusion sets, pump cartridges, and insulin I purchase every month, but it’s certainly not compassionate healthcare. This broad definition of a terminal disease doesn’t just apply to diabetics, either. HIV patients, ALS patients, cancer patients, and others who may be medication-dependent are all now suicide-eligible in the District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia recently passed an assisted suicide law. People with a terminal disease and a doctor who says they have six months to live can now, in the District of Columbia, receive a lethal drug to kill themselves. No mental health exam is required prior to filling the prescription, and medical staff are not required to administer the lethal drugs. In fact, heirs and beneficiaries can help usher in their benefactors’ deaths.

I read the story of a man with ALS who said he was clinically depressed after being diagnosed with ALS at 18 years old. He said that due to his depression, if he was offered the option of assisted suicide at that time, he likely would’ve requested it. He’s now in his 70’s. He had decades to live and love and adventure. He expressed his thankfulness for living in an age where human dignity was understood to be intrinsic and people were valued not for how they could be productive, but because of who created them.

We have value because God created us in his image. When we venture away from that understanding of who we are and who we were created to be, we will tend toward a utilitarian approach to life. We will cease to value people because they’re people, and will care only about what they can provide or create.

This bent toward assisted suicide is a function of pride. A desire to be divine, to determine when life begins, when life ends, and how many years intervene between life and death. The problem is miracles exist. People are healed on their deathbeds in medically inexplicable ways. Doctors are sometimes wrong. People deserve healthcare, not a way out. This doesn’t even begin to broach the fact that suffering has purpose, and that our lives are not our own.

We were all created for a purpose. We are not our own. Through suffering, through diabetes and cancer and heart-ache and loss, we must persevere.

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Truth Matters

The hubs is out of town this weekend so, after church, I went to a little eatery for a bit before heading home. I ordered and took a seat about 30 feet from the counter. As I settled into my booth with my phone, I heard one of the employees of the restaurant loudly talking about President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. She was lamenting about how crazy they are, and said in Indiana, Pence sent a woman to jail for abortion.

I’m pretty familiar with legislation governing abortions, and I know for a fact that most abortion provisions penalize the doctors who perform the abortions that violate the law, but they don’t penalize women; the doctors take the life, the doctors pay the penalty. Unfortunately, abortion mills often take advantage of women during moments of great stress and desperation, urging them to abort their unborn, convincing these mothers that the babies they’re carrying are only tissue. These abortion mills don’t care about the physiological and psychological effects abortions have on women.

At any rate, when I heard this employee lamenting a woman was penalized for abortion, I did a quick search to try to learn more about the situation because, truth matters. In fact, this Indiana woman was convicted of having a baby and dumping it in dumpster outside of a hospital before seeking care for herself.

I’ve frequently thought to myself since the day of our miscarriage, there is no person more pro-life than a woman who has just lost a baby.

No person knows the hope and potential of a new life than the woman carrying it. I think that’s also why women seem to feel the loss of the miscarriage more heavily than their husbands. We lost our baby only seven weeks into the baby’s short life, but I already had great plans for our little one.

I, in my limited capacity, had great plans for our little one. How much greater must God’s plans be for us? In talking to the Israelites, God says in Jeremiah 29, “ For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

While some Americans think the Trump/Pence team is too conservative, others think it’s too liberal. No matter what our thoughts, it’s important to remember that God remains sovereign, and that when we go to Him in prayer, He will listen to us, and when we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him.

Truly, He is a good, good Father.

 

 

 

 

 

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Infertility and God’s Plan

What if you’re not struggling with infertility, what if you’re struggling with God’s will and timing in your life?

The hubs and I started talking about kids way before we got married. He’s one of five, his dad one of nine, and we talked of having three or four kids. I’m from a small family. I have one brother, my dad was one of two, my mom one of three. During college I realized, it is my responsibility to help outbreed the liberals. I wanted a brood. My husband told me that one of the most memorable facebook posts he saw from me before we started dating was one in which I was talking about complementarity, and how I would love to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen someday. It became his goal to make that happen, in his kitchen.

But, we got married and lived in a one bedroom apartment in New York City. Who starts a family in New York City? That’s crazy. Besides, we were newlyweds and of course, you should wait awhile before becoming pregnant after getting married, right?

I remember talking to the hubs about whether it was God’s will for us to wait. I struggle with the idea of contemporary Americans trying to perfectly plan their lives out. Get married by this age, have 2.5 kids by this age, retire by this age. Maybe, I thought, we should just do life, contraceptive-free, and allow the Lord to work out the details. But, without consensus for that approach, we continued planning. We’d move out of the city and a short time later start trying to have kids.

We married later in life, I was 29. I had watched many of my friends struggle to become pregnant. A doctor friend told me it often takes around six months to conceive once you start trying. We were planning to try to get pregnant right at the time of life that conception becomes harder for women – the thirties.

At any rate, I took comfort in Sarah’s story. Sarah was barren. Genesis 11:30. But, the Lord tells her and her husband that He will make them into a great nation, basically, that they’ll have posterity. Genesis 12:2. But, Sarah didn’t believe God would use her in fulfilling His plan, she thought she had to be proactive. So, Sarah and Abraham conspired to have a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Genesis 16:2. Then, a short time later,

The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”  The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Genesis 18:10-14. Sarah was in her 90s when she conceived Isaac, the son God promised to her. How many years did she struggle to see God’s plan for her life? How many times did she try to take matters into her own hands in order to fulfill God’s plan in her own way? Was she infertile until her 90s, or was she simply struggling with God’s will and His timing in her life? Perhaps it’s semantics, but these are the Truths I wrestle with now.

My first baby, baby Avery, having bypassed this world for heaven, I long for more babies, and I struggle through the wait. I don’t hold Sarah’s promise. God hasn’t presented Himself to me and told me that I would have a son. But, He has said, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8.

May we see the Lord and his timing in all things, and may we always remember, despite our circumstances, that the Lord is good. He is our refuge and our strength.

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Trusting God after a Miscarriage

Growing up in church, I remember seeing the old hymn that goes “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” And, I’ve always taken comfort in that verse, and the fact that the Holy Spirit enables both our trust and obedience as believers.

But, my recent miscarriage has left me confused, to say the least. I know what I need to do, but I’ve forgotten how to do it. Where trust came quickly and easily for me before I lost my precious baby, my instincts trigger defense mechanisms and weariness of the Lord’s goodness now. It is also difficult to trust the Lord, while acknowledging His sovereignty and goodness.

I keep going back to the fact that “children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3. And, while I am trying to remember that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, it is more difficult for me to maintain the refrain “blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. I suppose admitting that is the first step to overcoming the difficulty.

We are called to be steadfast in our faith, even under trials, and my husband and I may as well learn how to trust the Lord now.

I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life to have been spared significant loss. I had one grandfather to pass away just before I was born, but the family that I have known remains with me today. That is, until I lost my baby. While I had felt loss before, this was a new kind of loss, the kind with a reunion, but one that seems forever away. One that hurts deeper than any loss I’ve experienced before; one that has caused my trust in God’s goodness to waiver.

However, as I’ve begun the ascent to trusting Him again, I’ve realized that trusting Him with the lives of my loved ones is not a choice, it’s a necessity. My brother is a cop. His life is on the line every day, especially in today’s climate of anarchy. My mother suffers her own autoimmune diseases and health issues, despite which she consistently shows amazing grace and faith. My grandparents and my father are only getting older, too. But, even beyond that, with the freak –accidents that happen on a regular basis, with car wrecks, and shootings, with SIDS and terrorists, we do not know what tomorrow might bring. Proverbs 27:1. Therefore, we must trust in Him.

Even if the Lord blesses us with additional babies, and we have smooth pregnancies and healthy deliveries, every day of the lives of our children will be an exercise of trusting in the Lord. This Christian life is not one in which we master an art and have arrived at, say, nirvana. Rather, it’s an active life of pursuing God and the things He loves, and in trusting in His goodness. It may not always be easy, but He is always worthy.

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Johnny

This week we celebrated World Down Syndrome Day, and all of the beautiful lives that day represents.

As March 21st came and went, I thought about my grandmother’s brother, Johnny. Johnny was a beautiful man who lived with Down Syndrome. I remember loving Johnny as a child. He was always so joyful and kind. He loved so well – he loved my grandmother and us grandkids, he loved pennies, he loved hamburgers so loaded with condiments he could hardly fit the burgers in his mouth, and he adored Elvis Presley. He could do a pretty good imitation of the King of Rock and Roll, too.

I remember cuddling into Johnny’s lap as a kid and feeling the warmth of his adoration for my cousins and me. He was an absolute pleasure to be around. I only remember Johnny being sad or difficult when he had to leave the presence of his loved ones. Johnny lived a long life and is in heaven now, and I know he is anxiously awaiting a reunion with his loved ones.

I enjoyed reflecting on Johnny and those who share his disability earlier this week, but it also made me sad.

Reminiscing about Johnny pushes me to confront the worst in myself, my pride, my sin. As I reflected, I remembered growing out of Johnny. He was fun to be around when I was young, but as I grew older, I also grew embarrassed in Johnny’s presence. Johnny had Down Syndrome – Johnny looked funny, Johnny walked funny, and Johnny talked funny, and being around Johnny in public was an assault on my pride.

I thought of the women who, flooded with embarrassment themselves, and perhaps a feeling that they could not provide for a child with Down Syndrome, have aborted their babies. I became frustrated with the weight of sin.

I was reminded, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.”

It is devastatingly sad for me to think about how much laughter and joy has been lost to the abortion of unborn babies with Down Syndrome, and that thought makes me miss Johnny more than I’ve missed anyone in a long time.

I wish he were here so I could take him in public and show the world unadulterated happiness and joy, the kind I’ve only seen in people like Johnny, beautiful people with Down Syndrome.

Thursday, March 24th, Indiana became only the second state in the nation to ban abortion because of Down Syndrome, joining only North Dakota. The worst kind of discrimination is the kind that ends in death, even death in the womb.

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Losing What Was Never Mine

I don’t know how you do it, you who have been trying to get pregnant for months or
years.

I’ve reached the end of me. The hardest thing for me to give up every.single.trial is control. I am a Type A personality to a T, and while there are few things, in my mind, worse than not having a plan, having a plan and things not working out in accordance with my plan is one of them. The problem is, nobody plans for her friend to get lung cancer, her aunt to get breast cancer, her mom’s lupus diagnosis, or her diabetes diagnosis, and nobody plans for a barren womb.

Lately, the three weeks between each period are the longest weeks of my life. Never before have I wished that periods came more frequently. Never before have I found it so difficult to do that which God so clearly commands. Be fruitful and multiply, He said. Though he commands it, though he made my womb for it, and my breasts to nourish my baby, He tarries in forming that baby in my inmost parts.

So, I wonder. My God knows me better than I know myself. Perhaps I’m not ready, perhaps my husband isn’t ready, perhaps we’ll be terrible parents, perhaps if we had a child he’d hate our Jesus. Perhaps God knows better or perhaps we simply don’t deserve a child. After all, children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord, and I have done nothing to deserve such a gift. So, I weep. I weep over my empty womb, I weep over my helplessness, and more than that, I weep at how alone it feels to go through the process of mourning the loss of those things that were never mine: fertility, control, babies. This struggle has only been mine for a short time; may God bless you who have endured this type of struggle for years

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Late Again

The hubs and I are different in a lot of ways, but one of the most profound is in how we view time. I don’t like to be late. I was raised in a military home and was taught that you’re not on time unless you’re five minutes early. The hubs is Latin American. If you know anything about these two cultures, the military culture and the Latin American culture, you know they deal with time VERY differently.

So, needless to say, time is one of the biggest things we argue about. He is late home from work and I have dinner on the table, or has told me multiple times that he is leaving work, only for me to find out that he ended up in a conversation with his co-workers that held him up, you name it, if it’s about time and tardiness, we’ve argued about it.

Side note and confession: the get-home-time-problem is probably exacerbated by the fact that I am home alone all day and cannot wait until the hubs gets home so that I can share in life, communicate, laugh, and cuddle. We are borderline co-dependent in that way.

At any rate, just last night, after Life Group with other married couples from our church, we were talking about last Friday, and how I could be more patient with the hubs in his lateness and how he could be, well, more on time. It was a wonderful conversation where I felt that we really committed to meet in the middle, to compromise.

And, less than 24 hours later, Satan brings our differences to the forefront yet again.

He texted me in the afternoon that he would leave at 6:30. That’s a relatively normal time. I wasn’t prepared for normal though, because he’d told me he would be late coming home this week. So, I hopped in the shower and quickly started dinner. It was about 6:55 pm when I put the chicken in the oven. It only takes 30 minutes to cook.5 minutes later, I got a text message saying his boss diverted him for 30 minutes and he was running late. Then, I got another text at 7:30 pm. He had been diverted by another co-worker and then a call from his brother and he was just leaving. He would be home an hour later than anticipated by his text just a few hours earlier, and dinner would be cold.

Didn’t we just talk about this? Didn’t I just tell him how it makes me feel when he reschedules on me multiple times? I texted him that he made me sad and went into our room to cry. I went into our room to mourn the days that I felt like I mattered, like I was important, and like I was at the top of his priority list.

Then, I thought about grace.

Boy do I hate being gracious. How many times had the Lord been gracious to me, giving me what I hadn’t deserved? How many times have I been commanded to forgive my neighbor? Seventy times seven? For the same thing? Over and over again? Ugh! While I had no desire to forgive his untimeliness yet again, I realized 1. I do not help our situation by sulking, 2. I can only hope for as much grace as I’m willing to give, so I need to learn to give it in abundance (I need it in abundance!), and 3. I am commanded, not encouraged, to forgive. Commanded. Seventy times seven times.

Fine. Today, it is my turn to forgive and forget, to show a little grace to the one who matters most in my life. Today, I’m not going to go for a run right when he gets home — I’m not going to pout or sulk. Today, I will love the hubs like Jesus does. Hopefully, I can learn to make grace my go-to reaction, rather than one I have to work so hard to arrive at, but until I do, thankfully, the Word is hidden in my heart to remind me of that which God commands of us for our good.

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