Friday, October 30, 2009

Thank you!

I just want to take a second to say 'thank you' to all of you who have recently called Shaun or I just to see how we're doing or filled our mailbox with kind cards or stopped me in the halls at church to give me a hug or emailed me sweet words of truth and sympathy. Everything has felt a little bit bleak lately, and your encouragement feels like a warm blanket wrapped around us on a cold, winter night. When my vision for the future has become especially dim over the past week, I have re-opened many of those kind notes and read them again. Thank you. What a gift!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today I received an anonymous letter in the mail from someone who was clearly offended by something I had written a couple weeks ago about Christian Faith Center and the church in general. It’s something I want to address, but because that person did not sign the letter, I have no choice but to respond here. So, if you had no strong opinions about what I posted, please don’t waste your time reading this! :-)

What I had written about the church being made up of “weird people” was lighthearted, and I was including myself in that bunch. Sometimes I think we should all just take ourselves a little less seriously. And, I think it’s important that non-Christian don’t see us as “having it all together”…that’s all. And, as far as Christian Faith Center, I know that God uses that facility and church body to do great things. My observation was my initial reaction to the size of the structure and the bookstore, and, honestly, I don’t agree theologically with some of the things that are taught from the pulpit. That’s okay. It wasn’t intended to be a slam at CFC or anyone who attends there, and I’m sorry that you found my thoughts offensive. If you’re going to join me on this journey that I’m walking, and especially if you know me personally, please trust my heart behind my words instead of getting tangled up in the words themselves. But, I am sorry that I offended you. I wish I could apologize personally.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grief Takes Time

Grief takes time.

I had a patient come into the office where I work as a nurse last week with concerns of depression. I took her back to the exam room, and we began to talk. She was elderly and so sweet. In her hands, she gripped and handkerchief, occasionally running her fingers through the fabric. She told me that just 8 weeks prior she had had to bury her husband of 48 years. Her daughter was anxious for her mom to be back to her normal self, so she had brought her to see a doctor to be started on an antidepressant. The patient said calmly, “I know I’m doing okay. I adored my husband, and I miss him terribly. I’m grieving, and grief takes time. I’m only here to appease my daughter and check it off the list.”

I told that sweet lady that I thought she was doing okay, too. And then I had to take a time-out in the casting room in the back of the office because all I wanted to do was to go find that patient’s daughter in the waiting room and give her a piece of my mind.

Now, I’m not saying that it's wrong to try to help someone through their sorrow, and antidepressants are not a bad way to go when you’ve experienced a tragedy. I have said for the past five months that if I really thought I needed something, I would have no problem asking for it. But, this woman had just lost her husband! And I had this overwhelming feeling that this woman’s daughter wanted her mom to be “fixed” as quickly as possible simply because grief is unpleasant.

And, I understand that…it makes other people feel awkward when you’re grieving. They calculate everything they say to you. You’re the downer in every conversation. People want to help because they hate to see you hurting, and they're frustrated when they can’t. Some people who I knew well before Zachary died still avoid eye contact with me! And, so many times after we said good-bye to our boy, well-intentioned people would say, “You guys will have children sooner than you think, I just know it.” First of all, you can’t know that…maybe that’s not at all what God has planned for us. And, second, right after losing my child, thinking about having another was only scary and painful. But, in their minds, if I were pregnant and had something to look forward to all over again, maybe I wouldn’t be so consumed by sadness. Subconsciously, it was a way of rushing me through the pain.

Why are we so uncomfortable with brokenness? Why are we so determined to speed others through their pain? Just because grief makes us feel helpless? Awkward?

My patient was right: Grief takes time! It’s okay! It doesn’t mean someone is “stuck” in their grief if they still miss their loved one or still cry sometimes 8 weeks or 6 months later. It just takes a while to learn how to live again because life is so, very different. And it takes a little patience, both as the griever and as the family and friend of the person who’s grieving. Grief takes time for true healing to occur. It’s okay. Really. It is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Just missing my little man tonight...a whole lot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that bother me these days

-The fact that I dusted the changing table and crib and rocking chair in Zachary’s room today because they’ve never been used.

-Being the only woman in a room without a baby or a baby belly and feeling obligated to make conversation. It makes me sad, jealous, uncomfortable.

-The ache in my chest that never seems to leave. And the fear that still grips me on a very regular basis.

-Large crowds.

-Wondering if I'll ever be able to hold a child of my own again.

Things I love these days

-People who say Zachary’s name when talking with me instead of ‘your baby,’ or worse, ‘the baby.’ I don't think I can describe how important and healing it is to hear his name spoken aloud in conversation.

-Those who have given me a book on grief or pregnancy loss after reading it themselves, even if they haven’t personally experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. It's such an incredible gesture of love.

-The number of people who remind me that they didn’t forgot about us or our sweet baby, especially around the 17th of each passing month. Every "17th" hurts as though the nightmare is happening all over again. To receive a call or text or note or hug is so helpful.

-When someone asks to see a picture of Zachary. This is one of my favorite things in the world!

-When someone is willing to be vulnerable and cry with me, or share their story of loss.

-When someone tells me that Zachary's life has challenged them to question their belief in God or pursue their already-existing relationship with God or loosen their grip on the things of this world or be a better friend, spouse, or parent to their living children.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I wrote this like 6 weeks ago, but I couldn't post it until today. Such an exciting adventure coming our way!

I was in such a slump this week. I just wanted to be home by myself, and I hate feeling like that. I wasn’t a hermit, though. I picked up extra hours at work, got some major cleaning done at home, worked out, watched my sisters play volleyball, and had friends over to hang out this weekend. I’ve just never had to be so intentional about staying motivated and being emotionally open.

I found my feelings to be especially odd this week because God answered a major prayer…I was finally okayed for a position as a part-time worship leader at our church, and I’m truly humbled to have such an awesome opportunity to obey God doing something that I love. We’re launching a campus extension of our church in just a few weeks, and it’s thrilling to be part of an undertaking that’s so big, that I know it will totally flop if God’s not driving our efforts. Pretty awesome.

I have always felt very strongly that, if God blesses us with an ability, we have a responsibility to invest it fully in a way that pleases Him…not for our own recognition, but solely for the purpose of honoring God and pointing others in His direction. Investing…it reminds me of the parable that Jesus told about the talents. Talents were the currency that was used at that time. Here’s the passage:

“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately, the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the grounds and hid his master’s money.” (Matthew 25:15-18)

I can just picture the third guy with a shovel in his hands, digging that dumb hole…afraid he might lose the money…afraid that investing that money might require a little too much of his time, effort, etc. The rest of the parable goes on to say that, when the master came back to see what each slave had done with what they had been given, the first two were commended for investing. The third slave came to the master, shoulders slumped, staring at the ground, and said (this is all my paraphrase), “I got scared, so I buried my talent in the ground, but at least you can have back the little that you gave me.” The master doesn’t like that answer, calls the man lazy, and takes his talent away from him. Verse 29 says, “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”

Investing. What a huge responsibility it is…and what a privilege. I’m so, so thankful for this ‘talent’ that God’s given to me in this new adventure at church. I feel very unworthy to participate in God’s work in this way.

But are the ‘talents’ that Jesus refers to in His parable only the good things that we’re given by God? Just skills, abilities, gifts?

What if the ‘talents’ God gives us are not so great…a disability, a shameful past, the loss of a baby… If those are also ‘talents’ that God asks that we invest, then I’d be lying if I said that the shovel didn’t sound appealing at times. I’d rather bury my hurt…keep it to myself…lock it up and try to forget.

But I know, that when I stand before God after this life is over, and He looks me straight in the eye and asks me what I did with what He has given me, I want Him to be proud. Proud of my honesty, proud of the conversations that have come out of our loss, proud of my dependence on Him when I don’t know what to do with my brokenness. Pleased with the way that I’ve tried with all my might to praise Him through this pain. This ‘talent’ is much more challenging to invest than the good ‘talents’. But I’ll keep thanking God for each opportunity He gives me. After all, life is short…the good stuff will be over before we know it, and the bad stuff is so, very temporary.


Last night we went to the David Crowder concert at the Christian Faith Center. Here were a few observations on the night:

  1. The church is made up of a bunch of weird people. I guess that’s an open invitation! :-)
  2. The Christian Faith Center and Casey Treat SO rub me the wrong way. They have a bookstore in their mammoth multi-million dollar structure with an entire section (like most of the store) of Casey and Wendy Treat books on health, wealth and prosperity – as if God is a genie waiting to grant us our three wishes. It really bothers me when people exploit the gospel and use it for their own profit. I hate that people who don’t believe in God see public leaders like that as a picture of Christianity. That’s not what it’s about. But, Scripture says that God uses the foolishness of men to accomplish His purposes, so if He can use the fool typing this right now, then He can work through (and sometimes, despite) any of us.
  3. When I raised my hands to clap above my head, my arms jiggled. That will be all the motivation I need to work out this week.
  4. And, finally, the important stuff…best lyrics of the night: “After all falls apart, He repairs, He repairs.” (David Crowder, The Glory of It All). Redemption – the heart of the gospel, and God’s heart for us. I can’t believe how many women tell me on a weekly basis that they’ve lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth or struggled with years of infertility. I believe that God can…and more than that, redeem the horrific, seemingly helpless situations in our lives and make them something beautiful! So, all of you ladies whose goal pants are maternity jeans and hearts' desires are contentment and healing, believe that with me today! God is a God of redemption…”after all falls apart, He repairs.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

He Provides

"Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:24b

Last week, I spent 24 hours "retreating" with three wonderful women who have lovingly spoken truth into my life many times over the past 5 months. We spent a considerable amount of time simply praying for each other. My prayer request? Joy. I felt like the joy had been sucked out of my life. And, so they prayed - for God to restore my joy and re-awaken my passion for life and ministry. Thank you, Lord, for hearing us when we call to You. Thank you for women who continue to bless and nurture me as I walk this road. Give me a teachable spirit and time to "be" for You and not just "do" for You. Restore my joy and direct me.

The night I got home from my time with the girls, Shaun and I sat in our living room, me at the piano and Shaun with guitar, and music - worship - filled the room. It was as if the songs were bubbling up from the depths of my soul and pouring out of our brokenness, confusion, and, more than anything, thankfulness. Psalm 16:11 says, "You fill me with joy in Your presence." Just like Asaph in Psalm 73, we entered into God's presence and found joy in shifting our focus from ourselves to Him. Thank you, Lord, for meeting we filled that room with music, You filled it with Your Spirit. May our home be filled with worship daily - worship that is a sweet sound to your ears. Please re-focus my heart and my ministry.

On Saturday, I sat in Starbucks with a new friend who shares the common bond of loss. She shared with me God's providence through her and her husband's journey through miscarriage, unemployment, and questioning God's plan. I was greatly impacted by her unshakeable trust in a God who loves us and knows exactly what He's doing. She reminded me of the promise in Scripture that God never gives us more than we can handle. She also shared how our story had changed her. Thank you, Lord, for beautiful people who praise You through trials! It's truly humbling that You would use our story to challenge and comfort those around us. Please continue to bring people into my life who need Your comfort, and help me to be faithful to share honestly with those people who You are.

And the past four days have been spent in California with a dear friend who blessed me tremendously - with love, prayers, humor, and even a day at the spa. She has refreshed me and reminded me that God's not done with me, there is purpose in the wilderness, and that, while I don't get to be a mom right now, I have the opportunity to be an awesome wife. Thank you, Lord, for renewal and for speaking to me through your Word and through Angie. Help me to trust Your leadership in my life.

And, while I don't necessarily feel joyful, I'm trusting that as I walk obediently through the wilderness to what God has called me to, joy and blessings will follow.

He Provides.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I've sat down with the intent to write many times over the past week, but just haven't been able to muster up the emotional energy to get the words out. I feel like I have nothing positive to say, to be honest. I have no idea why God's brought us here...wandering around in the wilderness. I hate how quiet our house is, how monotonous our lives seem, how empty our hearts feel. I just don't get it.

Maybe someday this time in our lives will make some sense, but that time feels far, far away...and even if it does make sense and there finally appears to be some purpose to this, it's very little comfort right now. I'm just so frustrated.

This is going to sound funny, but sometimes I catch myself wondering whether or not God really understands what's going on in our lives. I feel deserted and alone. I know that He's here and that His love never changes, but getting those concepts from my head to my heart is challenging.

I guess for now I'll just hang on to what God has promised - that He is God...He gets it when I don't...His plans for me are good...nothing can separate me from the love of Christ...He is present in my pain...I am not alone.

"I cry out with no reply
And I can't feel you by my side
But I'll hold tight to what I know:
You're here, and I'm never alone."
- Barlowgirl (Never Alone)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:28,35,37-39

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"
Jeremiah 32:27

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. 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...Do not be afraid, for I am with you."
Isaiah 43:1-2, 5

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall."
Psalm 55:22

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord, may Your promises penetrate my mind and heart today. Amen.