Sunday, January 18, 2015

A father's heart

Dear Jonah,

Today is a hard day, it’s been the toughest day I’ve ever experienced, it’s a day I wish I never had to face. Today I had to say goodbye to you, my son, for now. Although you only had a short time here in your mother’s womb, there’s still so much I know about you and so much to celebrate about your life.
Even though I never got to see you, I know you are beautiful, because you are created by God, and I can’t wait for the day when I will see your face.
Even though I never heard your voice, I will know it when I do, and we will have long conversations together.
Even Though I never held you, I know there will be a day that we will enjoy a long embrace.
Even though you aren’t with us now, you will forever be part of our family.
Jonah, I want you to know that you are greatly loved. Your mother and I love you so much, I can’t even express it. Your brother and sister love you too, they have been praying for you every night. Your brother’s favorite Bible story has always been Jonah, and we knew that was your name even before you were here. There are so many other family and friends who love you also that they’re too numerous to list. I also want you to know that your twin brother is doing well, and we promise to take good care of him until we are all united again.
My heart aches that I can’t be with you right now, and I’m angry that death took you sooner than I expected. But I’m comforted by our Lord, and I have the Hope of Glory because of our savior Jesus Christ, who conquered death! Death is no longer the end for us, and it overwhelms me with joy to know that you are experiencing His victory and glory right now—which we will one day enjoy together.

Jonah, I love you so much and I can’t wait to be with you again.
- Love Dad.

“When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.”
- Jonah 2:7

Sunday, January 4, 2015

When Heartache Brings Blessings-part 2

About a year ago I was asked to teach a workshop at our Women's retreat.  My message included the story of Abraham and Isaac when Abraham is asked by God to place his child, Isaac, on the alter for a sacrifice to God.  If you aren't familiar with the story, as Abraham is dutifully following God's will and placing Isaac on the alter, a ram is presented in the bushes as a replacement for Isaac, saving Isaac's life.  If you haven't read the story I urge you too, you can find it in Genesis 22:1-19.  In the middle of giving my workshop I was deeply convicted and overwhelmed by this story.  As a parent I am to put my children on the alter, not literally, it means I am to give my children fully over to God's will.  My children do not belong to me, they don't belong to Chris, they belong to the Lord and He has been gracious enough to allow Chris and I to raise them here on this earth and our job is to surrender them to His will.

When I found out I was pregnant this time I felt that I should tell people from the beginning, and not wait the standard, socially appropriate 12 weeks (as I had in previous pregnancies).  I believe in life at conception, so I choose to celebrate life from the beginning and if that life is never lived outside the womb on this earth, it is still a life that can have an impact on this world and has a purpose.

The morning after the sonogram we met with our new doctor.  She was more optimistic than the night before and honestly I had a peace that can only come from God.  Chris and I went home the night before and we talked, we prayed, we asked others to pray, we told our kids they have twin brothers, we rejoiced.  Sure it was emotional, but  we celebrated Jonah's life, we celebrated the TWINS, because no matter what the outcome is we have twins.  We rejoiced in the lives God chose to bless us with.

Our doctor had talked with 1 of 3 specialist in the U.S. who had experience with Jonah's types of "issues" the night before and sent all the sonogram specs to him.  The best guess is that it was a blocked bladder, all other measurements were fine so it was reasonable to the medical team to hope that it would clear on it's own.  If it didn't there was hope that we could have in utero surgery that would clear it up or it could be something more serious all together.  There was lots of things that we were presented that we could have put our hope in, instead we choose to put our hope in God.  He is the giver and the taker of life.  The Bible tells us that our days are numbered, we could put all our hope and do everything in our human power to make Jonah ok, but it would be in vain if it wasn't in God's will.  The only logical thing for us to do was to put our hope in God and surrender our children to Him, to place them on the alter if you will and that is what we did.  It is God who writes their stories not me, not Chris, not the world, but God.

On December 3rd, we had a second developmental ultrasound and an appointment to meet with genetics.  We never made it to the genetics appointment.  During the ultrasound Isaac was looking wonderfully active, so active the tech couldn't get some measurements.  When we looked at Jonah there was no life in him, there was no blood flow to any part of his body and his heart had stopped.  Jonah was the only one who I had felt move (up to that point), I had felt him just two days before, but because it was still so early me feeling movement was sparse.  Jonah had 15 weeks in utero on this earth, he had a story, he had an impact even if it was just on us and those close to us.  God had a purpose for Jonah's short life and while I don't know what it is, I rest in the fact that I am not supposed to know.  Sure I could ask why, but God's answer to why wouldn't satisfy my mommy heart so instead I ask what next?  What is the next step in this pregnancy?  Only time and God will tell.

I am still pregnant, the twins were fraternal so Isaac is still alive and kicking and expected to be here sometime in May.  I have held onto the verse  "They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing" (Psalm 126:5 AMP).  The amazing blessing for me is that I am still pregnant, I will get to hold my baby boy, sure I would love to have held both of them but that wasn't in God's will and although it hurts, I am ok with that, because I know He knows best.  We told our children that Jonah was sick, and that God must have known that the doctors here couldn't take care of him and so he took Jonah to heaven where Jonah now has a perfect body.  (My son loves that, he talks about it and thinks that everyone is the "perfect age" in heaven.  In his opinion the perfect is the same age as his auntie 25.)   

Although I do not yet know what all the blessing will be from this situation I know they will come.  I know when Isaac is born I will have moments of sadness that Jonah isn't there; that when Isaac reaches certain developmental milestones I will be reminded of Jonah and miss him, but it will also bring me joy to be able to hold Isaac and watch him grown and to raise the 3 children, we have here, up in the ways of the Lord.  I pray that in sharing the journey it can bring healing for others as well.  I may never even see all the blessings, they maybe for other people who hear his story, I don't know, again only God knows and I can rest and find perfect peace in that. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

When Heartache Brings Blessings-part 1

As I look back over 2014 I am absolutely amazed at how God works and all the things He has done, not just in the physical but in my heart personally.  2014 brought marriages, new family members, memories, milestones, hardships and even death.  Although I am ready for 2014 to end I am so joyful for ALL that it brought me.  God has touched my heart in ways that I have never had Him touch my heart before.

I found out I was pregnant this fall.  We were super excited but super nervous, could we do this again?!?  I don't have easy pregnancies and although a doctor has never told me I can't or shouldn't have a third child I was given lots of reasons why we may want to stop at two.  Three years ago I was convinced I was done.  I had a boy and a girl and medically (in my mind only) it just didn't seem to be the right thing (I have this nasty habit of playing God).  But I couldn't shake the longing for another child.  I used to ask Chris if he felt that someone was missing from our family, to which he looked at me like I was crazy (which I might be slightly) and said no.  In my mind medically it just wasn't a good idea and in Chris's mind it wasn't a good idea.  However, I went to a Women's retreat and while there I felt that God was telling me that He is the Great Physician, no doctor knows my body as well as He does and if it is in His will for me to have another child, then I will.  I went home and Chris and I talked about it and that was really the end.  We didn't address it a whole lot more.  I prayed about it, a lot; Chris prayed about it some; I kept asking him if people were missing from our family and he kept looking at me like I was crazy.  This continued for a few years. 

Well 2014 brought news that we were going to have another baby.  We were so excited.  We had a sonogram at 8 weeks just to establish that there was a heartbeat and I jokingly said to Chris what if there is two in there.  I thought he was going to pass out.  The doctor saw just one heartbeat and we were on our way.  We had a developmental ultrasound at 12 weeks and it turned our world upside down.  There was two alright.  We were having twins, twin boys to be exact.  Amazing that at 12 weeks we were able to see their gender, and get measurements of their bodies.  I couldn't stop laughing and Chris couldn't believe it.  Our happiness was cut short when we started to look at Baby B, Jonah.  Jonah had a growth in his abdomen that at best guess was a blocked bladder.  The doctor wasn't too optimistic but also had no answers and no real idea what it was she was looking at.  We left her office with an appointment to see her bright and early the next morning to discuss all the reasons that this pregnancy is high risk and to develop a game plan.

Our boys.  Jonah (twin B) on the left and Isaac (twin A) on the right.
I walked out of the office and cried.  The emotions were all over the place.  It had been a particularly stressful day at work, our daughter got sick at school and had to be picked up early, our son had an accident and had to be picked up early.  We were not expecting an ultrasound, we thought we were having a consultation appointment for a surgery that I need during pregnancy.  Overall it was a day full of nothing but unexpected things.  But the coolest part about all the bad that happened that day was that God orchestrated it all.  Had all the "bad" things not have happened the day would have been devastating.  Because my son and daughter had to be picked up early we asked my sister to come over last minute to watch the children.  The original plan was for them to be picked up by their carpools.  The doctors were so late (and they did a totally different appointment than we thought), and then the ultrasound took so long because it was so complicated, that if the kids had not been home with my sister, Chris would have had to have left the doctor appointment before it even started and would have missed the ultrasound and miss all the news.  God knew where we all needed to be at the end of the day and He made sure we were there.

It amazes me how gracious He is, how He cares about the littlest details about my day that he uses the bad to create exactly what needed to be done.  I needed my husband at that ultrasound, I needed his shoulder to cry on as I walked out.  Chris needed to hear it all, he needed to be prepared for how to lead his family down this road.  And as I drove home, in between tears, I kept praising God because I know that my children are fearfully and wonderfully made, and no matter what the outcome is, He is still God and He knows best even if it hurts, He makes sure that everything is as it should be, and I can rest in that.