Tag Archives: Joy

The 4th

On February 3, a really long time ago, my dad died.  On February 5, we buried him, and that was that.  I was a kid and it pushed me into a downward spiral I stayed on for a lot of years.  But then Jesus came and pulled me up and changed my heart and I was still sad, but not on the downward spiral.  And each year on February 3, I remember a lonely, vulnerable little girl and her world shattering, and I am sad for her and her dad.

But then came my husband.  For months he knew he wanted to propose, but he waited.  And waited.  He was waiting for February 3 to pass.  He knelt on February 5 to ask me forever so that I’d always have a day to say goodbye to my dad, but a follow-up day to say hello to my husband.  Mission accomplished: I don’t think I’ve recounted that funeral in all these years because instead I’ve relished in my proposal.

But what of the day in between –the 4th?  It can go back to the 3rd and recount sorrow, or it can look forward to the 5th and anticipate joy.  I remember the day after my dad died going all over the mall finding funeral clothes and each saleslady asked just a little too chipper how I was.  Terrible, Lady.

But how am I now all these years later on the 4th?

I think a lot of grieving mothers live in the 4th for a long time.  There’s a part of us that never wants to leave the rawness of losing our babies.  We are that much closer to them in time, we remember more vividly.  There was an eye in the storm because after all what choice did we have.  But now it’s the 4th and that day is over.

There may be babies after the storm and slowly our hearts start to consider this, desire this, fear this.  Sometimes we stick a toe in and swirl around the water a bit just to see the ripples.  But it’s still the 4th, so we quickly jerk back to dry ground.

And then there’s the choice.  Unlike time marching on without our consent, grieving mothers have to make the choice to go to the next joy.  They can sit contentedly in some romantically distressful fashion forever in the 4th ‘s limbo or they can bid a whistful ‘see you around’ to the rawness and plunge fully into the 5th.  Only then we find we’re still tethered to the 3rd and we never can really say adieu.  And it’s kindof comforting actually.

What 4ths have you sat in?  What have you stared back at with grief thinking you’d never leave?  What have you dared to taste for just a moment before you ran back for cover?  How did you finally leave the 4th?  Or are you still there?

For me, it is Jesus.  I know that my sorrows are real and wearisome.  My burden is heavy and I’m tired.  But I know that in crying out to Him, He takes it all and strengthens me in the sabbatical of the 4th and prepares me for the future.  He’s done this over and over, never failing me, never forsaking me.  Even when I’m scared, I trust His heart and follow His leading because He loves me so.

I can’t keep from realising that Jesus rose after the “4th”.  But it took going through it to get there.

Enjoy the 4th.  Make it count.  Give it to Jesus and follow Him.


The Neon Sign

Probably for most of the world, hearing somebody say, “We’re pregnant!” brings boundless joy and excitement.  Not for us.  What we notice right off is the huge blinking neon sign flashing over our head: “INFERTILE, INFERTILE, INFERTILE”.

It’s not that we aren’t happy for our friends.  I think.  I don’t know – that’s not anything we ever get to address.  Every new pregnancy announcement brings the strain of a smiling face (after all, it’s not their neon sign), hours of snotty sobbing, and more hours of prayer and recovery.  Hey, we’re just trying to get to a place where we don’t want to jump off a bridge.  Trying for happiness, well, gosh, what a foreign concept.

Sometimes, the flesh really comes out and I entertain wishes that others could have a hard time or a scare to know the teeniest bit about what we go through… and it’s not just infertility.  It’s entangled with our sons dying.  No, not just miscarriage in the first trimester (though we can check that box six times).  Actually delivering two perfectly healthy sons and knowing they are dying and then them being dead – well, that’s indescribable.  The only picture that comes to mind is from Indiana Jones when the tribal leader removes the man’s heart with his fist.  Except, he got to die…we’ve had to keep living.

When every new pregnancy announcement ignites the neon sign and flares of six lost babies plus Isaac & Samuel shoot around…how will we ever be able to get to a place of happiness for our friends?

If we try looking at our friends and saying they deserve it, that sure doesn’t help.  On paper, we deserve it, too.  Maybe even more.  Plus, that could just invite feelings of guilt over past sin.  That’s forgiven and long gone.  Don’t need to go there again.

Where can we look?  Misery and despair is not our hearts’ desire even if we have to assert that as a matter of obedience.  We look, then, to the King.

And that’s as much as I know.  No deep realisations yet.  No wisdom spilling forth.  To be honest, my heart has not gotten to a place of happiness.  This is the first time I’ve ever been enough off the edge to consider this.

But, it’s to the throne that we go in all suffering, weariness, and despair.  That’s where Jesus went.  God promises us peace if we cry out to Him.  He promises us joy if we ask Him for it.  He promises us love if we open our hearts to Him.

We will see how God does that here.  I have faith He’ll come get me; He always does.

In the meantime, what neon signs flash over your head?  How do you handle the bright lights?  What neon signs blink incessantly over your friends’ heads?  Do you extend compassion and grace to them?  Do you acknowledge their burden?

They want you to.  Trust me.  The joy/suffering reciprocal is a main topic in all support groups.  My dear friend is even divorcing Facebook because the constant statuses are making her neon sign cause a hole in the ozone.  The jealousy or envy you think they might have…that’s really a deep desire for understanding and intimacy within the context of that particular suffering.

And in your acknowledgement and suffering with them, nothing is greater than pointing them towards the King who can turn the flashing sign into a celebration…for their hearts and yours.

A Joyful Thanksgiving

I want to share a Thanksgiving blessing with you.

As many of you know, on Thanksgiving Day 2010, I delivered my twin sons and they both passed away within hours of each other.  Needless to say, this week has been looming on my heart for some time.    Besides losing my sons, the weight of infertility still presses on me.  And, to top it all off, I have a brain tumor preventing me from pursuing any further fertility treatments until my radiation is complete.

It’s been a rough year.

As usual, God has shown up in my life in an incredible way.   This is nothing short of a miracle, and I hope it fills your heart with His goodness.

I attend a monthly infertility support group at my doctor’s office in Fort Worth.  Though I’m not pursuing fertility treatment at this time, I continue to go to the meetings to encourage other women and exchange medical info.

Last Monday, I went to the monthly meeting and met a new girl.  I introduced myself and it was halfway through the meeting before she exclaimed that she knew who I was from another friend.   She had heard my story before and we talked and talked – mostly about medical things – and exchanged contact information so I could send her some medication information…so I thought.

Later that night, my new friend called me and said she was so glad to meet me and that meeting me had given she and her husband direction they’d been waiting on.  Weird – I didn’t share that much medical info!  She said they had something they wanted to give us, and that it was urgent they give it that night.  Hesitantly, I gave her our address and they set off on the hour drive to our home.

We met just inside our front door.  She explained how she’d been given this gift for infertility and knew when she received it that it was, indeed, for infertility, but also knew it was not for her.  They’d been waiting for God to tell them who to pass it on to.  When she met me that night, she knew God wanted this for us.  When her husband heard of her meeting me, he also was convicted.

Then, they gave us an extremely large sum of money.

I could write an entire theological treatise on all the thoughts and emotions that happened over the next few days, but suffice it to say we learned about God’s grace.  Though we certainly didn’t deserve the money, He was giving it to us anyway!

The coolest part about this isn’t the money.  Yes, we are broke and in debt from previous medical bills.  Yes, we have had to scramble to put together money to pay for my radiation and to cover the paycheck I’ll be losing.  But, God has provided for all of that.

The coolest part – and what I’m incredibly thankful for – is that God saw my heart.  Just the day before at church, I’d been crying with my friends saying how I felt forgotten by God…that the delay without future direction was so hard.  I knew that God was there, of course, but I was just feeling so heartbroken.

The very next day, He reached through a stranger and sent us a message:  He has not forgotten us; He has a plan for us, and He will provide everything we need.

El Roi, the God who sees me, is why I am thankful this season.  To be such an insignificant part of eternity and have the God of all creation see right into my heart and respond to my need of hope  – wow.

This Thanksgiving is still wrought with grief for me, but I am also refreshed by the generosity of a stranger and the comforting touch of my Father.

A Joyful Thanksgiving to all of you.

PS – I got an email from this girl on Saturday.  Her insurance company contacted her and told her they’d over charged her on a hospital bill and were refunding her money.  Of course, it was the exact same amount of money that she’d given me.  J  God is good – funny – and good.