Category Archives: hope

we named her Hope

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Six months ago, Ted and I went to see the fertility specialist. After three miscarriages in seven months, our hearts were shattered. In some ways it was a relief when the doctor did some tests and found out that both of my Fallopian tubes were blocked. Because of that and several other reasons, he recommended IVF as our only option for biological children, stating that there was no way we could conceive on our own due to complications from the other pregnancies. Since Ted and I have always had a deep desire to adopt, we decided to forego the $14k price tag of IVF (and all the other risks associated with it) and start pursuing adoption. It was a relief in many ways for me to close the door to such deep loss, knowing that we would never return there.

Well, a few weeks ago, I feared the worst… what if these symptoms I’d been having weren’t a side effect of medicine after all… what if I was somehow pregnant. I was gripped immediately by fear. Why would God work a miracle to get me pregnant only to have me miscarry again? No, not that road again. It hurt so deeply as pieces of my heart were taken away and I didn’t ever long to go back. So, I ignored the signs, hoping this wasn’t the case. But God had other plans. After about a week of me silently questioning, I decided to tell Ted. He encouraged me to go ahead and buy a pregnancy test and see what happens. Immediately it came back with two pink lines – two really dark lines. We were clearly pregnant. What the doctor said would never happen just did. My heart was full of as much excitement as fear. The thought of a child with my sweet husband’s eyes was a dream that might actually become a reality. And everything seemed different this time around.

I went last Friday to the doctor for a blood test to confirm the levels of this pregnancy. Because my levels were always so low in past pregnancies, we were afraid to hear the results. But what joy we experienced when the lab work came back 3x higher than it had ever been with my previous pregnancies. The nausea, exhaustion and other pregnancy symptoms keep coming in waves. I couldn’t have been more excited… or more apprehensive. Monday, I went back for the second round of tests. The goal is to see the HCG (pregnancy hormone) double ever 48 hours or so. This was the point in our other pregnancies where it started going downhill. But this time, the numbers tripled. We were filled with hope, seeing that this time was indeed different.

And then this past Wednesday, just a glimpse of my fear was realized. Red blood. Never something you want to see during a pregnancy… especially with my history of repeated miscarriages. We rushed to the doctor, only to find that all appeared normal. It was too early to see much detail on the ultrasound, but overall, the doctor was not concerned. It seemed the bleeding was a side effect of a medicine I’m on to help sustain the pregnancy. All in all, once again we were hopeful. The doctor did a third blood test just to ensure that all these pregnancy symptoms were still pointing to a positive outcome.

And then this morning I got the call. Instead of doubling, my numbers dropped by a third. Another Riley baby meets Jesus before we do. And we are left with the pieces to put back together. Again, my heart is shattered. I don’t know even what to say or how to process this… me, the infertile barren woman conceived again. God worked a miracle. And then just as swiftly took it away.

This baby gave us such hope… a renewed faith and trust in God’s goodness that I haven’t had in months… a trust that God does indeed care about the desires of our hearts and longs to give His children good gifts. I was freshly aware of my need for God’s mercy. His hand holds each day of my baby’s life just as He holds mine. How desperate I became again for His mercy and provision. How aware I was that He is over all. All I could do is beg for mercy.

I’m not sure where mercy is found in death. That is one that I just don’t understand. But God chose, yet again to take my dear child before my hands even had a chance to hold them. I’m so angry. I’m so confused. Where is the goodness? I’m not even sure I want to trust Him right now. This baby brought us hope and then our hope was taken away so quickly. So now, I’m stuck in darkness realizing where else can I go? My Jesus, my Savior and my faithful Friend is the one with the words of eternal life. But right now I don’t want to run to Him. I want to cry out in anger because He could have stopped this and He didn’t. He’s the only one I have to turn to yet turning to Him hurts so deeply. But i do know He is true. I do know He is faithful and will work even this horrible loss to bring good in me. I just don’t see how. And this surely doesn’t feel or seem good in anyone’s eyes. I just ache. My heart is broken and my soul feels raw. I cry to him, knowing full well He allowed this and am just left confused because those two pieces make no sense to me. So for now, yet again, I’m asking Him to just hold me until I find hope again.

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with hope

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Ted and I had a wonderful getaway this past weekend.  He took me to the Sassy Goose for our one year anniversary.  It has been an amazing year and after the craziness of the past few weeks, it was a much needed reprieve.  We were able to just get away and put the world aside for a while.  We were actually the only people at the bed & breakfast all weekend so it was nice and quiet.  There’s just something cathartic about a hammock by a lake and sleeping with the windows open as you hear the crickets and frogs chirping.  For our anniversary meal, Ted took me to HobNob in Brevard… one of the best restaurants I have been to in a long time!  I had scallops and it was great!

This past year has brought amazing joys and struggles.  The joy of friendship and companionship with Ted has been greater than I could even write.  He is my best friend and is just fun to be around :)  In the past year, I’ve learned just a bit of what it means to be a good helper to him, to care for him, etc.  I look forward to continuing to learn these things over the coming years.  I’ve learned more about how to trust God in the unknowns, particularly with my job at BMW that I left in September and in waiting and hoping for children.  The ten months of trying and struggling to trust shook me to my core in ways I had never experienced before.  Watching friend after friend announce a pregnancy left me at times questioning why God would answer their prayers but not mine.  Watching several of those friends then go on to lose a pregnancy left me amazed at their faith and trust in God.  I remember praying during several of those times that God would give me that kind of faith if I ever walked through a similar circumstance.    Faith is trusting in what you can’t see, and truth be told, there have been many times over the past 10 months I haven’t seen the purpose of what God is doing in my life.

And then we found out we were pregnant.  I took the first test at home and was shaking because I was so excited and in shock!!!  Finally our prayers were answered!!!  Then I remembered that I’ve seen God give and take and that I wanted to trust Him no matter what He chose to do with this child.  He’s been so faithful through every trial of my life, and I wanted that confidence to mean something in this unknown as well.  We stopped at Walgreens and bought a digital pregnancy test on the way to church… I wanted to see the word. :)  At Starbucks, when we stopped for a coffee, I used the test.  I prayed while waiting for the results that God would give me an open hand in regards to this child.  I thanked Him for the gift this baby was and prayed that He would be glorified through this baby’s life and my responses as this baby’s mom.  Little did I know that 5 days after that I would be saying goodbye.  I was 6 weeks pregnant.  I knew about it for 5 days.  And my heart was broken when we said goodbye.

But God has been reminding me lately that I can look at this situation with hope.  Anger, despair, frustration, tears and moodiness have all been there too for sure, but underlying it all, there is a hope.  A hope that my God… the One who came to me when I was dying, the One who gave my life hope and a purpose… this God will not leave me hopeless now.  I have felt hopeless over the past week and 1/2.  I’ve felt alone and lonely.  I’ve been discouraged and down many days.  I’ve wept more than I can remember.  I will always hold this sweet baby in my heart.  I cherish the short time we had.

We received the call from the doctors office today that my pregnancy hormone (HCG) levels are now officially back down to zero.  Such bittersweet news.  I am grateful though that my body did this naturally and that I did not need meds or surgery to complete the process.  Hopefully soon the rest of my hormones will go back to a normal level and we can start trying again.  Oh, how that opens up my heart to more fear and worry.  I look forward to the day when I will hold our child in my arms.  But I am scared to walk down this road again.

I still don’t get it.  I don’t understand why.  It doesn’t seem good to me.  But I am seeing God’s faithfulness hold us, and my heart is strengthened.  We’ve said goodbye to our sweet baby Amos.  My heart still aches.  I know it probably always will to some degree.  But I grieve not as one without hope.

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you’ve gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but …

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end.
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again.

We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so …

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope…

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

  by Stephen Curtis Chapman

love that will not let me go

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From last night…

So, I’ve spent the past hour contemplating what to write today.  Words just seem inadequate.  So, I’ve read verses and quotes.  Somehow they seem dry.  My heart simply feels empty. 

At care group we talked about walking in faith in the midst of trials.  And though I know looking back at God’s faithfulness in the past gives hope for current strength and future hope and joy, tonight those words just seemed shallow. 

I don’t mean to make this trial greater than I should.  I don’t mean to imply that losing a child by a miscarriage is the worst thing I will ever or could ever face.  I know many friends who have suffered and are suffering much greater than we are.  But this week it has rocked my world.  And I’m left questioning. 

It somehow took me two and 1/2 hours to write those three short paragraphs.  Somehow the eloquence of last week has disappeared.  I want to keep this trial in perspective of the goodness of God.  I want to realize that while grieving is normal and acceptable, that I also have much to rejoice about.  Yet I feel so numb.

I feel like I’m back in that stage where I was years ago with sickness… I know there is hope for heaven, I know one day God will wipe all our tears away.  But I’m struggling to find the hope and joy for today.  I know the strength for tomorrow will be there… I just long to feel it today.

God is good to me.  This is what i believe.  It’s not necessarily how I feel.  But I will choose to focus on the love that will not let me go.

these are my friends

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“Though my natural instinct is to wish for a life free from pain, trouble, and adversity, I am learning to welcome anything that makes me conscious of my need for Him.  If prayer is birthed out of desperation, then anything that makes me desperate for God is a blessing… Puritan pastor William Gurnall makes this point in his writings, “The hungry man needs no help to teach him how to beg.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss

I’m learning to apply this quote.  I’m learning painfully and slowly and through many tears that anything that makes me desperate for God is a blessing.  I’m learning to meet God in the barrenness that my soul has felt over the past 8 months… though I have continually begged for God to take it away.

It was hard when I realized that this season of trying to conceive a child is now the same length as my worst season of intense migraines several years back.  It seems this is a topic most don’t really talk about openly and I understand why.  But my life has too much of God’s fingerprints on every twist and turn to not share.  And I can’t divorce what I’m going though from who I am.  So, you get it all.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Looking back at that season of physical pain I have no answers to why.  Looking back all I see is that season brought me closer to God.  And though I didn’t feel that way then, I’m grateful for it.  And though often again I struggle for hope and joy, I know God is at work.

My friends and my sweet husband have hope for me on the days when I have none of my own.  I just want to brag on them.  They have carried me through so many days and tears.  5 new babies. 19 pregnant friends.  And yesterday 19 became 20.  And I wept.  #20 is yet to be publicly announced, but #20 is harder for me than probably all the others combined.  I’m grateful to God for my friends and for Ted.  Here is some of their encouragement to me:

Wish I could hug you right now. So grateful that we can always find comfort and rest in God.  Was just praying for you too.  So wish you weren’t so far away.

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number…” Job 5:8

God has laid that on your heart and Ted’s, and so we will walk in that promise, and each month ask for grace…I want you to have a bowl full, a universe full of Hope in Jesus. I want that more than anything, but waiting for a baby is such a difficult hurtful time for anyone as you know. However, as your friend, I have enough hope for the both of us. So for now, I will carry your heart regarding the pain of all of this, praying! Let me also be full of hope for you….When you have dried your tears and are able to get up again by His grace, remind yourself that He will bless you no matter if you are good or bad. Blessings aren’t necessarily earned, they are grace bestowed gifts often given to remind me(us) that they come even when we are at our worst. That is mercy. So, I don’t want you coming home working hard to get any results. I want you coming back to your home resting. (in your heart) Resting in the knowledge that God is steadfast in His love and gracious and merciful and faithful, and He will choose to do things that will bring honor to His precious name. I just want my friend to know that He is for YOU. He is For you! He is for you.

“One thing I think is so awesome through all of this trial is that you and Ted are so close! It is SUCH a blessing to have a husband you can depend on for emotional support!!! Wow =) And this might be bringing you even closer. I really admire your relationship together. I understand how you can feel anger. Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength.  And smile knowing that you have a wonderful husband and Heavenly Father” =)

Once again, so grateful for my friends and my dear husband.  God has blessed me greatly.  Gives me hope to wait for dawn.

“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead ( since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also.” Romans 4: 18-24

O God, I cling with feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace

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In the past two weeks, my plate has been full  …working full time again, fighting one of the worst ear infections (STILL) that I can remember, planning 2 parties for two dear friends and celebrating the births of five friends babies…  that’s just life though.  life is always busy.  one month its party planning, the next month its something else.  I think where I really feel full is emotionally.  As of yesterday, Ted and I are now in month 8 of trying to conceive a child of our own.  My heart is full. and heavy. And mourning.

I love John Piper’s poem “Job.”  It is a four-part poem and so many of the lines describe where I am emotionally.  Not saying my struggles and pains are on equal par with Job, but my heart can sure relate.  One thing I’m grateful for though is that my friends are no comparison to his.  What a comfort they have been to me lately.  random e-mails.  from MANY people over the last week.  lots of prayers and facebook messages and I can just feel the compassion and love.  Thank you.

“I came with nothing from the womb,
I go with nothing to the tomb.
God gave me children freely, then
He took them to himself again.
At last I taste the bitter rod,
My wise and ever blessed God.”

… so count the cost;
And ponder everything we’ve lost.
And let us bow before the throne
Of God, who gives and takes his own,
And promises, whatever toll
He takes, to satisfy our soul.

Come learn the lesson of the rod:
The treasure that we have in God.
He is not poor nor much enticed
Who loses everything but Christ.

I rejoice with my friends. I can’t wait to hold their babies. But how I long for and pray for a baby Riley (many in fact) soon. I’m 29 and my husband is 36. We really would love a large family and I would love to be pregnant with so many of my close friends. My heart is rejoicing yet also breaking. I struggle to see the kindness of God when He chooses to take.  Yet I know his timing is good. But to my heart it feels anything but good. But I see his faithfulness through every step of my life, so my faith is strengthened in this trial as I look back.  Like Job I say…

O God, I cling
With feeble fingers to the ledge
Of your great grace, yet feel the wedge
Of this calamity struck hard
Between my chest and this deep-scarred
And granite precipice of love.

guess I’m just weary. Weary of the fight. Feeling hopeless… Knowing God has never promised me a child that I will hold in my arms so struggling with how to persevere in faith in my request. We both would love to adopt but right now there is not a peace to pursue that.  But the desire is there.  And God keeps asking us to pray in faith.  That in and of itself is a glimmer of hope.

One little flame when all is night,
Proves there is such a thing as light.
One answered prayer when all is gone,
Will give you hope to wait for dawn.

I know part of the struggle is the physical weakness. My body is worn down from the infection. Cramps never help either.  I am adjusting to a new schedule. All while in this dichotomy of rejoicing with others yet grieving for myself. So many hurts resurfacing from my past as I face all this yet again.

Oh so weary. Thank you friends for your prayers. Thank you for listening to the Spirit and for caring for me. More grateful than words can express.

Beware the thought that all is vain,
In time God’s wisdom will be plain.

…What we have lost God will restore
When he is finished with his art,
The silent worship of our heart.
When God creates a humble hush,
And makes Leviathan his brush,
It won’t be long until the rod
Becomes the tender kiss of God.

joy in Your presence

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In your presence, Lord, there is joy.
Am I far from your presence?
Am I missing your glory when I focus on my pain?
I am weak.  You are great.
Have I forgotten what is truly important?
Why do I not feel the joy that once proved so precious to me?

If you can be glorified through my weakness, will I be content with it?
If you become bigger though my pain, will I give you thanks?
Can I live in gratitude despite exhaustion? Or frustration? Or confusion?
When it’s a sacrifice, will I still choose to praise You?

How long, Lord can I go on like this waiting for your voice?
Help me to listen. Help me to see it.
Help me not to focus on a conclusion as my answer, help me to focus on You.

For You are my answer.  You are my hope.
In Your presence I find my joy.
You drew me out of my pit.  If you’ve done that, why do I doubt?
Why does my heart cry out in anguish and fear?

You’ve proven your faithfulness time and again
Why is my soul downcast yet again?
I look to You. My feet are on You, my Rock.
My ways are secure.  Though hidden in darkness for now.

I will rest.  I will hope.  I will have joy.