Posts tagged ‘Christian Wife’

A Letter to Myself

When putting away the Christmas clutter decorations, I wrote a letter to pack along with them and open next December. I know it will be new again, and I won’t remember writing it, because I wrote a grocery list last week and I didn’t remember anything on that by the time I get to the store.

Dear Me,

You’re looking well.

It’s all over. Another holiday season, another chapter, another year. Your tree was pretty bad. Seriously. Lights on half the tree is not better than “none of the tree.” It’s not usually a choice like that. I know that lights go on sale for 50% off on Boxing Day, but then you bought two packs of lights. If you would have just bought one box of lights three weeks before, you wouldn’t have as much stuff to put away now, and people wouldn’t look at you all sad when they see your tree.

I’m glad you took the whole month off school. It was busy enough! I’m glad you took them to do a few service projects, so that they can be a light to others (not 50% of a light, like your tree) and to teach them the world is much bigger than they are. Metaphorically and literally. They won’t forget that. Now try to be as courageous as your kids- people might not call you “so adorable!” but they may listen and you can be a light too. (Again, a WHOLE light. Not half.) It’s easy to hide behind their cuteness, but make sure you model evangelism and a “fear not” attitude. They will catch on one day, when you are always in the background. They will follow.

The gifts went well. Three each is enough. Every year you get all worried that it’s not enough, that other kids get more, blah, blah, blah. THEY LOVED IT. The gifts were thoughtful, in budget and you didn’t hurt yourself on the sewing machine. Well done.

The Christmas books, movies and activities were fun. You didn’t do all of Truth in the Tinsel, but your kids do not all like crafts, and don’t like them every day. It’s a beautiful thought to make a Christmas ornament each DAY of Advent, with part of the story to go along with it, but you have four kids. Four children X 24 Days= 96 ornaments in total. Are you really just trying to make up for the lack of lights? Either way, they had fun with what we did. Maybe next year you’ll do a couple more. Who cares? Not them.

The family Advent went WAY better than you thought. Special Sunday dinners, reading a litany and lighting candles in your wreath was something all the kids looked forward to. But the way you introduced it to your handsome hubby (Remember? “Hey! We’re going to do this.”) left a lot to be desired. If you have something you want to do as a family, present your ideas thoroughly and don’t get absolutely furious if he doesn’t love them as much as you in the first ten seconds. Good grief. Give the guy a break. Your homemade wreath was fun to make, even if it doesn’t look as nice as you wanted. I’m just proud you didn’t spend any money, and used stuff from around the house. Maybe next year you can find a special one to keep from year to year (and remember, November 30 is NOT the day to start looking!)

The baking. There’s something special about filling the house with yummy smells, and mixing cookie batter with the kids. Flour on their noses, accidentally spilling the chocolate chips in the bowl. Christmas music in the background; making up beautiful platters to bring to all your parties. What are you even talking about?! That didn’t happen. You used a hand mixer once, but other than that, there was not a square/cookie/snickerdoodle/chocolate yum yum to be found in your house. Who cares? Use the excuse that you’re trying to eat healthy or something. No one cares. The kids didn’t, and you were actually a little more peaceful than last year.

The decorating (other than your tree) was fine. Definitely mediocre at best, but you don’t care about that anyways, so why pretend like you do? It took way less time to put it all away in the end.

The date night with HH for dinner and the last bit of gifts was awesome. Do that again. Don’t forget to make his Christmas fun and special too (even if he doesn’t jump up and down like the kids do.)

All in all, I think this year went well. You took time to prepare Him room- in your heart and in your home. The little things either happened, or they didn’t, but they were little anyways. You bulldozed your way through a few things it would have been better to ponder in your heart, but that’s what it’s all about. He came for you just as much as He came for your babies. Accept His grace, His mercy and start fresh again. Marvel over the fact that a baby has saved you.

If I can give you any advice next season, while I am still fresh from this one:

  1. *If something is pushing you or pulling you along, and it’s not Jesus, cut it out.
  2. *If you are staying up late to make something magical the next day, you will just ruin it with your fatigue and lack of energy. Don’t do it.
  3. *Pick a couple things and do them well, and with love. It’s better than a lot of things rushed through and done with impatience.
  4. *Smile more.
  5. *Don’t be embarrassed when you cry through the Christmas songs. Your soul has felt it’s worth!

Love always, your biggest enemy your friend,

Me.

P.S. Buying all your gifts online so that you only went out once- DO THAT AGAIN.

Sandra

How about you? What did you learn (maybe the hard way) this year? What saved you time or heartache? What is the most important thing to remember about Christmas with little kids? I’d love to hear from you!

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You Don’t Have to be Thankful

*Disclaimer: If you are high on life and thankful for everything from the newspaper boy to the cutlery in your kitchen, then this post isn’t for you.*

I’ll never forget my first thanksgiving as a newly married wife. We had just moved to the Far North (make fun if you want, but it is nearly ten hours more north than I was before) I had just started a job that I hated, we just started a new church, I had no friends, and just failed at quitting smoking, AGAIN. Not to mention that it was my first holiday away from our family. I was absolutely heart broken. There was snow on the ground, it was cold, we lived way out in the country, and went from having numerous dinners (usually five for each holiday) to one. Yes, I was thankful to be with my handsome hubby after months apart; yes, I was thankful to have our own little home to fuss over; yes, I was thankful I had a job. But mostly? I felt completely alone. I put on my most THANKFUL face, put my hands in the air during worship at church, and felt like I was lying to everyone. Not that anyone was around.

Is that the goal? Is that what God wanted? Was I being “Christian?”

Good grief. Why did Jesus even come?

He came to abolish the sacrifices people used to have to make to absolve their sins. To make a personal relationship with us. To tear down the veil. To become one with us. And here, on a holiday the Church has adopted as it’s own, I lied to Him. I distanced myself from Him, because I wasn’t feeling how I thought I was supposed to.

Forcing our feelings, or convincing ourselves that other people have it worse than us, does not change how we feel. Looking at the bright side, trying to see the good in the bad, all of these are beautiful, good things. But they don’t necessarily heal depression, or help someone going through a loss. I think of one of my best friends, who lost her dad on last year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Of my brother and sister in law, who lost their baby last week. Are they thankful today? Does God not understand that?

What does the Bible say?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are not tied to one day of thankfulness, it must permeate our every hour. However, nothing spoken in the Bible was meant for us to do in our own strength. He came for US. He mourns with us, He celebrates with us, He makes all things new.

Today is the same as every day. If you are hurting and broken, remember why He came in the first place- to comfort those who mourn, to save us, to overcome the world. And by all means, be thankful for that!

But if today, you are hurting and you are sad, and the “bright sides” and the thinking of “those who have it worse” aren’t changing your heart, don’t pretend. He doesn’t want phoniness, he wants US. He wants to bear our burdens, to heal our sorrows. Don’t make light of what He came to save. He would rather have our real cries, our real pain, our ugly brokenness, than our fake happy faces.

Jesus came to take away our “have to’s”. He is only interested in our “want to’s.”

So today, I am so thankful for our marriage, our children, our country, our faith, our grace. I’m thankful for our days at home. But today, Jesus, I’m not going to thank you that my family is in pain, and for losing another little niece or nephew. I’m not going to thank you that my brothers and sister in law are moving away. And Lord? While we’re on the subject, I’m not ready to thank you for the baby we didn’t get to see, either. I’m not there yet, Lord! But I trust you to comfort me. I trust you, and I bless your Holy name. And I pray that you make me thankful, because I just can’t do it without you. Above all the stuff, all the troubles and all the joy, I am so thankful that You know me, and You still love me. I am thankful that you want my real-ness over my phoniness every day. 

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Am I wrong? Right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Love heals.

Well, it’s been two weeks and two days since we lost our baby. I can’t believe the outpouring of love and support that I’ve felt from friends, far and wide. I also can’t believe how many people have been touched by the loss of a miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end this way. I even know a bunch of women who have suffered multiple miscarriages, and by multiple, I mean more than three or four.

So if it’s this common, we need to equip ourselves with tools we can use when a friend, co-worker or someone we know goes through it. Not only that, but in my previous post I touched on some of the stupid things people said, and I don’t want that to be what’s left in everyone’s mind. I can’t believe how loved we are, by our Father, and our friends.

So what can we do when someone loses their baby, before they see their face? I have asked a few of my close friends who have gone through this, and these are the most overwhelming parallels:

1. Acknowledge it.

It’s easy to celebrate and go through the happy times with family and friends. Equally important is being there in the hard times. Just say something. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. If you do, say sorry and get over it. It’s way better to say something, than nothing. I can’t believe how many facebook messages and texts I got. They literally sustained me. Knowing that there were people praying and thinking of me, and that knew I was sad and were sad for me made a huge difference. I even got a few phone calls, though I didn’t answer the phone. But I saw it, and it meant so much. I can’t say this enough: Acknowledge the loss. Text, phone, facebook, carrier pigeon: whatever the case may be, if there is someone in your family or circle that is going through a loss, you say something. One said, “Suffering people don’t need space, they need love. . . when we fail to acknowledge, we run the risk of pretending that the suffering did not happen, which is entirely false. Our sufferings are real, and if we are helped through our loss, we have a greater opportunity of turning the suffering into our ever needed desire for growth in holiness.” Always err on the side of love, not space.

2. Be there

To talk, hug, etc. Just let them know you are available, whether they take you up on it or not. Just knowing that you are a safe place to vent, cry or sit beside makes the difference between being alone in your darkest moments, or being loved unconditionally. One of my closest friends texted me on and off the next week, just to say hi and check in. I knew that I was being prayed for, and cared for. Our midwife was AMAZING. She sat with me at the hospital when I was going for final bloodwork. She responded to emails right away with questions I had. She even called me at 9:00 pm to let me know the results, so I wouldn’t have to wait till the next day. She let me cry without feeling stupid, and told me to call whenever I wanted to chat. Honestly, I know I go on about midwives, but you just can’t compare.

3. Shower with love

We were blessed by meals, flowers, gifts. I am still in shock. The meals gave me a huge break in the day, especially when I was in so much pain. Chopped and fresh veggies were also a huge blessing. I had the most annoying, brutal afterpains for almost a week. Having fresh stuff in the house to throw at the kids made life easier.  One of my friends made me a cheesecake with my name on it. A friend stopped by just to hug, and brought beautiful flowers. Cards, visits (if they are wanted), flowers on the table, all of this goes back to the first thing we should do: Acknowledge the loss.

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4. Let them grieve. Don’t offer platitudes.

When a friend dies, no one says, “Well, at least you have other friends!” Or, “You can always make a new one.” There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about grieving over your baby that died. Allow them that. Don’t try to make it better by pointing out blessings. Jesus grieved over the loss of his friend. Grief is a beautiful way of acknowledging life, and a life lost. If you accidentally say something along the lines of trying to help them get over it, or to see the “bright side,” realize what you’re doing and say sorry. Then be quiet and cry with them. “Grief is not lessened by minimizing the value of the life.” Aptly put.

5. Know that no grief is the same, and there’s no time limit.

It can strike at the weirdest times. Years later, seeing a child at the age your baby would be can bring it all back up to the surface. Obviously I’m not at that place, but hearing from other women tells me that most of all, our friends just want permission to be real. To feel pain and grief and hurt, and not pretend it’s not there because it’s been a few months or years since the loss. We are created to feel and love. God didn’t make a mistake there. If a joke that you heard or funny story you lived years ago still has the power to make you laugh ten years later, so too the memory of the baby you lost can still make you cry and feel the hurt just like yesterday.

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6. Genuine help for the friend who’s miscarried:

Some books that have been recommended include Empty Arms, Mommy, Please Don’t Cry and Streams in the Desert. I haven’t read them all, but I’m interested because they have helped friends. Obviously the Bible is full of hope. I’m so thankful I know where our baby is. This song has been hugely helpful to me, and this one has been suggested by a friend who’s been there. Don’t watch that one with makeup on.

Also, a ceremony can also be a good way for closure. A lady whom I treasure has been through six miscarriages. She spoke of having her own ceremony, with a balloon for each baby. Eventually, she had to cut the string of each balloon and let them fly away. She said that it was like cutting steel; but it helped her in letting go.

Another lady spoke of sending white roses down the river; watching the water carry them further and further away. Being surrounded by nature in its rawest form can be such a meaningful way to say goodbye.

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And one last strong woman spoke of asking Jesus to show her the four babies she lost. “Healing truly came when I asked Jesus to show them to me and He showed me a picture of these 4 little boys sitting in His lap – all different ages – big brown eyes – blond curls!! It was beautiful!! They looked so happy! I know they are waiting for me….”

It is so easy to love each other in the happy times; to attend weddings, celebrate with showers, host a dinner because of a new home. Let’s not shy away in the dark times, but be friends and family through it all, not being afraid of the beauty of deep love, emotion and grief. This is where love is.

Thank you for everyone who’s prayed or loved on us. We’re okay. Super sad, but okay. Today the pretty one was sitting on the floor crying. Impatiently I asked, “What’s the matter?” 

She replied, “I just miss my baby.”

I get it, girl.

I know there’s a plan. I’m not mad. 

Darn, I just miss my baby.

Life hurts.

It just does. As surely as there’s life, there’s death. They go hand in hand. 

I knew I was expecting three days before my period was even due. When you do natural family planning, you kinda know. It was so crazy: I ovulated twice in one month which completely came as a surprise. We were ready for the first, the second time (after Googling if it was even possible) we knew that God had a different plan for us.

Nonetheless, I am nothing but frugal and waited exactly 24 hours from when my period was due. I was up the whole night before, dreaming of our new baby. At 5:30 am, it was positive, and I waited for my handsome hubby to wake up. I let him take two sips of coffee before I bubbled over.

We were slightly overwhelmed, but by the end of the day, pumped. We kept it quiet for the first bit. I made plans to school through the summer so that we could be done when our baby (a boy, I’m sure of it) arrived in March. After all, isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? Making school fit around your family?

I was sick, but not as sick with the girls. They were a special brand of possibly-on-the-verge-of-death sick. This was more of a queasy, walking on a ship at sea after eating three Big Macs sick. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt. Almost all whole foods, with some grains mixed in for convenience. I drank liters of water.

All the while, we smiled at my growing belly. It goes quick, with the fifth. My pants stopped fitting at a month. Leggings and low rise jeans got me through the next one. Imagine if it were twins? How funny!

Finally, even the No Frills ladies were commenting on my new accessory. Yes, this is a baby bump. Yes, we’re excited. Yes, I know where they come from. We realized that all our acquaintances and the people who see me on a regular basis now knew, but not family.

We were so excited. Each new life that God has given us we have received as a total gift. Each pregnancy seems to go faster and faster. I LOVE being nine months pregnant. I love how close my emotions are to the surface: I feel so genuine in my feelings, and how they regularly spill down my cheeks. I love being a woman, an ambassador for life. It’s never “easy”: we have dealt with breech babies turning, a car accident at nine months, falling down the stairs at 6 months, Braxton Hicks, salsa that MUST BE HAD RIGHT NOW, nursing while pregnant, missing heartbeats (that later turned up after a few weeks) and ultrasounds, pee tests, blood work and glucose testing. Never have I needed to go for an ultrasound in the first trimester: I always know my dates (of conception and last periods). 

Pregnancy is bliss. After all, we can throw our charts out the window, because you can’t get pregnant twice! Life is good. Kids are excited. Life is crazy, but with the two of us and a whole lot of Jesus, we can swing it.

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Flash forward.

Sitting in the hospital for three hours, feeling my baby leave my body and not being able to stop it. Waiting through every person that gets called to hear MY NAME! Please, call me back. Please, do something. Please.

An acquaintance comes in. “Well, if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it didn’t happen.” 

Finally, they call me back. They tell me that the ultrasound tech is on her way home. I lose it.

They are frightened, call her back. She examines me; tells me that I don’t need any more children when I already have four! But I love THIS ONE. They are all different, and I love this one so much already. Please, tell me if it’s alive or not.

Test is inconclusive. Fetus may be dead. Fetus may be viable. Come back in a few days.

Two days of cramping, bleeding, but possibility.

Monday rolls around. “We must have school today! We want to be done before Baby comes.”

Halfway through math class I am bawling in the bathroom, feeling the hope drain out of me while the other kids fight and bang on the door.

“He hit me!”

“She was bugging me!”

“Juice! Mom. Juice!”

Please, give me five minutes to say goodbye to our baby.

After another hospital visit and more pain than I thought, our baby is gone. A life is gone.

Well if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it never happened. What a nightmare that would be. Because he was here. My baby boy was here, and now he’s not, and I’m sad. But he was. And I’m so thankful that I was excited and proud of my baby for the time he was in my body. What a privilege it is to have had him for as long as I did. I don’t know why any of this happened. But it did.

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

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